Thursday, December 31, 2020

Sooooo..... Now they've really gone and peeved me off immensely!

It's been a while since the last time I posted, sooo... well... yeah...  For someone with not a lot to do I just have been busy. Busy, busy, busy.  Busy putting my two cents worth all over the interwebs.

But that's not why I'm here.  


I'm here because of something disturbing I've been reading about for the last few years.  Something so unholy and earth-shattering in a bad way that, well, I just have to vent.

So here it goes...

Why do people hate Leftovers?

Seriously.  There's a lot of hate over leftovers. And a real hatred for people who cook for more than one day's worth of food at a time.  And eat leftovers for lunch at work instead of going out and blowing $5-20 for lunch?

Same with just fixing dinners.  You can buy a meal kit for two, three, or four.  For one friggin meal.  What's up with that.

Let's see... (gets up, groans, waddles over to the 2nd refrigerator/freezer) 

2nd Fridge/Freeze, Beans?  Yes.  When the Family Beans moved to the apartment from the house, we left the 24cuft fridge/freeze at the house.  Old, kind of worn, and wouldn't fit. So we went with what the apartment came with.  A 16cuft.  Hey, cut down on stuff, smaller life, try, yada yada...  And I tried.  Tried through July 4th and barely managed, no room for drinks and food or food or drinks and faced with the prospect of the upcoming holiday season (this was 2017, by the way) I just freaked and bought a 16cuft.  Which now sits where normal people (hey, I'm not normal, neither is Mrs. Andrew...) put a kitchen nook table chair thingy.  

By the way, 1st fridge holds to be cooked stuff, butter, open milk jug, cheese, veggies, pickles, eggs while 1st freeze holds chicken breasts (10oz and 5oz) and hot dogs, packs of ground beef (8 oz or 4 oz) and stuff like that.

2nd Fridge is for sodas (neither of us drink alcohol, so diet sodas it is) and extra milk and extra orange juice and extra stuff and big items to be cooked that are thawed or thawing (currently housing 2 7.5lb turkey breasts and egg nog and 3 gallons of milk and sodas and my fish-fry oil.

2nd Freezer, on the other hand... That's me leftovers storage container.

(Ominous sound as door opens) And we have... 2 nights  worth of Killer Lasagna. 1 night's worth of chicken enchiladas (thaw, heat, add side order of rice and sour cream...) 5 packets of chopped up turkey breasts leftover from Thanksgiving and the spare turkey breast, all chopped up into bits and parceled out into 2.5 cup packets.  For to which to make turkey pot pie with.  A brick of last year's boiled down turkey juice (take all the turkey carcasses, put in really big stock pot, boil the living heck out of it all, scoop out all the chunks, save the meat, discard the non-edible stuff, boil down remaining liquid into a thick sludge, cool, skim off the turkey schmaltz (fat) and then let the de-schmaltzed sludge gel and package) for which to make turkey pot pies with.  And 3 new carcasses to boil down once the two from New Years are picked apart and do the whole rendering thingy all over again.  

Last year's ham bone that I really need to saw into chunks for to use in making pots of beans.  This year's ham bone to do the same. Need to make space for the bags of chunked up leftover ham for to use in making beans and other things (like grits with ham, yum (sound of Mrs. Andrew gagging at the thought of grits)(what does she know, she used to eat Cream of Wheat and she still eats rice with butter and sugar, blech.)

Sorry, no pulled-pork from the Anniversary dinner left over. May have to make some more.

So, well, we love leftovers.  Even when we make something like (Our Version of) fried rice, we make enough leftovers for lunch the next day.

Thanksgiving?  We ate Thanksgiving meal - turkey, candied yams, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce for 6 days before the dressing and yams ran out.

Christmas?  We ate ham, candied yams, dirty rice and cranberry sauce until, well New Year's Eve, whereupon the yams ran out and there's some dirty rice left over for my lunches and the ham goes into small bits to make stuff with...

New Year's?  We'll eat New Year's meal - turkey, candied yams, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce for 5-6 days before the dressing and yams run out.  


And even non-holiday meals are ripe for tasty leftovers.

Enchiladas.  Make 16, bake in a pan with lots of cheese, eat 4 for first night fresh, refrig and eat another 4 the next day and freeze the remaining 8 into two packs of 4.

The aforementioned Killer Lasagna?  (which is just a regular recipe with lots of extra cheese and meat and sauce and cheese and cheese. Did I mention cheese?) A pan of my lasagna makes for 6 night's worth.  Have it the first night fresh, then manga another few nights off of it and portion out and freeze the remaining.

Same with roast.  I mean, why do a roast for 2 people for one night?  Come on, you're already wasting all that 'lectricity or gas or dried cow patties or whatever you're using for fuel (yes, I have cooked meals over dried cow pats.  Who hasn't?)  So for two people I start out with 5-6lbs of meat, a big bottle of wine, about 2 pounds of carrots, another 2 lbs of spuds and eat it first night fresh, eat another 2-3 nights reheated and the rest gets chopped up and turned into vegetable soup (big frozen bag of mixed veggies, and several cans of petit diced tomatoes) and eat that fresh for one night with cornbread (save the leftover cornbread for cornbread and milk for breakfast (it's a southern thing) and the rest frozen) and then eat soup and fresh cornbread for 3-5 nights and freeze the rest of the soup.

Beans?  Start out with 2-1 ratio pinto and white beans, soak, cook with hambone and extra leftover ham mini cubes.  Eat fresh with cornbread and eat for days until it's time to turn the leftovers into chili with beans (you can add extra beans from a can, but starting it with the leftover beans and bean liquids works...)

Eat chili with cornbread until you're tired of it, freeze most of the remaining chili into individual night's servings and have chili-dogs with the rest.

Turkey pot-pies?  I make 4 mini-pot pies using one chunk of turkey, a chunk of frozen turkey juice, more mixed veggies (the secret is to cook the mixed veggies beforehand in the microwave (say it with a French accent...) for 15 minutes before hand so the green beans are cooked through, and make fresh pie dough and make 4 mini pies and you have one night of turkey pot-pie and stick the other two in the refridge and cook them the next day.

Even our fried rice is leftover based, kinda.  Start out with fresh veggies, and 1/2 makes one night's worth of FR, then a couple days later make some more FR with the remaining 1/2 veggies.


And people throw them out, or don't even cook and throw out their take-out leftovers.  What... savages.


Did you think this was going to be a political post?  Sorry, it isn't. 

