Battle of the Bulge
"Hit the dirt!" the mud-covered Sergeant yelled as the German heavy artillery pulverised the ground beneath us. Mashed up pieces of earth flew everywhere as the sleep deprived recruits dived and crawled into their foxholes. This was the fourth time the Wehrmacht had battered the Allied lines since four in the morning. Limbs were being jettisoned everywhere whilst injured screamed in agonising pain, "There's no rest for the wicked" a young corporal shouted to his buddy in their fox hole.
The howling shells ceased sounding and the ground stopped its constant rumbling. From all around medics came rushing out of their foxholes to tend to the wounded. Many dismembered bodies and limbs lay strewn across the scarlet covered snow. One man that had his guts almost halfway out of his stomach was being read a passage from the bible, to ease his passing. I was a religious man before this war, but it has made me realise how God, can let this much pain and bloodshed to be allowed.
The man slowly closed his eyes and left this world of suffering.
There was one man, Sergeant Foley, who sat in his foxhole staring at the dead and wishing that was him so he could be at peace and not worry his family anymore. My thoughts were quickly interrupted as the ground vibrated violently and the smell of diesel polluted the air. The Tiger Tank. "Tank! Get out the anti's!" the corporal bellowed to the front line. A young private grabbed some satchel charges, "Hell if I have anything else to live for!"
That was the last thing we heard from him, he was later crushed by that very tank. "Move up to the line! Ender, fire the bazooka!" Corporal Davies ordered. Private Ender fired the bazooka at the tracks of the tank. The left tracks started cracking and then fell off the tank. "It's immobilized, corporal!" Before he could finish his sentence the crackle of the tanks MG42 opened up, snow covered in blood sprayed up everywhere. Those that weren't on the ground already were dead.
I knew what had to be done; I dropped behind our lines and headed to the far right side. I walked along the ridge to find a vantage point for me to shoot from. I crawled over to the spot, which was a log pile, and setup my Springfield sniper rifle. I calmed down my breathing and settle my scope on the tanks turret gunner. "Kill one to save a hundred." After I said this, I slowly pulled the icy cold trigger. The last thing you want to do is make a sudden movement. Moments after, the gunner on the MG was slouched over the gun. A few minutes later another bazooka rocket hit the tanks fuel tank and it went up with a fireball. "Time to move," I uttered to myself. I picked up my rifle and made sure everything was packed and cautiously made my way back to my position.
As I walked around our sector, my Sergeant told me of the injured and dead. There are so many dead. "Captain, what are your orders?" the Sergeant questioned me.
"I'll take care of it, bring Mikey over here," I replied as Sergeant Woods signalled him over.
"Yes, sir? What can I do for you?" Mikey asked me.
"You're going to be my spotter tonight. We're going behind enemy lines so get some rest. We leave at 22:00," I said as I walked over to our ammo supply to grab some more ammo clips. I went to grab something to eat before I left, "Great, some hot chow" I mumbled to myself. I dropped down into my foxhole to consume the rest in relative comfort and safety. I had a nap until it was time to go.
I wearily opened my eyes and looked at my watch, 21:50; I got up and calmly put on my gear. I crouched over to Cpl Vale, "Mikey, time to go. Grab your gear and meet me at the left flank." Without hesitating Mikey got up and prepared for the missions as I ducked and walked over to the left flank, keeping my head below the ridge line. I got to the ready point and lay back against the crisp white snow, waiting for Mikey. I gazed up at the sky trying to imagine the raid that lay ahead: objective one, setup a good sniper position covering the whole German Barracks. Objective two, take out the Major visiting and objective three, blow up the ammo and fuel depot. Questions flooded into my mind like a tsunami. Will I get back? Will I see my family again? If Mikey and I get captured what will happen? However, one question arose from the depths of my mind, have I lived a good life? I began to hyperventilate with such questions racing in my thoughts. Luckily Mikey had arrived by my side "Hang on Captain Emery, give me a sec," as he fumbled for a makeshift bag. I quickly snatched it and held it over my mouth and began to breathe deeply and slowly, and soon my breathing calmed down. I had barely any time to recuperate when my watch rapidly ticked, 22:00. It was time to move out. Before I got to my feet I remembered a saying my father told me; 'In peace sons bury their fathers, in war fathers bury their sons', I shivered. The wind had picked up, "Let's go get this Kraut".
