Thursday, April 22, 2021



S/Sgt Jeff Kilcannon rushed into the 1st Platoon CP, "Sir, we've got a big problem, one of our patrols found a couple of dead GIs!"

"Uh, we're at war Jeff, not a surprise to find dead men." 1st Lt. Nathaniel Gonzales stood up and put his helmet on, then he reached for his carbine. He figured that he'd better check this out, Kilcannon wasn't normally this excitable.

Kilcannon explained, "Sir, these guys are from 8th Armored, they've only been dead a day or so."

After that revelation, Gonzales had Kilcannon fetch Sgt. Rudy Taylor's 2nd Squad. He also dispatched Pvt. Frank David to let Charlie Company's commander, Cpt. Stephen Hernandez, know what was going on. "I don't want this going out over the radio." He explained.

Gonzales knew that the 8th Armored Division was operating to the north of the Harz. Why were these men so far from their unit? Deserters perhaps?

Cpt. Hernandez listened as David explained what was happening, then he told the messenger to head back to his platoon. He called the First Sergeant into his office.

"Mort, send a runner to each platoon, no one is to leave the vicinity of the village unless with their squad. I think we have a possible Werwolf¹ situation." Hernandez had said 'werewolf' using the German pronunciation.

1st Sgt. Saeger looked at the company commander as if the man had just grown a second head. "Werewolf Sir? Are you serious?"

Hernandez realized that he hadn't yet shown his first sergeant the message that had come in via courier that morning. Pulling a piece of paper from the pile on the table he was using as a desk, he handed it to Saeger. "Better read this Mort."

The message detailed what division knew about a Nazi plan to set up guerilla units behind the lines, the two dead men that 1st Platoon had found could very well be related. Saeger read through the message, then swore, "Holy shit, Sir, this could be a big problem."


SS-Scharführer Ernst Schneider was rewinding the bandage on his right hand while SS-Sturmmann Rainer Bodenschaft kept a lookout in the direction of where they had surprised the two American soldiers. 

Schneider and Bodenschaft had ambushed the two Americans, killing them with their fighting knives. While they still had their StG 44s, ammunition was scarce, also, firing was noisy, so they had used their knives. All had gone well except that Schneider had lost his grip on his knife and cut the palm of his hand. It hurt like Hell and was still oozing blood.

"We should go back and get their medical kits, Americans all carry that sort of thing don't they?" Bodenschaft was trying to be helpful, but the older man was in no mood for it.

"Shut up Rainer, it's not that bad. It hurts but I'm not wandering back to that area. Eventually the Amis will find the bodies. The men in the village aren't as careless as they two men we killed. I suspect those two were deserters looking for loot."

The two SS men were all that was left of an SS mountain infantry company that had been sent into the Harz Mountains when Heinrich Himmler had ordered the creation of the Harzfestung.² Their unit had been cut to pieces by elements of two American infantry regiments, both having strong armored support.

Both men had been in the Waffen SS since the invasion of Russia, they had seen and done things which made them realize that there would be no pity for men of their ilk after the war. Therefore they had resolved to fight on, no matter the outcome.

Pfc. Omar Horton held a hand up, behind him the squad halted and faced outwards, each man covering a particular sector. Sgt. Lawrence Hanson hustled up to where his lead scout was. He was scanning the forest around him, his senses heightened to any threat. He'd been at this since North Africa and so far his instincts had kept him alive.

Hanson took a knee next to Horton who pointed at the ground in front of him. Hanson saw it immediately, a bloody scrap of cloth. There were also boot prints, the kind made by hobnailed German boots.

"I think two guys, maybe three. They stopped here, probably to tend to a wound. There's no blood trail leading away from here, so the guy can't be hurt that bad." Horton looked off into the woods, the underbrush hinted at the wildness of the place, the Germans liked their forests tidy, this area was still as wild as it had probably been back in ancient times.

Hanson nodded then tried his walkie-talkie, nothing but static, too many hills, too many trees for him to get a signal. He thought about it, then decided that they should head back. There were definitely enemy about, not many, but probably the fanatic kind. They could have laid low until the war ended, but they had killed those two men from 8th Armored.

With knives for God's sake!

Reluctantly, he ordered the squad back to the village.

"My man says two men, maybe three, they'll be hard to find in this wilderness." 1st Lt. Gonzales explained to Cpt. Hernandez.

"I've already talked with Maj. Josephson, he wants us to sweep the area. We're moving east anyway, I'd have rather gone by road, but now we're walking. So we'll move out in skirmish order, two platoons up, one back. Let your men know that if they see anyone, shoot first, ask questions later, these guys might be guerillas, they might be deserters, but they're desperate. They could have let those armored guys pass, but they didn't. No signs of a struggle, those two men were ambushed." Hernandez paused and looked at his platoon leaders.

