Wednesday, September 6, 2023



Sauer lifted his head when he heard the Russian battle cry in the near distance. He had the sense that something was wrong, very wrong. He looked over at Ziegler, the kid was fast asleep.

"Kid, wake up. It's beginning." Sauer had to shake the kid a couple of times before he opened his eyes.

"What ... what is happening?" Ziegler was confused, he had been dreaming about home, wondering why his father had turned off the heat on such a cold winter's day.

"The Russians are attacking, but they're too far away. We can't even see them from here."

As Ziegler looked around, clearly frightened, Schwertfeger came down the trench, in a hurry.

"We're in the shit now, Männer. Do you hear that?" Sauer listened, he heard nothing at first. Then there it was, tank engines, Russian tank engines.

Oberleutnant Jäger was momentarily stunned. The intel about this section of trench being deserted was good, the location of the Russian attack was bad, very bad. The Russian infantry seemed to be about 500 meters to the south of what he had been told. Now the men were reporting vehicle noises, to their rear!


His platoon sergeant turned, "Herr Oberleutnant?"

"Get everyone in, this position, we need to move, quickly!"

As Kroemer headed off to get the left flank men in, Jäger sent his senior runner, Gefreiter Willi Manfredi to bring in the men on the right flank. He began to wish he had something more than a pistol to fight with. He had been offered an MP 40 but had turned it down, "My job is to lead, not fight."

The Spieß had shaken his head and muttered, "Your funeral, Sir."

Now he understood.

Unbeknownst to the Germans, the intel regarding the location of the Russian attack had been good. The commanders on the ground had changed the plan, worried that their missing political officer may have spilled his guts.

The Russians had jumped off 750 meters to the south of the original jump off point. Unfortunately the tanks supporting the attack were adhering to the original plan. They were also a good 30 minutes behind schedule.

Jäger looked behind Kroemer and went pale as a sheet, "Where the hell is Groß and his squad?"

"They'll be along shortly, Bernd wanted to check out those Soviet Panzers. Schütze Sauer said they 'sounded funny'." Kroemer explained.

Kroemer, angry with Groß, had asked him if he had any control over his squad at all. Groß had simply replied, "If Sauer says something is off, it pays to listen, the man has instincts."

Jäger was looking at him, pointedly.

"Groß says he trusts Sauer."

Before Jäger could say anything, Groß and his men arrived.

"The Russian Panzers are moving off to our left. Looks like their whole attack is out of kilter." Groß reported to his platoon leader.

"Which one of you is Sauer?" Jäger asked with a certain amount of anger in his voice.

"Herr Oberleutnant?"

The man who stepped forward seemed completely ordinary, until you looked at his eyes. Jäger was reminded of a lion he had seen in the Berlin Zoo. Calm, but ready to do violence at the drop of a hat. Jäger shivered.

"Report man, don't make us all stand here in the f**king cold longer than we have to!"

Sauer grinned, "Schwertfeger, Ziegler, and I went out on a reconnaissance mission. The Panzers were getting closer, but the way the sound seemed to be moving, from left to right as we faced in their direction, it felt like they weren't coming our way. We advanced until we could spot them. They are moving to the south, to support the Russian attack. They are no threat to us, but we're doing no good in this position. We're out of range and we have nothing to stop a Panzer."

Jäger looked at Kroemer, "The man has a point, Herr Oberleutnant, if what he says is true."

Schwertfeger started to bristle, was the platoon sergeant calling Sauer, and by extension him, a liar?

"Would you like to see for yourself, Herr Oberfeldwebel?" Sauer asked, his voice sounding rather ominous, Jäger thought.

"There is no time for that, Sauer. Do we head back and reinforce the line?" Jäger snapped at Sauer, he was getting frazzled and it showed.

Before anyone could speak, Ziegler spoke up. "We're behind the Russians. Once the Panzers pass by, we can still hit the infantry in the rear. Can't we?"

All of the NCOs nodded, Feldwebel Jens Voormann, 2nd Squad leader, spoke up, 'He's right you know. If we head back to our lines, we'll be in the open most of the way. How will our boys know who we are if we head back the way we came? We're in white camo, just like the Ivans. If we do as the kid says, we're in trenches most of the way. We stand a fair chance of carrying out the original plan, just in a different spot."

Jäger nodded, looking at Sauer he said, "Apologies Sauer, things are getting a bit out of hand."

Sauer nodded and said, "I'll follow where you lead, Herr Oberleutnant, no apology necessary."

"Gut." Looking at the other squad leaders he said, "Well then, let's get behind the Ivans and see what sort of mischief we can create. Unteroffizier Richter, I want your squad on point."

Richter nodded and said, "Jawohl, Herr Oberleutnant."

Everyone could see that Richter would much rather be anywhere but on point. But he was a soldier, and a good one at that, so he turned to his squad and said, "Let's go lads, nice and easy now."

4th Squad made good time, they were getting closer to the fighting. They saw where the Russian tanks had crossed the trench line. They could hear the tank cannon barking not that far away. They also heard the deeper bark of a German 88.

It sounded like their line was holding, the platoon's intervention in the Soviet rear might turn the tide.

Richter saw the remains of a village ahead, though the buildings were mostly intact, it was obvious that the original inhabitants were long gone. No doubt the Russian infantry would have taken up residence if the village wasn't right on the line.

"Hold up lads." he signaled for the squad to go to ground. Something up ahead seemed out of place. It was man-made, but the snow was kicking up again and he couldn't really see what it was, but it was straddling the trench. So it wasn't a building.

Jäger came up, wondering what the hold-up was, before he could ask, Richter turned to send someone back to tell the lieutenant what was blocking their way. He nearly jumped out of his skin to see his platoon commander right behind him.

