Buzzsaw

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic

Another "Bobby" story of another imaginary adventure in The Ravine.

Buzzsaw

(Ravine 3)

 

Another Saturday, another day in the ravine. Bobby bundled himself in his thick carhardt jacket, just like Dad’s, but smaller. No bike today, five inches of snow in the last two days made pedaling difficult. Winter made everything difficult.

Bobby grabbed one of his boots to pull it on his foot.

“Socks,” said his mother from the kitchen, as if it were a foregone conclusion that his would be missing. He looked at his feet, they were.

“Ok, Ma,” how did she always know?

Bobby walked up to his room, looked in his top drawer, no socks. He scanned the room, pants, two shirts, the right half of a pair of tennis shoes, and the left half of a pair of ice skates, but no socks. He thought for a moment, then his eyes opened wide like he had just learned the secret of the Universe. He ran to the bathroom and behind the commode he found a pair of socks, one red and one yellow, but a pair none the less.

As he ran past his bedroom, he happened to see the toy, steel pot World War 2 helmet he had gotten for his last birthday, sitting on his dresser. He grabbed the helmet and a knit cap to make the helmet fit better and fast stepped to the kitchen and the front door.

He rummaged through the garage and found an old hockey stick that had been cut down for him when he was five, he had seen pictures of soldiers holding small guns with round, barrel type magazines underneath, “This is my Thompson.” He said with pride and tucked it under his arm as if he were going bird hunting.

For three days before the snow, the temperature was oppressively cold. The sub-zero temperatures had caused the moisture in the trees to freeze. The freezing and expanding of the water in the small branches caused them to explode with an audible “pop”, often sounding like gun shots.

 

Sergeant Bob Lofgren raised his left arm above his head and made a fist, then dropped to a crouch as the rest of the squad did the same. Lofgren, known as Buzzsaw to his men, kept his Thompson pointed forward as he listened to the gunshots in the distance. His squad, and the rest of the division, were pretty green after the mauling they had taken in the Hurtgen Forest a few weeks earlier, so Lofgren was taking his platoon, a squad at a time on patrol to get them used to each other and learn to work as a team.

Buzzsaw, along with lieutenant Wakefield, the new platoon commander, had reshuffled the men to have a few of the more experienced men in each squad. Each squad had two rifle teams. First rifle team in third squad, the squad that he was with at that moment, had Lars Popcorn Johnson as a team leader. Johnson was a tow-headed Norwegian farm boy from Minnesota. He was called Popcorn because of the rapid rate that he could fire his M-1 Garand rifle. He also happened to be the best shot in the company. The rapid fire and the deadly accuracy made him indispensable when things became heated.

Richard Boom Collins was the second team leader. He had been a minor league pitcher in Texas before the war. Though he was also a very good shot with a rifle, he possessed the uncanny ability to throw grenades with pinpoint accuracy and at farther than average distances. This ability alone had surprised the enemy on more than one occasion.

Each rifle team consisted of a grenadier, and automatic rifleman, and four riflemen, with the team leader being the senior man and squad leader being the senior of the team leaders, in this squad’s case, Popcorn was the squad leader.

Because their unit had been hit so hard in the Hurtgen, they had been placed in the position that the Brass considered to be the least likely to be hit with any force. The Ardennes Forest in this area, just east of Bastogne was heavily wooded and had gullies and ravines going through it which were unfavorable for tanks and tracked vehicles. Sergeant Lofgren had halted the squad just at the edge of one of these ravines.

“What’re ya hearin’, Sarge?” asked Popcorn as he eased up to Buzzsaw’s point position.

“Sounds like Baker Company’s getting tickled.” Buzzsaw said over his shoulder, keeping his eyes straight ahead.

To their right, in the distance, was more gunfire that was even more intense, sounding more like a firefight. The shots to the left had grown in intensity also.

“Sounds like more than a tickle to me, Sarge. Want me to get the men in cover and ready?” asked Popcorn.

“Yea, have the thirty get set up in this position so he can sweep up and down the ravine. Second squad to the right, first on the left. Automatics on the flanks. Ten meters apart, listen for a quick exit. Grenadiers in the center of each team, look for their heavy hitters first, don’t fire until I do.”

“Got it.” Popcorn crouch/ran to Boom. They talked for a few seconds then went to their teams and used hand and arm signals to move their teams.

Buzzsaw pointed to the thirty-caliber machine gun crew, motioned them forward and pointed at the ground in front of him.

“You’re on a small point here. Set your field of fire from that dead Oak on the far bank to the right, all the way to that cluster of Pines on the left. Be ready to pick up and go if it gets too hot. Keep your heads down, you’re gonna be slightly exposed on this point.”

“Right, Sarge.” came the reply.

“Try to sweep across their front. If you see any sign of Command try to knock it out, but don’t dally, get right back to sweepin’ their front.”

“Got it, Sarge.” Said the machine gunner.

