Friday, April 30, 2021

The Last Fight, Ambushed

(Source)

"Better slow it down Harry, I think our escort sees something they don't like." Major Alphonse Josephson, commanding the 1st Battalion of the 26th Infantry sat up straighter in the jeep's front seat. His driver, Cpl. Harry Somers, was slowing the jeep as the M8 Greyhound to their front had come nearly to a complete stop.

They were on the outskirts of a little Czech village which Josephson couldn't find on his map. He turned to his radioman, Sgt. Bill Wilkinson, sitting in the back of the jeep. "See if you can't get regiment on the horn, I think we took a wrong turn..."

A loud explosion interrupted the Major as the lead Greyhound had started to roll forward again, right over a German Teller mine. The back of the armored car was engulfed in flames and the crew was starting to bail out of the vehicle. German machine gun fire from a building further into the village cut down one of the men before he could jump off, the others scrambled into a nearby building.

"Come on guys, we're a sitting duck." Josephson yelled as Somers tried to maneuver the jeep to head back the way they had come up, but the other escorting Greyhound behind them was blocking the way.

The sound of a heavy round passing close by made all three men duck their heads. Somers was looking for an opportunity to turn the jeep and he saw the round glance off the turret of the M8 behind them. That glancing blow made the driver of the Greyhound back into a barn beside the road. It gave Somers the opportunity he was looking for.

He spun the jeep through a 180 degree turn and was nearly clear when the Greyhound lurched into the road again, blocking the jeep's escape route.

From the back of the jeep Sgt. Wilkinson yelled, "We need to get out of this f**king jeep!"

Looking back over his shoulder, Josephson saw why.

Schwere Panzerspähwagen¹ (5cm) Puma Sd.Kfz.234/2
(Source)

The enemy vehicle fired again, hitting the surviving Greyhound in the front, just below the turret. The vehicle kept rolling into the field beside the road. It was starting to burn, no one got out.

Josephson was leading his two men into a small building, it looked like a shop of some kind, when the German vehicle fired again, hitting the jeep. Wilkinson groaned, "There goes our ride."


"Sir, I'm getting something over the radio, it's breaking up pretty badly, but it sounds like Major Josephson's radioman, Bill Wilkinson." Cpl. Jacob Winters was listening intently, trying to get a better signal. "Sounds like they were ambushed!"

2nd Lt. Mitch Hornsby was at the company CP with just a few of the other company men, Cpt. Stephen Hernandez was out with a platoon-sized patrol, exploring the valley and the hill across from their position. "Can you get the Cap'n on the radio?"

"They're out there moving quietly, Cap'n said not to call them as their radio would be off unless they needed something." Winters answered.

"Damn it. Where's Top?"

"Over on the right flank, checking in with 3rd Platoon."

"Shit! Cline, go round up everybody, leave the cooks and their helpers here. Tell  S/Sgt Santos that he's going to have to mind the store for now. Ramsay, go fire up the halftrack with the .50 mounted on top!"

Cpl. Glenn Cline and T/5 Leo Ramsey hastened out the door of the small house to grab the men who were available, which amounted to the company messengers, the captain's bugler, and the company orderly.

While ten men in a halftrack wasn't much of a rescue mission, it was all they had. 1st Platoon was on the patrol with Cpt. Hernandez, so after a brief conversation over the radio with the 2nd and 3rd Platoon leaders, 1st Lt. Nate Paddock and 2nd Lt. Bob Poole, the consensus was that Hornsby really had no other choice.

As they were loading up, 1st Lt. Herman Jacobsen, commanding Weapons Platoon walked up. "What's going on Pebs?"

Hornsby winced at the new nickname, even the shorter version sounded odd, then he explained the situation, Jacobsen yelled for his platoon sergeant, S/Sgt. Walt Copeland, who hustled over.

"Unload one of our vehicles and have Ernie Rodgers, Muñoz, Barrett, Garza, and Rose load up for a field trip. I'm sending those guys with you Pebs, all right? Garza and Rose are both B.A.R. men, give you a little extra firepower."

