Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Another Try on Bloody Hill

(Screen Capture from Film)

"Nate, take your men down the hill, I'm putting your platoon in company reserve, make sure Tex knows that we're pressing on with the mission." 1Lt Gus Chambers, commanding C Company had his right hand on 1Lt Nate Paddock's shoulder, he could feel his 2nd Platoon leader's grief. He'd lost a number of good men the night before. But it was a new day, and the men of C Company, along with a small company of tanks from 3rd Armored, were ready to hit the Krauts again.

"Thanks Gus, it's been a rough week so far, hasn't it?"

"Yeah Nate, it has. I don't see it getting much easier though. Move out. Get your men some chow and some rest, they've earned it."

MSgt Sal Morton watched the lieutenant walk up to his tank, he also noted that battered platoon heading back down the hill, the guys who had attempted an attack around the German flank which had almost worked. Mines, they had said. Which made him wonder if the Krauts had anti-tank mines laid as well. They were thorough, f**kers were real pros at this warfare stuff, Morton thought grimly.

"Hey lieutenant, we heading up there?" Morton pointed up the trail, up where the Germans were waiting.

"Yup, 50 men and ten tanks, we can do this Sarge."

"Nine tanks Sir, Walker's tank has a busted drive wheel. He's not going anywhere, but from what I hear, the Krauts have no armor left up there."

"No, they don't. Your tankers destroyed two StuGs, your armored infantry killed the last one while my guys shot up the Kraut rear."

"How bad did your guys suffer L.T.?"

"Thirteen killed and wounded out of the nineteen who went in. A couple guys just had minor wounds, but the platoon got hit pretty bad. My guys tell me though, that there are a lot of dead Krauts up there as well."

"Herr Hauptmann?" Gefreiter Opa Köhler shook von Lüttwitz again, the captain's eyes were closed, he seemed to be breathing. Then Köhler noticed a trickle of blood from his commanding officer's left ear. "Scheiße!" Köhler knew then that something was wrong.

The Sanitäter, Peter Krause, arrived seconds later.

"He's concussed Opa, we need to get him back to the field hospital."

"Make the arrangements Peter." Köhler then left the medic to take care of the captain, he needed to let Oberfeldwebel Klaus-Peter Keller know that Keller was now in command of the company. He sincerely hoped that a few days rest would get the captain back on his feet.

He saw Keller talking with an officer who Köhler didn't recognize, an Oberleutnant, probably from another battalion. He interrupted the two to let them know that Keller was now in command.

"Opa, this is Oberleutnant Krafft, 7th company, they're moving up to relieve us. Have you seen the captain?"

"Jawohl, the Sani is treating him now, a concussion he thinks. That puts you in command I guess, while the captain is out of it."

"Out of it?" the lieutenant asked.

"Yes Sir, he was unconscious, bleeding from the left ear when I found him."

"Damn, what about Leutnant Vorwald, wouldn't he be in command now?" the lieutenant asked with a somewhat puzzled look.

Before Keller could speak, Köhler chimed in with, "Well yes, if Hauptmann von Lüttwitz hadn't stripped him of his rank just before the last attack."

Krafft looked incredulously at the two NCOs, "He did what?"

The two men were saved from any further embarrassment when Vorwald himself walked up. First he saluted Krafft, then he explained, "Yes Herr Oberleutnant, I was stripped of my rank when I failed utterly in my first action. I went to ground, refused to lead the men entrusted to me and generally embarrassed myself, my family, and the army. The captain was quite right to relieve me. I am now a simple private and am content to remain in that rank until I can prove that I am not useless as an officer."

Before Krafft could speak, Köhler spoke up, "If it makes any difference Herr Oberleutnant, Grenadier Vorwald fought very well in this recent attack. If it were my decision, I'd give him back his lieutenant straps. But it's not my decision."

Krafft looked at Keller and said, "Oberfeldwebel Keller, I relieve you and your men. My company, as you can see, is arriving. We'll take over this position. You will take your company back to the battalion assembly area."

"Jawohl Herr Oberleutnant!" Keller saluted Krafft then he and Köhler began to muster what was left of the 5th Company to move down off the ridge they had held against all comers. While in the middle of that process, a scream was heard from the left flank, "Amerikanische Panzer!¹"

(Screen Capture from Film)

"Shit! Sal, it's Gene, we're stuck, we're hung up on a tree."

