Thursday, June 25, 2020

More on the History of It All...

(Source)
So, as I mentioned to a friend over on koobecaF, I'm trying to keep this story as close to the actual events as I can. Which, as you might guess, requires a bit of research as to who was where, on what day, and what did they do there and then? As I write more, I'm finding some very good resources. On Wednesday I found the War Diaries for the 6th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers of the British 15 (Scottish) Division. Very excited I was.

Now Sgt Billy Wallace and his lads have been, more or less, where their historical counterparts were on the days I've covered so far. Again, more or less. My intent here is to produce an entertaining work of historical fiction. I want to give my impressions of what the men on the ground, in contact with the enemy, on both sides, had to go through during the campaign in Normandy and perhaps all the way through the end of the war. (Not too ambitious am I?)

On the other hand, Sgt Bill Brandt's squad wandered off the path rather severely. Some of you may have remembered that Brandt and Jack Wilson came ashore on Omaha Beach on the 6th of June. I made a point of mentioning that they were not assigned to the 29th (Blue and Gray) Infantry Division. As there were two divisions assaulting Omaha on the 6th of June, that means Bill and Jack (et al) are assigned to the Big Red One, the 1st Infantry Division.

Some of you, who really know your history, may note that Brandt's squad was on the West Coast of the Cotentin on D + 13. Well away from where the Big Red One was operating...

Where I had them (red), where they should have been (green).
(Source)

Now I'm not saying that Sgt Brandt's L.T. (2Lt Heintzelman) was lost or anything, so far he seems like a fine young officer. What little we know of him.

(Source)

Anyhoo... I digress.

Scott the Badger had also mentioned that seeing a map would be helpful. Pictures and words can tell a story, but only a map can really fix your position in the world. Unless, of course, one is a brand new lieutenant...

(Source)
Once again though, I digress.

I've got Brandt and Wilson (et al) back to where they're supposed to be, somewhere west of Villers-Bocage, fighting tooth and nail against the 3rd Fallschirmjäger Division. Now that I have a great source for maps (check the "Source" under that first one) I think I can keep the lads in the right place. For now, let's just say that their battalion was temporarily attached to the 9th Infantry Division and leave it at that. (No one wants to know what goes in the sausage, right?)


You might note that two of the main characters are named with a variant of "Bill." Well Sgt Wallace's full first name is simply "Billy," not "William." I mean while it would be cool to have William Wallace fighting in your outfit, it's the wrong time period. I chose the name at random, after we first met then-Corporal Wallace, I noticed the connection. D'oh. So "Billy" it is, one of my favorite sergeants way back in the day was called "Billy." So there's that.

As to Sgt Brandt, okay, that's me not being clever at all. I actually know a "Bill Brandt," the character is kind of based on him, a little. But in the interests of full disclosure, the fictional Sgt Brandt's parents emigrated from the old country in the early 1920s. Though the good sergeant was born in the good old US of A, his mama named him "Wilhelm," after a favorite uncle. But in school all his friends called him Bill. If they'd called him "Willy," I'd still be trying to figure out how Willy Brandt (former West German chancellor) wound up in the American Army.

So yes, I am being a bit more careful with how I choose the names of the characters. Those fellows do seem to be multiplying though don't they? I'm trying to stick with a single American infantry squad, a single British infantry squad, and a single British tank crew. There will be more Germans coming along, but they tend to get killed or captured rather a lot. I'll try and moderate that...

The odds are pretty good that good old Jan Kołodziej, now going by Paweł Kowalski might eventually show back up as part of the Polish 1st Armored Division. How he went from unwilling German conscript to POW, to being in the employ of the Americans as an interpreter, to being with his fellow Poles is a long story, which I may, or may not, completely explore some day. It's a problem when you have too many threads in a story, hard to keep track of 'em all. (Like the British leftenant-colonel who suddenly became a major, until an alert reader posed the "WTF?" question.)


While the war does continue to rage, I needed to step back for a day, regroup, then prepare for the big offensive to attempt to seize Caen. Operation Epsom will see Sgt Wallace and the 6th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers heavily involved, not all of them are going to make it, the Brits took heavy casualties in that attack, as did the Germans.

Brandt and his boys will see action again soon, those assault guns didn't quite make it to support Unterfeldwebel Günther Hahn's attack. Of course, their company is still a bit shook up from losing their First Sergeant, slightly disorganized as there is no one to sign their leave paperwork or issue their pay (heh). No doubt the numerous Allied aircraft wandering about, sometimes calling in naval gunfire, may be stalling their planned mini-counterattack. We shall see.

So, I think we're all caught up.

In other news:

My beloved automotive transport, Big Girl, who has been in the family for 15 years, is on her way out. To be replaced by a much newer vehicle. As Big Girl was gifted to me by The Nuke, I paid zero dollars for her, initially. The new vehicle will actually have to be paid for, by me.

I see myself working well into my 70s. (Though the real plan is three more years, we'll see.)

