Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Germans in Retreat


SS-Oberscharführer Herbert Schubert watched as the last Panther rolled by his vehicle. He had seen three Panthers and just two of the Pzkw IVs go by, there may have been others retreating from the village, but he doubted it, this was the main road through town. He had been ordered to hold this position on the northern edge of Marigny and had his own tank plus an understrength platoon of Panzergrenadiers from the Deutschland regiment. As far as he knew, they might be all that's left of that regiment.

His unit, the 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich," had suffered severely during their movement from the south of France to Normandy. Partisan attacks and air raids had destroyed many of the division's trucks. The trucks used to haul ammunition and fuel. Most of the armor had survived, but only because they moved at night. Upon arrival in Normandy the division had started to bleed to death.

Every day saw naval gunfire and air attacks whittle down their strength. Allied armor had also chipped away at the division's tank strength. Whereas the Shermans weren't really a match for the Panther, tank for tank, they stacked up well against the Pzkw IVs. And though a single Panther might knock out three Shermans for every Panther lost, the Amis and Tommies could replace their tanks almost immediately. Once a Panther was destroyed, that was it, any of the crew which survived were sent back to the rear to await replacement tanks, which were very rare.

"Shut the engine down Klaus, we can't afford to sit here wasting fuel. We're in a good position and... Scheiße! Ami tanks, 500 meters! Load Panzergrenate!"

Northern edge of Marigny¹

Sgt Brandt saw that they were close to the ruins of Marigny, at least that's what his map said. He heard the tank commander, Sgt Kaminski, inside the turret yelling something. Then the man emerged from his hatch.

"Brandt, there's a Kraut Panther up ahead, get your boys to hold on, we're taking a short cut!" At the same instant he ordered his second tank to cut right and take up position near the ruins of a barn just off the road.

Brandt barely had the chance to get his section to grab something when Kaminski's tank turned sharply to the left. Brandt thought the tank would ride up over the hedgerow and was surprised when the apparatus on the front of the Sherman dug into the base of the hedge and the tank bulled right through.

National Archives

Though the ground sloped up, exposing the tank's belly, they weren't stuck on the road. At that point Brandt realized that Wilson's section was on the second tank, so now his squad was divided. He ordered his section to dismount, "Over the side boys, take cover!"


Schubert couldn't believe his eyes, the Ami tank had charged right through the hedgerow as if it wasn't there. He'd also seen another Sherman turn in behind a ruined building. There were three other Shermans on the road, "Ami panzer dead ahead, 500 meters, feuer!"

After they fired, and saw the Sherman stop and begin to burn, he ordered his driver to roll forward to get in front of the building they were next to, he couldn't see to his right and he needed to know where that Sherman had gone. At that moment a round from the Sherman in the ruins hit the left front corner of his vehicle. The armor failed catastrophically, fracturing it. The armor piercing round went under the turret basket and out the right side of the Panther.

"Out Männer, get out, she's going to burn!" Schubert screamed at his crew.

As he swung his hatch out of the way, he saw his gunner bail out the rear entrance to the turret. He could hear his driver and bow gunner screaming in agony as the tank began to burn. As he climbed out, he had just a glimpse of the loader, he had been caught by the recoil of the main gun. Damned Grünschnabel²! What were they teaching these kids at the Panzerschule?

"There, kill that son of a bitch!" Brandt bellowed at Red, his B.A.R. man, but Red had already seen the black clad tanker trying to get out of his vehicle, which was starting to burn merrily. He fired a short burst, then watched with satisfaction as the Kraut crumpled back inside of the turret.

The ragtag platoon of SS infantrymen who had been deployed to support Schubert's tank, broke and ran when they saw the tank get hit, and then watched in horror as Schubert himself was killed by the Americans. No one wanted to die for the Führer in this little crappy village.

The infantry didn't get far as the fourth tank in Kaminski's platoon had moved around the wreck of Jackson's tank. Sgt Weathersfield saw that Jackson and his crew had got out, he ordered Williams in number five tank to follow him in.

