Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The 23rd of June, 1944 - D + 17, Adjustments

"Stand easy Corporal Wallace."

"SAH!" Corporal Billy Wallace snapped to the proper position, left foot back 12 inches and as he was wearing his field gear and carrying his Sten slung, his arms remained at his sides. He waited, he knew why he was here and he understood. But he'd be damned if he would have let that damned rascal Mackle murder a wounded prisoner, even if said prisoner was an SS bastard.

"Do you know why you are here Corporal?"


"Did you or did you not shoot Private Ian Mackle whilst he was in the process of attempting to bayonet a wounded German prisoner?"

"Guilty as charged, Sir!"

"I see." Major William Stansfield then took his time packing his pipe just so, then made something of a show of getting it lit. After drawing on it a number of times to make sure it was burning well, he spoke again.

"Corporal Wallace, do you have any invasion scrip on you?"


"Come on man, invasion scrip, funny francs, military currency, d'you have any?"

"Certainly sir, but just what we were issued before we landed, Sir."

"Very well, I have to go speak with the Sarn't Major for a few minutes. When I return, I wish to see the lowest denomination scrip note you have properly centered on this table in front of me. D'you understand Corporal?"


With that the major, commanding the battalion Wallace was a member of, walked from the tent. Pipe well alight and the major trailing smoke like an old time steam locomotive. Wallace just stood there, nonplussed, for rather a long moment. Then he searched his tunic pockets.

He pulled out a mess of invasion script, all rather damp and stuck together, and peeled off what he thought was a ten franc note, he had no idea what it was worth. He attempted to flatten it out and place it neatly centered on the table the major was using as a desk. It looked crumpled and sad, but Billy Wallace had no other options.

As he stood there, he began to wonder what the major had in store for him, the major having to speak with the Sarn't Major didn't feel like a good thing to Billy. Ah well, at least I won't have that young Jerry's blood on my hands. Mackle he knew for a very bad soldier, a man who had seldom done as he was told and shirked his duties as much as he could. Billy was convinced that Mackle had killed their leftenant on D-Day. The lad had barked at Mackle to "get your cowardly arse off this boat and get ashore!"

They had found the leftenant that evening, behind a sand dune, shot in the back. Billy had no proof that Mackle had done it, but the lad was a bad seed. Should've danced at the end of a rope in Egypt, Billy thought to himself, they couldn't prove that he had beaten that prostitute to death, but everyone knew it had to be him. He spent six months in the Glasshouse¹ for being absent without leave, for he had fled after the girl had been found dead.

His ruminations were interrupted by his company sergeant major entering the tent and screeching, "SHUN!²"

Wallace snapped to attention. Major Stansfield went to stand behind the table, picked up the franc note and handed it to the sergeant major.

"Sarn't major, make sure this gets to your company's relief fund. That will be all."

"SAH!" And with that, the company sergeant major pivoted smartly and left the tent.

"Corporal Billy, No Middle Initial, Wallace, you stand accused of shooting Private Ian Cullen Mackle in the field. Said shooting resulting in the death of said private. You have plead guilty to those charges. Do you have anything to say on your behalf before I pronounce sentence?"


"Very well, I hereby sentence you to one hour of confinement and a fine of ten francs. I hereby reduce said confinement to time served."


"How long have you been standing in my tent Corporal? Has it been an hour?"

"No sir, maybe 30 minutes."

"Have you gone beyond the confines of this tent since you reported to me here?"

"Sir, no sir." Billy was starting to wonder what was going on, he didn't want to get his hopes up, but...

"Do you understand the concept of confinement Corporal?"

"Sir, not allowed to leave a particular location..."

"Precisely Corporal. Incidentally, you are out of uniform."

Billy's heart sank. He had worked hard to make corporal and now he was being reduced to the ranks. Well, at least there would be no time in the Glasshouse.

"Sir, I understand sir, I will have these stripes off immediately Sir."

"Yes, quite. Replace them with these..." The Major said as he threw a set of sergeant's stripes onto the table.