"Hey, the more the merrier." Hornsby nodded as Cpl. Cline came up to let them know they were ready to roll. Within minutes, the little two vehicle convoy rolled out of Charlie Company's bivouac to attempt to rescue their battalion commander.


"How bad is it Sir?" Somers was bleeding from a wound in his lower abdomen, it hurt like Hell.

Josephson and Wilkinson had bandaged Somers up as best they could, he'd caught a ricochet from that damn German machine gun a few houses down the road.

"It's stopped bleeding Harry. Should I give him some morphine Sir? I have a couple of syrettes." Wilkinson asked.

"No, I'm okay, don't knock me out with that stuff, you might need my carbine." Somers protested.

"If you can handle it, okay, no morphine. But if it gets to be too much, let me know." Maj. Josephson said, patting Somers on the shoulder.

Wilkinson was now at the window, trying to get a look down the road. "That Kraut armored car has vanished."

"Probably went to cover, with all the aircraft passing by, he's probably afraid of being a target. Thing is, this area is supposed to be behind our lines. The flyboys might not go after him. Thank God they don't know that or they'd blast us out of here."

A burst of machine gun fire walked down the road and grazed the corner of their building.

"I don't think we're in the Krauts' direct line of fire. I don't know what they're shooting at." Josephson said with some exasperation, "Did you get through on the radio, Bill?"

"Maybe Sir, it sounded like Winters over at C Company, don't know if they got the message though." Wilkinson went to the back of the shop and was looking out the windows at the back of the building.

"We're in luck, this building backs up on a sheer hill, walls on both sides, for the Krauts to get behind us they'd have to be acrobats. With buildings to either side, we should be good, as long as that damned armored car stays away." Wilkinson reported.

"Good, it's gonna be dark soon. I want to try and get out of here when that happens. I'm betting that armored car won't wait long to come get us once it gets dark enough. If he's still around that is." Josephson checked his watch. This was going to be touch and go.


"Jesus L.T., which fork do we take?" Ramsey was driving the halftrack, Hornsby was sitting up just behind him in the crew compartment. The front passenger's seat was occupied by Pfc. Santos Clarke who had had some training on the .50 caliber machine gun mounted over the passenger's seat.

M3A1 Halftrack
(Source)

Ramsey glanced back at the map the lieutenant was holding, he saw the fork, he managed to suppress his surprise that the lieutenant could actually read a map.

"You know Sir, that left fork heads up to where the regimental CP is supposed to be, the right fork is probably the way they went. Leads down into Indian country I think." Ramsey explained, pointing at the map.

"Yup, I think so too." Hornsby walked to the rear of the crew compartment and yelled back at Cpl. Rodgers in the WC-51. "We're gonna go right, whaddaya think?"

Rodgers had come to the same conclusion as Ramsey, "I think that's the wrong way to go if you wanna avoid Krauts..."

"Yup, so that's the way the Major went." Hornsby nodded, "Let's move out, it's gonna be dark soon. I don't wanna be out here for some Hitler Youth with a Panzerfaust to pick off." Hornsby waved the little convoy forward.


The crew of the German armored car had indeed gone to cover. The sight of so many Jabos flying past made the car commander very nervous. He'd managed to confer with the Hauptmann holed up in the village inn with a single MG 34, guy's name was Schuler he thought.

"The man was drunk out of his mind Willi." Oberfeldwebel Kurt Schonheim confided in his gunner, Obergefreiter Willi Krüger. "I saw one extra box of ammunition, I think that's all he's got, and he was pissing bullets down the street like nobody's business. Der Mann ist verrückt!²"

"So Kurt, why are we sticking around? Will we wait until a Sherman comes along and blows us all to Hell? We've got enough petrol to go maybe a hundred kilometers. I say we get the Hell out of here."

"And go where Willi?" Oberpanzerschütze Heinz Lessing piped up from his driver's position. "Trundle down to Prague and meet the Russians? Head north and meet the Russians?"

Panzerschütze Hans Dollmann was walking up to the armored car buttoning his fly, he had dismounted to answer a call of nature. He only caught the last part of the conversation. "What are you lot on about now?"

