Wednesday, January 19, 2022

A Promotion

Schütze Jürgen von Lüttwitz dropped to the ground with the rest of his squad as a burst of automatic weapons fire swept over the advancing men. He swore when he hit the ground as the back of his helmet dug into his back. Bringing his rifle to a firing position he could see nothing to shoot at. What he did see was the assistant squad leader, Gefreiter Helmut Müller lying on his back, sprawled lifelessly in the road.

Looking around he saw the other men in his squad doing the same as him, lying low and trying not to attract enemy fire. That's when he heard Unteroffizier Hartmann shouting for Müller.

"Müller, get the riflemen into the ditch, I'll set up the MG here!"


Finding his voice, von Lüttwitz shouted back, "Herr Unteroffizier, Gefreiter Müller is hit, he's not moving!"

"Von Lüttwitz, is that you?"


"Get the men into the ditch, NOW!"

Without thinking von Lüttwitz started to crawl towards the ditch, seeing two of his mates, Wilfried and Becker, he yelled at them, "Hans! Kurt! Mit mir!¹"

When those two started to follow, von Lüttwitz noticed that Müller wasn't the only casualty. Three other men were down, one of whom, like Müller, wasn't moving.

"Guys, grab the wounded drag them to safety, I'll get the corporal!"

As he moved over, staying as low as he could, and grabbing Müller by the straps of his load-bearing gear, he heard the squad's MG 34 open fire. The Poles now began trading fire with the greater threat of the German machine gun, allowing the section, now under the leadership of von Lüttwitz, to drag all but one casualty off the road and into the ditch which sheltered them from Polish observation.

Von Lüttwitz looked at the men in the ditch with him, two, Krämer and Hase, were wounded,  Hase badly from what von Lüttwitz could tell. He had checked Müller, his corporal was quite dead, shot in the face.

"Hans, where's Walter?"

"He's dead Jürgen, his throat is torn open."

Von Lüttwitz nodded, thinking rapidly, with just three men, there didn't seem to be much he could do. So once again, he barked, "Hans! Kurt! Mit mir!" Then he began moving rapidly away from the road.

Startled, Wilfried and Becker followed him. Becker shouted out, "What the Hell are we doing Jürgen?"

"We're going to flank that MG!"

"Jesu!" was all Wilfried managed to gasp.

The Polish assistant gunner, Bolesław Kowalski, saw movement to his left, he saw Germans running from the ditch and into the small stand of trees near the road. He shouted at his gunner, "Józef, the Niemcy are on the move!"

The gunner, Józef Nowak, hesitated before swinging the Ckm wz. 30² in the direction of the trees near the road, as he triggered the gun two rounds from the German MG 34 he had been dueling with struck the water jacket of the gun. The first ricocheted off harmlessly, the second went through the water jacket and then into Nowak's stomach.

Nowak immediately doubled over, screaming in pain. Kowalski struggled to get Nowak off the gun, but it was hard trying to do that and keep his head down. He needed to get the gun firing again, even if it was only to keep the Niemcy from advancing!

Von Lüttwitz, Wilfried, and Becker were behind and to the left of the Polish machine gun position. Von Lüttwitz could see that one of the gunners was injured, there were no other Poles that he could see. These guys had probably been left behind to delay the German advance.

Von Lüttwitz aimed at the struggling Pole, Wilfried and Becker followed suit. For a moment von Lüttwitz regretted not knowing the Polish phrase for "hands up," so he yelled it in German. The Polish soldier turned in shock at hearing the Germans behind him, his hands went up immediately.

Hartmann watched as the Sanitäter worked on the wounded Polish soldier, turning to the other Pole, who spoke German, he asked, "So just you two? No one else?"

"There were more, they were ordered back, we were supposed to fall back as well, then you Germans showed up, so ..." the Pole shrugged his shoulders as if to say, "What else could we do but fight?"

"Uffz³, this man is dead, he lost too much blood."

"You did the best you could Wolf, we need to get this guy back to battalion," Hartmann gestured at the unwounded Pole, "you're heading back that way, right?"

The Pole's eyebrows went up, they were going to have a medic take him back?

The medic drew his service pistol and gestured at the Pole with it, "Let's go."

Kowalski had had no idea that German medics were issued a sidearm.

Leutnant Wilhelm Dietrich finished speaking with Hartmann, then walked over to von Lüttwitz, "You're now acting deputy squad leader, I'm sure Hauptmann Bormann will approve a promotion to corporal as well. Don't spend the extra pay just yet Jürgen." Dietrich grinned as he said that.

"Danke Herr Leutnant, I'll do my best."

¹ With me!
² Polish-made clone of the American Browning M1917 heavy machine gun.
³ Abbreviation for Unteroffizier.


  1. Sarge, before anything else, I should note that The Chant has now become the second thing I do online every morning now (after my own blog check of course). Thanks to you and all of the writers for all you write (I feel, like so many others, that I need to say "And you too, Beans" because that seems to be the fashion here).