See you back at the front, tomorrow.

Ciao.




Did anyone notice that I used the same picture twice yesterday? Well, I did.

42 comments:

  1. The invasion and all of the moving parts that accompany it including the air war, the logistic train, and down the the infantry platoon and the individual was something that must have been something to behold. Most of those veterans including members of my family who participated, are long dead. What would they say if they could see the nation today? Maybe it's kinder that they can't? Of course, they might like large flat screen tv's (but no sports games because of the plague, which cured the common cold because we don't have those anymore. It's plague or nothing.). And I think that they'd like the cars and the motorcycles, but the tattooed women would strike them as being irretrievably odd...not being circus performers and all.

    Thanks for the window, the writing and the insight.

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    1. I can't imagine what my Dad and my Uncles would think about the current situation. Insanity.

      Thanks LL!

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    2. LL. Good points. On the subject of tattoos, yesterday a photo blog called Shorpy (https://www.shorpy.com/) posted a March 1941 photo of a tattoo parlor in Norfolk Virginia, and the window sign lists "Removed." (https://www.shorpy.com/node/25707) Tattoo regrets existed even then.



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    3. Never understood the tattoo thing outside of certain cultures, like the Maori.

      But to each his/her own I suppose.

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    4. Echoing LL here, tanks for the behind the scenes reveal. A roster and a flowchart seem to be needed to track everything. Glad my parents aren't around for this pandemic and as for the "unrest" my dad would have have uttered more than once' Dam?@# Commies!"

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    5. I have a roster, the flowchart isn't a bad idea!

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    6. I am apparently incredibly old fashioned. A small hidden tat on a lady is her secret. Anything larger makes the tat or tats become gross and a violation of beauty, and the classification of 'lady' becomes iffy. I wish this wasn't prejudice, but it is, based on way too many experiences that form the base of judgement.

      Tats on guys? Better be for a darned good reason. Outlaw motorcycle club member, sailor, soldier, someone who's insides are scarred so they're scarring the outside, criminals etc. Otherwise, well, can't wait to NOT see you when you're old and wrinkly. And, seriously, you'd better not have any loans from that era before you lay down tens of thousands of dollars on stupid carp all over your body, well, unless you're yakuza, then, well, that's covered under 'criminals.'

      Old fuddy-duddy I am. And to top it off, you'd better have a good reason for wearing clothes that have huge rips in them. Like you can't afford new clothes. Subtle hint, don't buy yet another tat, waste the money on unripped clothes. And double down on pre-ripped clothes, one of the stupidest fashions ever.

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    7. It's good to see someone else noticing the tattoos and how that has changed since I was a kid.

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    8. Lots of folks notice, just not too many expressing an opinion on same as it ain't worth the effort.

      Unless you're talking to your kids or grandkids about it.

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    9. (Don McCollor)…one 'commercial lady' in Niven and Porunelle's "Oath of Fealty" had a scannable bar code on one lower cheek. Tats have uses..

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  2. I'm too sentimental. I know it, and work to keep it in check. When a trusted old vehicle gets to that point it's hard to let it go. At least for me. I'm glad I don't have a horse.....

    Good stuff on the background. I've never read anyone fess up to how they study for their craft like that. Thank you.

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    1. I'm sad to see the old girl go, but it was time. We had some good times, but she's not so reliable anymore.

      I need to do a background post like this periodically to keep myself somewhat organized as well.

      Thanks STxAR.

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    2. STxAR, it is the good author that does. It gives the fiction the sense of realism that lesser fiction lacks.

      Sarge, if you ever decide you want to take requests for other periods of historical fiction, maybe Operation Barbarossa?

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    3. Though it's fiction, I want to keep it grounded in reality.

      As to Operation Barbarossa, I did a short series (three parts) on a specific, and true, episode which occurred during that invasion in the Baltic states. You can read that here. The first three links on that page cover that.

      I hope to revisit the Eastern Front at some point in the future, It was a brutal and sprawling campaign, lots of stories there.

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    4. Thank you Sarge! I will definitely.

      Definitely full of stories. I can imagine a story about The Battle of Kursk.

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    5. There are a lot of episodes on the Russian Front which would provide material for a book. Kursk is a prime example.

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  3. LOL! I meant the maps they would have taken off of the dead German in the Kubelwagen! To gain information on the German offensive! But maps of the stories terrain also help a lot!

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    1. I knew that, thing is, the First Sergeant's map was a simple affair, no overlays which would reveal German positions, probably just a trace to show where the main line of resistance was.

      I did think it time to show where the story takes place, you gave me the idea.

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  4. Looking at that map I get the sudden urge to find an Avalon Hill game and play it... Just so you know, on the first map, the German units around Barfleur don't come off as German units. The following map shows them. Eh. Kind of not confusing, once you look at the front line.

    By the way, Barfleur and the associated harbor is where the White Ship sailed and sunk from. Also used in the Norman Conquest. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Ship

    Ancestors on mom's side came from Barfleur and area.