As Dollmann climbed into his position, Lessing told him, "Willi wants to go for a drive, he thinks the Amis will be coming with a Sherman!"

"Don't laugh Heinz, we're no match for a tank. Waiting here is asking for trouble."

"It'll be dark soon, I say we head north to Adorf. If we make it, we can surrender to the Amis. If we stay here, they see the burning scout cars and the wrecked command car and I think they shoot first, then maybe let those of us still alive surrender. Maybe." Willi made a good case for leaving.

After a quiet moment while the crew thought about their options, Schonheim said, "Unless anyone really wants to stay and fight, we're leaving at dark. All right?"

"Sounds good to me, you have any problems with that Hans?" Lessing wanted to know.

"No, I like the idea."

Schonheim looked at his men, "It's settled then. We move when it's dark."





¹ Heavy Armored Car
² The man is crazy.

Link to all of the Chant's fiction.

22 comments:

  1. I hope the M3 has a bazooka in it. As a vehicle used by a command post, I think it may very well have one.


    Earlier this month, I was travelling the internet, in search of a Puma! Good luck finding one, for less than $80.00! I had to settle for a Sdkfz 251/22. The AFV Club one. I also want a T28 Turtle Tank, but the Dragon one costs almost as much as a real one!

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    1. Left off the 1/35 scale. Sorry!

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    2. I went to the website where they have those models. Their detail is amazing for HO (1:87) scale.

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    3. The cost of plastic models is frightening. I had thought of building an F/A-18F in my daughter's squadron's colors. The price chased me right out of the store!

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    4. The detail on a lot of modern kits is really good.

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    5. For some strange reason, with everyone forced home for the last year or so, the old hobbies have returned.

      Lots of people doing home repair or just doing things with tools.

      Lots of people going back to model railroading and garden railroading (1:7 scale or such, that you can actually ride...)

      And...

      Plastic model building.

      Tamiya used to be the model company that everyone was compared to. Now? Yikes. And you just don't buy the base model, which is the actual model, you can now buy detail kits for cockpits and cabins and variation kits for each specific variant of the base model and such.

      It's crazy. And it's definitely an adult hobby now with those prices.

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    6. I well remember the day I discovered Tamiya's kits. Wow, they were good then, they're still good.

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  2. Still not over. And you have to wonder what the Germans were thinking...Even they know their situation is totally screwed.

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    Replies
    1. Avoiding the harsh reality of defeat until it might be too late.

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    2. At least they have the idea that heading to the Russians was/is/will be a bad idea. But then again, too bad they didn't think that before shooting up a small patrol of Amis.

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    3. Old habits die hard. So do their practitioners.

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  3. The intensity of the moment. "Shoot at the Americans". Then what? Back to the Russian side? That will go well. Even in the midst of a (literally) collapsing world, still reacting instead thinking.

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    Replies
    1. Letting the tides of war carry them. Might cost them dearly too!

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    2. Sometimes it's best not to shoot... Buck Fever has gotten a lot of hunters into trouble when they've plugged a juvenile, or a doe, or a horse, or another hunter...

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  4. That 5cm gun? Could cut through the Greyhound longways. Powerful enough to be effective against T-34s and Shermans from the side, and T-34s on the lower glacis plate. Good gun. Perfect for up-arming the SdKfz 234.

    But...

    Only had a limited supply of ammo, though, and at this time in the war, the chance of resupply was zilch.

    And after shooting up a column, their chances of surrendering to the surrounding Americans are almost as bad as the chance of resupply.

    Crazy. But then again, war is crazy.

    At least Hitler finally managed to (maybe) take a dirtnap on this day.

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    1. Oh he did, subsequent facts coming to light over the years sealed that deal. Goddamned Commies pushing the idea that he was still alive.

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    2. Probably better to run and give up to some other Americans- ones that didn't have a column shot up!

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    3. I think they know better than to stick around, but getting away could be tough.

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  5. This made methink, how would contact with Soviets look... Oh, and one of the reasons Germans kept on fighting: no one told them to stop. Damned well drilled discipline, plus culture of Auftragstaktik. Think of Nelson and his "no captain would do bad in absence of clear orders, by placing his ship along one of enemy"...

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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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