|(Source - Page 82)|
Cpt. Tony Palminteri came into the 2nd Platoon CP, he had a visitor with him, Major Alphonse Josephson, the former commander of Charlie Company. The men in the CP immediately stood to attention but the Major bid them to sit back down.
Maj. Josephson looked around the table where 2nd Lt. Stephen Hernandez had his map spread out. He recognized a number of the men.
"Those bars look good on you Stephen, Jack, nice to see you finally got those Staff Sergeant stripes sewn on properly." Josephson said that with a wink, the last time he'd seen S/Sgt Jack Wilson was shortly after the man had come close to getting hit outside Wirtzfeld, all the enemy round had done was torn the stripes right off of his field jacket.
"Stump, how are you? It's good to see that you're behaving yourself!"
"Just not getting caught Major!" Sgt. Flavio "Stump" Gentile answered.
"I've got new orders for you Lieutenant, I'll let Captain Palminteri brief you on those in detail, suffice to say, you're not going in and hitting that bunker line that Cat discovered yesterday." Major Josephson nodded at Sgt. Melvin Katz as he said that, he knew that they'd lost a man during a brief firefight.
"Your men did a good job Cat, now we know where the Kraut outposts are, but that wasn't the main line, aerial reconnaissance indicates that the German main line of resistance is about a half mile east of that bunker you hit yesterday." Josephson paused, then continued.
"I know it stinks to lose men in a skirmish, but we aren't going back that way. 82nd Airborne has punched a hole through the Kraut lines just south of us. You boys will be exploiting that hole. We're mounting all of Charlie Company on halftracks and adding a second tank platoon to the mix. Cap'n Palminteri will give you all the details, I've got to go over to Baker Company, they'll be hitting that outpost line to keep the Kraut's attention fixed on that."
"Like Patton says, we're going to hold them by the nose while Charlie Company kicks them in the ass."
Major Jürgen von Lüttwitz looked up as his platoon commanders entered the small room he was using as his headquarters, it was part of a small guest house in a little town which none of them had ever heard of before arriving here to defend a portion of the Westwall. They had yet to join their parent division, the 18th Volksgrenadiers, who were fighting the Americans further to the south.
"Manfred, Otto, Adolf, come in, come in."
Von Lüttwitz waited for the men to be seated, then said, "Coffee? A friend of mine brought it to me, his unit actually captured a quantity of it last month from the Amis. It's the real thing, I can assure you."
Grenadier Ernst Schottenstein served coffee to the four men. He was one of the company messengers, was acting as the Major's orderly, something which the official Table of Organization and Equipment didn't provide for, at least not officially.
"So, Adolf, you lost three men yesterday?"
"Yes, Herr Major. One was only slightly wounded, he should be returning to his squad no later than tomorrow or the day after, a concussion is what the Sani told me. Unfortunately Grenadier Rader is probably going to lose his right arm, he was evacuated to the rear last night, and Grenadier Hönigswald was killed in action." Feldwebel Adolf Hase had not been happy with the task of sending a squad forward to man an old bunker, losing two men in the process.
"Your men did their job, they brought the Amis up short which gave the rest of us time to complete our preparations here. Otto?"
Leutnant Otto Brückner leaned over and pointed out the areas his men had mined and booby-trapped while Hase's men were trading blows with the Americans. "Preparations are complete, Herr Major. These areas should delay any attacker for better than a day. Are we leaving anyone behind to cover the mined areas?"
Leutnant Manfred Sauer answered for the Major, "We have received reinforcements from the local Volkssturm battalion. These are men unfit to serve in a regular unit but should be fine behind the defenses we've set up. They are old, yes, average age is around 55, but they are more than adequately equipped with machine guns and Panzerfausts. Plus, they are locals, they know the area. They will man the defenses when we move south."
"South, Herr Major?" Feldwebel Hase always felt like an outsider in these orders group meetings as he was the only enlisted platoon commander. But Manfred Sauer had let him know that he too had been an enlisted platoon leader once upon a time, and Major von Lüttwitz trusted him.
"Ja Dolfo, the Amis have punched a hole through the line south of us, we need to fill that hole before the Amis can exploit it with his armor. We march as soon as our transport arrives." Major von Lüttwitz explained.
"What sort of transport are we expecting, Herr Major?" Hase wasn't shy about asking questions, which Sauer liked, on the other hand Leutnant Brückner had never been an enlisted man, so he looked irked by the sergeant's questions.
"A platoon of Sturmgeschütz and enough trucks to move the men the thirty or so kilometers we need to go. The weather is supposed to remain overcast and snowy. Hopefully the roads won't be too bad. I expect..."
The sound of vehicles entering the village was loud enough to drown out all conversation, so the men went outside at Major von Lüttwitz's bidding. Turning around in the village square were three armored vehicles and a number of old Opel Blitz trucks with open tops were finding places to pull up and wait for their passengers.
"Right then, let's get the men loaded, we move as soon as everyone is aboard." von Lüttwitz walked over to speak with the commander of the armored vehicles.
"Sir!" The man in the field gray assault gun uniform wore the rank of an Obergefreiter, not unusual at this stage of the war for a platoon leader, but the man looked no more than 17 years old!
"Obergefreiter, is this the extent of your platoon?" von Lüttwitz had hoped for at least four Sturmgeschütz, he supposed he was lucky to get three.
"Sir, my other vehicle broke down about three kilometers back. Once the crew gets her running again, they know where to join us. I'm Krausse by the way, Anton Krausse. Late of Sturmgeschütz Abteilung 244."
"Late of?" von Lüttwitz thought that choice of words odd.
"Sir, the bulk of the unit was destroyed in the Ardennes. My platoon is all that's left, we were held in reserve and never got into action."
"I see, well, welcome to the 5th Company, II Battalion, 294th Grenadier Regiment of the 18th Volksgrenadier Division."
"Thank you, Sir. Uh, I thought the 18th were further south, in the Schnee Eifel?"
"Ah, but they are my dear Krausse, like you we are but the remnants of another unit and haven't been able to join our parent unit yet."
"Do we have a mission, Herr Major?" The young corporal seemed nervous.
"Why yes, yes we do. We are to stop the Amis, here..." Von Lüttwitz showed Krausse on the map where they were headed. "You've fought the Ami Shermans before, yes?"
"Yes Sir, in France. So we're going to be plugging the hole I heard about?"
"Yes indeed, we are. Our primary mission is to stop the Amis from penetrating any further."
"So I presume we have a secondary mission as well, Herr Major?"
"Why yes, dear boy. Stay alive. That's our other mission. Now let's be off, the Amis won't wait for us to get there!"
With that, von Lüttwitz led his men down the road to another battle. No doubt they would be outnumbered and probably outgunned, but what choice did they have?
None, if the truth be told. It was the Twilight of the Gods, von Lüttwitz thought, Götterdämmerung, though he'd never been a Wagner fan, too turgid and dark for him. What he would give to hear a bit of Vivaldi right now.
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