Except that leftovers are a great way to save time while reloading, or slitting throats.. I mean, who has the time to do a big dinner when you're out tarring and feathering...

In Review


I am taking a break from the book for a few days. The blog as well, I'll get to that in a moment.

Though I am still on vacation for another week, I'm only at Chez Nuke et Tuttle for just a couple more days. It's been a nice long vacation and being able to share in the newest member of our tribe's first Christmas has been awesome. He's a lovely little boy, curious about everything, and is growing like a weed! (He's four and a half months old now.)

As the year 2020 draws to a close, I am reminded of just how much I don't like celebrating the "new year." Never have, never will. The only thing I like about December 31st is that it's The Nuke's birthday. I don't begrudge other people their celebrations, it's just that I personally think it's no big deal. Never have, never will.

I'm not much for goals or resolutions and the new year is just the rolling over of the calendar from one year to another. Does anything change other than that? Is it any different from going from the 31st of May to the 1st of June? 

Nope. Not to me at any rate.

Your mileage may (and no doubt does) vary.

It also marks the end of the Christmas season, my absolute favorite holiday, so it's a bit of a downer on that count. I keep the holiday spirit alive until Epiphany, many do not. My Christmas candles in the windows are lit until the 7th of January takes over from the 6th, that being the last night for them to be turned on. Which marks the end of Christmas for another year.

While I don't really "suffer" from post-holiday depression, there is a sadness there. The season of light, the season of hope and good will passes from the Earth until another December arrives. I try to keep the holiday alive in my heart but when everyone else seems relieved that it's over, it's tough. (How about we stop equating the season with spending money and focus on what it's really about? As much as I like giving - and getting - gifts, that is most emphatically not the reason for the season.)

As to 2020 being a "bad" year and the "OMG, I can't wait for it to be over" attitude...

Are you serious, do you think changing the calendar is going to make things any different that they were before?

2020 was a good year for me, new grandson, new car, things could have been better, sure, but to blame the year? Nonsense, sheer and utter nonsense.

Yes, 2020 was a bad year for some. Any year in which you lose a loved one is a bad one. But don't blame the year. Blame government inefficiency and malfeasance. Not just our government for those who keeping score at home.

Do I think Covid-19 is a bad thing? Of course, it kills people. All diseases are bad by their very nature, is this worse than the flu? Probably, I don't know, I'm not a doctor. But don't blame the year for that. Blame somebody, but not a concept whereby we measure time.

Will 2021 be better? I don't know, but to tell you the truth, I think it's going to be far worse. Don't ask me why, it's a gut feeling. I hope I'm wrong.

At any rate, I'm done with blogging for 2020. Truth be told, I've spent too much time in front of a computer screen and not enough time experiencing life. I'll pick it back up when we get to 2021, which, God willing, will find The Missus Herself and I safely back in Little Rhody with the feline staff. (Who will no doubt chastise us for the 12 days we were away. I can't say I blame them.)

See you next year. Probably Tuesday. Maybe...

But I will be back in early January, NLT Epiphany, I'm sure.

For those who do celebrate the New Year, have a good time.

Responsibly, of course.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Blood on the Snow


Unteroffizier Sven Schneider was nearly invisible to an observer farther up the road in the direction of the Americans. He was wearing his reversible camouflage suit white-side out, though the uniform was smudged and dirty, it was still enough to make him difficult to spot. The overhead cover for his hastily dug foxhole would not have covered up the detritus from the hole he'd dug the night before, but the fresh snow did.

Schneider was just one survivor of the eleven men from the 2nd Assault Platoon of Grenadierkompanie Koch. He now commanded what remained of the thirty-three men of the platoon who had marched into Belgium from Germany just two weeks ago. Just the previous day word had spread throughout the company that their surviving senior NCO, and the new commander of the company, had been shot while trying to desert to the Americans.

He knew better of course, Unterfeldwebel Paul Wolf, who had commanded company headquarters but now commanded the company itself, had been at the orders group where Otto Meyer had declared that further fighting was idiotic, they should surrender. Major von Lüttwitz had had Otto stripped of his weapons and gear and told him which way the American lines were.

"So Otto just walked off, one of the snipers killed him before he'd gone twenty meters. I guess the Major wanted to send a message." Wolf had said.

"Message understood, no surrender, we fight on. I always thought Otto was soft. He might have been a good U-boat man, but he was a shitty soldier.¹" Schneider thought of that as he watched the American M8 scout car parked not sixty meters away. The Amis were curious, but not insane. He wondered if they would advance any further, they couldn't see down the road past his position, he had stood in that very spot yesterday afternoon.

The Amis had been snooping around all morning, looking for some sign of German resistance and finding nothing. Schneider thought they might now be comfortable with the idea of advancing further, he nodded at Bernhard Möller and Ludger Albrecht manning the squad's MG 42. If the scout car advanced, they would open fire. When they did, that would signal to Christof Jung and Gunther Frank that they should launch their rifle grenades.

Corporal Mike Hess lowered his field glasses. He couldn't see anything out of the ordinary, but it was a perfect spot for an ambush. He got on the radio, "Mac, Hess here. I'm moving up, I can't see anything, maybe the Krauts have pulled back."

Sgt. John MacDonald in his M8 was a quarter-mile back, he wasn't happy with this mission, but battalion wanted his guys to check out the road to Wirtzfeld. S-2 was convinced that the Germans in this sector had fallen back to the south of the town. MacDonald wasn't so sure.

"Go ahead Mikey, but be f**king careful."


Hess told his driver, "Okay, Jimmie ease us on down the road, you see that clump of bushes on the left?"

Pfc. Jimmie Stevens answered, "Got it Mikey, moving out." Putting the Greyhound scout car in gear, Stevens moved the vehicle down the road.

Pvt. Jack Holloway chimed in on the intercom, "I don't like this Mikey, I can't see anything ahead of us, my gut says Krauts ahead."

Cpl. Hess told his men to stow the chatter. Then to his gunner, "Keep the gun on that clump of bushes, if the Krauts are around, they might be in there. It's a good spot to cover the road."

It was a good spot to cover the road, but there were other spots as well, better spots.

Grenadier Alfred Ziegler was an old hand. He'd once been a sergeant, but a drunken episode in Kharkov saw him demoted to private and sentenced to a month in the stockade. That sentence had saved his life. His old unit had been destroyed to a man in the bitter fighting in Kharkov in the late winter, early spring of 1943.

