Sunday, April 11, 2021

Remnants

(Source)

Tracer fire from a German machine gun reached out from the third floor of a building sitting across the town square from where S/Sgt Brad Woodstock's tank 'Catamount' was positioned. The rounds spanged off the Sherman's armor with little effect. All it really did was startle the infantry advancing behind the tank.

Sgt. Lucas Cole noticed that his squad tried to make themselves small as the German gun continued to fire, with no results except to terrify the younger soldiers. Before Cole could order his men to take any action, the cannon on Catamount boomed.

Woodstock saw through his vision slits that the high explosive round was dead on target. He could have sworn he saw a German somersaulting through the air. "Mark keep loading HE until I say otherwise."

Pfc. Mark Workman came back with, "HE up!"

"Willis, let's move forward, slowly now, I don't wanna outrun 3rd Platoon."

"Gotcha Sarge." Cpl. Willis Hartness answered over the intercom. He too was keeping his eyes wide open, he didn't want to run into any Kraut tanks in this burg. They hadn't seen any German armor in weeks, so he thought they were due. Little did he know just how bad the German supply situation was. They still had tanks, but no fuel to run them!


Oberfeldwebel Wilhelm Hirtzfeld watched as his machine gun position was destroyed by the Ami tank. They had a single Panzerfaust left, if it was up to him he'd wave the white flag right now, but the SS bastard who was currently in command wouldn't like that, not one bit.

"Herr Sturmbannführer¹, we need to fall back, we can't stop an entire tank platoon supported by infantry." Hirtzfeld took the chance that the fanatic might actually listen to him for once. The man wasn't even a combat soldier, he'd showed up a few days before with valid looking orders to take command of what was left of Hirtzfeld's battalion, which Hirtzfeld had been commanding for two weeks.

"Heeres-Feigling, du willst einfach nicht kämpfen.² Take this idiot Gefreiter and his Panzerfaust downstairs. Kill the lead tank and you'll block the road. The others will be stuck. Also, drop that 'Herr' nonsense, we SS don't believe in that formal shit."

Hirtzfeld looked at the man in wonder. Two weeks ago the man had been running the office of the local Sicherheitsdienst, terrorizing the slave laborers at a nearby underground plant making parts for rockets which would never fly. Now he thought he was a combat soldier.

"Go, do you want a written order from the Führer, or what?" Johannes Braun couldn't believe the stupidity of this sergeant. Didn't he know that if they made a stand then the Führer's miracle weapons could still save the day? Cowards and idiots, no wonder we are losing the war, he thought.


S/Sgt. Bob Poole, commanding 3rd Platoon since the relief of 2nd Lt. Damian Lott for incompetence, came up with his radioman, Pvt. Lou Hess.

"Whaddaya got Lucas?"

Cole told Poole about the machine gun nest taken out by Woodstock's tank, then he said, "Ya know boss, why don't we move through these buildings instead of down the street? I feel like a fish in a barrel out here."

Poole nodded then picked up the phone on the back of Catamount. "Yeah, Brad, Bob Poole here. Think you could put some HE into those buildings to our front? I want a distraction while I send a couple of squads into the buildings on either side of the street."

"How do you expect to go from building to building Bob?" Woodstock thought the plan had merit but how could the men get from one building to the next without exposing themselves?

"Think bazooka Brad. I've got a couple and enough rounds to move forward at least a block."

"Hhmm, not bad buddy, not bad. Just don't bring the buildings down on your heads!"


Hirtzfeld told Gefreiter Jürgen Klingenschmitt to head down the stairs at the back of the room, he would follow.

Braun, the SS man, looked at Hirtzfeld with a scowl, "Go, go, you ignorant mutt, kill that tank."

As Braun turned back to the front of the building, Hirtzfeld shot him with his MP 40. "Eat shit you SS bastard."

Braun fell to the floor, he wasn't quite dead yet, so he tried to draw his pistol. Hirtzfeld shot him again. Now Braun was very dead.


As Poole started to deploy Cole's 3rd Squad to the left and Sgt. Ed Russell's 2nd Squad to the right, Hess yelled out. "Sarn't Poole, white flag on the left!"

Poole looked down the street, sure enough, someone was waving a white flag from the ground floor. "Tell the bastards to come out, Lou, hands empty and high."

"Komm ins Freie, keine Waffen, Hände in der Luft!³"

"Everybody hold your fire!" Poole bellowed.

From his turret above, Woodstock yelled down, "If they try anything funny, I'll smoke 'em!"