As they barreled down the road, he could see that both Kaminski and Sgt Wallace, commanding number two, were laying down high explosive into the few remaining buildings ahead. As they moved up, he saw movement in what must have been a small marketplace before the bombs and artillery had killed the town.

"Pete!" Weathersfield barked at his bow gunner, his gunner in the turret already had the coaxial machine gun, which was mounted next to the main gun, chattering in the direction of the running figures.

"I see 'em!" Pete Halliday also opened fire and saw at least one German collapse as a tracer round seemed to go right through the man.

From a ruined building nearby, the gunner from Schubert's tank, SS-Rottenführer Karl Lange saw the SS infantry get machine gunned in the main town square. He was shaking uncontrollably. He had pissed himself when the tank had started to burn and had been convinced that he was a dead man. But he had got away clean, turning he had seen his commander, Herbert Schubert, collapse back into his turret, blood splattering the top of the tank as the American rifle rounds tore into him.

He waited, he saw American infantry in the square, checking the dead SS men. One fired a shot into one of the men on the ground.

"Those bastards! They're killing the wounded!" Lange went from being terrified to being enraged. He pulled the bolt back on his MP-40, which he had wisely taken with him when he had bailed out, and began to work his way forward.

"What the f**k Cajun, why'd you shoot that Kraut?" Ollie couldn't believe it when one of the Krauts, badly wounded, had started to roll over, and Pvt Andre Tremblay had shot the man in the back. The wounded German had stopped moving immediately.

Cajun told the guys to back away, the Kraut he had shot had been trying to fuse a grenade, he wasn't sure if he had or not. Now Ollie understood.

"Cover!" Sgt Brandt had yelled. After a few long seconds with no explosion, Cajun moved up and rolled the dead man over, the string which fused the grenade was still in the handle, the bead in the dead man's fingers. He had died before he could fuse it.

Virgil Kennedy, one of the new guys from the band, walked over to the dead man. Looking down on him he started to say something when a burst of fire broke out to his right rear. Pvt Kennedy hit the ground in a hurry, spinning in the direction of the firing.

SS-Rottenführer Karl Lange was bringing his submachine gun up to shoot the American standing over the dead SS man. He was furious, he figured that he could kill or wound most of the Americans in the little square. He had no idea that Corporal Jack Wilson's section was coming up behind him.

PFC Howard Dickenson had seen the Kraut first. He saw the man bringing a weapon to bear, he couldn't see the targets the man was obviously going to open up on. There was no time, he brought his M-1 to his shoulder and emptied the magazine in the SS tanker's direction.

Cpl Wilson had immediately ordered the rest of the section to hit the ground when Dickenson opened fire. He was all set to berate the new man when he heard a scream of agony to his front. He saw a man in an SS tanker's black uniform spinning slowly around, trying in vain to bring his weapon to bear.

Though seven of the eight rounds Dickenson had fired missed, one had hit the German in the small of his back, partially severing the man's spinal chord. He was dead, but didn't realize it yet.

SS-Rottenführer Karl Lange had no feeling in his legs, he hadn't fallen over due to some trick of nature. Perhaps it was because his knees were locked. He desperately was trying to swing the MP-40 in the direction of the man who had killed him, but the world went black before he could do so.

Sgt Brandt came over to Wilson's section, "You guys okay, anybody hit?"

"Nah Sarn't Brandt, we're all good. Freaking Howard here saw this Kraut, "Wilson punctuated that by kicking the dead SS tanker, "and cut him down without saying a word. Probably saved a few of you guys, he had you dead to rights. Course, his marksmanship sucks, but that we can fix. Kid's got good instincts."

Dickenson was trembling, the adrenalin was still coursing through his body. He hadn't thought at all, he'd seen an armed man about to shoot his buddies, so he had shot him first. Without a thought, without a moment's reflection. Just like that, he had killed a man.

"Dickenson, come with me." Brandt tugged at the man's uniform sleeve and led him away from the group. "Jack, get the men sorted out, search the dead Krauts for intel, see what the tankers wanna do next."

Dickenson stumbled along after his sergeant, the adrenalin was starting to wear off. He thought back to his days growing up, he'd just killed a fellow human being. Was he going to go to Hell now?

