“Now Friedrich, I have a little mission for your men” explained Colonel Von Barner. “I want you to scare the French encampments along the ridge”
“But how can I do that and get away safely across the ditches?”
“You don’t need to cross them all; I have a local guide who will take you round and back through various hidden crossings to the nearest ditch to the hills. Then you will use these old fashioned devices to ensure that the French don’t get a good nights sleep”
Selecting Lieutenant Hans von Pilsner’s troop for the mission, they practiced assembling and disassembling the two small torsion powered catapults. The ammunition they would be using would be naphtha balls, evil smelling bundles of rags impregnated with coal tar and phenol. Route finding would not be difficult as it was near a full moon, but hopefully cloud would prevent them being spotted. The help with assembly they had a number of lanterns that could be shielded to prevent them being seen.
Render Fhart was quite enthusiastic as he had built a catapult as a child and claimed he was very proficient in their use. Given that no one was particularly keen on operating them he was given charge of one.
As the sun was setting they rode out of Welle and headed down the road to Burndorf. After an hour their guide turned off the road and led them down various winding tracks enclosed by hedgerows on either side and periodically crossing drainage ditches” After more than an hour they arrived close to the last ditch. Leaving their horses the party split into two groups each with a catapult and moved about 500 paces to the left and right respectively along the ditch until they found some suitable vegetation to hide behind while assembling the catapults.