It's hard to be creative every day. I like where my World War II series of posts is going, YMMV, but things happen fast enough that sometimes I'll write something, hit publish, then a couple of days later say to myself, "Oh, why did I do that? I liked that character, yet I killed him off for no good reason."
Well, that happens all too often in war, there are no "do overs" or "Mulligans." What's done is done and there's no going back. So occasionally I need to take a break from moving forward with the series and consider what comes next as it relates to what's already happened. (I do have a "cheat sheet" - multiple now, one for each nationality - where I keep track of who is who, and who has gone before, etc. Yes, I refer to it often and update it with every installment. Keeps my inner REMF busy. No, as those who have been paying attention might gather, I don't like that term.)
This series also helps me keep my mind off the real world. Current events are all too new for an historian to properly digest anyway.
Before each episode I do some reading as to what happened around this time in 1944. I will envision a scenario for the characters which might fit into the historical timeline (or near as damn it) and then write. Things play out in my head, almost like a movie, and I capture that as best I can in the written word. I read it, tweak it, then hit publish. (Sometimes quicker than I should have!)
This series is not strictly adherent to the actual history of the time. It follows it as closely as I can make it, given that I'm doing this in semi-real time right here in front of you readers. Mistakes happen and units may be in the wrong place on the wrong date. When that happens (and I notice it) I'll wave my hands around and give a lame explanation about that platoon being "detached" for the episode in question.
While the main characters - the Americans (Sgt Brandt, et al), the Scots (Sgt Wallace, et al), and the Germans (Stabsfeldwebel Lindner, et al) belong to units which actually fought in Normandy at the time (and most of) the places indicated - I try not to get too much into the details of the units. Notice that I've avoided nailing down just which regiment of the Big Red One Sgt Brandt and his squad belong to. Why is that?
Well, I have some very good sources for the 6th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers (Wallace) and schwerer Panzerabteilung 503 (Lindner). The online war diary of the 15th (Scottish) Division is excellent, tells me where Sgt Wallace and his lads were supposed to be every day of the campaign. The sources for Stabsfeldwebel Lindner's guys are a bit more generic. Not as specific, probably because after a certain point in the war German record keeping got a little sloppy. Especially in Normandy. We have the big picture, just not the little details. As I have no plans on making a visit to the Bundesarchiv in Germany (much as I'd love to), I focus on the actions of Lindner's immediate command. Which involves a lot of "poetic" license on my part at times. Oddly enough, the 1st Infantry Division shows up on a lot of maps, but not in a lot of narratives (beyond the classic, and boring, "then unit A moved to Hill 123, dug in and then moved to village XYZ the next day," even that is rare). If you know a good source on the internet for the doings of the Big Red One, do let me know!
I have had a couple of emails noting some awkward wording and the like, keep 'em coming. What made sense when I typed it may not make sense when you read it!
As to technical details, I try not to get too bogged down in the "minutiae of history" as my old history professor (head of the department he was) used to call it. I do check to see if a particular weapon system was available for the time period in question and only include it if it was. You won't see any King Tigers in my account of the time as from my reading I got the distinct impression that there were only two of those beasts anywhere near Normandy. Though from photographs you'd think they were as common as fleas on a dog. They weren't.
As they were also a fairly useless weapon of war, great armor and magnificent gun aside, they used too much fuel, moved with all the grace of a drunken rhino, couldn't get across bridges over a number of rivers, and were just cumbersome as Hell. I have seen references to these beasties on the German side as Möbelwagen, furniture vans. Most professional tankers didn't like them. Too slow, too big, and used too much fuel. The Tiger I was much more ubiquitous up until December of 1944 when Hitler went "all in" on the King Tigers for the Battle of the Bulge. Where their biggest contribution to the attack was getting in the way and causing massive traffic jams. Then running out of fuel.
So that's that.