Brandt took Dickenson's rifle and helped the kid sit down inside a ruined store, at least it looked like a store to Brandt. Brandt then noticed that Dickenson was crying, big tears coursing down his dirty cheeks.

"What do they call you back home kid?" Brandt was kneeling next to the man, talking gently to him, like you'd talk to a nervous dog.

"Uh, what? Back home? Oh, sorry Sarge, everybody calls me Howie. Back home and in the band." He managed to get the tears under control, but he was still shaking.

"Okay, listen up Howie, you did good out there. You killed an SS man, an actual Nazi bastard. His division has been killing innocents all over Europe since the war began. The SS, they like to kill Jews, they like to shoot prisoners, they treat non-Germans like trash. Killing him was a good thing. I know you don't think so now, but trust me kid, you did good."

As Brandt talked Dickenson down, he used some water from his canteen to wet the rag he used for cleaning his gear, then used it to clean Dickenson's face. He didn't want the other guys giving him any crap about this. Everyone reacted in different ways the first time they killed someone. Sometimes that small fact didn't hit them for days, for some it was years.

One moment the guy was living and breathing, the next he was on the ground, blood painting the dirt, eyes staring at nothing. A hunk of dead flesh. But this was war, they had no time to think about the dead, only what came next, the next mission, the next meal, the next mail call.

The Germans Brandt had killed visited him in his dreams, it had terrified him at first, then he realized, the dead Krauts weren't mad at him, they would have killed him had they had the chance. But Bill had shot first, and had shot true, it was weird, but it was almost like the men visited his dreams so that he would remember them. Fellow soldiers.

"Sarge, sarge." Dickenson was shaking Sgt Brandt, he had drifted off, somewhere.

"Wait, what?" Sgt Brandt snapped back to the present.

"Corporal Wilson is yelling for you, the tankers want to move on. You okay Sarge?"

"Yeah, kid, let's go. Tomorrow's another day. Ya done good today, keep it up."

Pvt Howie Dickenson followed his sergeant back to the town square. The dead SS men had been moved to one side, pockets inside out, but their faces had been covered out of respect for the dead. Not to mention it being better for the morale of the living.

They climbed back onto the tanks, of which there were now only four. Kaminski had sent Jackson's crew to the rear, they'd be back up within a day with a new tank. Tanks they had plenty of, Kaminski was more worried about keeping his men alive. So far he'd only lost one man since they'd landed in Normandy. He wanted to keep it that way.

As the tanks pulled out, the other men in Wilson's section were all looking at Dickenson with respect, his fellow bandsmen, Jack Leonard, saw his buddy in a new light.

Cajun slapped Dickenson on the back, "Nice job Howie, you probably saved some of our guys today. Want a smoke?"

"Sure, thanks, uh, Cajun is it?"

The men laughed, PFC Howard Dickenson was one of them now, a soldier.

¹ Most of the buildings in this modern day photo would have been in ruins.
² Green horn, rookie.


  1. Howie has seen the elephant......this effort of yours is going to be quite the read when it's all strung together Sarge.

  2. I could smell the ammonia from the rounds of that M1 at the end. I don't know if it's your writing or my ability to just immerse into a story, but when they mix together, I'm there. Howie is at the pivot point. where the veneer of civilization peels off... Folks can clank up, turn to monsters, or dance that fine line of professionalism that allows them to function in the environment. Brandt's dream shows how he's learned to deal with what he's done. I wonder how Howie will hold up?

    It's weird how so many small decisions shape the course of events. Split squad, pincer movement, flanking all roll up to a successful engagement, or a rout. We do the same today, that slow start off the red light may put you in the path of an accident, or save you from one. It is possible to overthink things at times and clank up... Or under think, and get in trouble.... So many things for the wetware to deal with..... And we do it so much, it's almost (is) autopilot at times.