Sent to the west, he had been wounded in Normandy and had recovered in time to be assigned to one of the new Grenadier Companies, which were intended to fill the ranks of the newly created Volksgrenadier divisions. His company had been "one too many" and had been shunted off to this makeshift Kampfgruppe.

He saw the scout car start to move, when it was close, he got up on one knee, his snow suit made him nearly invisible, but it didn't matter, the man in the turret of the car was focused on the road to his front. Ziegler noticed the man turn in surprise when he heard the swoosh of Ziegler's Panzerfaust.

Schneider watched with grim satisfaction as the warhead from Ziegler's Panzerfaust burned through the side of the lightly armored scout car. The burning jet of plasma killed the two man turret crew instantly. The driver and assistant driver managed to get out of the car, but the first burst from Möller's MG 42 killed both men before they could escape. The driver was sprawled on the road next to the burning car, the assistant driver had fallen back into the inferno of the destroyed car.

"Stay alert, where there's one car, there's always another." Schneider said to his men.

"Bloody Amis, if I know them, where there's one, there's probably a dozen more!" Grenadier Fridolf Keller said, then spat into the snow. He didn't like Americans, they had killed his brother outside Eindhoven, and their bombers had made his parents homeless. Keller and the other men in the squad spread out to cover any advance by infantry. They'd let Ziegler and the machine gun team cover the road.

Alex Boone and Brad Gonzales were ahead and to either flank of Sgt. Jack Wilson's squad, which was on point for 1st Lt. Paddock's 2nd Platoon. They were advancing along a snow-covered road which had seen recent traffic, probably that morning due to the fresh snow which had fallen overnight.

"Cat, what do you think?"

Cpl. Melvin Katz had noticed the tracks, a couple of vehicles he thought, probably American, at least the tire tread imprints in the snow looked American. Not that he knew that much about vehicle treads, he just had a feeling.

"Coupla M8s I'll bet. L.T. said that the 99th has some recce units in the area." Before he could say another word, Wilson noticed that Boone and Gonzales were both signaling, "Vehicle approaching."

Moments later an American M8 Greyhound scout car came down the road, at speed. When the crew noticed the infantry alongside the road, the driver hit the brakes, hard. Which caused the car to skid off the road and into the ditch. Fortunately the car didn't roll over, but it was stuck for now.

"Jesus, don't you guys know how to drive in the snow?" Sgt. Wilson asked as Luther Thomas and Cecil Brown, two of his B.A.R. team, helped the crew out of the car.

Sgt. MacDonald, shaken from seeing one of his vehicles destroyed and its crew slaughtered, not to mention the sensation of nearly being thrown from his turret when Pvt. Mel Zuckerman skidded the car into the ditch, swore loudly as he dismounted.

"F**kin' idiot is from Miami, what does he know about snow?" He was glaring at the young private as he climbed out of his driver's position.

"Sorry Sarge, you said move and move fast. Then you said stop, so I stopped." Zuckerman explained.

"Next time think! Okay?"

Sgt. Wilson wanted to know what the M8 had been running from, so he asked, "Sarge, what were you guys moving so fast for?"

MacDonald collected himself then said, "Kraut anti-tank position down the road, they destroyed my other vehicle, I wasn't going to stick around and get killed myself. So..."

"Got it, Alex, Brad, go check it out." The two scouts moved out.

"Sven, Amerikaner da drüben.²" Gefreiter Bernhard Möller whispered from behind his MG 42.

"Ja, I see them. Hold your fire."

"You see 'em, Brad?" Boone whispered.

"Yup, looks like a machine gun team. I got a bead on the gunner." Pvt. Brad Gonzales answered as he nestled his M1 into his shoulder. Gonzales was a very good shot, he knew he could hit the man from this distance. But could they then get away before the Krauts reacted?

Pfc. Alex Boone looked around, they had a good path to follow to pull back after taking the shot if they needed to. So he whispered, "Take the shot."

Too late Unteroffizier Sven Schneider noticed that one of the Americans had his weapon aimed in their direction. As he turned to tell Möller to open fire, Möller was hit in the face. Möller's head snapped back and then he slumped forward over the gun. Albrecht raised himself up on one knee to pull Möller off of the gun, which was a mistake.

Albrecht grunted as he felt something akin to a hot poker run into the side of his chest and burn through him. The American round had entered his left armpit, tore through both lungs and then exited out his right side just above his hip. For a moment he felt nothing other than that burning sensation. Then he was screaming in agony.

"Go, go, go!" Sgt. Wilson was deploying his men as fast as he could. When he'd heard the first shot, then the second, he knew that Boone and Gonzales had found something. He arrived in time to see a German in a snow suit seem to come up out of the ground and turn to run.

He didn't get very far.

They didn't see the other Germans in the squad opposing them slip away into the woods. They had little stomach for further fighting after seeing their leader go down.

Unteroffizier Sven Schneider gasped as he tried to take a breath, he was lying in the snow just behind the machine gun position. He had seen Möller die, then saw young Albrecht stupidly expose himself to clear the gun. When Albrecht had gone down screaming, he decided that he'd seen enough. He got up to run.

The pain in his back was enormous. He was coughing and each cough caused gouts of blood to issue from his mouth. The snow was stained red around his face. He knew he was dying and felt an immense sadness. He had so wanted to see his home in Oberammergau again.

As his life slipped away, he heard the crunch of boots in the snow nearby, probably the very men who had killed him and his machine gun team.

Then he felt...


¹ Ironic when you consider that Schneider had come from the Luftwaffe.
² Americans, over there.

Link to all of The Chant's fiction.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Beginning of the End


"We took a lot of casualties on the other side of the lake, Nate. If those tank destroyers hadn't shown up, we'd probably still be out there, all of us. As it is, we lost fifty-seven guys, five KIA that we know about, twenty-six wounded, and twenty-six men missing, presumed dead." Captain Tony Palminteri looked at the ground for a moment, sighed then looked up at 1st Lt. Nate Paddock. "We got our asses kicked, Nate."

"Yes Cap'n, that's over twenty-five percent casualties, but did the Krauts make it to Berg? Did they get through Bütgenbach? No Sir, they did not. We stopped the bastards cold. There's a lot more dead Krauts out there than dead GIs." Paddock's fight had, so far, been fairly easy. The rest of the company, and the entire battalion for that matter, had seen much heavier fighting.

"Yeah, Nate, but those are my guys out there, fifty-seven of 'em. This has been a hard fight, Nate, an awfully hard fight. Ah shit, here comes the battalion commander, what the Hell does he want?" Captain Palminteri wearily got to his feet only to be waved back down by Major Alphonse Josephson, commander of the 26th Infantry's 1st Battalion.

