Sunday, July 24, 2022

The Hill

Unteroffizier Helmut Schmidt found where his lieutenant was sleeping and woke him up.

"Herr Oberleutnant, I went up the hill with one of my men, we found something. How good is that map of yours?" Schmidt was impatient, but knew to take his time, this could be important.

Krausse sat up, rubbed his eyes, then reached for his map case. "It's a good map, Norwegian forestry service printed, better than our issue maps, at least for the amount of detail."

Krausse handed his map to Schmidt, who immediately showed it to a Gefreiter by the name of Odo Möller, an Austrian as Krausse recalled.

Möller nodded then said to his sergeant, "That must be it." Turning to Krausse, the man said, "We found a cave Herr Oberleutnant. If I was a betting man, I'd say that our partisans are there."

Rousselot shook Wilkes' shoulder, he hated to wake the man, but ...

"Chef, les Boches sont là.¹"

"À quelle distance?²"

Rousselot shrugged, "Five hundred meters and they're climbing up the hill. They must know about the cave."

Wilkes threw off the German greatcoat he was using as a blanket, "Get the lads up, come with me Gilles."

Moments later Wilkes was looking down the slope through his field glasses. He'd been disgusted to see that one of the lenses had cracked, but it was clear enough that the mountain infantry were coming on, dispersed nicely, four squads, which Wilkes knew meant that his single Bren gun was up against four German MG 34 machine guns.

But they had to move, he did not.

Krausse paused in his climb, he could have sworn he saw the glint of glass up where the cave should be, one advantage he would have was that the partisans would have the sun in their faces as soon as the sun got up high enough.

He waved Unteroffizier Stoltze over, "Set up your MG here, rifles deployed to ... Well, you know the drill Klaus. We're going to maneuver around your boys as the base element."


Schmidt reported in, "You're my reserve," turning to his platoon sergeant he said, "Wolf, you stay here and coordinate, commit the reserve as necessary. Don't reinforce failure, exploit success. Of course if the attack goes completely to shit, cover us as we fall back."

"Gerd, your boys take the left, the map shows a slight depression leading up to above the cave, use it to mask your movement." Unterfeldwebel Peters nodded, he got his men moving immediately.

Now the hard part, Krausse thought. "Johannes."

Unteroffizier Johannes Dessauer moved up closer to his officer. His squad was short handed, Gotthard was in his squad, three more of his men had accompanied the truck taking Gotthard to the hospital. Counting himself, he had six men, but he still had his MG 34.

"Herr Oberleutnant?"

"Your men will come with me, we're going to move up on the right flank and lay down fire on the cave mouth. We want the partisans to concentrate on worrying about us, klar?"

"Ja, we shoot, we move, then shoot again, lots of noise in the hope they don't notice Gerd and his clowns playing in the snow." That drew a chuckle from the group, Peters and Dessauer were as close as brothers, and just as competitive.

Krausse, still grinning, said, "Let's go."

"I only see one group moving, to our left. There's still a bunch of them along that slight dip to the right of those pine trees. Do you see?" Torvik was concerned as he saw fewer Germans than he expected. Then he had a thought.


"What is it Jakob?"

Pointing off to the right, Torvik said, "If I recall correctly, there's a depression which runs up the slope to our right, not real deep, but deep enough to conceal a small party. It runs right up the hill and ends just above the cave, offset to our right."

Wilkes spent a long moment thinking, then he said, "Take Wien, get near the top of that depression and engage anyone coming up." He started to remove his webbing.

"With two rifles? We're going to ..."

Wilkes handed Torvik his own weapon, an American Thompson submachine gun. "I've only got the two magazines besides the one in the gun, but it's better than a rifle. Choose your shots man."

Torvik hefted the weapon, it had a fifty round drum magazine, with the two spares he felt he had plenty of ammunition. Had he ever been in a real firefight, he wouldn't have felt so confident.

"I shall put it to good use."

Torvik and Wien left the shelter of the cave. Wilkes drew his dispatch case out, he wrote up a few lines then turned to Oskar Olson. "Ollie."


"Go out the way Torvik did, follow the depression up the hill to where it ends, then head to the nearest town, I want you to get word out. We're all probably going to die here, but ..."

"No sir. I ran when the Nazis landed, I run no more."

"Now look here lad ..."

"I'm sorry Quartermaster Sergeant, I will not leave. If I must, I will die here. With you and the others."

Wilkes looked at the man for just a moment, then sighed. "Bloody fool. Very well, get back to your post."