MSgt Morton heard one of his tankers report over the radio. The trees were awfully close together on this part of the trail. "More like a f**kin' goat path." he thought, then he was on the radio, "Gene, you see the Kraut trench ahead?"

"Yeah, at least I think I do."

"Pour fire into 'em, HE, MG, everything you got, I don't see any antitank weapons..."

Nearly as soon as the words were out of his mouth, a Kraut nailed Williamson's tank with a Panzerfaust. "Damn it, they have Panzerfausts, where the f**k is our infantry?" Morton was nearly sobbing with exasperation. This was no place for a tank.


1Lt Chambers was down, hit in both legs, he bellowed at his First Sergeant, "Take 'em in Mort, press these bastards, they're ready to run!"

1Sgt Morton Saeger looked at the company radioman, Cpl Jacob Winters, and told him, "Get on the horn to Jackson of 1st Platoon, tell him he's in command now, but I'm pressing this attack!"

Turning to PFC Dylan Jackson, one of the attached medics, or Baby Doc as the troops called him, Saeger ordered him, "Baby Doc, get the L.T. down the hill ASAP, then get your ass back fast as you can. Is Doc Milford still up?"

"I dunno Top², he went down the track with 2nd Platoon, don't know if he's back yet, damn it L.T. hold still, I know it hurts."

1Lt Chambers was in some pain, so 1Sgt Saeger left Baby Doc to do his job. Now he had his own job to do, lead these men up this damned hill.

Unteroffizier Manfred Sauer, platoon leader of 1st platoon looked at his messenger, Grenadier Stefan Holzbauer, "Get down the hill Stefan, we can't leave the 7th in the lurch. Tell battalion we need more men if we wish to hold this place, we've already paid in blood for this trench, I don't intend to give it up."

Holzbauer was off and running, staying low and moving as fast as he could. Before he could tell if his messenger made it out okay, a burst of tank machine gun fire tore down the front of the trench, killing one of the men on the MG 42. Without thinking, Sauer went to the gun and started feeding the belt for the frightened looking gunner. One of Vorwald's men Sauer realized.

"Keep shooting Mensch if you want to go home to Mama!" Sauer bellowed at the man. The Amis were close, multiple tanks and a lot of infantry. He recognized a shoulder patch on one man who made it almost to the trench before being cut down. "Those damned Bloody One boys!" he yelled, "kill them Männer! Kill them all!!"

At last MSgt Morton got two of his tanks clear of the trees, there, right there he could clearly see the Kraut trench. "Shit, shit, shit, f**king Panzerfaust, hose him Clem!" He was still screaming at his bow gunner when he saw the German flinch as Clem Almont walked a burst of .30 caliber right into the man. But not before he'd fired his weapon, the round hitting the front of Morton's turret, spraying the master sergeant with fragments of the warhead. It didn't kill him but it hurt like fire.

"F**k, I'm hit, Troy, put some HE into that trench, let's go boys, let's go." The tank lurched forward as a high explosive round shot out of the barrel and into a small party of Germans trying to flee down the hill. They were winning, they just needed...


Morton didn't get to finish that thought. Somehow a Panther had made its way up the hill. Its very first round went into Morton's tank as if it were armored with butter. It cooked off two high explosive rounds sending the turret and its three man crew flying up into the air. The explosion immolated the driver and the bow gunner.

As the Panther's turret rotated to engage another Sherman, the German infantry saw the nearest Sherman frantically trying to back up, running over two of its supporting infantry in the process. The Panther's second round punched through that Sherman's armor between the driver and the bow gunner. That tank began to smoke. The crew tried desperately to abandon their vehicle but were all killed by German rifle and machine gun fire.

"F**k, f**k, f**k, we're gettin' slaughtered Top!" SSgt Bob Poole, 2Lt Morgan Childreth's platoon sergeant, screamed at the First Sergeant. He was holding his dead lieutenant's hand, he was both scared and furious, all he wanted to do was kill Germans, or run, or perhaps both. He'd watched with horror as one of the Shermans, now burning with its dead crew draped from their hatches, had backed over 1Lt Kent Jackson and his platoon sergeant, SSgt Billy Brooks, the leaders of 3rd Platoon, before being hit by a 75 mm antitank round.

1Sgt Mort Saeger looked around, the other Shermans were backing up frantically, no one wanted to take on that damned Panther. Saeger had shivered when that bastard had shown up and put a round into MSgt Morton's tank. Sal had been a good man, now he was dead. As near as Saeger could tell, all of the officers were dead. Except the wounded Chambers who had been evacuated by Baby Doc moments ago.