"Don't get up for me Tony, you guys have done a great job out here. Stopped those Nazi bastards in their tracks. Now I've got one more job for you." The Major had a look on his face which said much, he knew he was asking a lot.

"Whaddaya got, Boss?" Palminteri asked.

"Let's go inside, I've got fresh maps for you, already marked up."

1st Lt. Paddock hesitated at the door, the Major beckoned him in, "You too, Nate, your platoon has an important job in this plan."

Major Josephson spread his map out on the table in the small, semi-destroyed, farmhouse which Palminteri was using as his company CP.


Map Key
 Kfg vL = Kampfgruppe von Lüttwitz
 3rd Fjg Div = 3rd Fallschirmjäger Division, paratroopers.
 Recce = Reconnaissance
 ID = Infantry Division
 2./1. Komp = 2nd Platoon/1st Company, Kampfgruppe von Lüttwitz
 GrK Koch = Grenadierkompanie Koch, Kampfgruppe von Lüttwitz
 StuGKp = Sturmgeschützkompanie Hornbach, Kampfgruppe von Lüttwitz
 PzKp = Panzerkompanie Sauer, Kampfgruppe von Lüttwitz
 Luchs Kp = Panzerspähwagenkompanie Köhler, Kampfgruppe von Lüttwitz
 3./2. Komp = 3rd Platoon/2nd Company, Kampfgruppe von Lüttwitz
 C/I/26th = C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment

"As you can see, most of the regiment is tied down holding Bütgenbach, they've got Kraut paratroopers all over their lines, Krauts have got assault gun support as well."

Josephson then slid his finger to the right side of the map. "Now over here we've got men from the 2nd Infantry Division in Wirtzfeld, they've got a strong position there and have started probing to the northwest, towards a reconnaissance element from the 99th. They've run into strong resistance along the road which goes over this spur of the Elsenborn Ridge. Those Krauts are part of a larger Kampfgruppe which we've been fighting since the beginning of this attack."

Josephson paused for a moment, then continued, "We think the Krauts are trying to fall back to the south of Wirtzfeld where elements of the 12 SS Panzer Division are holding a strong position. They seemed to have gone over to the defense as they stopped attacking a couple of days ago, S-2 thinks they're outta gas. I think S-2 is right, we've taken a couple of prisoners who have confirmed this."

Josephson stood up as if to go, "Oh yeah, one more thing, we've had lots of reports of the SS killing POWs and civilians, it ain't official, but regiment says we aren't taking any SS prisoners, clear?"

Palminteri spoke up, "We didn't hear anything from you, Boss. I'm sure those fanatics will not surrender anyway. Right Nate?"

Paddock immediately responded, "It's war, Cap'n. They started it, I won't lose any sleep over this."

"Right then, I've got to get back to battalion, but tomorrow morning, we jump off. Tony I need you guys to clear that area north of the lake. If I could I'd love to cut them off, but we just don't have the strength, push 'em back, if they try to stand, kill 'em."

Josephson handed a piece of paper to Palminteri, "That's a list of the artillery you have on call. I tried to get you a Forward Air Controller, but there ain't a lot of them to go around. There's a supply of orange panels in my jeep, use those to mark your positions. Any questions?"

Palminteri shook his head no, he looked at Paddock, who also shook his head.

"Great. Tomorrow, we start punching back. Go and kill them gentlemen, kill them all."

US Army Photo

It was late in the afternoon, perhaps an hour of daylight remained. After staying out of the open all day, the Kampfgruppe was ready to move. Major Jürgen von Lüttwitz had met with his surviving officers and senior sergeants during the day. They had come to the same conclusion, there was no way that they could continue the offensive. American strength in front of them had already cost them many dead and wounded. Most of their trucks had been destroyed in an air raid that morning.

"We have no choice but to fall back, men. I've ordered all of the fuel we have remaining to be transferred to our panzers and StuGs. We have a few halftracks left which we'll use to carry the infantry for our spearhead to regain our lines south of Wirtzfeld. Two trucks have been allocated to carry the wounded, the other three remaining trucks will carry supplies - fuel, food, and ammo. Most everything else we'll have to carry on our backs, gentlemen. Questions?"

Oberfeldwebel Otto Meyer looked around the shelter the men had made under the trees with shelter-halves and blankets, "Herr Major, Grenadierkompanie Koch is in position now, we took the chance of moving in daylight. The Jabos weren't interested in men on foot. We are dug in and prepared to sell our lives dearly, but," he looked around at his fellow soldiers, "why don't we just surrender, Sir?"

Major von Lüttwitz nodded to two men standing nearby, they moved up and stripped Meyer of his weapon and other gear. Meyer was resigned to his fate, he had no desire to see any more of his men die.

"The American lines are that way, Otto. I'm sorry you don't have the courage to continue, but I understand. Unterfeldwebel Wolff, take command of the grenadier company. Gentlemen, dismissed, we move an hour after sunset."

Meyer stood there for a moment, then turned and left. He heard a man behind him mutter, "Feigling.¹" Then he was out from under the shelter. He began to move off into the fields, he didn't notice one of the snipers standing nearby, watching him. He walked slowly, his back to the only life he had known for five years. He was dejected and depressed, but he knew in his heart that there was no way Germany could win this war. He was done.

As the men started to return to their units, Leutnant Manfred Sauer grabbed Major von Lüttwitz by the arm, "Herr Major, Jürgen, this is insanity," he hissed. "If you let that man walk, the word will get around, many of the men will refuse to continue."

Von Lüttwitz looked down at the hand gripping his arm. Sauer released the arm and began to apologize when a single gunshot rang out. Moments later a pistol shot was heard.

"I pointed him to the American lines, I didn't tell him he was free to go. He made his choice. I will shoot any man who refuses to continue. The sentries all have orders to shoot anyone attempting to leave their unit."

Sauer looked at his old comrade, "A harsh decision my old friend."

"These are harsh times, Manfred."

"Harsh times."

¹ Coward.

Link to all of The Chant's fiction.

Monday, December 28, 2020


 No, Beans not After Trig or Calculus...THE Aftermath.

The Family rejoin was completed Christmas Eve with the arrival of SIL, who had to work that morning.  Since Little J and DIL had arrived earlier in the week, they had claimed the guest bedroom.  This meant the MBD and SIL were using the, as yet incomplete, Murphy Bed in my office.  This would be the reason for the lack of commentary on various posts this week.  