Peters heard the roar of at least two MG 34s not long after his squad began to climb up the dip leading up the hill. They were nicely concealed from any observers in the cave, but the going was slow. Very slippery under foot and one man had nearly sprained an ankle already.

They were making good time, Peters kept taking cautious glances towards the cave, he could see that the partisans were returning fire back down the hill, so far they weren't paying much attention to their right flank, which was good.

Unfortunately, due to their efforts to be quiet and to maintain their footing on the slippery rocks underneath the snow, no one noticed the Norwegian higher up the hill, also in the depression but behind a boulder.

Wilkes had told him about the weapon's tendency to lift up when fired, but it still surprised him when he pulled the trigger. Only the first three rounds had had any effect out of his first burst. But where there had been a German climbing towards them only moments ago, there was now only a bleeding corpse.

His second burst was far more accurate.

Peters knew he was badly wounded, he could see that his point man, Hermann Oberfeld, was down and unmoving. From the amount of blood spattered over the snow, he had to assume that Hermann was dead.

He looked down, Gefreiter Adolf Bern was on his back, his eyes glassy and staring at nothing, so he too was dead.

"Anyone there?" he managed to gasp out, though it hurt to move, even to speak.

"F**king Norgies up ahead, Hans is down, Herbert is hit bad, and I shit myself."

Peters recognized the voice of his machine gunner, Kurt Wittmann.

"Can you get the gun set up?"

"Gun is f**cked, Gerd. Feed tray took a hit. It's rifles or we throw rocks at them." Wittmann was foul tempered at the best of times, which these were most certainly not.

"You hit at least ..."

"Get your head down, Thore!" Torvik yelled out as Wien came up into a crouch to look down the slope.

Too late, a German rifle bullet slammed into Wien's forehead, killing him instantly.

Wittman worked the bolt on Hans Klinker's K98k, poor bastard would have no further use for it. "Got you, you Norgie f**k!" He had indeed hit a man who had popped up to look down the slope. Rookie mistake, Wittmann thought to himself.

"Hey Gerd, you got any grenades?"


Realizing that Peters was either dead or unconscious, Wittmann turned to the two men who were still with him. Jürgen Wolters and Rolf Schwimmbach. "Jürgen, Rolfie, mit mir!³" Without checking to see if they followed, Wittmann threw himself to his left, up and out of the depression.

Krausse had a feeling that his attack was bogging down. Machine gun fire from the cave had been sparse, but effective. Dessauer was dead, two of his remaining men were down. He couldn't tell if they were dead or alive. His attack from the right flank was stalled.

He had heard a brief flurry of fire from over Peters' way, but nothing since. He grabbed one of the three healthy men left out of Dessauer's squad.

"Norbert, stay here. Put some fire on that cave entrance. You've still got the 34, so you're still in business. Don't try to move up, I need to go back down and bring up the reserve."

"I think Feldwebel Burkhalter is already using them Herr Oberleutnant." Schütze Max Hummel pointed down the slope.

Krausse could see Stoltze's and Schmidt's squads on the move. Their two machine guns were in action, laying down a torrent of fire as Burkhalter maneuvered the men up the slope, deftly making use of the dips in the ground and the sparse concealment provided by a few stands of low brush on the hill.

"Okay, Norbert, I'm staying with you, let's get that MG into action."

Wilkes ducked as another burst of MG fire, this time from his left, hissed overhead and into the roof of the cave. One of the Frenchmen, Piaget, had already been killed by a ricochet off one of the rocks near the cave mouth. His friend Rousselot was firing steadily down the hill, swearing vengeance for his friend each time he pulled the trigger.

Suddenly the Bren gun went silent. He heard "Shit, shit, shit," in Norwegian, followed by, "The damned thing is jammed!"

Wilkes said a small prayer and thought briefly of England, well, he had no time for that. He needed to get that Bren back up!

Torvik was bleeding from a gash on his face where a rock chip had been carved off from his boulder. He loaded his last magazine, he knew that he had wasted most of his ammunition, but the Germans weren't moving, not that he could see.

He'd seen someone jump out of the dip and had loosed a burst in that direction, he could see the man's feet dangling over the side of the dip. He'd almost made it.

As he watched, he fired a short burst down the hill, just to keep their heads down. Then he heard something above him, he turned.

"Drite ...⁴"

Wittman jumped into the depression after shooting the Norwegian with the submachine gun.