Seconds later, twenty plus men came out into the street from the buildings on the left of the street. A few moments after that, roughly fifteen more Germans came out from those buildings on the other side of the street.


Poole had Sgt. Cliff Davis' 1st Squad escort the prisoners to the rear. One of the Germans had told Hess what had happened in the building before the surrender. Sure enough, they found a dead SS officer right where the Kraut had said he'd be.

The men who had surrendered were all that was left of a once mighty Panzergrenadier division. The three men killed by Woodstock's tank and the thirty-eight men who had surrendered were all that remained of a division which, at it's peak, mustered 14,750 men.

"We're fighting the shattered remnants of a once mighty army Bob." Brad Woodstock and Bob Poole were sitting in the sunshine on top of Catamount having a cigar, listening to the birds sing.

"Would that the rest of our battles are so easy, Brad."

"Amen, brother. We didn't lose any of our own guys, and I'll take that any day..."


Less than four weeks remain until the Nazis surrender. Hitler blows his brains out in nineteen days.




¹ SS Major
² Army coward, you just don't want to fight.
³ Come outside, no weapons, hands in the air!

Link to all of the Chant's fiction.

46 comments:

  1. A much better day! I hope one of these days, A German surrenders, and hands over his Gustlaff VG1-5, just to see what the Americans think of the device. A rifle of desperation.

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    1. It's what you get when your industry lies in ruins or is scattered to multiple little workshops in caves. Also points to the lack of resources. When you have to equip your people with things like that, you know the situation is desperate.

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    2. It's what you get when you have people making guns in their homes. Kind of like all the really 'excellent' weapons that the Australian 'criminal element' are making today. "Lesse, from the hardware store we can..."

      And it's how Japan has, as of the episode above, been making a lot of stuff. One of the 'justifications' for the fire bombings was to destroy THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION (said in a loud voice with echo effect...)

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  2. "Eat shit you SS bastard."...Couldn't have said it better myself, Sarge!

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    1. Bastard deserved it, probably long oversue.

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    2. Bad enough to have an SS fanatic in charge, but a Camp SS fanatic? Oy vey! A friggin trumped up shoe clerk of a death-cult fanatic.

      Well, he got what he wanted, a death in battle, technically.

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    3. He wasn't a camp official, just the local SD man being a pain in the ass to everybody in his "realm." As there was a slave labor camp nearby, go terrorize them as well, none of the responsibility, all of the "authority." He deserved a slower death.

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  3. The trouble really wasn't just that the SS were a Godless sect, but also that they thought they were were deities themselves, that should be feared, and revered. Above the laws of mere mortals. They could write their own destinies in the shed blood of the lesser mortals, who were subject to the will of their masters.

    As in all situations where the slaves have risen up, and slaughtered their 'masters', there is a gratifying feeling of ultimate justice, albeit late in the course of events.

    Once again Sarge, I have to commend you for the realism of your depiction of the sociopolitical upheavals that took place during that time. And the cost to those who brought them about.

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    1. I've read a lot about that time period. A fascinating, though harrowing, period of history.

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  4. Man, I could smell the old dust of the room the SScheißkopfführer died in. Those old places have a certain 'ambiance'.

    I made myself laugh... SS.... hahaha....

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  5. This is the final sign of the collapse - when those that previously ruled by fear and violence have lost their ability to use either as a tool. Once that happens, the very fabric of the society is rent.

    That change in the division numbers is staggering.

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    1. Those are some tough numbers...

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    2. Toirdhealbheach Beucail - It happens frequently throughout history, it's a shame that som many innocents must die before it happens. Think of Robespierre as a good example.

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    3. Rob - Combat, sickness, surrenders of parts of the unit, no replacements, even the finest organizations can be ground down to nothing.

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    4. I'd heard of Japanese army losses with numbers like that but not German.

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    5. In the case of the Japanese, most of those losses would be deaths, in the German case, especially in the spring of '45, those losses would include large numbers of men who had surrendered. Also the division would have probably been at less than half-strength after the winter. Those German losses could happen quickly (think the surrenders in North Africa and at Stalingrad) but normally would happen over a period of months.

      The Japanese just didn't surrender, though late in the war, on Okinawa, many did, most preferred death to capture.

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    6. Sarge - Agreed that it always takes reaching to a "point" for this to happen. One wonders if such things could happen earlier so less people would have to die.

      It is a rhetorical comment. On the whole, we are too stupid to learn.

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    7. It certainly seems that way.

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  6. Interesting. No reaction from the Americans to nearby automatic weapons fire.