Mea Culpa.  BTW, Sarge, nice touch on the tumbling napalm in yesterday's post, adds a very nice touch of authenticity to it.

Dinner the first night they were home was Pork Carnitas.  For some reason, DIL saw fit to wear this Tee to dinner.  I approved.

Dinner Christmas Eve was Seafood Linguini, as my Italian side always serves seafood on Christmas Eve. This site has a reasonable facsimile to my recipe.  I've been making it so long, doing it in my sleep is easy.  It's the getting to sleep that's the hard part.  In any case, MBD insisted on my opening one of my presents that evening.

I did and this was the result.

The following morning the clan arose around 0600, ran the house out of hot water and departed at 0700 for the 0800 Mass.  The Church had increased the allowed attendees to number 220 for the Christmas Masses.  We figured there wouldn't be too many families with small kids at this particular mass so went ahead and made our reservations.

Now...doesn't that just stick in your craw?  "Allowed attendees", "Reservations"? To go to Church?




Once again...

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The Mass itself reminded me of just why this whole Chinese Communist/Democrat Flu BS irritates me so much.  The Pastor's sermon was quite enjoyable and spot on target for Christmas.  It was based on O Henry's "The Gift of the Magi". It had been quite a while since I'd read it (OK, Beans, Sophomore in HS.  Yes, we had books back then, hand written by Monks but books nonetheless.), but I knew right away where he was going.

It's not the gift itself that matters, it's the sacrifice involved in giving the gift.

So....yeah, I miss being able to go to Mass without having to make a reservation or wear a flipping mask.  

Upon RTB, the Fritatta went in the oven and the gift exchange began.  Everybody was assigned a hat to wear.  I don't know why, but Mrs J started the tradition years ago.  As events played out, I think she's been plotting for a long time.

For some reason, she assigned this as my "hat"

A little history to set the stage,  in my family whenever someone was handed a package and gave it a gentle shake, my Dad would say "It's bikini underwear."  I don't know where that came from, but it was a sure thing when he was in the room.  

Since he passed title of "Patriarch of the juvat clan", it fell to me to continue the teachings of my father.  Hence, if anyone shakes a package, I can be counted on to say "It's bikini underwear".

Now, my Son-in-Law is a pretty smart guy and has well worked his way into the juvat clan traditions.




All that having been said, he didn't win the "Most Perfect Gift Ever" award.  That will probably have to be retired after Mrs J's gift to both Little J and I.


 He and I are looking forward to a half hour ride each in a Stearman.  Well done, Honey!

At that point, it became time for a "Long Winter's Nap".  Schmedley beat me to it.

Happy New Year's to all y'all.  Keep your chin up, head down and powder dry.  Gonna be an interesting one.


Sunday, December 27, 2020

Cold is the Night


Major Jürgen von Lüttwitz was stunned by the scale of the losses suffered by the attacking force he had sent towards Berg. Although one tank had been abandoned when the men had had to withdraw, the other three were intact. Of the twenty men in the tank platoon only one had been hurt. The platoon commander, Leutnant Rudolf Klein, had been shot down by a sniper while he stood in the hatch of his tank. He was badly injured but the medics said he would probably survive. He and the other wounded were headed to the rear in one of the Kampfgruppe's trucks, of which they now had a number of spares.

However, Grenadierkompanie Koch had started the campaign with 119 men and now only 48 of those men remained. They had started the attack towards Berg with 93 men, 45 had been lost, including the company commander, Hauptmann Hans Koch, who had not returned. Only five wounded men had come back, the others were unaccounted for, the American artillery had driven the men back before they could recover their casualties.

"What can you tell me about what happened, Oberfeldwebel?" Von Lüttwitz was speaking with the senior surviving man from Grenadierkompanie Koch, Oberfeldwebel Otto Meyer , who commanded the unit's 2nd Platoon, of whom only 12 men remained.

"We were advancing up the road in rain and intermittent snow squalls, visibility was very bad. From my position near the middle of the column we couldn't see very far ahead. Apparently Leutnant Klein was hit by a sniper not long after the head of the column advanced into the open. From there things went from bad to worse. Another panzer attempted to deploy off the road and hit a mine. As our infantry began to deploy they were hit by fairly accurate machine gun and rifle fire. There were mines in that field as well, but we took very few casualties from those. That's when the Ami artillery opened up. It was Hell out there Sir..."

Sgt. Greg Jenkins joined Cpl. Judd Maxwell and his machine gun team from his squad's position to Maxwell's left. Privates Brian Chapman and Steve Pacheco were back with the team after their adventure with the bazooka they had taken forward. While they hadn't killed any tanks, they had drawn some unwanted attention from the tanks' supporting infantry.

"Corp, I don't ever want to do that again, damned Krauts seemed kinda pissed off." Pacheco was still shaking from the experience. It had been a close call.

Jenkins spoke up, "Well, you guys distracted them long enough so that we could hose them with the .3o cal and with rifle fire. I think Charlie and Bear nailed a couple of officers as well in all the confusion."

Cpl. Maxwell agreed, "They were so interested in chasing you guys off, they forgot all about us."

Chapman had to ask, "So Sarge, what was up with our arty? The rounds were going off in the air, almost like they knew where to explode."

"Yeah, I'll have to ask the L.T., those cannon cockers sure fused their shots just right today. Lotsa dead and dying Krauts out there tonight." Jenkins said.

"Poor bastards." Chapman added.

As the clouds cleared, and the temperature plummeted, there were indeed many men out in the open, many were past caring, their unseeing eyes staring into the night sky. A number of the Germans were wounded, they had been abandoned by their own unit when the artillery had turned the farmer's field into a killing ground.

Feldwebel Reinhart Brandt had been in command of the Grenadierkompanie's Rifle Platoon, thirty-three men, of whom only 17 had made it off the field. Brandt had multiple wounds in both legs and his left arm was shattered. He could see at least three of his men lying nearby, none of whom were moving, he assumed that they were dead.

They were.

Brandt moaned involuntarily, his legs were bothering him terribly, the cold was intense, he wondered where the medics were. While the Kampfgruppe had no trained medics assigned, they did have a number of stretcher bearers who had rudimentary training in first aid, enough to keep a man alive until they could be evacuated to the rear.

He didn't know that his own company's Krankenträger,¹ Grenadier Wolfgang Schulte, wasn't very far away. He had gone to ground when the artillery had started. Somehow he had survived and when he saw the company retreating, he had decided to stay and help the wounded as best he could.