As to the M1 Garand, magazine versus clip. I know the difference and won't be drawn into that debate. You won't hear the ping of the en bloc clip springing from the magazine well of the Garand as it's rather an unnecessary detail. "Howie emptied his magazine at the Kraut tanker" may not be as "pure" as emptying his "clip," but to me the latter sounds kinda stupid. Technically might be correct, but I really don't care, as Guns & Ammo describes the weapon thusly -
Using a sheetmetal en-bloc clip as part of the feeding system, the M1 Garand functioned as follows: The bolt handle was pulled to the rear, where the action was held open by the follower. A clip of ammo was pressed down into the magazine and the bolt allowed to move forward, where it stripped off and chambered a round. When the trigger was pulled and the round discharged, gases were tapped off through a gas port in the forward bottom part of the bore. These gases forced the operating rod backward, compressing the operating-rod spring and opening the bolt. As the bolt opened, it extracted and ejected the spent cartridge and cocked the hammer. Relaxation of the operating-rod spring now forced the bolt forward, where it stripped off and chambered the next round.
When all eight shots had been expended, the clip was forcibly ejected from the action and the bolt remained open, ready for insertion of the next clip. It is said that Japanese and German soldiers would listen for the telltale ping of the clip being ejected, realizing they had the advantage of a second or two when the Yank would be loading his piece and unable to return fire.I think my use of "magazine" is justified. By the way, I've heard that ping, if you're fighting a single man, sure go ahead and rush the poor bastard. Otherwise, if you jump up, you're going to get nailed by that guy's buddies. It is said is just another way of saying, "someone told me this, I have no independent evidence that it's true." Besides, battlefields tend to get pretty damned noisy with most of the participants half-deaf while it's going on. Hear a "ping" from yards away, in a firefight? I don't think so, maybe that's just me.
I have a confession to make as well, I have been a little "short" in some of my responses to comments on this series. Working from home and being away from the little everyday things which made up my world prior to this virus-thingee being inflicted upon us has left me a bit short tempered as of late. I don't get enough sleep and I've been dealing with some medical crap as well, the details of which I shall not bore you with. So bear with me if I sometimes "snap" at you in a comment. Unless you're being deliberately obtuse it's just me having a "bad" day. (Which there seem to be a lot of lately.)
But enough of all that.
In general terms life is good, life is sweet, and I am enjoying myself when and where I can. Reality and well-meaning local governments notwithstanding. As The Missus Herself says, "If people weren't so damned stupid we wouldn't need all these rules." I question the Constitutionality of the rules, she looks at the "hey, this is what happens in reality" side of things. We're both right, and we're both often wrong. (Dear Lord, don't tell her I wrote that, it's more than my life is worth!)
But yes, people can be awfully stupid, many of them wind up with government jobs. Like in Congress ("I'm reclaiming my time" has to be the most corrupt, self-serving bullshit I have ever heard, doesn't matter which party the drooling idiot belongs to, they're bastards.)
Oops, went off on a wee rant there, didn't I?
I'm loving the new vehicle. Smooth ride, has many nice features, some of which I actually use. I really should dig into the specs a bit more, especially as I have a 400 mile road trip in my immediate future, 800 if you count the return, which I do.
For The Nuke is "with child" and expects to deliver this very month. An event which we are all looking forward to. The plan had been (note the tense) for The Missus Herself to fly down and I would follow a week or so later. As the virus-thingee has pretty much triggered her survival instincts and she doesn't want to get into a flying Petry dish with any number of those stupid people I mentioned above, I get to drive her there. Which is okay, I mean it's why I bought the car rather than keep Big Girl around for a while longer. (Breaking down "somewhere in New Jersey" just didn't appeal to me, and it was a distinct possibility given the age of Big Girl. She was starting to get a bit "long in the tooth," if you know what I mean.)
And speaking of teeth...
Broke one a couple of weeks ago, as it didn't hurt, I rather ignored it, the thinking being, "I'll deal with that when I have to." Well, I had to. It wasn't causing me any pain, but its untimely demise (sheered off the outboard half of the tooth) made me realize that I ain't getting any younger and why wait? Working from home gives me a certain flexibility, so I had it repaired on Monday (yesterday for those of you keeping score). Required a crown, so I guess now I'm royalty.
Royal pain in the...
Dang, I'm even short with myself!
See you back here on Wednesday, we'll be back in the field. Wear sensible shoes, comfortable clothes, and pack a lunch.
See you in Normandy.