Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Back Up the Hill

National Archives

"Nate, I hate to tell you this, but I need you to take your platoon back up Bloody Hill." Captain Tony Palminteri really did hate to tell his 2nd Platoon leader this news, but Captain Josephson, commanding the battalion, had told the new commander of Charlie Company that there were reports that the Germans had abandoned the position after two M-10 Wolverine tank destroyers had somehow made it up the muddy trail and destroyed the Panther which had wreaked havoc on the attack a few days before.

"I've got a number of new recruits in the platoon, both my platoon sergeant and the leader of 1st Squad are pretty banged up, really Sir, why us?" Paddock didn't look happy, every night when he tried to go to sleep he could imagine that he heard the screams of his men on that hill.

"Nate, Tex wants you guys to have the honor of being the first men from Charlie Company back on top of that hill. Able Company is nearly at the position, but their commander is brand new to the job and he's as timid as a baby deer. To put it bluntly, Tex said he wanted one of 'his' men up there, not this new guy." Palminteri, being new to the unit, wasn't aware of some of the politics behind the scenes. He did know that Josephson, who used to command C Company, tended to prefer that company and within Charlie, he trusted Paddock's platoon more than the others.

Paddock thought about that for a second, "Able knows we're going to be moving through them to get up on top?"


"What do we do when we get up there? Hold and wait?"

"Improve the defenses where you can, I'm sending a bazooka team and a .30 cal team with you. Find good spots for them, good teaching opportunity for the kids. Make use of it."

"All right, you're the boss. What time you want us up there?"

Palminteri checked his watch, it was approaching noon, "Be ready to move in thirty minutes."

"Let me see the new roster Stephen, I need to start learning new names I guess!" Paddock couldn't believe that the platoon was back up to strength. Cpt Josephson even let him move his sniper team out of 1st Squad to be a platoon asset.

"Here you go Sir, I think Jimmy even spelled everybody's name correctly." Sgt Hernandez handed over the neatly typed list. The platoon's guide had rustled a typewriter from somewhere and had actually volunteered to be the platoon's unofficial clerk. Paddock had okayed that without a second thought.

Command team
1Lt Nathan Paddock Platoon Leader
Sgt Stephen Hernandez Platoon Sergeant
PFC John Myerson Radioman
Cpl Jimmy Winston Platoon Guide/Clerk

Attached from Company
T/4 Harry 'Doc' Milbury    Medic

Sniper Team
PFC Charlie Gammell Sniper
PFC Jackson Hebert Spotter

PFC Herman Shapiro
Pvt Robert Jennings

Basic Duty Privates
Pvt Jim Romano
Pvt Will Jones
Pvt Michael Johnson
Pvt Peter Romanov
Pvt Jeff Chambers*

1st Squad
Sgt Jack Wilson Squad leader
PFC Dennis Adams BAR man (H)
Pvt Chris McWhorter Asst BAR man
Pvt Brad Gonzales* Rifleman
Pvt Ben Campbell* Rifleman
Pvt Anthony Lewis* Rifleman

Cpl Melvin "Cat" Katz Section leader
PFC Joseph Welch Grenadier (H)
Pvt Justin Long* Asst Grenadier 
Pvt Rocky Groves* Rifleman
Pvt Ronald Harris* Rifleman
PFC Duck Simpson Rifleman

2nd Squad
Sgt Greg Jenkins Squad leader
PFC Mike Cantwell Grenadier
Pvt Mark Rizzo Asst Grenadier 
PFC Hector Lopez Rifleman
Pvt Frank Genovese Rifleman
Pvt John Kilpatrick Rifleman

Cpl Jake Johnston Section leader (H)
Pvt Henry McTeague BAR
Pvt Jesse Phillips Asst BAR
PFC Harry Mitchell Rifleman
Pvt Dave Hudson Rifleman
PFC Adam Roberts* Rifleman

3rd Squad
Sgt Stump Gentile Squad leader
PFC Homer Ginter Grenadier
Pvt Leon McKinney* Asst Grenadier
Pvt Riley Taggert Rifleman
Pvt Jeb McCall Rifleman
Pvt Sydney Hogue* Rifleman

Cpl Jim Holloway Section leader (H)
PFC Keith Watson BAR (H)
Pvt Ken Buchanan* Asst BAR
Pvt Joe Gray* Rifleman
PFC Karl Taylor* Rifleman
Pvt Thomas Spencer* Rifleman 

Attached from Weapons Platoon
.30 Cal MG Team
Corporal Judd Maxwell Squad Leader
PFC Jim Weber Gunner
Pvt Matt Smith Asst Gunner
PFC Peter Werther Ammo Bearer
Pvt Steve Pacheco Ammo Bearer

Bazooka Team
Corporal Tim Jones
Private Bob Wells

Extra Attachments - Engineers
SSgt Vince Kimble
Cpl Rodolfo Garcia

(H)  Returned from hospital
*    New recruit

"Who are these engineers you have listed, Stephen? We don't have any engineers assigned."

