Tuesday, May 4, 2021

One More Push

East of Aš, Karlovy Vary Region¹, Czechoslovakia

Cpt. Jack Walker reported in to 26th Infantry Regiment's forward headquarters shortly before sunrise. He had been ordered to report in for two reasons: 1) the division had recently been transferred to V Corps and now that corps was being re-assigned to George Patton's Third Army for an offensive deeper into Czechoslovakia and 2), the big reason, he was to take command of 1st Battalion.

Walker had been shocked and saddened to hear of the death in battle of 1st Battalion's former  commander, Major Alphonse Josephson. But in the sad tradition of armies throughout history, one man's death meant another man's promotion. Walker looked forward to the challenge of battalion command, he felt he was ready.

But to take over just after being assigned to a new command and on the eve of an offensive might be more of a challenge than a man might wish for, but that's the way the cards hit the table, he had to play the hand or kiss his career goodbye. One didn't turn down the chance for higher command in the Army, not if one wanted to stay for thirty years. Which he did.

"Hey Jack, come on in!" The regimental commander was in the outer office of the headquarters, it was still early for the staff types, pouring a cup of coffee, "Grab yourself a cup and let's sit down for a bit. As I recall, you were an early riser at the Point, not much has changed has it?"

Walker chuckled and said, "When you grow up on a dairy farm, you get used to getting up well before the sun does, in all sorts of weather."

"I can imagine. Okay, down to brass tacks, we're going from covering Third Army's left flank, to being Third Army's left flank. General Patton wants to push as far into Czechoslovakia as he can, liberate as much of the country before the goddamned Communists show up. We'll probably have to give it back when the Krauts finally throw in the towel, but what the General wants, the General gets." The colonel took a sip of his coffee, then set it down and rummaged through a pile of papers his exec had left him. Finding what he was looking for, he tossed it across the desk to Walker.

"There ya go Jack, those are your orders, so it's official, you are now in command of my 1st Battalion. You're replacing a damned good man, but I'm sure you know that. Be aggressive, but be careful as well." As Walker started to speak, the colonel held up one hand, "I know, I know, that's a pretty tall order. At any sign of resistance, flatten it. Artillery, air, whatever you have to hand. I'm attaching a tank company and a tank destroyer company to your battalion for the next few days. If anyone wants to fight you, kill 'em. Let's go home alive, more importantly, let's get our boys home alive. There's a jeep waiting out front, good luck and good hunting."

Walker snapped a salute and pivoted. He had his work cut out for him.

Walker stepped outside, sure enough there was a jeep with three men in it, waiting for him. The driver, a corporal, gestured to the man in the front passenger's seat and said, "S'okay we give this guy a lift back to battalion? He's with Charlie Company."

"I guess so, what are you doing here at regiment Corporal?"

"My CO sent me back to relax for a few days, I used to be Major Josephson's radioman when he had C Company."

"Were you there when he was hit?"

"No Sir, it was still a bit of a shock."

"Well, I guess you're better now, huh? Move to the back, I like sitting up front."

Cpl. Jacob Winters moved to the back seat of the jeep. He got the impression that this new battalion commander didn't think much of him. Oh well, in a few months he'd be out of the Army, he really didn't give a shit what this captain thought.

"So that's the plan, well the rough outlines anyway. We're heading east and we're killing Krauts along the way. Patton wants Karlovy Vary, so we're gonna give it to him." Looking around at the gathered company commanders he said, "Willis, your company will be in reserve, give you a day or two to get used to being in command. Hernandez, your guys will be up front with tanks from the 745th, a platoon under a 2nd Lt. Woodstock. I believe you've worked with them before."

"Yes Sir, we have." Hernandez had reservations about this whole attack. The Germans were finished, why chase after trouble? This guy Walker didn't impress him much, of course his old company got to hang back while Charlie and Baker Companies led the way. But it was good to know that their buddies in C Company of the 745th Tank Battalion would be alongside them.

"All right, any questions? We're moving out at daybreak tomorrow. Get your ammo re-stocked, get your men fed, full brief at 0430 tomorrow morning. Dismissed."

Hernandez was walking back to Charlie Company's bivouac with 1st Lt. Nate Paddock, as they walked Hernandez turned to Paddock, "So, what's your impression of Captain Walker, know anything about him?"

"Well, he's West Point, Class of '42. Spent a lot of time in staff positions, I'm surprised he's only a captain. Joined the battalion just before we went into the Harz. Had a good record there, saw some action, his men did well. Do you know Curt Billings over in Able Company?"

"I think so, skinny kid, platoon leader right?"

"Yup, a classmate of mine. He says the men respect Walker, but they don't particularly like him."


"Yeah, he's kind of abrupt with the enlisted guys. The sergeants over in Able say he looks down his nose at them."

"Well, I've seen that before, been on the enlisted end of that, I can tell you. Maybe it's a class thing, a lot of ring knockers, sorry Nate, that's what we call you guys, seem to think that if you're not an officer, you're not really worthy of note. It's worse if, like me, an officer is a mustang."

