Seven- 15th November 1944
We had stopped between Tienen ans St Truden. General Dempsey had called us all together. He looked distraught and weary. Then he broke the silence. “Men, as you know, Commander Trafford Leigh Mallory has been with us,” he breathed heavily, “Him and his family were raided and killed yesterday morning…in the Alps.”
We were dismissed but only our platoon stayed; we stared at each other in horror and utter disbelief. Eventually Dempsey walked off after telling us to get ready and prepare to move forward.
We had learned that the cause of death was actually a plane crash, it was a big loss but as much as I hate to say it, we had to deal with it and get on with the job in hand.
We detected five soldiers on a smoke break as we pushed on. We were close as one of them laughed and said something before closer to our position. “Mark, what did he say?” I whispered
“Let’s just say a guy’s got to go when a guy has to go”. He was next to our bush in which we were hiding. That was when we were noticed. Horrified, he began to randomly shoot at who seemed to be Neil. We returned fire as the medic retrieved Neil.
Then the remaining four crept over and Mark leapt out all guns blazing. I was nervous in case he ran out of ammo. I did not want to write another letter to a distraught mother. Of course though, Mark was a tough guy and he could take care of himself as he showed us.
Captain Rhys and I exchanged orders and he signalled us to make a slow attack on the road flanks. My squads equipped the left with the rest of our platoon. The same tactic had been applied on the right hand side.
We slowly approached the bottom of a hill and began the ascent. We could just make out an enormous base filled with Nazis. We were easily outnumbered.
There were easily a thousand troops up there whereas we were left with no more than two hundred. We had snipers lined up, we had machine guns lined up, we had over thirty riflemen lined up and to top it off, we had tanks preparing the tough climb of the hill.
On Dempsey’s mark, our snipers took out a guard each, one by one. It was also the opening sign for everybody else to do their job. For me I had a rifle with Ethan and a few others of my lads.
Captain Rhys kneeled beside me and handed me a radio. He shouted over the loud gunfire, “Contact the RAF! We need immediate air force!” I did as he ordered me to do. They showed up no more than five minutes later, releasing their bereavement bombs.
Every single one of us was dedicated. Mark was shooting through machine guns explosively. The twins, Ray and Ricky, were firing immensely out of the mortar. Patrick, John, Greg and Frazer were accurately firing through rusted snipers. David, Frank, Ethan and I were ferociously shooting out of the rifles. We had such a loyal squad. It had immense quality and true team spirit.
Then everything stopped. Everybody lowered their weapons and looked over the horizon. A horrible vibration was shaking us. My brain froze and my heart slammed in my throat. My thoughts froze. The next few moments took forever. I was shaking in worry. Then a tank stormed through a building firing contagiously, spreading a disease of death to us.
We threw ourselves to the ground. Rhys called for air support but the system was jammed. I looked over to Ethan; we both shook our heads, eyes widened. We had the same idea. We mimed our count to three. 1…2…3!
We both jerked ourselves over the hill, rolling to a rock for cover. That confused the Germans. I looked up to see the entire battalion following our lead, screaming like animals. We proceeded, getting in better firing range of the tank.
I turned around to Greg and grabbed his sniper. I picked out and ‘Quick Scoped’ the tank driver, as gamers might say. But this was no game. The tank’s supplies were limited, it was weaker. It was one step closer to victory. We then fired the mortar an inch behind it so it would roll down to the tank. It was a chance. Suddenly it burst up in to flames. It was half destroyed.
We were weaving the heavy gunfire being thrown at us. It was also absolutely essential that we killed the remaining Nazis. All that was left was a few men retreating and the tank. I looked around before doing the craziest thing in my life. Captain Rhys continued to ramble on but I ignored him completely. I made a run for the tank though men were still firing. Without precaution I placed a Comp B on it before hurdling myself courageously out of the explosion, happening right behind me.
I was down and everything went blurry. I just knew that I had succeeded in my eccentric plan to defeat the Nazis…
I tried to open my eyes but I could not bring myself to do so. My eyelids were heavy on my eyes. Eventually I opened them and realised I was on a bed. I looked down at myself; I had been wounded. Ethan, Captain Rhys and General Dempsey were huddled around me.
Then Montgomery himself walked in smiling. He pointed at me saying, “You son, is what this war is all about. Therefore, you will be awarded the medal of honour tomorrow morning” He shook my hand.
I was delighted, I felt like throwing up but I held it back. It was one of the proudest moments of my life. For once, I could relax a while. But everyone, including me knew that the war was far from over…