    Having what amounts to a prison guard in the form of the much beloved Sturmbannführer doesn't work well when his "prisoners" are both scared and armed.

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    1. The weapon was fired inside a substantial brick building, away from the smashed windows, might be hard to hear over the sound of tank engines down at street level. Also, the sound of weapons fire in the distance wasn't really note-worthy at that point in time.

      Also from there things moved quickly from the death of the SS man to the surrender. Also, the Americans were getting ready to assault through the buildings on either side of the street and were preoccupied.

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  7. The fewer the true believers that survive the better. Read on the Morgenthou Plan to try to keep Germany from making another war but when word got out another reason for the fanaticism the Allies saw.

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    1. I'm familiar with the Morgenthau Plan, a good way to make your enemy fight to the death. Ditto with "unconditional surrender." If you've got everything to lose, why quit?

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    2. At least the Japanese got to keep their Emperor, and some other things. Don't know if they would have surrendered if they had to dismantle everything.

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    3. Odds are pretty good that they would have fought on if the Emperor said so. The surrender was a close run thing, a number of mid-level Army fanatics wanted to take over the Imperial Palace and keep fighting. Once the Emperor spoke directly to the people (a very rare thing indeed) it was all over but the shouting.

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    4. Japan signed an unconditional surrender, after the second bomb.

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    5. On the condition that they kept the Imperial house.

      So technically it wasn't an unconditional surrender. Upset a lot of Americans at the time.

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  8. Hey Old AFSarge;

    The Fanatics still thought they could win, they even had their "Werewolf plan" because the SS was steeped in the Occult. That was another reason for the barrier between the SS and the HEER. it showed good discipline that the guys didn't fire when Poole told them to "Hold Fire", a green unit would have a few "Accidental Discharges" from the FNG's if you know what I mean. I was reading on Wiki the numbers of time the Panzergrenadier units were "reconstituted" or reformed after major battles because the casualties were horrific and the units were mauled especially after Stalingrad or after the run from France.

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    1. You see that reconstitution of numbers in Vietnam, too. XYZ Provisional Regiment loses 75% casualties this week, in three months they lose 50%, in four months they lose 45%, then they lose another 50%...

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    2. The Panzergrenadiers evolved from the motorized infantry units. A very useful unit type but thankfully (for us) there weren't that many of them. They were overused in many instances, hence the constant rebuilds.

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    3. Beans - Yup, if you're in an infantry unit, never study the statistics of war.

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  9. Finally! Good men can only take so much before they break, one way or another. Shooting the camp guard was the best solution overall. Too bad it wasn't done when the Shermans were first spotted.

    Sad seeing a once powerful nation destroyed from both inside and out. The Marshal Plan must have seemed like a Godsend, literally Mana from Heaven, to the Germans after the war. Come to think of it, the Berlin Airlift literally was Mana from Heaven, so to speak.

    You capture the emotional feel of the time very well. I could almost smell the defeat, the unwashed state of the Germans, the funk that poor nutrition makes, the dustiness of an empty village that's been hit a couple of times (burnt wood and powdered masonry is a very un-nice smell, you smell it once and your mind immediately identifies it as 'Not Good Smell, Boss!) Toss in the dead smell of animals or humans and, well, it always surprised me that they rebuilt so many places.

    Come to think of it, many of those towns or buildings have been rebuilt over and over again. Same basic building, maybe added on, but semi-destroyed one year, rebuilt, semi-destroyed another year, repeat repeat repeat. The time since 1945 must be the longest period there hasn't been active war in Germany since forever, well, until Merkle and her 'refugee' program...

    Weird to think that the US has been keeping Western Europe safe for so long. Even safe from themselves.

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    1. Well, if they won't pay for their own defense...

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    2. I think leaving troops in Germany was one reason we didn't have to do it a third time in the 20th century.

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    3. To keep the Russians in check as well.

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    4. Or, as one British diplomat put it about the point of NATO: "To keep the Russians out, the Germans down, and the Americans in."

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    5. True, but I wonder if NATO countries will keep paying the amount Trump got them to agree too. We've extended ourselves to the point where we can't stop anyone anywhere.

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    6. I'm sure Xiden has already nixed that, well his puppet masters anyway.

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  10. Possible correction?

    we SS don't believe it in that formal shit.

    On the SS, I certainly won't defend them but towards the end of the war they were drafting people to fill their ranks. Happened to the father of my Mercedes shop friend, and the fact that they didn't have time to give him the tell-tale tattoo, the Russians probably would have shot him. He said that his father had some stories. Of course those people wouldn't have been diehards.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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