He was working his way in the dark, there was enough snow on the ground and enough starlight that he could see, after a fashion. The best he could do was try to stop the bleeding and comfort the wounded men until they could be evacuated. Probably in the morning he thought.

Little did he know that Kampfgruppe von Lüttwitz had already advanced as far as they ever would in the Ardennes, movement would be to the east from now on. Back to Germany.

1st Lt. Paddock had come up in the early hours of Christmas Day, perhaps an hour before daybreak. There had been a report of movement out in the field in front of 2nd Platoon's position, the men didn't want to fire and give away their positions, so Paddock went up to see for himself.

"I see a couple of guys moving around, they appear to be checking the men on the ground. If I had to guess, I'd bet that the Krauts have their medics out, trying to get the wounded away." Paddock tucked his field glasses away. "Leave 'em be. Once the sun comes up, Cap'n Palminteri says to expect air support. The flyboys are keen to get up in the air and kill Germans after being grounded for so long.

Sgt. Jenkins was watching the Germans as well, when he lowered his field glasses, he said, "I almost feel sorry for those poor bastards. Almost..."

Schulte had just checked yet another corpse, nothing he could have done could save the man, most of his head was missing. He heard a man moaning, cautiously he approached. He recognized one of the unit's NCOs.

"Feldwebel Brandt, where are you injured? It's me, Schulte."

"Ah, lad, glad you didn't run away. Both legs and my left arm are torn up. I can't move."

Schulte tried to slide a hand underneath Brandt, it was no use, the sergeant was frozen to the turf, probably with his own blood. So he moved down to the man's feet and pressed his fingers into the leather of the man's boots, over his toes.

"Can you wiggle your toes Feldwebel?"

"I am, can you feel that?"

Schulte couldn't feel any movement in the man's feet. Sliding his hands up further, he got his fingers inside Brandt's trousers, the man's legs felt like ice. Spinal cord injury Schulte figured, he had assisted a field surgeon in his old unit and had some experience with those kinds of injuries. Brandt was probably paralyzed from the waist down.

"I'll be back, Herr Feldwebel. I need to see if there are more survivors." Schulte moved off to another man, he could see the man was trying to sit upright.

He moved off to assist that wounded man, he seemed to be doing alright, other than not having a right foot that is.

Grenadier Wilhelm Möller spoke as Schulte checked his leg, "Maybe I can get a desk job now, eh Schulte?"

"Nice tourniquet, whoever tied this off probably saved your life. Well, the cold helped too, helped stop the bleeding."

"When I got hit, my friend Vollrath helped me. Tied off the wound and was going to drag me back when he was hit. That's him right there." Möller pointed towards a snow-dusted body nearby.

As Schulte started to move in that direction, Möller said, "Don't bother, I saw him get hit, bullet right through his head. Blew his helmet off and a big chunk of his brains. He died without a peep."

Schulte noticed that it was starting to get light out now. His instinct was to flee, the Amis would no doubt start shooting if they saw anyone moving out here, but his job was to help the wounded.

So he stayed.

Though Kampfgruppe (mot) von Lüttwitz had managed to get most of their running vehicles under cover, the tracks they left in the snow and mud would be obvious to an airborne attacker.

"Manfred, have the men stay away from the vehicles, if the Ami Jabos come, the vehicles will attract them like buzzards to a corpse." Major von Lüttwitz cast another glance at the sky, he could see contrails high up, no doubt bombers heading east, to Germany.

The morning was still hazy but the rising sun would burn that off soon enough. Von Lüttwitz swore that he could hear aircraft engines, the sound was unmistakable. Though they were back in the trees, he remembered all too well the devastation foretold by that throbbing roar. He had seen it in France, no doubt he would see it this day as well.

The flight of four P-47 Thunderbolts flew over the copse of trees to the southeast of Berg, the flight lead's wingman was studying the ground ahead as they flew over the snow-covered terrain. The morning haze was lifting and he had to squint at the brightness of the snow cover.

"Lead, you seeing that at your nine o'clock?"

"I got 'em Three, tank tracks? I think I also saw a truck just inside the tree line."

"Yup, that's what I see."

"Red Flight, head north, let's go back around."

The crew of the sole remaining SdKfz 10/5 anti-aircraft vehicle watched the four silvery aircraft turn to the north. They had lost one vehicle late the day before when it had thrown a track crossing a farm field. The third vehicle had fallen into a stream when the bridge over that stream had collapsed under the vehicle's weight. A closer examination revealed that the bridge's support structure had been deliberately damaged by someone. Probably American engineers the detachment commander had figured.

Oberfeldwebel Bruno Kraus told his men, "Get ready boys, those Jabos will be coming back around. We'll hit them as they go into their attack run."

Kraus didn't know that the feed mechanism on his gun had frozen during the night. With luck, they might get off one, maybe two rounds before the gun jammed.

Kraus told the crew, "Here they come, get ready to feed more rounds when I need 'em."

As Kanonier Maximilian Mayer was bringing another magazine of 2cm ammunition back to the gun platform, he looked up in time to see glittering shapes fall from underneath the attacking aircraft. He thought that it looked rather pretty. Then he remembered, it was Christmas morning.

The lead flyer saw a flash over to his right front, a tracer from a 2cm cannon flashed over his canopy, then nothing. He had a glimpse of a Flak crew scrambling over their vehicle. "Hmm, maybe they're out of ammo." he thought as he and his flight returned to base to rearm.

The tumbling canisters were napalm-filled, when they hit the trees they burst into flame, raining burning jellied gasoline on the men and vehicles below.

Kampfgruppe von Lüttwitz had just lost a number of their remaining trucks and a number of halftracks as well. The Kampfgruppe was no longer motorized, most of the men would be walking back to Germany.

The skies were clear, the Allied air forces were up in force, anything out in the open which bore German markings was doomed.

¹ Stretcher bearer

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Saturday, December 26, 2020

Forlorn Hope

U.S. Army Photo

"You guys good?" 1st Lt. Paddock clapped Cpl. Judd Maxwell on the shoulder. Maxwell and his .30 caliber machine gun team were set up covering the road leading into Berg. The snow had switched back to rain and the entire platoon was miserable.

They had pulled back down the road to Berg from where Sgt. Greg Jenkins' 2nd Squad had lost five of its twelve men. Four killed and one man sent to the rear when he had suffered a mental breakdown over the loss of his best friend. They had settled in to their new positions, late on the previous day.