"You've done well Sergeant Wallace, your Company Sarn't Major has been keeping an eye on you. Now go and try not to shoot anymore of your own men. I think the lads you have remaining are good ones. Don't lose sleep over Mackle, if it wasn't for the war he'd have been hanged long ago."


With that Sergeant Billy Wallace of the Royal Scots Fusiliers returned to his squad. Still sweating bullets but rather pleased with the outcome.

On the other side of the Cotentin Peninsula, Sgt Bill Brandt and his squad had a rare day to relax. They were issued clean uniforms, had showers, even had a fairly decent hot meal for the first time since they left England.

They were still a man down, Charlie would be in hospital for quite some time. Based on his experiences with the Army, he doubted they'd see Charlie again. Once he recovered he'd wind up in some repple-depple³ and then be assigned to God-Knows-Where. It was a crappy system but there was nothing Brandt could do about it.

In the meantime they enjoyed their brief holiday in the Norman countryside. At least the rain had stopped and the day was rather pleasant. Sergeant Brandt knew they'd be moving out the next day. More hedgerows, more cramped fields, and, no doubt, more Germans. SSG Andersen had told him that all of the Kraut armor was fighting the Brits. So at least they hadn't had to worry about tanks.

Rumor was going around though, that some units had made contact with an SS Panzergrenadier unit, armored infantry in halftracks supported by assault guns. Wonderful, it's bad enough fighting the Kraut paras, now halftracks and assault guns? Wonderful.

Sturmgeschütz III (Assault Gun - StuG III) in Normandy

Stabsfeldwebel Gerhard Lindner spent the day in meetings with the battalion commander and the other company commanders in sPzAbt 503. They were reviewing the possible routes the British might take in an advance to take Caen.

Major Fromme pointed on the map to the area north of Carpiquet airfield, "As you can see, there is a ridge just to the south of the airfield with good sight lines to the north, which is fairly open country. The Tommies, if they wish to mass their armor, and they must, will be advancing in this area. There are folds and irregularities in the ground which they could use to good advantage, were it not for this ridge. We should be able to dominate the countryside with our 8.8 cm guns."

They would be moving into position that night.

He knew that the combat engineers had been out every night during the storm, laying mines as fast as they could. It was only a matter of time before the Tommies attacked again. With the mines slowing them and channelizing their movements, the British armor should be easy meat for their Tigers.

Mining the road.

Sergeant James Fitzhugh and his crew were having a brew up next to their tank. Nothing like a spot of tea, Fitzhugh thought. At that moment his battalion commander, Leftenant-Colonel Jonathan Bryce-Heath and their Regimental Sergeant Major Oswald Brookes approached.

"Look alive lads," Fitzhugh murmured.

As the battalion commander came up, the lads were attentive, but stayed seated, no sense alerting any sniper that their officer was here.

"Care for some tea, Sir?" Fitzhugh offered.

"Don't mind if I do Sarn't, Fitzhugh isn't it?"

"Yes sir. James Fitzhugh."

"Did'ya know that Monty has joined us here in Normandy?" Bryce-Heath offered as he sipped his tea.

"No sir, I didn't see that memo."

"Cheeky bastard, I..."

"Stand easy RSM, Sarn't Fitzhugh's an old hand. While you were square-bashing4 at Carrington, he was being evacuated from Dunkirk. You were in Libya as well weren't you Fitzhugh?"

"Yes sir, 3rd Royal Tanks. Got our arses kicked by the Desert Fox, didn't we?"

"That we did Sergeant, that we did. Now it's our turn, I do think we've got the fox now. He just doesn't have the forces you know?"

"Right sir, though I'd be happy if he had fewer Tigers!"

The battalion commander nodded, then he and the RSM went on to the next troop. They had hard fighting ahead of them. It was one thing to have Monty breathing fire from England wondering why we hadn't taken Caen yet, now he was in the neighborhood. As if he didn't have enough problems with the Germans, the terrain, and the weather.