"Ah, yeah, Captain Josephson sent 'em over. They have mine detecting equipment, seems Able Company found some mines up there this morning the hard way."

"The hard way? How many guys they lose?"

"Three - one KIA, two wounded. It's one of the reasons the captain ordered Able to hold in position, their skipper was trying to take some initiative. He's new, can't find his ass with both hands and a hunting dog, as the captain put it."

"Damn! All right, it's time. Those two guys have to be our engineers." As he said that, Paddock pointed at two men carrying SCR-625-C mine detecting equipment.

"Sir, I'm Kimble, this is Garcia. I guess we're heading up the hill with you guys."


"That you are Staff Sergeant. Until we get up there, you can walk with us. You ready Sergeant Hernandez?"

"Yes Sir, let's do this."


After reaching Able Company's position, Paddock looked around. Scarcely 75 men on the line, very understrength for a full company, no doubt they'd be heading to the rear to absorb new replacements as well. He saw Able's commander, a man he didn't know, and walked over to him.

"Sir, I'm Nate Paddock, my platoon is headed up the hill to see if the Krauts are really gone."

"What's this lieutenant, no salute? I'm your superior officer, you should salute me!"

Paddock just shook his head, "With all due respect captain, if I was to salute you and a Kraut sniper was watching, I'd be marking you for death. We don't salute at the front. Sir."

"I see, well, I'm Captain Raymond Griffin, the Third. Class of '39. Do you have written orders for me?"

"Ah, no sir. Is your radio out? Captain Josephson said nothing about giving you orders, just that we're to check in and make sure your guys know we're passing through your lines. As in, please don't shoot at us." Paddock wondered how this man ever became an officer, let alone got to command a line company. Being a war time graduate of the Point, he had no idea that the old Army had had a lot of that sort of nonsense.

"Ah no, my radio is fine, shouldn't battalion call me?"

"Sir, with all due respect, I just work here all right? What battalion wants you to do is a bit above my pay grade. Now, begging the Captain's pardon, I need to get my guys up there, it's going to be dark in a few hours and we need to get in position. Perhaps you should radio battalion."

"Very well, but I don't like this lieutenant."

"Begging your pardon Sir, it's war, you ain't supposed to like it." With that, Paddock signaled to Hernandez and 2nd Platoon headed up to the old German trench line, which, thank God, everyone thought, was deserted.

"You know you probably haven't heard the last from Captain Griffin, the Third." Hernandez said with a grin. He also checked the small cook fire they had going. The command element had to eat too, and the squads had already had their chow and were taking up their assigned positions.

"Yeah, I know. But what's the Army gonna do, Stephen, take away my birthday, send me to combat duty? F**k Captain Griffin, the Third. Though you didn't hear me say that Sergeant."

"Say what Sir?"

"Smart ass."

"Yes Sir, absolutely." Hernandez grinned again, "Did you check out that Kraut tank L.T.?"

"Yeah, mean looking mother isn't it?"

"Still, those Wolverines messed it all up, didn't they?"

"Yeah, those tankers have got real balls to go up against those Panthers and Tigers. Me? I'd rather dig a deep hole than sit in one of those steel coffins." Paddock had friends who went armor, two of them had already been killed in action. One in Normandy and the other in the advance to Aachen. "Yeah, Stephen, it's the infantry for me."

Hernandez gestured at the German trench with its detritus of shell casings, bandage wrappers, and the other assorted junk of war, "Yes Sir, just look at these luxury accommodations. Gotta love the infantry."

Paddock laughed and said, "Hey, we coulda joined the Navy, right?"

"No thanks, Sir, boats sink, and they also burn just like a tank. I'm good right here in my hole in the ground. Dirt doesn't burn."