    1. The autopilot thing amazes me at times. Functioning without really thinking about it, just doing.

    2. What STxAR said. Pulls me right in. Here's to all us "Sarjints". Damn few like us.

      As to the autopilot thing, this is the best explanation I have seen to date--

      "24 June 03
      Your "Lizard Brain"

      In a recent conversation with good friend, Dave Grossman, Dave mentioned that he had recently talked with a gaggle of bearded, bespectacled psychiatrists (all with heavy, German accents). Dave was getting their advice on the differences between the human "front brain" and the "mid-brain." They had a number of terms for the "mid-brain," all with a minimum of six syllables and all difficult to pronounce. When Dave suggested to them the term, "mid-brain," they all nodded in wavering agreement that the term was probably adequately descriptive and that longer and more difficult terms would never see general use anyway.

      What Dave, Gary Klugiewicz, and I all concur on is that lifesaving, psychomotor skills, intended to be used in an emergency must eventually filter from the frontal lobes (front brain), where they are first learned, into the mid-brain (primitive or "lizard" brain) if they are ever going to be accessible when one is in a hyper-stressful, crisis environment.

      The frontal lobes is where our intellect dwells. Its precocious and elevated development separates us from lower forms of life. In one's frontal lobes lives discernment, understanding, and our ethical skeleton. However, the frontal lobes are also the residence of confusion, indecision, hesitation, and panic. The frontal lobes are never really quite sure of anything! The front brain is the "legislative branch" of our intelligence. The mid-brain is the "executive branch." The front brain works just fine when we are, at a leisurely pace, contemplating our navels, but, in a life-threatening emergency, a shrewd front brain wisely hands off operations to the mid-brain.

      The mid-brain has no philosophy, no hesitation, and no regret. It knows only death, and life, and nothing in between! The mid-brain is never confused and never dithers. Its job is to get us out of this mess alive! It is poor at multitasking. It acts decisively and only does one thing at a time. It never apologizes, never looks back, and sheds no tears.

      Unfortunately, the mid-brain is ignored in the training philosophy of many institutions. We do too much training "in the abstract." "In the abstract" is where all training must begin, because the front brain is the entry point for all information. Unhappily, that is where much of what passes for training also ends. As the student is gradually immersed in the training environment, stress levels must be increased so that important psychomotor skills begin to filter into the mid-brain. The mid-brain will only "know what to do" if the student has been "stress inoculated."

      The hand-off from front brain to mid-brain must be seamless and immediate. The mid-brain has to "hit the ground running" if there is to be any chance that it can act in time to save your life. You need to "have a plan," and it must reside in the mid-brain. Unhelpful thoughts, swimming around in your front brain, must be jettisoned before they contaminate your mid-brain. This will mean endless repetitions under physical stress and anxiety.

      Ultimately, your front brain will be of limited use during a crisis. In fact, it (and you, if you don't permit a hand-off to the mid-brain) will be little more than a blithering, dithering buffoon! If the hand-off to your mid-brain is smooth, authoritative, and timely, and your mid-brain has been well trained , it will know what to do and will act decisively to save your life. Treat it well. Train it well!


      John is John Farnam--

    3. I know someone, who, because of great trauma, sometimes does not have the human brain engaged, but the lizard-brain is reacting. Seriously, no language skills, crazed look, fight for survival. Very unsettling until the human-brain reasserts itself.

      The body knows how to react and how to live without a lot of that frou-frou front brain stuff. Which is good in an emergency, but for day-to-day living is sort of sub-optimal.

    4. Lt Col Dave Grossmann wrote an interesting book back in the '90s, I have a copy somewhere, titled On Killing. The man knows the subject well. I don't think much of psychiatrists, just to put that out there.

    5. Ah yes, the old "lizard-brain" theory. We primates are far more dangerous than lizards, primarily because of our intellect. I don't put much stock in that lizard-brain theory.

    6. It's an easy way to label the subconscious functions and auto-learned response. Mid-brain, core-function, Zen-state, lizard-brain. All say the same thing. The part of the brain that takes over when the frontal civilized brain can't or won't cope with what is going on.

      In the above case, all civilized functions go out the window and a feral, wild thing is left running the meat-bag, until order is restored. Rather wild to watch, from a distance. Very... kinetic and potentially bloody close up. And civilized brain has no idea what core-function-feral brain just did. Actually had to video the individual to get the individual to acknowledge that something was going on. Which actually helped.

