|US Army Signal Corps Photo|
Pvt Jackson "Bear" Hebert was watching the small outpost across the valley. So far he had seen six Germans around the small pillbox they'd been watching. He had the feeling they were on the edge of the Siegfried Line. The pillbox looked like it had been there a while.
He and Pvt Charles "Camel" Gammell had moved into position a full hour before sunrise. They had spent a miserable night moving through the forest in the rain and the mist. The company commander had a job for 1st Squad of 2Lt Nathan Paddock's 2nd Platoon. Since they'd brought in those prisoners a few days back, it sure seemed to Bear that they were starting to get more of the shitty jobs, as he thought of them.
He thought back to what newly promoted Sergeant Jack Wilson had told him the day before, "Damn it, Bear, quit yer bitching, the captain likes our L.T., thinks that 2nd Platoon is the best in the company. And we are, this is better than digging trenches and patrolling isn't it?"
Thinking on it, he realized that this did beat patrolling and digging.
There, that bastard's an officer, I'm sure of it. He's wearing a helmet and carrying one of those new guns that a few Krauts had, and he acts like an officer. Battalion S2 said the new gun was called the StG 44, it could be fired single shot, semi-auto or full auto. Packed more punch than a Schmeisser¹ and was pretty lethal. Be nice to grab one of those.
"Bear," I whispered to my spotter, "do you see the guy bossing the other guys around?"
"Yeah, Camel, I see him."
I waited for the right moment, once he had the others working at whatever it was he wanted them to do, I'd take the shot.
"Um Gottes Willen! Don't they teach you children anything in the Hitler Youth? This is not how you dig a foxhole!" The SS captain was furious with the five men he had assigned to this position. Although one was a veteran of Normandy, he was only 18 and a very junior corporal, the other men were recent draftees and knew nothing of war at all, the oldest was barely 17, the others were mere children of 15 and 16 years of age.
"I'm s-s-s-sorry Herr Hauptsturmführer, we'll redo the p-p-p-position." The young SS corporal stuttered when he was nervous, and he was more than nervous at the moment. Though the captain was wearing an enlisted man's greatcoat, he could clearly see the patches of the man's rank only partially covered by the oversize collar. He also saw, quite clearly, the Knight's Cross dangling at his throat.
"Don't call me 'Herr' you stuttering idiot, we're not in the f**king army, this is the Waffen SS, we're all comrades, right!" SS-Hauptsturmführer Willi Horten was furious with the material he was given to work with these days.
As the men began to work at repairing the position, SS-Rottenführer Karlheinz Weber shook his head, he'd won the Iron Cross 2nd and 1st Class in Normandy and during the fighting thereafter. The division commander himself, Kurt Meyer, had pinned on his Iron Cross 1st Class and made him a corporal the very same day. Now this jumped up bastard from the Leibstandarte was throwing his weight around, just because he could.
He turned to ask the captain a question about when they might expect ammunition for their MG 42, which sat useless on its tripod, they had no ammo for it at all. At that moment the captain's head snapped to one side as most of his brain burst from the left side of his head.
"You got him Camel, the NCO is frozen, take him."
I shifted my sight picture slightly to the right, staring back at me was a very young, very startled SS man. A corporal from the collar patches, no matter. I squeezed the trigger and saw the man drop, a pink mist in the air where his head had been.
"Let's move, Bear."
The oldest of the four draftees, one Willi Schmidt from Hamburg, had heard the muffled grunt from the captain, when he'd turned to see what had happened, he had seen his corporal take a round through the face, and seen brain matter and blood blow out the back of the man's head.
"SNIPER!! TAKE COVER!!"
Young Peter Dorfmann had stuck his head up to see what all the shouting was and was immediately hit in the throat. He choked to death on his own blood as the others cowered in their holes.
Schmidt was in his foxhole, had his rifle ready for whatever came next. Though he really had no idea what that "next" might be. Was the sniper fire the prelude to an attack, kill the officers and overrun us, or was it harassing fire? He had done well in training, but he was learning quickly that training bore no relationship to the real thing.
"Three down, three to go?" Bear asked, looking expectantly at me.
"Nope, L.T. said to take a look, raise a little Hell, then report back. We've done that." I answered, though I would like to go have a look. But where there were fixed defenses, like pillboxes, there were probably mines as well, and barbed wire.
"Much as I'd like to, we've done enough. Let's head back."
The two Americans slipped back into the forest. The water dripping from the trees and the mist muffled their movements, even if the Germans on the other side of the valley had any intention of coming after them, which they did not.
The three remaining Germans, one 17 year old, one 16, and the other only 15, were at the bottoms of their poorly dug holes, shivering with fear. The 15 year old had wet himself and the 16 year old was actually crying. The three boys were terrified that the Amis would come and kill them.
"What did ya see Camel?" Sgt Wilson asked.
"A Kraut pillbox with six men, there was an officer yelling at the other guys, who all looked pretty young and scruffy. SS men, which surprised me. They must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel over there."
"Okay, did you mark the position of the pillbox on the map?"
"Of course Sarge, I may be new, but I ain't that new."
"Alright, anything else to report?"
Bear chimed in, "Yeah Sarge, now there's only three Krauts holding that position."
"Three, what happened to the other three?" Wilson wanted to know.
"I shot 'em, Sarge. The officer and some junior NCO. Then some dumbass kid who popped his head up before we had the chance to move. He popped up, I shot him." Gammell answered matter-of-factly.
Bear chimed in again, "Yup, three head shots. Boom, boom, and 'oh hello there,' boom."
That earned him an annoyed look from Gammell, "Come on Camel, you fired three rounds and killed three Krauts. I saw them fall, all of 'em."
Sgt Wilson looked impressed, "Alright, good job, Camel. Go tell the L.T. what you observed. Bear you stay here, L.T. don't need a cheering section."
|(Source - modified)|
Reports from the front line to Oberbefehlshaber West² indicated that casualties had been light on the day that two men of the 1st Squad/2nd Platoon encountered six SS men at a small pillbox just inside the German border.
The war ground on...
¹ The MP 40 was often called the "Schmeisser" after Hugo Schmeisser who designed the MP 18, although he was not involved in the design or production of the MP 40. The MP 40 machine pistol is a fully automatic weapon firing the 9 mm parabellum pistol round. The StG 44 fired the 7.9 x 33 mm kurz round, which was a shortened version of the ammunition used by the K98k. It had a longer range than the MP 40.
² Oberbefehlshaber West. or OB West was the commander of all German forces on the Western Front in WWII.