The Story Behind the Story:
“The Squad That Never Came Back”
“The Squad That Never Came Back” was written by L. Ron Hubbard and published under a pen name in May 1935. It appeared as “An Amazing True Adventure by Legionnaire 148” Thrilling Adventures magazine.
Within the Letters-to-the-Editor column, “The Globe-Trotter,” Legionnaire 148 gives his story behind the story:
The Globe Trotter
Dear Globe Trotter:
1.—Inasmuch as “The Squad That Never Came Back” was not written to obtain publicity, I hope there won’t be any ballyhoo associated with it. I only wished to show the boys what was really going on. Having read so many of these stories about these explorers and soldiers of fortune (?), their tone rather piqued me. They want you to know what great guys they are. How perfectly wonderful their skill may be. How wise and ingenious they have been under fire.
2.—In this article I have tried to show exactly what might happen in spite of anything a man can do. In it you will see how I was driven into hunting the cache, how I was forced onward at the point of a gun. How much a part Lady Luck had in arranging her characters.
3.—When I blew up that gorge, I wasn’t trying to make an archeological enigma, I was trying to save my own wretched hide. And when Montrey died, it wasn’t because he murdered my men. It wasn’t because he was a ferocious villain that needed killing. Hell, no, mes enfants. In fact, hell, no! Montrey died because he was shooting at me, that’s all. And the people of that valley died because they happened to be in the road and because they had been foolish enough to occupy a Roman city from which there was no possible escape in the event of a dammed river.
4.—I hope “The Squad That Never Came Back” will show you that these things aren’t any man’s fault or any man’s deserved reward. When you run up against truth you find that it doesn’t necessarily fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
5.—I would like to meet some of these great adventures who regulate the ticking of destiny. I would like to pump their gun hand and tell them that they may be hot stuff to others, but —
6.—It’s my sincere hope that my article is liked by your readers. And I also hope that something in it will seize upon their imaginations. And I hope they recognize truth when they see it. But if they don’t let them write and send me to perdition. I can do some powerful damning myself.
This true account by Legionnaire 148 is the eighth true feature article we have offered since inaugurating this new policy last August. These articles, judging by your letters, have been among the most popular stories in the magazine.
“The Squad That Never Came Back” is currently available within the book Hell’s Legionnaire.