Here is this month’s Pulp Fiction story straight from the pages of the 1935 April Fools Day issue of Adventure. It’s a long one by Georges Surdez with lots of well developed characters, plenty of action in the hills of Morocco and infused throughout the story, his thorough understanding of just how to depict military men and combat. I often marveled at how a non-military pulp author like Surdez could write so expertly about tactics, weapons, and other military related tidbits. I guess it comes with research, taking good notes, interviewing those who served and perhaps reading first hand accounts of fighting in WWI. This is one of Surdez’s better stories and I enjoyed every one of the 47 pages.
Anyways, the story concerns Lieutenant Fortane, a well to-do aristocrat with no combat experience, who finds himself assigned to a front-line Foreign Legion company but with all the wrong reasons for being there. He is replacing a fallen officer who was deeply revered by the men and his assignment also bumped a more popular officer from getting his well deserved promotion. It appears that it will be impossible for him to win over the loyalty of the Legionnaires he is expected to lead. This situation leads to a calamitous nighttime raid and a change of fortune fortune for the Lieutenant that will allow him to leave the Army with his coveted award for valor. But there is just one more final offensive scheduled before he can leave and Fortane makes a fateful decision.