Saturday, July 23, 2022

Into the Woods


"Yes, around this forest," Krausse leaned in to point at the map that Unteroffizier Schülze was holding, "yes, there near Olafsongård. Is that a town?" he asked, looking at Lars Fretheim.

"No, that just means Olafson's farm. Pier Olafson and his family did try farming up there, but the soil was too rocky. Now it's just some ruins. No farm, just a name for a spot on the map."

Krausse nodded, then he turned to his platoon sergeant, "Wolf, get the men together," turning to Schülze he asked, "do you need any of my men to help you keep things under control here?"

Schülze chuckled, "Not really, Herr Oberleutnant, all of the excitement around here is twenty kilometers or more away."

Krausse frowned, "Are you forgetting your man Becker?"

Schülze turned red, "No Sir, of course not. But I don't expect a commando raid to seize or destroy anything we have here. I'm still convinced they were here seeking intelligence, Becker simply got in their way. Now my men patrol in pairs, never standing in one place for long, but constantly moving. We won't make that mistake again."

Krausse nodded, "Good, I think I'll need all of my men when we head up to Olafson's farm. Herr Fretheim, you'll be coming with us, yes?"

It was Fretheim's turn to blush, he sputtered, "Uh, certainly, I mean I'm not sure why you need ..."

"Excellent, go put on your best boots and dress warmly. Do you have a sleeping bag?" Krausse was enjoying the Nasjonal Samling man's discomfort. He had no patience with traitors of any stripe, even those assisting the Reich.

Gilles Rousselot and Armand Piaget tended to go on missions together as they only spoke French, having a Norwegian along would just confuse things as none of the Norwegians spoke French. Only Quartermaster-Sergeant Wilkes spoke multiple languages.

The two men had gone down lower in the hills after the German aircraft had passed overhead the day before. Wilkes was worried that their ambush of the two Germans four days ago had been a very bad idea. But the men were restless, they were starting to chafe at just hiding from the Nazis. So Wilkes had consented to the ambush.

While it had been satisfying to kill the two Nazis, it had stirred up a hornet's nest. A truckload of Gebirgsjäger had been reported at the hunting lodge, which was still open for business, but only for Germans and quislings apparently. Two members of the small staff were still loyal to King Haakon, they passed information along when they could.

He now knew that the Germans were looking for the killers of their two men, not surprising but he hadn't expected Gebirgsjäger, a most unpleasant surprise. The small commando raid on Litenhavn had brought those troops to the area.

Wilkes had shaken his head at the time, "Bloody fish oil, who knew the Nazis would need such a thing. No doubt Winnie¹ wants it all destroyed."

"Hé regarde ..." Piaget nudged Rousselot. Down towards the beginning of the steep sided valley there was a cloud of snow moving. Piaget knew there was a road there.

Rousselot used Wilkes' field glasses, after a few minutes the snow settled, revealing a German truck. Then another, both loaded with infantry who were climbing down from the vehicles.

"That's the end of the paved road, yes?" Piaget asked.

"Oui, that's it. They probably drove up from the coast. There's no doubt, they're hunting. For us! Let's get back. Set the trap first."

After a few long moments, Piaget was nervous, even though the Germans were at least three kilometers away, they were too close for just the two of them, the two men scrambled down into the gully leading back to the forest. It was a gamble using the gully, but it was hard to spot from any distance. It did, at the least, keep them out of sight and out of the open.

"Shall I wait here with the trucks, Herr Oberleutnant?" Fretheim asked, "After all, just go straight up to that clump of trees on that ridge, and you should be able to see the ruins of the farm buildings."

"Wolf, put Herr Fretheim behind 1st Squad." Without another word  Krausse began to move. He was sick enough of Fretheim's whining that he was regretting bringing the man along, but he was the only one who knew the area and was at least semi-willing to help.

Feldwebel Burkhalter took ahold of Fretheim's sleeve and said, "Come with me. Now." His tone of voice chilled Fretheim even more than the arctic air swirling around them.

"How many?" was all Wilkes said.

"A platoon, no more, but still, that's forty men, give or take." Rousselot answered.

Wilkes' shoulders sagged, "Come on then lads, we need to move further into the mountains."

"The cave?" one of the Norwegians asked.

"Ja Ollie, the cave." Oskar Olson simply nodded. Then he turned and said, "Jakob, you know what to do?"

"Ja, selvfølgelig³, set the traps then move north, make my path obvious enough but not too obvious. Lead them away from here and from your path up the mountain."

"Be careful, Jakob." Olson said to the man he had known since they were both children.

"I will Ollie, I still have two children to live for, but ..."

"I will, Jakob, I'll see to the boys, in case, well, you know."

"I'll see you in a few hours, now go, Wilkes is getting antsy."

As Wilkes led his party up the mountain, the men heard an explosion in the distance.

Schütze Wilhelm Gotthard lay shrieking in the blood-stained snow, Gefreiter Hans Müller, the Sanitäter, was trying to get Gotthard to lay still.

Gotthard's left foot was mangled, barely attached to the end of his leg. He had stepped on a small mine, not meant to kill but to incapacitate. It had worked exactly as designed.