Fitzhugh watched his commander walk away, the man seemed to have the weight of the world on his shoulders. Fitzhugh was starting to wonder if any of them would survive this bloody war. He had a bad feeling about this attack.

¹ Glasshouse, or the Glasshouse, is the term for a military prison in the United Kingdom.
² Shun - attention, as in "Stand at attention." British sergeants tend to screech rather than bellow. At least the ones I've seen on parade. Royal Highland Regiment in Belgium, BITD.
³ Repple-depple = Replacement Depot. The US Army in WW2 did not swap formations out of the line when they were used up by combat. New men from the repple-depples were fed to the units as needed. These new men were frequently killed in action before anyone in their gaining unit even knew their names. The repple-depples were hated by the troops.
4 Square-bashing, British Army slang for drilling, i.e. marching in formation.


  1. Bully.....Bully! Uh..... the RSM and a Lt Col walk up and then there's a Major walking away, confused I am...?

    1. D'oh! (Fixed that, thanks for catching it.)

    2. Well, after the conversation, maybe the Lt. Col was relieved...

      Joke, it's a joke, poor joke but...

  2. Oof, Billy shot him right in the field. I believe that’s located in the breadbasket region?

    1. Military legal jargon bro', these ain't doctors. 😉

  3. Ah, repple depple. Didn't get any better in Korea or Vietnam from what I've heard. And Rasimus' books kind of prove it.

    Worse thing to do, stop an advance. Though fighting during the storm would have been hard, it would have been better than giving Jerry a break to fortify. Since they were already hard to remove from hastily prepared positions.

    And... fighting across an airfield? Nope. Nooooooope. Can't make me, can't make me. The only thing worse than a freshly harvested field or flat desert is an airfield. Nothing, absolutely nothing to block vision or bullets, no place to hide from artillery and absolutely every inch will be mined just to deny the attacker the airfield after they potentially secure it. Nope. I'd go around. Far around. Attack from the rear. But then again...

    Ah, heck. Mr. Field Marshall 'I am better than God and am a tactical genius (in my own mind)' Montgomery? I agree with Sarn't Fitzhugh, got a bad feeling about this. FM Charge Straight Into Fire will bring out a brilliant plan like a massive assault across... an airfield. (His actions in North Africa were more based on his predecessor's work, he just took the recognition for it.) When Monty shows up, the only one who gets a haul is the Grim Reaper. (reference to 'Monty Haul' style of gaming where the players rake in huge amounts of loot, like at a game show...)

    1. Check the map, armor-wise it's the best way to get to the airfield and Caen. Everyone knows that...

      Including the Germans. Sometimes there is no way to be clever. (Not that that was one of Monty's strong suits...)

    2. https://youtu.be/S74rvpc6W60
      this just sums up my feelings
      airfield overlooked by ridge, heavily mined, under fire of some of best antitank wepons of the era?

    3. Yup, you see clearly my friend.

    4. Sadly, Monty was very rarely clever. Even 2nd Alemein, supposedly his great masterstroke, would've been better named as Operation Clodhopper than his Operation Lightfoot! A master of set-piece battles when there weren't that many set-piece battles to be fought. He surely didn't intend the different battles to first take Caen and then advance to the relatively clear ground beyond as mere diversionary battles to allow the Americans to break through. That was fantasizing after the fact, I fear.

    5. Monty threw away opportunity after opportunity to cut off and destroy the Afrika Korps between El Alemein and Tripoli, despite having airpower and armored power (verified by Ultra), yet let the Germans escape again and again. There's no genius showing there.

  4. Brits take a lot of crap for this period, some of it well deserved. But they were also blooding a new army with different baggage and doctrine than the Yanks. And unlike the chermins, they were willing to learn, adapt, etc. The Brit Army 60 days hence was fundamentally different and much more lethal. To the grave detriment of many chermins.

    1. Not to mention that they had to be very careful, they were starting to run out of bodies to put in uniform!


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

NOTE: Comments on posts over 5 days old go into moderation, automatically.