"We're okay L.T., Brad and Steve have a bazooka and when they're done hauling ammo for me, they'll be lurking just down the road." Maxwell knew that the next trip that Privates Chapman and Pacheco made would bring up the last of their reserve ammo. As long as the Krauts didn't hit them with arty, they would hold this spot, come what may.

"Great, I've posted Charlie and Bear just back and to your left to pick off any officers who might be dumb enough to poke their heads up."

Indeed, Charlie Gammell and Jackson Hebert had a good line of sight down the road and to the left of the road where the trees ended. The remnants of Jenkins' squad were dug in to their left in support. Paddock had had the men out since early in the morning planting mines in the road, along the ditches to either side of the road, and any other place a German might seek cover. The Krauts might come with armor and they might outnumber his platoon, but Paddock and the boys were prepared to make the Germans pay.


Leutnant Rudolf Klein was standing in the hatch of his PzKw III Ausf. M, waiting for the signal to advance. His platoon of four panzers would be leading the attack with the 93 survivors of Grenadierkompanie Koch in close support. The infantry would be advancing interspersed with the panzers, Oberfeldwebel Otto Meyer's 2nd Platoon would move ahead of Klein's panzer in a skirmish line once they broke out of the trees.

Major von Lüttwitz climbed up onto Klein's panzer and surveyed the road ahead through his field glasses. His reconnaissance troops had crept up close to the American lines during the night, leaving their vehicles behind. According to what they brought back, there was a single American platoon covering the road.

"Leutnant Klein, once we punch through the Amis, I want you and your men to pivot to your right and drive down the road to support Bethmann's platoon. We have word that the Americans are in strength in Wirtzfeld. If they get through Bethmann's men, we'll be cut off, pinned against the lake to our left."

"We need to get through the Amis in Berg and then hit Bütgenbach. That will unhinge the American position here, then we can drive west off the Leibstandarte's right flank. Questions?"

"No, Herr Major, other than whether you have heard the reports that the SS bounced off Bütgenbach and moved west?"

"Yes, I have. That's why it's so important for us to hit this position ahead of us and get behind those Amis in Bütgenbach. If not, the SS will have their flank in the air. Not that they have ever really cared about such a thing. They still haven't learned that this isn't Russia."

"Aren't you worried, Sir?"

"Of course I am, but keep your men under control. If we stay together and not get too dispersed, we can always fight our way back to Germany." Von Lüttwitz looked one last time towards Berg, then looked at Klein. "Whenever you're ready, Rudolf."


The rain had switched over to a mix of sleet and snow as the temperature dropped. The wind was gusting and swirling, cutting visibility to mere yards at times. Pfc. Charlie Gammell was only getting intermittent views of the road and the edge of the woods. That concerned him.

"Ya know Bear, if this keeps up, we might have to move in closer."

Pfc. Jackson Hebert was watching the fields and the road through his field glasses. "Yup, but it ain't that bad just yet. It's the swirling wind that bothers me, see those trees across the way, first the branches lean one way, then the wind shifts and they tilt the other way. Makes long range shooting kinda iffy."

"Yup. Hey, wait a minute, I've got movement at the other end of the road, where it comes out of the trees." Gammell was watching as a German tank rolled into the open. It was accompanied by infantry on foot.

Bear watched for a moment, then said, "That tank commander is standing up in his hatch. Probably thinks the sleet and snow will hide him."

Gammell settled his cheek into his rifle's stock and murmured, "We'll see about that."

Leutnant Klein gestured to the squad leader leading his supporting infantry. They were out in the open now, it was time for the infantry to form a skirmish line. Unteroffizier Sven Schneider, son of a German father and a Danish mother, nodded to the lieutenant in the tank.

Though he'd been in the German military since 1938, this was his first battle as a member of the Army. Up until earlier in the year he had been an air gunner on the He 111. Seeing as how the Luftwaffe's bombers were growing fewer in number and the Army was short of infantry, here he was. He shifted the StG 44 off of his shoulder and checked that it was loaded and the safety off. He was nervous.

As the wind died down momentarily, Schneider heard a muffled grunt to his left. As he turned to see what it was, he heard the crack of a rifle shot.

The bullet hit Klein just below his right nipple. It forced the air from his lungs and doubled him over on top of the turret. There was no pain at first, though he felt as if he'd been hit with a heavy piece of lumber. As he tried to raise himself up then lower himself into his hatch, the pain hit him. He knew immediately that the wound was serious.

"Leutnant, what's the matter?" Panzerschütze Bernhard Schulze had turned to see why his commander had kicked him.

"Jesus, Heinrich, help me pull the Leutnant in, he's hit!"

Unteroffizier Heinrich Schwarz turned and looked, sure enough, Leutnant Klein was slumped over the edge of his cupola. He and Schulze reached over and pulled the injured officer into the tank.

They managed to get the lieutenant seated, his eyes were darting from one side to the other, a trickle of blood was running down from the right corner of his mouth. As Schwarz tore the man's tunic open, he was stunned by the amount of blood. He screamed, "Erwin, stop! The Leutnant has been wounded!"

Feldwebel Erwin Krüger hit the brake, wondering what was happening, he had not heard or seen any evidence of American fire. When he looked back and up into the turret, his first thought was, "Sniper!"

Outside the panzer, Unteroffizier Schneider wondered why the vehicle had lurched to a stop, then he noticed that the commander was no longer visible. Before he could react to that, the chatter of an American machine gun interrupted his thoughts.

"Too high, Jim, too high!" Cpl. Maxwell saw that their first burst had gone high. But the Germans had yet to react. He had seen the tank commander double over and then disappear inside the vehicle, that was his cue to open fire.

Pfc. Jim Weber adjusted his aim, he walked his next burst directly into the infantry with the tank. Those men had just started to deploy when the enemy tank had abruptly stopped. The enemy infantry were momentarily confused. Many of them didn't live long enough to regain their composure.

Schneider saw two of his men go down, he realized that they were being shot at, "COVER!! COVER!!"

Three more of his squad pitched over and collapsed as they were hit, the cries began immediately...


Feldwebel Egon Schmid in Panzer 133 saw his platoon commander's vehicle lurch to a stop, not knowing why, he assumed the worst.

"Frank, right stick, get us out into that field!" Unterfeldwebel Frank Ludwig had 133 moving before Schmid had finished his command.

Over the radio Schmid commanded, "3rd Platoon, Leutnant Klein is out of the fight, this is Schmid, deploy to the right, assume right echelon formation!"

As Panzer 133 dipped into the slight ditch to the right of the road, it's left track ran right over an American M1A1 anti-tank mine, it blew the forward road wheel apart. As the track slid off, Schmid radioed again, "Franz! I've hit a mine! We're immobilized!"