    The reality that I often struggle to grasp is that in point of fact every war and every battle plays out into a hundred small encounters just like the one you have described here - an action involving perhaps a dozen men or less, with real people with real names and real backgrounds involved who are often really getting injured and really dying. We can read about the battles of history - Potidaea or Manzikert or Hattin or Vienna or Crimea or The Somme - and the nameless men that appear as only figures to be slaughtered all had the exactly the same history.

    Dear Lord, we are incredibly wasteful of ourselves. I can think of no other species on earth that is so careless in the spending of its blood.

    (On another note, this is why I get even more and more bothered as I get older when I see fools and d*^n fools arguing we have to take this or that action for this or that concern. Perhaps we value life too little to see that only the greatest causes would deserve the cessation of life stories - or to quote Tolkien, "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.")

    1. As you write that, I can picture the saber rattling occurring over Ukraine. We seem to learn nothing from our history, there is always that one faction who thinks they know what's best for everyone, or claim to. In reality they're just greedy bastards like all the other greedy bastards who have come before. And will probably come again, until He returns.

    2. Good Heavens - Are you in the room with me, listening to me mutter as I type? Yes, that exactly - or the next emergency that will occur after that, or the next one. All the time, we will be told "This is required because...".

      We have lost all sense of proportion and sight in our confidence in our "technology" to deal with things cleanly and effectively and our belief that things can be escalated and de-escalated by the will of our leaders alone. More and more, I begin to understand what July 1914 must have felt like.

    3. TB - Regarding your last, you're in my head! This does have a 1914 feel to it.

    4. True Sarge.

      But I have more of a creeping feeling of 1930s Germany.

      Thanks for all you do :-)!

    5. Where, in this country? Not even close.

      But if you mean Russia as Germany, yup. (See Paweł's comment further on.)

  2. We have learned that we can do this, and others will have the consequences.

    And then, and then, and then ... we discover, too late, that we were the others.

  3. Hey Old AFSarge;

    Looks like von Lüttwitz(Haven't figured out the unlaut thing on my 'puter) has started showing the leadership that would show him in good stead later in the war. And as far as what is going on, No, As far as today goes, it is not just a 1914 feel, it is the 1930's feel that I have, and we have gone down this road before and the clowns running the place have forgotten their history or don't care because they believe that they won't be affected and they will be touched by it just as much as the little people they care so little about.

    1. for an ü, I hold down the the alt key while I hit number keys 0,2,5,2.
      Here's a link for others I need as well:

    2. You can also get those alt codes from the character map which comes with windows, or simply select and copy the desired character from there.

  4. AMEN! to all of the above.
    Great writing continues.

  5. I have total 1930s deja by. One Rus, one empire, one Vozhd. With Crimea as Sudetenland. And China cosplaying Empire of Japan. With Iran or Northern Korea readying to play Mussolini, with big ambi,tions but wrak military. Worst thing, Poland plays as herself.

  6. I wish we fought wars by the combatants being naked and flinging both poo and insults.

    1. Same here, and make the politicians do the flinging.

  7. Unfortunately the alt codes do not work in Linux, and there is no character map or equivalent in the Linux version of Firefox. Still beats running Windows, though. Not a penny to Bill Gates.

  8. I suspect I could open my word processor and type what I want there since it has a character map. Then I could copy and paste into the comments. Nothing like going around the block in order to cross the street.

    1. I dug into it, you can use Unicode and ...

      Let's just say that it's far more complicated than Windows.

  9. Sarge,
    Thank you! SO glad to see more of your fiction!
    Boat Guy

  10. Situation update for Ukraine:
    Biden openly threatened to move more forces to Poland and Romania in case of invasion.
    GOOD - invasion brings about more US troops at Russia frontier, opposite of Moscow stated goals.
    UK joined US Javelin deliveries with airlifting some short range ATGMs, and some troops as intructors.
    GOOD, anytthing that will make invasion more costly, makes Putin think twice.
    Germany was denying it, but UK airlift took detour over Denmark on to Poland and Ukraine due to German opposition.
    BAD. Germans increasingly look like they are going to turn neutral in case of condflict, and not deliver on any NATO pledges.
    Would make supplying forces in Poland and Baltics much more difficult if they close their borders. Ribbentrop-Molotov au rebours?
    Denmark sends a frigate and some F-16s to Baltics.
    GOOD. Another NATO country sends strong deterrence signal.
    Russia sends most of their large amphibious ships from North and Baltic Fleet to Black Sea to make naval landings in whatever area of Ukraine they chose to attack - be it land bridge to Crimea or Odessa a distinct threat.
    BAD. Ukraine has already threats to East and North with Russian forces in Belarus.

  11. Paraphrasing " The whole of Ukraine is not worth the bones of a single American Lance Corporal"
    Boat Guy


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