Sunday, February 27, 2022

The Storm Clouds Gather

Newly promoted Fahnenjunker-Unteroffizier¹ Jürgen von Lüttwitz stood on the fantail of the former passenger liner and watched the coast of Norway slip below the horizon. He was saddened at having to leave the men of his machine gun section behind, good lads all. But he had been promoted  and was now leaving to join a division raised in his home province of Saxony,  the 223rd Infanterie-Division.

The division had been raised near Dresden just before the Polish campaign and consisted of older reservists. Jürgen had been told that the Army was infusing the unit with combat-experienced junior officers and veteran NCOs to stiffen them for "future campaigns," as the Spieß had told him. The man had winked when he said that, everyone in the Army was convinced that the "future campaign" was the invasion of France.

No one was happy about that, the troops all expected a replay of 1914-1918 with the bloodbath that had entailed. Jürgen knew the stories from the older men in his family. The prospect frightened him, but from what he had seen in Poland, tanks and aircraft would make a huge difference in this new campaign. He certainly hoped so.

Hildur was back from the coast, one of the older men in the village, Frode Lambertsen, had gone with her. The two looked like an old married couple, down from the hills to purchase the things which weren't available in their small village in the mountains. It was also, as Henriksen told them, a good opportunity to find out what the Germans were up to and how the war was going.

The German presence in the small fishing village didn't amount to much, a squad of ten men, mostly reserve policemen who had been called up to the Army. As their job didn't amount to much more than ensuring the Norwegians behaved themselves, their civilian occupation was a plus.

But the war was not going well, they learned that the King and much of the government had fled the country, to continue the fight from England. Also that a notorious pro-German, Vidkun Quisling, now ran the Norwegian government. There was still fighting in the north, around Narvik, but that too was going badly for the western Allies. Rumor had it that the English had lost one of their aircraft carriers.

"Older men you say?" Henriksen quizzed them when they had returned to Hildesheim² from the coast.

"Yes, Løitnant, they acted like policemen." Frode said.

"How so?"

"You know the way they are, they seem to not be paying attention to any one thing, but they seem to be watching everyone." Frode answered.

Hildur chimed in, "One of them spoke Norsk,³ he asked me if I was from there. I told him to mind his own business, what would his grandmother think of him accosting older ladies on the street."

"I thought she was going to get us arrested. This one has a sharp tongue, Løitnant." Frode had been scared out of his wits when Hildur had snapped at the German. But the German had laughed, admitted that both of his grandmothers would have taken a switch to his behind for "being nosy."

"Perhaps he wasn't a policeman." Henriksen opined.

"No, but he was nosy." Hildur huffed.

Frode said, "He didn't act like a policeman."

"And if you hadn't been a trouble maker in your youth, Frode, you wouldn't be such an expert on policemen!"

Henriksen grinned, "Perhaps not. But tell me Hildur, would it be difficult to attack these Germans?"

"Why would we do such a thing?" Frode protested.

"They're in the wrong country, you old fool!" Hildur hissed at Frode.

As Jürgen turned from the rail to go below and sleep, he heard a voice. "Playing the tourist, Bubi? Enjoying your sea cruise?"

Jürgen grinned, it was his old sergeant, Kurt Hartknoch. Apparently the delay in getting out of Norway due to the English attack on the airfield had provided the Army enough time to get Hartknoch treated and on a ship back to Germany.

"So Herr Oberfeldwebel, back to Germany for convalescent leave?"

"That and a new assignment after I recover, I'm supposed to go to the infantry school and be an instructor. I'd rather join a fighting division, but one goes where the Army sends one. Where are you headed?"

"The 223rd. They were on occupation duty in Poland, now they're shifting to the west."

"Ah, no doubt for the attack on France. They say that could happen any day now, all the Führer needs is good weather."

"So now you talk to the Führer?" Jürgen grinned as he said that, he knew Hartknoch had no great love for the regime.

"No Bubi, I don't, you know better. But you don't need to be Clausewitz to know that with clear skies the Luftwaffe can sweep the enemy from the sky."

"Hhmm, I think it won't be as simple as that. We surprised the Poles, the French and the English know we're coming, it won't be such a surprise. I fear a repeat of the last war." Jürgen shook his head as he said that, he had felt such a chill run down his spine at that thought.

"Why Bubi, you look like someone just walked on your grave!" Hartknoch joked.

Gefreiter Georg Schülze shifted the sling on his rifle as he paused at the head of the street which led down to the small harbor. Even though it was almost May, the wind off the fjord was still bone chilling.

He had been a policeman in Berlin before the war, a detective. He wasn't happy being called up to the Army and sent to this tiny fishing village in the middle of nowhere. He would have preferred to be at home, solving crimes. But he had to admit, many of the "crimes" the Berlin police had been chasing down before his call up had been political in nature.

He shook his head and turned to walk back down to the harbor. Could be worse, he thought, he could be up in the northern part of the country, fighting the British and their Norwegian allies. He had heard that that fight wasn't going as well as the Propaganda Ministry claimed.

As he strolled along, looking for anything out of the ordinary, he began to whistle a song. He was terrible at whistling, but it passed the time.

Bjørn Mikkelsen put away the field glasses that Henriksen had loaned him. Though it was a very long shot, he thought he could make it. If he had Olaf Svensen's telescopic sight he knew he could make the shot. When he got back to Hildesheim he'd ask the lieutenant for permission to go down to Oslo. Olaf had moved there after losing a leg in a hunting accident.

Though Olaf no longer had the rifle, Bjørn knew that he still had the telescopic sight. But would the old man let him have it for this new type of hunting?

Well, time would tell. Until then, the fat German whistling in the street would live a little longer. Hopefully not too long.

¹ He's still an officer candidate "Fahnenjunker-Unteroffizier" translates as cadet or ensign, serving in the grade of a junior sergeant.
² A fictional Norwegian village.
³ Refers to the language and the people of Norway (Norwegian)


  1. Heads up, Sarge. Sent you a guest post in mail. You might consider it worthy of publishing...

  2. Looks like a showdown between Mikkelsen and Schülze coming up, but I suppose even Stevie Wonder couldn't miss it.......:) The Norwegians put up a stiff fight in those naval battles, German destroyers took a beating around Narvik.

    1. What few destroyers Germany had, were even less after Norway.

    2. German DD's: Well, those Norwegians old battleships were pushovers... wait why do I hear boss music?
      ...No one would send a battlewagon down the narrow fjord...
      Warspite: plays "Rule the waves, Britannia"

    3. From the film The King's Choice, the sinking of the Blücher.

    4. Also the Hipper was knocked out by Glowworm for critical half year.
      And 2 light cruisers, one sank by dive bombers of RN FAA, first so large warship sunk by aviation in the war.

    5. The German surface fleet got kicked in the teeth!

  3. I should know more about the North Atlantic Navy than I do. It seems like it make a great difference, and that things might have gone differently in some places if Germany had built things out differently.

    Also for the Norwegians, a consideration: if you get rid of the disinterested Germans, the next round will likely be far more interested - and aggressive.

    1. The North Atlantic was a critical theater, if Britain dies, Germany owns Europe.

    2. Funny how that aspect is never really emphasized in a lot of US History texts. It's as if the War largely went on without us prior to our arrival.

    3. Our textbooks, and many of our myths, have us stepping in to save the world. We helped but it wasn't a solo effort.

    4. One unexpected result of the invasion was large Norwegian merchant marine joining the allied war effort...

  4. The Maierform bow on the Donau screams out,( I am a German ship ! ).


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