"Was is los?" Jäger hissed as quietly as he could.

Richter shook his head and motioned for silence. He leaned in close to Jäger's ear and whispered, "T-34, looks like it threw a track. I can see one of the crew up on the turret. The others might be inside that shack."

"What do we do now, Herr Oberleutnant?"

All Jäger could say was, "Scheiße."



  1. And....there it is.

    Good that the men trust Sauer, and good that the Lieutenant is willing to listen.

    Tank with thrown track but possibly operational turret, not so good.

    1. It can't move, but it can still kill.

    2. It can't move but they don't know the enemy is behind them and has seen them. As was mentioned, the crew may be in that shack and the shack is not armor.
      Looking forward to the next instalment!

    3. A lot of the "Shacks" in that era were wattle and daub. Easy to make, cheap and as many folks have found out pretty bullet resistant. Some survived the London Blitz.

      It's not Africa where straw and tin sheds are shacks.

      I AM however a bit surprised that the New LT being only armed with a pistol (lead not fight? Really Lt?) hasn't been armed with something from the Russian listening post. Even a Mosien Rifle is better than nothing.

    4. Rob - Time is the Germans' enemy at the moment. As we shall see.

    5. The new LT was a staff puke, never gave any thought to actually, maybe, having to engage in combat himself.

  2. Can we capture, repair, and then use it to attack from the rear? And survive? Or ....

    1. My thought too; htom. One guy in the turret. Send a squad or two to clear and evolve in the village; another squad clears the panzer and puts it into action. Iron Cross material
      Out bunch (Ziegler) have shown they can "improvise" now they can overcome.
      Sarge, if Ziegler survives, he's leadership material
      Boat Guy

    2. "evolve"? " emplace!!! F'ing gulag!

    3. BG - There's lots that could happen here. Expect the unexpected. COncur on Ziegler, he's a bright kid.

    4. Only problem with that is there is at least one 8.8cm Flak36 out there and the Russians found out Flak36s love eating Ivan's tanks for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snackies...

      Not to mention, who has air superiority? Running around in not-our-tanks when our planes are flying around is a great way to say, "Scheiße, mein Panzer brennt!"

      Better if they use Ivan's track to mess up Ivan's backfield and then bailing before they get caught.

    5. It's snowing, almost continuously, so worrying about enemy (or friendly in this case) air isn't a consideration. The Germans did make extensive use of captured T-34s.

  3. Nice unexpected turn of events. Ziegler seems wise beyond his years and time in service, I wonder what his real story is?
    As others have said, put a few people in the turret, men who can figure out how to work the gun and traverse, try to spot and disable the Soviet tanks. Maybe a few shots into the infantry to try to spoil the attack while the rest of the platoon works to clear the village and protect the captured tank from any infantry. Then, after maybe a dozen rounds tops, get out of the tank and drop some grenades in to destroy it so it can't be put back into action.

    I have to do this: "Jäger sent his senior runner, Gefreiter Willi Manfredi " Was Johnson with Manfredi?

  4. So…amiright? The US Army’s official response “Hoo-RAH!” Has its origin as a rallying cry of Commies?



    1. Actually originated in the army of the Ottoman Empire. Russians copied it from them.

      So we got it from the Turks. I think the Marines were using it before the Army picked it up. The Army says it differently than the Marines. Hoo-rah in the Army Oo-rah in the Marines. (Source)

    2. Supposedly the Marines started using their version in Korea. Smells to me. I'd say more like from Tripoli, but what do I know.

      Army's version supposedly came from the Seminole wars.

      Russia, yeah, got it from the Ottomans. Weird that, considering how much the Rus hated said Ottomans.

    3. Definitely Korea. The Russians and the Ottomans clashed a few times. Mutual respect? Or did the cry just sound cool. I'm guessing the latter.

  5. Again, the pics are well worth the time finding them to better visualize the situation. Thanks for that extra effort.
    Double rum ration for the Muse again.

    1. I fear she will turn to alcoholism if this keeps up.

    2. Meh, muses are of Greek origin and slosh down Uzo and Restina like it's water on a hot day. She's safe, well, as long as you keep her away from the cheap vodkas that are adulterated or rot-gut tequila.

    3. Should be "retsina". My friend who is second generation from Greece said the Greeks made it to make sure the Turks would not enjoy it when they stole it.

    4. Beans - Indeed they are Greek in origin.

    5. Mark - Anything to piss off the Turks. One American scheduler made the mistake of putting a Greek and a Turkish pilot on the same aircraft. Well, that didn't go well.

    6. Want to live dangerously? Ask an Armenian if he's a Turk.

      Make sure that your insurance is paid up.

    7. They have not forgotten the Armenian Genocide, while the rest of the world has. (Or never knew about it.)

    8. Memories run deep in that part of the world. A few years back we went to a Serbian Orthodox pariin Fresno. That day they were commentating the Martyrs of the Battle of Kosovo. The one in, I think, 1385 or thereabouts.

    9. Forget and you might get a repeat. Cue Santayana.

  6. Our fearless troop leader needs to get his hands on a Soviet machine gun or two. Hopefully he won't have to scrounge off his own troops.

    Good story, tension building, nice job, especially the Soviets not trusting their commissars not to squeal like the rotten pigs they were.

    1. He does, he's kinda naked out there with his Walther P 38.

    2. I figured he hadn't figured out how this whole "war" thing at the front actually works yet. He would soon I'm guessing.

    3. Rob - You figure it out, or die trying.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

NOTE: Comments on posts over 5 days old go into moderation, automatically.