Krausse was furious, he looked at Gotthard's squad leader who shook his head, everyone knew that Gotthard was impetuous, now he would probably lose his leg because of it.

"Wolf, detail a stretcher party to take him back to the trucks. Damn it, sorry, use one of the trucks to get him to Tårnbyen, there's a hospital there, isn't that right Fretheim?"

"Yes, Herr Oberleutnant, I could show them the way."

Krausse looked at Fretheim, "Very well, you will help carry Gotthard down, then guide my men to the hospital. F**k this up and I will track you down and the end result won't be pleasant. Understood?"

Fretheim knew that Krausse meant every word he said, but he had no intent to not do the man's bidding. It would get him out of the mountains and someplace warm. Gotthard's health didn't concern him, only his own.

Krausse's platoon found the Norwegian camp about an hour before nightfall. Burkhalter had found another trap at the entrance to the low-slung building nearly buried in the snow and had disabled it.

"The rest of the place is clear Herr Oberleutnant." Burkhalter detailed Schmidt's squad to check around the vicinity for paths away from the building, Schmidt himself reported back within minutes.

"There's an obvious path leading north, one man as far as I can tell. Just up the slope there's a rocky ledge which leads up the mountain, if it was me ..."

"Ja Harald, that's the path I'd use as well, the northern set of tracks is obviously meant to be a ruse." Burkhalter turned as he heard the lieutenant come into the low building.

"It's snowing again, we'll camp here, don't touch anything without inspecting it carefully first. No doubt the partisans may have left more traps. If the snow isn't too heavy, we can head up the mountain at first light. Until then, get some sleep, Gerd!" he called out to another of his squad leaders.

"Herr Oberleutnant?"

"Your boys have the first watch, cover all four sides and try to stay out of the weather as best you can. Rotate your men in and out of the building, in four hours, turn it over to Stoltze's squad."

Both Klaus Stoltze and Gerd Peters nodded, it was understood that Schmidt's boys would be up last. The Gebirgsjäger settled in for a long night.

Jakob Torvik rejoined Wilkes and the others well after midnight. The cave was dark, dank, and very cold, but it was better than being out in the driving snow.

"How bad is it?" Wilkes asked Torvik.

"It will pass probably by mid-morning. The Germans didn't fall for our little trick, nor did they set off any more traps. I think they'll follow us up the stone walkway when the storm stops."

Wilkes sighed, then asked, "How many rounds do we have for the Bren?"

Thore Wien answered, "Eight magazines, we can hurt those Germans. They'll have no support this high up and they will have to come straight in."

"Right then, lads, get some sleep. Ollie, I'll wake you at two, I'll take the first watch. Get some sleep the rest of you, in the morning we make our stand, there is no other option."

The small band made their preparations. Some would be awake all night, worrying, some would sleep fitfully. All knew that by this time tomorrow, they could all be dead. But they would take as many Germans with them as they could.

Olson muttered, "Gud bevare kongen.⁴ We who are about to ..."

"No Ollie, the Germans are going to die, not us."

Olson nodded and said, "If the Lord wills it, yes."

¹ Sir Winston Churchill.
² "Hey, look ..." (French)
³ "Yes, of course," (Norwegian)
⁴ God save the King. (Norwegian)


  1. Good to see an Olson in the bunch. You can't have too many Olsons.

    1. I figured you'd notice. 😁

    2. I hope lasts longer than the last one! 😉

    3. Well, he's in a pretty tight spot at the moment.

  2. There are stories known as page-turners and some known as potboilers (by some very well-known authors, yet!). Please tell your muse that my computer screen is getting badly scratched at the right edge.

  3. "...there is no other option." sucks but that's the way it is sometime. At least the mine worked, taking more than the injured man off the table; and a BrEn is a great equalizer too. No mention of MG's with Krausse, who has to attack uphill.
    gonna be one of those small-scale epics rarely recorded. Good on you, Sarge for "recording" it; Wilkes and Co (and Krausse) deserve it.
    Boat Guy

    1. Every German squad has an MG 34, Krausse has four squads, thus four MG 34s. Wilkes' group needs to be very careful!

  4. Stage is set, too bad the Quisling is out of harm's way.

  5. No other option? A guerilla war would end pretty fast with that thought I'd think ... but that's not to say they didn't ended up in a place with no options besides that.

    1. It's winter, their backs are to the wall (almost literally), they really have nowhere to run.

  6. Crusty Old TV Tech here. It seems your Muse has listened to Gandalf the White. The Battle of Helms Deep it would seem, in minature. May Ole and his crew make it off that mountain to have a snaps and lefse for Christmas.

    1. Haha! I can see that, but I'm not sure a cavalry of elves, horse riders, and tree beasts will be coming in to save the day! I do like these David versus Goliath sort of stories though.

    2. COTT - Well it's not like I haven't read the Trilogy over and over. (Not to mention the films.) I may have been influenced ...

    3. Tuna - Ents! Why didn't I think of that?

    4. I've only read it once so I couldn't remember the name!

    5. Well then, all is forgiven. 😏

    6. Tuna, you must read it again! It gets better each time.


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