Battlefield 1

Charles Edwin Nutt was a distant relative of mine – my great-great-great uncle, I think, if my maths is correct – who served in the First World War.

The man I’m playing as in Battlefield 1, who’s name I’ve already forgotten, apparently used to be a chauffeur and is now a tank driver, and has decided to wage a one-man war on a small town in France after his squadmate has buggered off and the tank captain is trying to fix the tank or something.

There’s not a whole lot of information available on Charles Edwin Nutt, from what I can tell. We don’t know his side of the family – or at least, if we do, I’ve never met them – so there are no stories to tell or history to him. Just one note that we have detailing one story of his.

Tank man, for lack of a better name, is sneaking around a French town trying to find spark plugs for the tank. He needs to visit four locations to do so, because apparently the Germans have only managed to salvage one spark plug per tank they’ve scrapped. He finds a silenced pistol in a convenient crate in a barn and systematically shoots each and every enemy soldier in the head, remaining undetected the whole time.

Charles first joined the war as part of the Cheshire Regiment – somehow, he ended up with the 11th Battalion East Lancashire Regiment, or Accrington Pals as they were informally known to try and draw in groups of friends who would all go to war together.

Tank man kills a German soldier by running directly at him and slamming a shovel in his chest. He has been at war for all of one day.

At the Battle of Lys, near Merris, an order went out for troops to retreat to a position near Merris Wood. The order didn’t reach the two left companies, who were behind enemy lines and faced being completely cut off. Charles, a private, volunteered to deliver the message alone.

Tank man has triggered an alarm and the entire town is awake and full of gunfire and shouting. He runs into the nearest barn and waits for his health to recover – he has been shot several times by now, but feels much better for having a little rest.

Charles Edwin Nutt ran three quarters of a mile into enemy territory, avoiding what is described as “considerable machine gun fire”, found both companies, and led them back to the right position under “heavy artillery and machine gun fire”.

Tank man grabs another gun off the ground and fires wildly, killing several German soldiers almost instantly. A soldier with a flamethrower appears – he is almost impervious to bullets, but tank man runs behind and unloads a clip into the gas tank. The flamethrower-wielding soldier screams as he catches fire and explodes.

For his service, Charles Edwin Nutt was awarded the Military Medal on May 4th 1918, six months before the war ended.

On May 17th, Charles was killed in action. If memory serves, he never physically received his medal.

Tank man has secured all his spark plugs. With the town awake and gunning for him, he jumps on a nearby horse and sprints past every soldier in sight. The horse cops a few bullets for him but seems unphased. The mission is a complete success.

My parents visited a military museum to see Charles’ Military Medal once, several years after we first found out about him. The museum curator happened to walk by as they were at the Accrington Pals section, and my mum pointed out Charles and said it was her great-great uncle. According to my dad, the curator stood with them for a time in total silence.

I don’t know if Tank Man is real. Most likely he is an amalgam of stories with some dramatic flair thrown in to make it more interesting to gamers.

I wonder, as I’m steering him and the horse through town, if Charles’ story would have made the cut for this game.

I doubt it.

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