"I know what everyone calls us Stephen. Doesn't bother me, I know the type. But it's a big war and a big army, if we tried to man it with West Pointers only, it wouldn't work. It's a citizens' army, most of the guys just want to get the war over so they can go home. Can't say I blame them."

"And here I am wanting to stay in the Army..." Hernandez muttered.

"And I'm thinking of getting out."


"Yup, get married, have kids, and not look back. I've been too close to death, myself and others, I've had enough."

"I get that Nate, I really do. But after what happened to Beth..."

"Another one will come along, but I understand."

Hernandez stopped and said, "Enough about that, platoon leaders brief after supper, all right?"

"See you then, I'll spread the word."

Just when C Company thought, hoped, that it was over.

Less than a week remains in the fight against Nazi Germany. For some it will be an eternity.

¹ Asch, in German. The region itself is Karlsbad in German.

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  1. First!

    I'll get all the typos out of the way. Now I can go to bed...

    > But to take over just before being assigned to a new command
    just _after_ being assigned ?

    > "Hey Jack, come on it!"

    Subtle as a 2x4 upside the head, your muse is...

    1. Technically it is both before and after changing commands. 1st ID was re-assigned to V Corps on the 30th of April (that would be the after) and V Corps was re-assigned to 3rd Army on 06 May (that would be the before). But after sounds better in terms of a swap to a different corps. As to "it" vs. "is," that's a "D'oh" right there on my prt. Fixed 'em both."

      My Muse, subtle?

  2. This wonderful story is the first thing I read over morning coffee every day. I'll miss it when it's over.

  3. Minor typo: "rummaged throw a pile of papers" ---> "rummaged through a pile of papers"

    1. I guess when the Germans threw in the towel it hit the papers on the colonel's desk...

      Fixed it. (Writing on Monday evening after a long day at work can be challenging. Somedays I'm just not attentive enough.)

    2. Typos happen.

      One of the services readers can provide, besides enjoying the story, is proofreading for typos. I cannot create a story like this, but I can help clean up the verbiage, where needed.

      Good story -- I visit first thing every morning, which I like to think is a solid vote of approval!

    3. It's actually pretty useful having multiple sets of eyeballs perusing for typos (and bad grammar). If the story is enjoyed by my volunteer editors, that's an added bonus.

  4. Hmmmm.....tanks AND TDs, well now. Fate is getting ready to throw the dice again.

    1. The war isn't over until everyone stops shooting.

  5. While I understand the desire - and perceptibly the need - to start thinking "after the War", I can only imagine to dwell on it when there is still a war is not always a grand idea. Keep focused on the task at hand until it is over.

    In general, one should ignore the feedback that someone "looks down their nose" at others. Although reporting structures are in place and people will do what they must, it does not create the sort of atmosphere that makes for the best of performance.

  6. This new BN CO seems to be the kind that is chasing something. Experienced...sort of...but after that "atta boy" from the General for being "that guy". Scary with only a week left.

    1. After creating the character (based on people I've known), he kind of scares me. I've served under guys like that.

    2. As have I; competence is welcome, nay vital. I can deal with lack of cordiality. Josephson wasn't sweetness and light at first either.
      Boat Guy

    3. No, he wasn't.

      I'll accept a lot in a leader as long as he/she is competent.

  7. They move out tomorrow, the 5th. Three more days!

  8. In color, the photo of Czechoslovakia looks like Northern Juneau County, Wisconsin, up by Finley. I grew up in Juneau County. Mauston, where I lived, is on the border of the Unglaciated Zone. North of Mauston is flat, covered in pine forests, and cranberry bogs, South of town, is mesa after mesa. The photo at the top, sure looks like home.

    I live in Baraboo, now at the north end of the Baraboo range of bluffs. I love the unglaciated zone!

    1. It gets hillier further east around Karlovy Vary, from what I understand.

    2. Coincidentally, Juneau County has a good sized Chech population. Good people!

  9. Though I agree with Patton as to both chasing Germans and having to give land back to the Godless communists, at this point it does seem a tad too far too much. But that's war. It isn't over till it's over.

    And the new Cpt. seems a bit of a... dick. Previous command level persons, though maybe a tad, erm, arseholey, weren't that much of a dick. Hope he doesn't screw things up too much.

    Glad the regiment commander is giving them priority on artillery, aircraft and armor. They'll need it if they come across any hard-core cases.

    1. Certain regiments of the 1st AD did, in real life, come up against some hard-core types. From my reading though, they didn't incur many casualties, some wounded, no dead. Not sure if I'll stick with the facts of history or not...

      You know how my Muse can be.

    2. "Some wounded, no dead." That leaves a lot of room for dismemberment, general injuries, sucking chest wounds, an occasional xenomorph chest burster...

      Not to mention, from watching the movies, the occasional lab assistant, a werewolf or two, and maybe a vampire. Of course, no one will see the invisible man...


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