"No, I guess it doesn't." As Paddock said that he realized that there were a lot of ways to die in a war, none of them pleasant. "Get some sleep Sarge, I'll take the first watch."

"Don't have to tell me twice L.T., wake me when you're ready."

As he watched the sergeant cover himself with his blanket, 1Lt Paddock wondered if the Krauts had given up on this hill. Or would they come back? F**kers loved to counterattack didn't they?

It was getting colder at night, Paddock rather wished for a nice barracks and a glass of wine at this point. "If wishes were horses..." he muttered at the stars.

Link to all of The Chant's fiction.


  1. "the Third"..... some folks just gotta establish that pedigree eh? Captain Griffin sounds like someone you don't want to spend any time around. Some people are full of themselves and in combat they tend to get others killed. Be interesting to see how the new guys shake out.

    1. Not everyone who was there was a hero, some were cads.

      I wanted to cover that.

    2. There's always a Courtney Massingale or two in every war.

  2. Ticket punchers still exist... BARSTEWARDS, the lot of them.....

  3. All too frequently they run for high political office. Old Guns

  4. The need to be worshipped. It’s everywhere.

  5. Haven't been commenting much lately - suffering from hiraeth.
    Still enjoying your story, though.

    1. I get that from time to time. But mine is more of a longing for people and places which aren't there anymore.

    2. Yeah, that's the part of the definition I was referring to.

    3. I hear ya Frank. Especially at this time of year.

  6. Replies
    1. Heh. King of the bloody Andals and the First Men.

    2. Most have no control of that appellation to their name (DAMHIK) and some even resent having aspersions cast.

  7. Well, all those pushed out of combat command positions after Kasserine Pass just had to get their dues back sometime. Fast forward 20 odd years and an officer like that would get some very suspicious not-exit wounds on his back. Saluting in the field? That's where somebody goes ahead and does it, for real, just as a sniper check...

    Takes all kinds to screw up a war.

    Wonder where the Krauts are? Not like them to leave and not leave everything boobytrapped, unless they were planning to be back.

    And, nice job stepping around the action on the hill by talking about it in past tense. Conveys what happened, without having to actually do it.

    Still... more souls to haunt the Forest. And more things to watch out for.

    1. I think they're straightening out the lines, freeing up troops for a big Christmas surprise.

      But no, we're not done with Bloody Hill just yet.

  8. CAPT "Turd" ain't making many friends.
    Just gotta keep "Stump" away from him, as he does not play well with officious idiots.

    Great selection of appropriate photos. That is a real skill, and a very time consuming one, but adds immeasurably to the authenticity of the story.
    John Blackshoe

    1. Captain "Turd," love it. Guess what Charlie Company shall now refer to that guy as?

      The photos also help me tell the story, not sure how I'll get them in the book, all that copyright stuff ya know.

  9. I have been away for a while and just back into this. Please send the paperback, I'll message you with the address ( ;-) ) Love this, how do you do it?

    1. I'm getting too old to have a "Daily Day Dream" apparently.

    2. LtFuzz #1 - As soon as it's done.

    3. LtFuzz #2 - I do miss that. But now I know how much work it is!

  10. When I read that duty roster I figured you spent almost as much time creating that is the story! Good as usual and you portrayed military life very well. Got your people that men would follow anywhere and your turds.

    Lieutenant paddocks musing about what are they going to do to him? Reminds me of an Air Force story – probably grounded in truth – that I had heard in the army

    Some lieutenant did something to piss off a sergeant. Not knowing or caring that the sergeant worked in personnel department

    Next thing the lieutenant knows he’s in Thule Greenland.

    Moral of the story is to not piss off people needlessly.

    I had never heard of the wolverine.

    But I’m with you on tanks.

    Like submarines it takes a special person to be in one of those things.

    1. The platoon roster was made easier by using a random name generator!

    2. It duplicated a name.
      Pvt Rodolfo Garcia
      and Cpl Rodolfo Garcia...Engineer

  11. By November, the High Velocity Discarding Sabot Armor Piercing ammunition was starting to filter out to the TD units, with a two round per vehicle allocation. I think we know what got the Panther.

  12. A friend's Dad had been in Tank Destroyers; his hearing wasn't much, but he had this kinda steely-eyed gaze.
    The "roster" is as useful to us as to you, I hope.
    Happy Veterans Day, Sarge; to us and those like us.
    Boat Guy


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