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Book Recommendation | The Youngest Doughboy by Steve Sterling #waradventure #bookish #WWI #bookboost

Title: The Youngest Doughboy

Author: Steve Sterling

Genre: War Adventure

Book Blurb

Ernest Wrentmore is dressed to kill with twin .45 automatics on his hips, a trench knife strapped across his chest, and enough ammunition to take out an enemy platoon. At age 12, Ernest is the youngest American solider in World War I France. He’s about to become a hero. Based on a true story.

The Youngest Doughboy was written for film and is presented in screenplay format. This World War I coming-of-age story was inspired by true events. Experience WWI through the eyes of the youngest American combat infantryman in that war – 13-year-old Ernest Wrentmore. What others are saying about The Youngest Doughboy

Harrowing and dramatic, The Youngest Doughboy is a breathtaking portrayal of an unbelievable true story of courage and resilience behind the lines of battle. Enlisting at only 12 years old, Ernest's story is so incredible that it would be noteworthy and deserving of a cinematic adaptation no matter what he did in the military. That he goes on to be a genuine war hero is astounding, and the script treats his story with the reverence and awe it deserves. – The Blacklist.

The Youngest Doughboy takes what might be, given an altered context, a horrifying premise (a child soldier) and presents it with a tender, almost duty-bound perspective. This script’s subtleties are its strengths, including the plotting, pacing, and tone. … Overall, this script is a page-turner, one driven by poignant emotions and a compelling premise. – Wiki Screenplay Contest

The Youngest Doughboy is a strong, exciting script with a compelling premise. We’ve seen many different depictions of the World Wars on film, but this has a very particular and unique perspective of someone so young throwing himself willingly into such a traumatic situation. – Austin Screenplay Awards

Compiled from this competition is a list sent to buyers and financiers around the world of the 100 most interesting scripts. #1 on the 2020 Hot 100 List is The Youngest Doughboy. – Capital Fund Screenplay Competition

Well written with rich details and without over explaining situations or actions. Winner, Feedback Action/Adventure Competition

We search the best projects possible for our prestigious Festival here in France. The impressive performance of The Youngest Doughboy in the film festival circuit caught our attention. – Official Selection, RED Movie Awards.

This screenplay has been recognized with 20 laurels from film festivals and competitions. And with all that, it is unlikely that The Youngest Doughboy will be made. This story is so special it would be a crime if it was relegated to a drawer. Now anyone who wishes to can learn about Ernest and what he and his comrades went through in France.


Ext. forest – Day (ernest’s run)

Ernest/Hank passes through the dense smoke of the blasted tree line carrying the vital message. Beyond the shelled trees, the wood closes around him. He may be running away from the front, but there are Americans and Germans fighting everywhere. Bullets whine past, tearing through the edges of his clothing, barely missing flesh.

Ernest/Hank takes advantage of every possible cover, jumping from shell hole to underbrush to shell hole. He darts behind trees, waits, dives, crawls, and then is up and running, depending on the fire.

He dives behind a six-inch diameter tree, hugging the ground as machine gun bullets lace the air above him. He tries to flatten himself even more. The tree falls, covering him. He crawls out from under the branches and shimmies a few feet more. The machine gun falls silent. He crouches, then straightens and starts to run again.

He’s flipped over and slammed to the ground as a bullet hits his chest. He lays stunned. Then coming around he frantically feels his chest. Sweat pours down his face. He runs his hands one more time all over this body. He looks down to his chest. He reaches into the chest pouch and brings out his gas mask. The mask, eye pieces shattered and the rest of it torn to shreds, stopped the bullet. Reflexively, he restows the ruined gasmask in its pouch.

ext. forest – day

There are sounds of artillery shells overhead and terrific explosions to his front in the second clearing. Ernest/Hank crawls on his stomach, toward the edge of the clearing.

He stops at the tree line and peers ahead. Near the middle of the clearing and in his direct path across are several still smoking shell holes and the smoking ruins of a German machine gun nest. Three charred German soldiers lay at grotesque angles near the edge of the nest.

Ernest/Hank takes a breath and then he charges across the clearing, taking a heading to go around the nest. One of the prone Germans slowly reaches for his sidearm. The boy does not see the man unholster a luger and move it to point at the boy. The soldier takes a two-handed grip.

At the last instant, Ernest/Hank sees the movement. He throws himself to the ground just as the German fires. The bullet zings over the boy’s head. The boy draws his .45. The German is repositioning the automatic. Sweat and blood flow into the man’s eyes. His face is black from the explosion. The German’s finger is squeezing the trigger. With a two-handed grip Ernest/Hank fires first. He hits the German between the eyes. Convulsively the German fires his weapon. The shot goes into the ground with a puff of dirt.

Ernest/Hank veers toward the nest. He sees that both of German’s legs are missing below the knees. The nest is full of the man’s blood.

Ernest/Hank runs into the forest, a thick stand of trees. It’s quieter here. Then he reaches the last of the clearings, the largest one.

He stops at the edge. The clearing is pockmarked by shell holes. There is no cover. He shakes his head and runs back the way he came. He turns around, faces the clearing, and then runs at full speed.

Ext. german machine gun nest – day

At the head of the clearing looking south, two enemy machine gunners peer over their gun. Suddenly, an American soldier bursts out of the brush to the right, jumps, and sails into a shell hole.

German Machine gunner One

(German, subtitled)

You see that?

German Machine gunner Two

(German, subtitled)

Yah. Let’s see if there are more. Maybe we can take out a squad of those blunderers.

The bigger of the two swings the heavy gun around to the right to cover the edge of the clearing.

Ext. shell hole – day

As Ernest/Hank flies into the shell hole, he looks down to see the bottom covered in greenish/yellow water. He scrambles up the far wall, trying to keep his legs out of the poison. Loose soil and rock roll down, roiling the gas impregnated water. Yellow/green mist begins to rise drifting toward his legs.

He frantically digs his toes in and stops his slide an inch above the water. He scrambles higher to escape the mist. Mist follows him up. His left hand reaches for a yellow covered rock to pull himself higher. His hand holds the rock for an instant before the boy flings it up and off as if he had touched a red-hot stove.


Bloody hell, bloody hell.

He rolls onto his back, grits his teeth, and shakes his hand trying to cool it. His skin is blistering. He starts to wipe his hand on his uniform and stops. Using his right hand, he pulls two clean handkerchiefs out of a pouch. He puts one handkerchief back. He carefully wipes the palm of his hand with the one handkerchief.


Ahh, ahh.

He tosses the used handkerchief away. He rolls over and carefully picks his way up in the direction he is heading then stops.

The upper side of the shell hole is one mass of green/yellow powdered dirt and rocks. He stops on all fours. He looks around. The south side of the hole appears free of the caustic poison.

He moves to that side of the hole and stops just before his head is visible.

Ext. german machine gun nest – day

German Machine gunner two

(German, subtitled)

No squad. Definitely a courier, though. A slacker would never try the open like that.

german machine gunner one

(German, subtitled)

He’s got to move. We wait and then pot him as he nears the tree line.

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Author Biography

Steve is a business writer. When he came across Ernest’s story, he knew it was time to cut loose and do something different. While working full time, he researched and wrote The Youngest Doughboy.

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