The deputy platoon leader, Oberfeldwebel Franz Kraus in Panzer 132, ordered his driver to move to the front. Before exiting the trees he had his driver, Unterfeldwebel Karl Vogt, turn off the road and cut through the thinner trees at the edge of the field. He also ordered his remaining tank, Panzer 134 commanded by Feldwebel Siegfried Mayer, to follow.

Oberfeldwebel Otto Meyer, commanding the supporting infantry platoon ordered his men to follow the two panzers moving to the right. "Sven! Take what's left of your squad and follow me, we'll cover the left flank. Move up to the lead panzer so we can see what's happening!"

Meyer had five men of the Zugtrupp¹ with him. The platoon medic, Grenadier Wulfhelm Vogt, had already moved up to assist Schneider's casualties, two of the men with grenade launchers were with the squads moving off to the right, he had one with him, Obergefreiter Christof Jung.

As they moved up, a bazooka rocket came from up the road and to the left.

The rocket fired by Pvt. Brad Chapman hit Panzer 131 on the skirt armor surrounding three sides of the vehicle's turret. It punched through the armor as though it was made of butter. However, the round expended all of its force on the skirt armor and failed to penetrate the turret.

The men inside Panzer 131 didn't even notice the hit, they were busy trying to save their lieutenant.

"Be still Leutnant, you're hit in the upper chest, to the right, you've probably got a punctured lung. I think I've got the bleeding stopped but you're hurt bad. We're going to put you on the turret floor for the moment."

Feldwebel Erwin Krüger had left his driver's position to deal with the lieutenant's wound, he looked at the radioman and said, "Max, you take over as driver, I've got the command now!"

Because the crews of Panzerkompanie Sauer had come from the Panzerschule², each man typically knew every position in a tank crew, with the exception of Panzerschütze Bernhard Schulze in 131. He had just finished his schooling and, though he was a good loader, he wasn't as familiar with the other positions, so he stayed put.

Krüger got into the commander's position, he did not poke his head up over the rim of the cupola, he knew better. As he got his bearings, he saw some of their supporting infantry taking position to the left of 131. "Good," he thought, "we're not alone."

Pvt. Steve Pacheco punched Pvt. Brad Chapman in the shoulder. Chapman turned.

"What? Why the f**k did you hit me?"

"We gotta move buddy, bazooka won't go through that side armor and we got Kraut infantry moving up. You wanna live, we gotta scoot."

Chapman only then noticed the infantry, "Shit, let's go, keep to the trees!"

Oberfeldwebel Meyer caught a glimpse of men falling back to the left front of where Panzer 131 sat. He fired instinctively but the burst from his StG 44 went over their heads. He didn't get a second chance as when he looked again, the enemy bazooka team was gone.

Cpl. Judd Maxwell noticed the German infantry moving up to the right of the stopped German tank, whose turret was starting to move. The cannon was moving towards his position! Before he could take the German infantry under fire, the snow picked up. Visibility dropped to zero as the snow squall moved through.

"Scheiße! I can't see anything, the snow has picked up. Max back us up to beside 133. We need to get things sorted out. Bernhard, switch ammo to high-explosive. We're dealing with infantry only!" Krüger soon had his panzer beside 133, when he looked up again, the snow squall had passed. He got on the radio.

"Egon, you boys still among the living?"

Schmid responded almost immediately, "We're okay, we're just stuck in this ditch. I tried elevating the gun to take that ridge under fire, but that's not going to happen, we're cocked at a funny angle."

"All right, hold on, I've got the Major on the radio."

"What the Hell is going on up there? Who's in command?"

"Herr Major, this is Feldwebel Egon Schmid, Oberfeldwebel Franz Kraus is now in command of the platoon, but I think his radio might be out. Leutnant Klein is wounded, I don't know how bad. Oberfeldwebel Kraus is leading an attack right now through the fields with most of the infantry. We have one panzer immobilized and..."

Schmid winced as American artillery, heavy artillery, began to impact forward of his position. The rounds were 'walking' towards his position.

"Schmid, Schmid, report! Are you there?"

"Jawohl, Herr Major, we've got heavy artillery fire coming in, ah shit! Sorry, Sir, the infantry are getting murdered. Your orders, Sir?"

Major Jürgen von Lüttwitz thought for a moment. The platoon from his 2nd Company was reporting contact with American tanks and infantry. They were hard-pressed, if that road block collapsed, the entire Kampfgruppe would be cut off.

He spoke into the radio, "Schmid, fall back to your starting positions and hold there. We have a situation on the road to Wirtzfeld. Hold there and await further orders."

"Yes Sir, I'll get the word out."

But when Schmid looked up, Kraus already had the panzers and infantry falling back. There were a number of infantrymen who remained out in the field. Bodies being rapidly covered by another snow squall. At any rate, the artillery had stopped.

"Now what?" he wondered.

He heard someone pounding on the side of his vehicle, it was one of the infantrymen, he popped his hatch.

"Come on Feldwebel, we're falling back. Are you staying here?"

In the rush of events, Egon Schmid had quite forgotten that Panzer 133 wasn't going anywhere until they got it repaired. "All right lads, bail out, we're walking back."

As night fell it finally stopped snowing. 1st Lt. Paddock came up as it was starting to get dark.

"Nice job Judd, looks like we stopped 'em."

"Yeah, I thought Chapman and Pacheco were goners, but the snow shielded their withdrawal, that artillery really saved our asses too."

"Well that and the Indian Head boys³ are attacking out of Wirtzfeld in the Kraut rear. And..."

Paddock looked up, he could see stars. "Would ya look at that, the sky's clearing."

"Gonna be cold tonight L.T.," Maxwell started, then it dawned on him, "and clear skies tomorrow! Air support!"

"Yup, Merry Christmas, Corporal!"

"Merry Christmas, Sir!"

Christmas Eve, 1944. The German offensive was sputtering to a stop along the northern shoulder in front of the Elsenborn Ridge. Sixth Panzerarmee was stalled.

Fifth Panzerarmee was still advancing but the town of Bastogne remained in American hands, like a bone stuck in the German throat. Americans and Germans were dying in droves, but for all intents and purposes, the German attack had failed.

All that was left was convincing the Germans that they were finished. Many more men would die before that happened.

¹ Platoon Troop, i.e. Platoon HQ
² Tank School
³ Patch of the 2nd Infantry Division shows an Indian in profile.

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