Despite the flurry of activity of thirteen men preparing for battle, there was comparatively little noise. The odd rustle of someone adjusting their body position, someone chambering a round in his rifle. Soon, the only sound that could be heard was the sound of the snow as it fell on the ground and the slight breeze as it wandered through the trees.

Sergeant Lofgren was thankful that the past few weeks had provided the opportunity for the more seasoned troops to work closely with the new joins. This work paid off as Lofgren spotted the first German soldier come to the edge of the ravine. He had paused just inside the tree line and scanned the opposite bank that held Lofgren and his squad. Apparently satisfied that the way was clear, the German, obviously experienced, signaled to his left and right and carefully stepped out of the trees.

Lofgren held his breath as more Germans came from the trees. These were only the advance party and judging from the fighting he had heard earlier, there were more behind them. The last thing he wanted to happen was for one of the new guys to get itchy and take a shot before the main body came into view. Apparently, Popcorn and Boom had emphasized the need for fire discipline because not a shot was fired as the German scouts eased their way into the ravine.

The seven soldiers of the advanced party worked their way down the far bank of the ravine until they came to the stream at the bottom. The senior man sent two men to scout down stream and two upstream. Three were left to wait for the main body. One of the Germans was attracted by something on the near bank and tarted to climb toward three of Lofgren’s men. Buzzsaw’s knuckles whitened as he tightened his grip on his Thompson.

On the far bank, the main German party appeared. The senior scout called his errant man back to the stream and watched as the main party started to come down the bank. Lofgren watched as an officer maneuvered his way down the bank to confer with the senior scout. he realized that this was right out of the combat playbook. Chapter one: Eliminate the enemy’s command and control structure whenever possible.

Lofgren laid his cheek on the butt of his Thompson and took careful aim. He wanted at least his first shot to eliminate the officer. He picked a spot about four inches below his chin where his shoulders swelled out from his neck. He squeezed the trigger, and the submachine gun came alive in his hands. The gun fired four times. The first hitting where he had aimed, the second hitting the space between his nose and mouth, and the third and fourth making geysers of debris as they hit the ground behind the now dead officer.

Suddenly, the forest on either side of Lofgren erupted in gunfire, Germans still making their way down the bank became ragdolls and began rolling awkwardly down the bank. As Lofgren looked to the top of the opposite bank, he saw more Germans setting up to return fire. Suddenly there was an explosion from the ground in the midst of the maneuvering infantrymen, and then there was no ground beneath them.

Lofgren looked to his right to see Boom, his arm reared back, preparing to place another fast ball at the feet of the Germans. Boom had noticed that the bank had been eroded away in a few spots and that a well-placed grenade could cause that portion to collapse. Buzzsaw watched as Boom placed his grenade into one of these over hangs, saw the explosion, and watched the Germans fall helplessly into the deadly crossfire that Popcorn and his squad were pouring into the ravine below.

“GIVE ‘EM HELL, MEN!” Lofgren shouted at the top of his voice as he stood up, “GIVE THE BASTARDS HELL!” Buzzsaw held the butt of his Thompson at his hip and pivoted left and right while squeezing the trigger. His firing was interrupted when his magazine was empty, and Lofgren knelt to change it. When he looked back up he saw what looked like a Battalion of German Infantry coming through the trees toward his men. The situation had become too hot for his comfort. He and his men had to get back to their lines.

“FALL BACK!” shouted Lofgren, “FALL BACK!” The men each fired a couple parting shots and picked up their weapons and began pulling away from the ravine. Once they had cover between them and the enemy they turned and away from the fight and hot footed it to the rear. Lofgren turned to look back at the Germans and saw them pouring over the far bank of the ravine like ants from a kicked ant hill. He, Boom and Popcorn laid down covering fire and turned to follow the rest of the men at a full run.

 

Bobby bounded out of the woods as fast as his one and a half foot legs could carry him in six inches of snow. He turned occasionally and gave a menacing “BRRRT…BRRRT” and turned to run a little further toward his house. As he ran, he realized that there were much heavier foot falls being made also. He looked to his left and saw his dad running next to him, eyes focused on the house.

“What are we running from?” his dad asked without breaking stride.

“Germans!” said Bobby slowing a little, then walking.

“Ah, Germans,” he said, “tough people,” he looked at Bobby from the corner of his eye, “did they teach you to talk like that?”

Bobby paused and began searching his mind. He could vaguely remember saying something about “bastards” and “give ‘em Hell.”

“Sorry, Dad,” said Bobby, looking at the snow as they walked, “are you gonna tell Mom?”

His father thought a moment, then said, “Nah, we’ll just blame it on ‘”the fog of War.’”

“Yea, ‘fog of War’” said Bobby with a wide toothy grin.

“Unless it happens again.” Dad said smirking and walked ahead to the house.

Bobby stopped and watched his dad walk, then hung his head and walked defeatedly, dragging his hockey stick behind him. He muttered to himself, “Darn fog.”


Submitted: January 20, 2021

© Copyright 2021 J.D. Anderson. All rights reserved.

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