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  5. Curiously, I was going to recommend a white board with post-it notes.
    Thanks for the continuing story and the reminder that brown bars needed training from the MSGT crowd.

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    1. The Missus Herself would kill me.

      Even MSgts need training from time to time...

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    2. (Don McCollor)...a minor quibble in a great story...In your D+18 post was the phrase "Light 'em up Judd". I never ran across that before in WW2 (or Korean War fiction or nonfiction. I think (not positively) that it originated in Vietnam (out of period). Be rest assured that us armchair history buffs will be reading your efforts with ferret eyes (wanting your eventual book to be the best)...

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    3. I was up in the air about using that particular phrase, but I liked it, so I used it.

      Now if only I know what someone in 1944 might have said in that situation...

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    4. (Don McCollor)...Reflecting, it would me more like the

      ...Om reflecting, it would be more like the Lt would nod and the MG gunner would be tapped. He knew his job...




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  6. Sooo... many moons ago when you first announced you were prepping for retirement I suggested you get a new (or newer) vehicle and get it paid off as best you can before retiring. And you said Big Girl (whose brethren are made nae more) was fine.

    I.

    Told.

    You.

    So.

    Neener neener. :)

    Seriously, though. Now is a great time to buy, as Hertz has gone Tango Uniform and all their used cars are for sale, the car lots are clogged with new and used models nobody is buying and it's definitely a buyer's market. Watcha looking for? I recommend something that you don't have to climb out of or drop down into, as knees grow old and grumpy. Sticking with a Honda?

    My last van, a 1996 GMC, lasted until 2017, when it was obvious it was past it's last legs. Fortunately I had the money at the time to take care of it, else I'd (and Mrs. Andrew) would be SOL.

    Good luck. Keep us informed of the Odyssey of buying a newer vehicle.

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    1. Should be picking up the new ride today.

      I tried very hard to make the Element last, she just wanted too much attention.

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    2. Whatcha gettin, whatcha gettin, whatcha gettin???

      Pic, pics, pics or it didn't happen.

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    3. It's not happening until Saturday - bummer.

      Patience, grasshopper. All will be revealed in due time.

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    4. "grasshopper" -- old memories and new memories. Old -- David Carradine in "Kung Fu"; new -- some idjit in 'War Thunder' with name 'Grasshopper' stenciled in green across the side of his tank -- except all that actually showed along his short American-built M3A1 Stuart was 'asshopper', which fit his rather prancing, lightfooted handle. Not my business, but alrighty, then!

      At any any rate, War Thunder beats World of Tanks, not least in a semi-realistic damage model. WoT is simply ludicrous compared to WT. WT makes accommodations to repair times and crew replacement times to make an action-packed game, but it's not simply laughable (which can't be told until one has some time invested into both games.

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    5. Handle Frognot, just in case. It was a nearby townlet.

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  7. And I think USAA has gotten into the whole car brokering thingy. May be a place to look at for financing or even deals. Can't hurt, might help.

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    1. They've been doing that for quite some time.

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  8. I remember when a friend got a new Element back several years ago, not,long after they were introduced. He was former Army green beanie and local sheriff SWAT, said he liked that he could hose the blood and guts out of the interior. I don't think he was joking!
    I am finding it hard to let go of my 2001 Audi with 'only' 113K miles on it, mainly because it is a manual tranny. Very few nicer cars are sold in the US with a manual option (remember when a manual was 'standard'?). I'm a throwback that likes the control and better response to a manual, and 'manual shift automatics' still don't compare well unless you are in a supecar. At least in my experience so far.
    You are succeeding in your intent, very entertaining historical fiction.
    And maps are good, especially paper maps that you can fold and move to your desired orientation and work a compass with... amazing how many of the younger generations haven't a clue about reading even Road maps, much less topo maps. A pet peeve of mine. Like I said, I'm a throwback.
    I am glad my dad and most of his greatest generation are not around to see the current state of affairs. Although if they were, they might be inclined to take a very hands-on direct approach to solve the problems. Will be interesting to see what happens when the breaking point for the large number of average Americans is reached. It's a potentially terrifying prospect - the other side should be wary...

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    1. They should be very, very afraid.

      I too love having a real map in hand, compass is, of course, absolutely essential. (Well, maybe not, but it's good to know how to land navigate!)

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  9. Wait, that map is from FUSAG? I thought FUSAG was the fake paper army they created to mislead the Germans? So is that a real map, or a misinformation map?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_United_States_Army_Group

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    1. Here's another FUSAG map, with the "this is misinformation" explanation:

      https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/churchill/interactive/_html/wc0219.html

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    2. FUSAG was indeed a fictional army group.

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    3. If you read the whole caption under that map, it does show the situation fairly accurately at the end of D-Day, though not all Allied units are depicted though. This series of maps will be used to locate units in a very general sense.

      They are not misinformation per se, but they don't have all the details. In other words, they are good enough.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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