"Norgie bastard."

Turning to Wolters he said, "Where's Schwimmbach?"

"Dead. This prick shot him." Wolters nudged the dead Norwegian with his boot.

"Scheiße. You stay here, keep your eyes peeled. I'm going to go down and see if anyone is still alive. I should have joined the f**king Navy like my brother." Still cursing, Wittmann headed down the slope.

Burkhalter nodded and three men stood and tossed armed grenades into the cave. As soon as the explosions occurred, Burkhalter was up, chanting, "Lauf, lauf, lauf, Männer!⁵"

Oskar Olson's ears were still ringing when he saw the first shapes emerge from the smoke and dust hanging in the air at the mouth of the cave. His left arm was bent at a strange angle and he couldn't move it. His rifle was some two meters away, there was no way he could reach it in time.

Then he saw the British Quartermaster-Sergeant stand and open fire with his Webley revolver. One of the Germans hissed and dropped to his knees, the other five Germans all fired at once, driving Wilkes back and to the ground.

Burkhalter got to his feet, the bullet from the partisan's pistol had scored a gouge across his outer left thigh. It stung like Hell, but was only a minor wound. The Sani was already fussing over him.

"Mein Gott Hans, stop fussing, I'm alright. Any one else hit?"

Everyone else was okay, then one of his men, Norbert Greibner, sang out, "We've got a live one back here!"

The Germans had patched Olson up and had then shoved him roughly out of the cave, forcing him to kneel in the snow. One of the mountain infantrymen stood behind him, the barrel of his rifle pressed in between Olson's shoulder blades.

The Germans were not happy, they had lost a number of men in their attack up the hill. Where there had been forty men in the morning, now there were only thirty-one still alive, some of them wounded as well.

Krausse looked at his platoon sergeant, whose left leg sported a bandage. "What's the damage, Wolf?"

"Nine dead, including Peters and Dessauer. Seven wounded, three bad enough that they'll probably be invalided out."

Krausse gestured at Burkhalter's leg, "How bad?"

"A scratch, it stings but I've cut myself shaving worse than that."

"Just the one prisoner?"

"Yes, a Norwegian. One of the dead up in the cave was wearing bits of British kit, he's the arsehole who shot me. It would've been nice to take him alive, but the men had their blood up, so the Brit was gunned down. The Norgie? He's just a kid, I doubt he knows anything worthwhile." Burkhalter finished his report.

Krausse nodded, "All right, let's get loaded up. Back to Litenhavn and report this mess. I doubt Oslo will be happy."

¹ Chief, the Boches are here. (French)
² How far? (French)
³ With me! (German)
⁴ Crap (Norwegian)
⁵ Run, run, run, men! (German)


  1. This Ollie Olson didn't last anywhere near as long as the last one!

    1. He's not dead yet, there's a lot of fight left in that boy.

  2. Alors.......that Norwegian countryside is back to be quiet, and more names are put into the MIA list.

    1. Sometimes overwhelming force loses, but not usually.

  3. Crusty Old TV Tech here. Number one lesson, burn all good maps of the area when invaded. Of course, with the Internet being eternal, that can't happen any more.

    Voice of experience. If one does not load a magazine of .303 Brit correctly (and sometimes even if one does), it will jam.

    1. Also, drag the weapon through the rough, in bad weather, can't maintain it properly ...

      Yeah, it'll jam.

  4. Uffda. Life has chapters like this. Surviving to live another day has advantages that may be recognized later-- or not.

  5. Hey Old AFSarge;

    First thought is how will they treat the prisoner, now the Brit would be a proper prisoner of war, but the Norgie? The Germans were rough on partisans....usually the interrogate harshly then hang type. The Hague and Geneva conventions don't apply. Another excellent post

  6. Well...ask a question...of course the Gebirgsjagers have the usual complement of squad MG's. Damn. Still, Wilkes and Co. did pretty well. Sell one's self dearly indeed.
    Yeah rimmed .303 can be a pain, glad we didn't have to deal with rimmed rounds; one reason no matter how cool I think SMLE's are I won't bother with them. The finish on the Ishapores puts me off, else I'd consider one of those.
    Boat Guy

    1. Attacking up hill, even with fire superiority, you're going to take casualties.

  7. A buncha' Germans in a long depression going up hill against a Thompson makes me think of an A-10 or an Apache against a row of vehicles.

    1. Except the guy with the Thompson has no easy way out. Then again, he doesn't need to worry about SAMs.


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