    7. I stand by my earlier statement. If what you say is true then the war crimes committed in the last century were not crimes at all, just people going "feral" as you put it. Training is designed to prevent that going ape-shit thing, not to put too fine a point on it. What we understand about how our brains work is very small, so people (masquerading as doctors and scientists) make shit up. That's how I see it. Highly trained soldiers are in control of their actions at least 90% of the time. The training is running the show when the shit hits the fan. If not, you die, or commit atrocities.

    8. "Muscle memory" or the ability to react without thinking also called "instinctively". That's why all the elite forces train sooooo much. They have already done the visualization, and have trained the brain, and body, to react/make instantaneous decisions, as there are times when you don't HAVE time to think.

    9. Yes indeed. There's an old saying, "train hard, fight easy," often attributed to Russian General Alexander Suvorov (Napoleonic era). It's very true. Same holds true in sports as well.

    10. Not really. I mean, when I'm talking 'feral' I am talking basically a shrieking, non-verbal creature, for all intensive purposes a 'split' or 'dual' personality where the feral is not understanding anything except to hurt and protect. Like what you see in a real insane asylum. A real break from reality.

      There's 'feral' people who don't follow the rules and the laws, the mores and morals of society. Those people, sociopaths and psycopaths and people who just suck and are evil or play evil. I'm not talking about those.

      Seriously, between broken friends and working at a real insane asylum, I have seen 'un-human' humans. And also seen those who fake the break in order to get away with what they do.

      So I believe we're talking about two different 'feral' minds. There's the really insane version I'm talking about and then there's the 'not following society's rules' version. Or not.

      Just... I've seen some stuff. It is what it is. Very scary to see. Makes me understand stories about possession or some such.

    11. Ah, so you're talking mental "issues," not some sort of berserker state.

    12. Yup. Broken brains. Definitely broken brains.

    13. I figure lizard-brain is as good a term as any. There are many equally good terms, but in a lot of dangerous situations, thinking before acting is often a death sentence unless you're lucky. And in an uncomfortable number of situations, shooting the wounded as a matter of course (depending upon the enemy) may simply be a matter of survival. For some troops in some places, I'd be mighty careful on pinning the war-crime label on them. And a berserk state of mind is a thing, and how many medals have we awarded to people who went berserk at the right time and killed every enemy in sight? More than a few I would guess, and not many survived it. And more than a few suffered mental trauma between the state of 'kill every enemy in sight' in either assault or final defense, and then the aftermath when they did things they later regretted. Some of whom suffered mental breaks as a result, but not the vast majority.

    14. Beans - Broken brains, a good way to put it.

    15. Larry - It's why the military trains so hard. So that thinking isn't necessary, you already know what to do in many situations.

  3. The Culin hedgerow cutter in all its many variations came as a very nasty surprise to the Germans. What was a slow, slogging retreat with casualties about even on both sides, with huge vehicle losses on the Allied's side, suddenly ended. And became a fast war of maneuver and shoot-n-scoot that the Americans excelled at and the Germans couldn't keep up with.

    Thus the Fall of France, Part Deux, really began. What went from almost WWI slowness, a mile here, a mile there, became 20-30 miles here, 20-30 miles there, push them into the flatlands east of Normandy and go balls-to-the-walls towards the border.

    As usual, great story. You covered so much in so few words. Poor Howie... Hope he stays relatively unhaunted.

    As to the shooting by Cajun was very interesting. What looked like one thing from a distance was decidedly another thing up close. Saw it a lot in SCA fighting (where the receiver of the blow calls the hit or not) where a blow looks good from 30-40 feet away but up close it was just a skimmy rotten shot.

    Which is why photo-journalism is bupkis unless due diligence is done to get the story behind the photo, and accurately relay the setup and repercussions of the photo-shoot. (Thinking of the infamous execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém, which the media (huwack, spit) told us was one thing, just a random unjustified execution on the street, when it was decidedly not random and very justified.

    War is hell. And I pray daily that the adults prevail and slow or stop the madness before we descend into it.