There was no noise to be heard. All that could be was the shallow breaths of Mikey. He was afraid. He had every reason to be, this was a suicidal mission, but we are the 101st Airborne and nothing can beat us. I signalled a quick 'halt and hit the dirt' command. Enemy patrol, "Don't move. Stay still." There was a patrol of four; we had no chance so we didn't attempt it. They were young and were joking around, I glanced at Mikey and to my surprise he was grinning, "Come on Captain, we can take 'em," he whispered as he pulled his M1 Garand up to his front. I shook my head, "They'd know we're here then. First rule of being a sniper, keep a low profile." I turned back around and saw the distant glow of a cigarette protruding out of the Feldwebel's mouth. He'll be dead soon. I tapped Mikey's shoulder and we set off again, the snow creaking and crunching every step we took.
The moon was giving off such a bright light that I was sure anyone looking our way could've seen us both.
The seared trees looked liked the faces of suffering men, I tried not to hold my gaze at them. We weren't that far from the barracks now as I could see a fire below the ridge. "Hold up" I had sensed something. The wind stopped beating against my ears and I concentrated on the faint noise I heard in the distance. I pulled up my Springfield to my right eye and aimed down the scope and scanned the horizon. My fears were confirmed, two halftracks full to the brim with fresh soldiers ready to die for there false leader. I realised I was holding my breath for the whole time and I began to gasp for air. "Alright, lets move" I whispered to Mikey. We got to our feet and trudged on through the ankle high snow trying to make as little noise as possible.
There it was. The German Barracks. I turned to face Mikey and he was looking at me in such a confused way, I thought it might be a Kraut. "What's wrong?" I questioned. "You're smiling, sir" Mikey replied. I was? I didn't really know how happy I was to see the barracks, I guess I just really wanted the mission done and to get home as soon as possible. "Okay then," I got out my map, "We'll move along this ridge and try to pick out the best position where we can shoot from and get setup, any questions?" I queried Mikey. Mikey shook his head as he rubbed his hands together, it was extremely cold and the wind didn't help protect us against it. I packed my map away and we continued along the ridge keeping our eyes peeled for a good position and enemy patrols.
We took about fifty steps along when we uncovered a perfect position for us to setup. It was a small space covered with the leaves off the fallen tree and to our luck, protected from the wind. We took about ten minutes to get the equipment set up but after that we dug-in and prepared for the German Major.
I checked my watch, 01:30. I took my eye out the scope after making a quick, but thorough, search of the barracks. I looked up at the sky; clouds were slowly covering up the moon. I jolted my head to the left; I swear I heard a car engine. I gently shook Mikey from his doze, "Wake up Mikey, I think it's that Major's car on the left". Mikey rubbed his eyes with his bloodied fingers and looked down the spotter sight.
The car drove in through the main gates and parked outside the headquarters. A Hauptmann stepped out of the HQ and saluted the major and invited him inside. "Get ready to fire, sir." Mikey mumbled. A few minutes later the Major and Hauptmann appeared in the first floor room and started discussing something on a map. Now is my chance I thought to myself as I steadied my breathing. I placed my crosshair on the Major's head and slowly squeezed the smooth trigger. A crack sounded from my rifle and the Major collapsed to the floor as the Hauptmann dove for cover. My ears began to ring, an alarm was sounded in the barracks, "We'd better get on with it, Mikey, Where's the fuel depot?" I asked.
"200 yards, left of headquarters," Mikey instantly replied.
I took the shot and immediately an inferno erupted into the sky, but the beautiful inferno soon turned into a grotty black smoke and I realised bullets were pinging around our position, they knew where we were. "Damn it, we'll have to leave the ammo dump, let's just get out of here!" I shouted as I packed my kit away, followed by Mikey. We ran back the way we came trying to avoid the trees as we rushed past them. There was a moment of near peace and silence when splinters of trees started flying across where we were running; the Germans were shooting at us again. "Keep your head down, we've gone too far to die now!" I screamed. We were too far ahead for them to cause any real damage though, and the Krauts knew that as well so they gave up and we were left to listen to our short breathes as we dodged pieces of debris.
We slowed down into a jog when our base came into view, "Thank God you can run fast Mike," I panted.
"Thank you, sir. I must say you weren't too bad yourself," grinned Mikey. Cheeky kid, I thought. But for now, it was good to be home.