"Questions?" he asked.

1st Lt. Nate Paddock raised a hand, then said, "Brad Woodstock says he's got orders to follow the rest of the regiment south, so we're without tank support. Right?"

"Yeah, tanks aren't much use in these woods, so they've been ordered to rejoin their battalion. We might not be going to Czechoslovakia after all. It depends on what we find as we sweep to the east. Get your men ready, pack three days rations. We move off at first light."

"Half the men on watch Sir?" 2nd Lt. Bob Poole asked.

"Yup, good idea Bob. Two shifts of four hours each. Make sure you leaders get your sleep. A tired leader makes mistakes, those mistakes get men killed. Platoon sergeants take one watch, officers the other." Turning to his Weapons Platoon leader he said, "Herm, I want your platoon around the company CP, MGs covering the roads, mortars ready for action."

2nd Lt. Herman Jacobsen nodded and said, "You got it boss."

"Okay guys let's do this, we've got our work cut out for us."

Schneider and Bodenschaft linked up with a five-man unit of Volkssturm just before sunset. Schneider immediately took command.

"We're going to start hunting the Amis. I want them scared to leave their bivouacs at night. I want them looking over their shoulders during the day. I want to kill some and terrorize the others. We have our orders, the Reichsführer has declared the Harz a fortress. We are its garrison. Reinforcements from 11th Army are headed this way. Final victory is a question of willpower, not fire power." Schneider had an odd tone to his voice, almost as if he were preaching to the men.

The five Volkssturm men shared hidden glances, none of them were thrilled with the idea of fighting any more. Especially not under an SS fanatic.

When the two SS men woke in the morning, they discovered that three of the Volkssturm had disappeared in the night. Local men, they knew these woods, which Schneider had been counting on. Which also meant that they had little chance of tracking them down.

"We'll keep patrolling, there are others out here. We shall be werewolves, the enemy will learn to fear us." Schneider harangued the men as they prepared to move to a new position.

Bodenschaft thought that his old comrade had finally lost his mind. There was no hope of victory.

There was, in truth...

No hope at all.

¹ Werwolf (German for "werewolf") was a Nazi plan which began development in 1944, to create a resistance force which would operate behind enemy lines as the Allies advanced through Germany, in parallel with the Wehrmacht fighting in front of the lines. It is widely misconstrued as having been intended to be a guerilla force to harass Allies forces after the defeat of Germany, but this misconception was created by Joseph Goebbels through propaganda disseminated through his "Radio Werwolf", which was not actually connected in any way with the military unit. (Source)
² Fortress Harz

Link to all of the Chant's fiction.


  1. Someone whose mind is slipping is very dangerous, to both sides. Knives in the field are not clean, Could Schneider have blood poisoning, as well as SS administered mind poisoning?

    1. Good point. Had they taken the first aid kit the GI's presumably had they'd at least have sterile dressings, maybe even some sulfa powder.
      Hunting a few guys in overgrown woods; not a good deal. Akin to an african PH going into the bush after a wounded lion.
      Boat Guy

    2. StB - Bit early for Schneider to worry about his wound going septic. His mind has been poisoned by the SS.

    3. BG - Yup, should've taken what they could from those two armored guys.

  2. Not the woods again! I'm sure our guys thought they'd seen enough European forests .... dammit!

    1. Yeah, they seem to spend a lot of time in the woods.

    2. Best place for readily available cover and concealment, especially if you are few, and hunted by many!

  3. Last spasms of a dying body......unfortunately others may well pay a price too.

  4. The more I read, the more I understand the mentality of any resistance gets arty. Possible type "Make sure you leaders get your sleep." My head tripped over it...

    Man, not a time to slack of on situational awareness.

    1. Not a typo, Hernandez is briefing his platoon leaders, he's telling them that they need to get some sleep, it's why they have platoon sergeants to back them up.

    2. I'm a zipper head. Makes perfect sense now.

    3. I do that all the time, there are sentences I have to look at a few times before they make sense.

      Once I see it, I wonder how I could have misread it. It happens to us all STxAR.

  5. Vital guidance for exactly the reason stated; tired people make mistakes.

  6. “ Their was no hope of victory.”


  7. One wonders what would have happened if the Werewolf phenomena had been more deeply or widely practiced. Would it have looked more like the insurgencies we have seen in Iraq or Afghanistan, for example? Even the IRA had a very long period of activity.

    I suspect it was simply because at this time, true believers were few and far between and everyone else was just exhausted.

    1. I think you're right as to the "Why not?"

      Had it happened, Germany would have been much worse off.


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