  4. Well told story, as always, with a lot of somber lessons at many levels.

    A tiny semantic quibble: "There was no time, he brought his M-1 to his shoulder and emptied the magazine in the SS tanker's direction."
    While a GI might incorrectly say it that way, the narrator should use "emptied the clip" as the M1 rifle does not use a "magazine" (which is the detachable container holding ammunition), but rather the 8 round en bloc "clip". (And, when emptied don't forget the "metallic ping" of the empty clip as it hits the ground.P Any other individual rifle carbine or pistol "emptied the magazine" would be fine, but not the Garand.
    Picky, picky.
    John Blackshoe

    1. Ah, not this time. The M-1 does indeed have a magazine, the entire clip goes into that magazine, which, in the case of the M-1 is not detachable. Many have mentioned this in many forums, but it is absolutely correct to say "emptied the magazine." After which the en bloc clip does indeed ping when it is ejected. Magazines do not have to be detachable. The K98k, standard WWII German rifle, has a five-round magazine, it is a permanent part of the rifle. One can load the rounds individually or use a "stripper clip" which holds five rounds to easily load the magazine.

      This time I'm sticking to my guns, modern shooters do get butt hurt over the magazine/clip thing. In the Garand's case, the entire clip goes into the magazine. A quibble perhaps but I've addressed this once before. It's an en bloc clip, which is inserted into the magazine. When the magazine (and clip) are empty, the clip is ejected.

    2. You can do a mag dump, where you load and shoot off the contents of the internal magazine, with a K98k, or a SMLE or a Springfield '06, or any internal magazine rifle like a Carcano, an Arisoka, a Moisan-Nagant etc. Most of those have some mechanism to eject the stripper clip which is used for loading a charge of X number of rounds, depending on the rifle.

      They didn't and don't call it a clip-dump. They call it a mag-dump.

    3. K98k stripper clip is removed after loading.

    4. WAIT, WAIT, WAIT!!! Hast none of thou knaves not learned the Modern English Language as set down by the master Lewis Carroll and later clarified by George Orwell?

      “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
      ’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
      ’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

      No stripper clip I've ever used is inserted and then ejected, BTW. That's an en bloc clip like the Garand. A proper stripper clip (or 'charger' in the British form) can't be inserted.

    5. Words and phrases of yesteryear mean whatever those of next year want them to mean. Don'cha know?

    6. Larry #1 - Not sure what you mean by "can't be inserted." The stripper clip for the K98k fits into a slot at the back of the magazine well, you push the rounds down into the magazine with your thumb, then pull the clip out of the slot.

    7. Larry #2 - Magazine is where the rounds are held prior to being fed to the chamber.

    8. I never really considered that to be anything but a way to stabilize the clip as you pushed the rounds down and in. I never thought of it as being inserted into the rifle, like an M1 Garand en bloc clip. I guess it could be considered inserted into the rifle, though. And if you couldn't be bothered to flip it out when you were done, closing the bolt would do that for you. I really shouldn't post anything after bedtime, but staying up for a meeting with our Bangalore development team can do that.

    9. Working across multiple time zones will do that to you!

  5. Great series Sarge - I am hooked! On the killings, I saw something almost surrealistic last night on the short series the Passing Bells, about WW1 and British and German units. A truce had been called to collect the wounded, and British and German soldiers were helping each other move them.

    Like a deadly time out at a football game.

    You know quiet a bit of German too! I was never fluent but somehow they understood me.

    I would suspect killings would affect us all a bit differently as you say. I never had to find out, although if someone is trying to kill me I wouldn't think too long on it.

    1. If you did think too long on it you'd die.

      In many wars the troops on the lowest levels, the combat soldiers, managed to get along if the generals left them alone. The Christmas truce in Belgium in 1914 springs to mind. There are exceptions, especially soldiers who are deeply influenced by an ideology, like Nazis, Communists, and other fanatics.

    2. Periodic breaks to recover injured and bury the dead was a common thing up to early WWI. Past that, the last nicity of war disappeared.

      Used to be you didn't shoot medics either. That lasted through WWII in the Western European theater and the Mediterranean. Elsewhere, not so much. It was just another target, actually a high value target with some people.