"Top, L.T. is f**king dead, we need to do something!" Poole yelled again, at the same time he fired three quick rounds at a German about to throw a grenade in their direction. It went off with a satisfying crump as the man fell back into his own trench. The screams indicated that it had hurt or killed Germans when it went off.

"F**k." Saeger muttered under his breath, then "FALL BACK, CHARLIE COMPANY! FALL BACK! COVERING FIRE!!"

Slowly, grimly, the survivors of Charlie Company fell back slowly, killing and wounding at least five Germans who were over-anxious in their pursuit of the withdrawing Americans. But at least three more men of Charlie Company died in the retreat, their bodies left where they fell. What was particularly galling was that the wounded had to be left behind as well.

To stay on top of Bloody Hill was death.

¹ American tanks!
² Nickname for the company First Sergeant

Link to all of The Chant's fiction.


  1. Another blood-letting for that hill, the way I feel after reading this doesn't help considering the results of yesterday.....ramps up fast eh Sarge?

    1. I wasn't sure which way the battle was going to go, history showed we had few successes in the Hürtgen, so I went with that.

  2. Wow. Described so brutally....I could almost hear the panzerfaust firing and the screams...

    This is rapidly taking over as my favorite "book" from "Killer Angels".

  3. Man, what a dismal place. I understand now the push for intelligence, the F5, the Mosquito, SR71, all the high speed, super camera aircraft. Without those eyes, you are punching blindly. No artillery either? H&I would be nice. Just dropping in a few to let you know I care... Sakes. "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here."

    1. In reality, it was a very brutal fight.

    2. on a very tactical level, drones do much of the legwork nowadays, not so fast but with great endurance and coverage... in such scenario, everyone would know and be ready for that Panther modern equivalent...

    3. ...and best recon planes can do only so much if HQ ignores the intelligence (looks at Market-Garden and dropping the paras on top of 2 panzer divisions - understrength and all but still formidable forces...)

    4. Paweł #1 - As far as reconnaissance goes, sure. But that's in areas where the other side doesn't have an air force. Which would apply in the Hürtgen. Though the Germans had an air force, by then it was operating under Allied air superiority.

    5. Paweł #2 - HQ also ignored the intel regarding German plans for the Ardennes in 1944.

  4. The have a cave troll... err, Panther. So called "on shit" moment... Paweł here from guest device

    1. Hahaha! "Cave troll," well put!

    2. I must admit I am a big fan of both books and movie adaptations, which pushed the limits of the medium... and that is one of iconic moments!

  5. And the Forest feasts again.

    Dammit, where's the air? Where's the artillery?

    This is not happy making!

    1. (Don McCollor)...from the movie "Kellys Heros"...your own Air Force is what bombs you...

    2. Ninth Air Force was known as "The American Luftwaffe" after two bombing errors at the start of Operation Cobra.

    3. Jabos, or even a flight of medium or heavy bombers. Drop a mix of HE and incindiary, clear out the hilltop, as long as they actually hit the hilltop.

    4. Not as easy as it sounds, especially with the low clouds, fog, and occasional rain common at this time of year. Which is why you don't hear a lot about air power in the Hürtgen, around the area, yes. In the forest, not so much.

    5. Forest is the big no-no for airpower, you completely dont see what is below canopy of trees...
      Same problem was in Vietnam

    6. Yes, bombing "suspected truck parks..."

  6. I wonder with that forest cover how useful air support would’ve been.

    Reading this made me realize how important supporting infantry is to tanks

    1. Air isn't all that useful with troops in close contact in the forest. Which is why I didn't provide any air support to our intrepid band of GIs. Tomorrow's episode touches upon why they had no artillery as well.

      Tanks in tight quarters need infantry to survive!

    2. (Don McCollor)...and infantry needed tanks to survive. I believe some tanks had improvised field telephones on the rear end (protected by the tank bulk) so they could talk to a buttoned up tank. Each protecting the other. Buddies...

    3. The phones on the back of the tank made the infantry/tank team more effective.

  7. Hey AFSarge;

    Man I could smell the cordite, Well done

  8. Very exciting, very real, Sarge! I second MrGarabaldi.
    That's why I love reading good fiction more than watching movies. The show in my head, if the writer is talented enough to put me in the scene, is always better than any studio could do. It was that way while reading this, & most of the stories in this -- series, arc, whatever it would be called.
    --Tennessee Budd


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