28th February 1976 – 16th December 1976
Writers: John Wagner, M. Scott Goodall
Artists: Eric Bradbury, John Stokes, Kim Raymond et al
Private Arnie Sharp is a quartermaster for the 4th Wessex Rifles. He’s also a conscript who resents having to serve at all, but is fortunate enough not to have been posted overseas. Sharp supplements his soldier’s wage by trading supplies bound for the front on the black market. He is joined in this endeavour by Private Sammy Little, another quartermaster who was foolish enough to become involved in illegal trading of food and blankets, and is now being coerced into assisting Sharp’s criminal activities. MPs discover the pair selling grenades, confirming their CO’s distrust of Sharp, and they are duly dispatched to Normandy. There Arnie reveals another of his many character flaws: cowardice. Trapped by a German patrol, Sharp uses Little’s inert body as a human shield, until he is able to return to British lines. The other troops mistakenly believe Arnie to be a hero, who has dragged his fallen comrade home, despite great danger to himself. Sharp’s natural gift for lying does little to bely this, and he is soon in the favour of his new CO. Unfortunately for Arnie, Little survives his ordeal, and could bring Sharp’s web of deceit crashing down around him.
John Wagner had left Battle to serve as editor on the ailing Valiant, and created a number of new strips to try and enliven the long-running comic. Some were more successful than others, and unfortunately Soldier Sharp was not to Wagner’s liking. Based loosely on the WWI tale Cadman – The Fighting Coward, which ran in DC Thomson’s Victor, Wagner felt Soldier Sharp was never quite up to the level of the strip that inspired it, and quickly lost interest. As was often the case, M. Scott Goodall picked up where Wagner left off, and the strip survived the transition to Battle. This decision was more because Soldier Sharp’s WWII content would sit better in Battle than most other Valiant titles, than an endorsement of the strip’s quality or popularity. The art in the Valiant run was uniformly poor, apart from a few weeks where either John Stokes or Eric Bradbury filled in. The merger allowed Battle to acquire the services of three of Valiant’s most talented artists. John Cooper moved with One-Eyed Jack, Eric Bradbury continued on the Black Crow, and Soldier Sharp greatly benefited from the arrival of Zip Nolan artist Joe Colquhoun.