    3. Yeah, shooting medics is barbaric. But I understand it.

  6. Sarge, remind me: At what point in this do the Germans realize that they cannot win?

    1. Many have realized that since Stalingrad. Some hope for a falling out between the Western Allies and the Soviets, some are terrified of what will happen to their families if they surrender. In a regime increasingly dependent on terror and lies (the miracle weapons Goebbels keeps promising) it's tough to just quit.

      I remember a line from the movie Fury, "Why won't the bastards just quit?" - "Would you quit if your country was being invaded?"

    2. I remember talking to an old German and there was some 'We want to lose to the western allies, not to the Soviets.'

    3. @Toirdhealbheach Beucail: read "Armageddon" by Max Hastings. It could be a lot sooner or later depending upon how young or old the person was, or how invested they were in the Nazi Party. It was apparently pretty hard keeping Hitler Youth from sacrificing themselves for the Reich even at the very end. The amazing thing was that Japan surrendered at a (relatively) earlier stage than Germany did! Of course, had Hitler ordered a surrender as Hirohito did, Germany almost certainly would've given up on the Western Front sooner than they did. I've my doubts they'd have given up against the Soviets, though they might've tried transferring as much as possible to the Ostfront.

    4. Smart Germans (Jews or "Aryans"; yes, I'm mocking Nazi theories of "Aryan") were getting out if they could by the early 1930s. I had an in-law uncle whose family left in 1935 when he was a kid because they thought another war was coming with the Nazis in power, and so they sold their farmland at a loss and got the hell out to America. He was too young to serve in WWII, and had a family and too old to be drafted to serve in Korea. Still had a German accent, so he'd probably been over 10 before his family immigrated to the US.

    5. Uh, correction to edited version, he was a farmer and had too many children to be drafted in Korean War. Not "too old to be drafted." Sheesh. I can type. Really!

    6. Beans - No one wanted to surrender to the Soviets. Can you blame them?

    7. Larry #1 - One of the reasons they kept fighting was hoping they could reach a settlement with the West and keep fighting the Soviets. No formal attempt was made, though Himmler was talking to the Swedes. All were foolish hopes.

    8. Larry #2 - Some who could get out did, many actually believed the poison Hitler was peddling, though not all aspects of it.

    9. Larry #3 - I often make those sorts of mistakes, I'll go back and read a post I have scheduled and wondered just what the Hell that sentence was supposed to mean. Sometimes when I type, my brain is way ahead of my fingers.

    10. Thanks. I do remember the terror of the Soviets being a thing, and suggesting quitting in the age of a police state was (I am sure) effective suicide).

  7. Replies
    1. Some knew it well before the Red Army captured Berlin.

    2. (Don McCollor)...possibly during the invasion of Russia when the German Army had destroyed a hundred Russian divisions, and their intelligence just had identified three hundred more Russion divisions...

    3. @Don, but how many outside the high command knew it, then? Or really, before Stalingrad at the beginning of 1943? After that, of course, all the victories began moving closer to the German border and only the most deluded/fanatic (is there a difference?) began to realize it.

    4. Larry - Many in the high command didn't believe the reports their own intelligence services were giving them. I think most fanatics are deluded in some way, shape, or form.

  8. (Don McCollor)...The shock equivalent of the 'hedgecutter must have been at Normandy when DD Sherman tanks heaved up out of the water onto the beach. A couple of period nitpicks: "freeking Harvey here" I suspect a stronger word was used. "Talked Dickson down" I think 'talked down' arose in the 1960's related to bad drug trips, but can't offer an alternative...

    1. Yes, a stronger word was probably used, taking someone down doesn't deal with just drug trips.

    2. @don, not many American DD tanks made it onto the beach. The vast majority foundered and sank well off the beach.

    3. (Don McCollor)...DD sinkings were mainly at Omaha. Utah did better, and the British DDs better still...

    4. As I understand it the Navy launched the DDs too soon at Omaha.

  9. Shermans up-armored with PBI. Gives me the shivers, and glad I am to have missed the pleasure of that kind of ride.

    Great stuff as always Sarge!

    1. Kinda beats walking, though it is a tad dangerous. Knowing when to dismount is important! 😉


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