World War II Battle

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is the story of a young man who graduates from high school and joins the U.S. Army during WW II. He is shipped across the Atlantic to England for training and then off to a battle in Africa in which he has to lead a squad of men into a German stronghold to take it.

Submitted: January 21, 2015

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Submitted: January 21, 2015

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Chapter 1

 

“Let’s move!  Move! Move!” The Sergeant yells, getting the soldiers of his platoon into the truck.  “We have a war to fight!  World War II!

Craig and his platoon are packed in tight into the truck.  Soldiers sit on the seats that line the sides of the vehicle.  Others sit on the floor with each soldier putting their rucksack between their legs, so the soldier in front of them can have something to lean against.  Craig can hardly move.  The combination of close quarters, heavy, cold-weather jackets and their rucksacks between their legs make the ride almost unbearable.  The worse thing is the floor of the truck is metal and every bump resonates through Craig’s body.

They ride for hours, taking a rest break every two.  Every time he gets out of the vehicle some part of his body has fallen asleep and just as the blood flow normalizes he gets back into the same spot he was before.  One man sees Craig’s discomfort and says, “Be glad you’re on the floor and not on a seat.”  Craig looks at him as if he is crazy. “The seats are just as hard and you have to sit straight up or lean on your knees.  At least you get to lean back against someone’s ruck.”  Craig thanks him and smiles, but thinks he would still rather have a seat.  No matter how bad he feels now, he knows the war will be worse.

After seven hours of driving, the truck stops.  His Sergeant yells, “Okay boys, time to board your cruise ship for your European vacation.  Food, drinks, and rooms are on the United States Army.”

The men are hurried off of the truck.  When he first jumps down he is awestricken by the number of soldiers loading ships.  His Sergeant yells for him to move out.  Craig is tired and in pain from the ride, but he throws his rucksack on his back and falls into line with the rest of his platoon loading the ship.  As he begins to walk he sees a sign that informs him he is in New Orleans.  When the line of men pause for a moment he looks again at the thousands boarding the ships.  Also, cranes loading pallet after pallet of supplies.  He thinks, “If this ship is sunk by the German U-Boats, a lot of soldiers will lose their life without firing the first shot.”  It is a terrifying thought for Craig because of his fear of drowning.

Craig’s platoon boards the ship.  They are shown to their bay.  Craig is shocked at their living quarters. Small sets of bunks are stacked tightly together to get as many soldiers on the ship as possible.  If the person on top of you is heavy, you may only get 6 inches of breathing room.  There is no where to store their rucksacks, so they are laid beside the bunks.  This leaves a small two-foot wide walkway to walk.  Craig has a hard time imagining the war getting any worse.  The good thing about the ship is that Craig gets 10 days to rest before he arrives in England.

Craig writes Susan everyday.  His pen, paper and picture of Susan are the only things he safely guards.  Craig is a 6 foot all American boy that played receiver on the high school football team.  He and Susan went to high school together and met in English class.  Once together they were inseparable.  He is desperate to hear from her, but he is told that they will not receive mail on the ship.  He will have to wait until he gets to England.  While lying on his bunk, Craig takes a moment to look around at the other soldiers.  Most have people to write too, but there are some that do not.  He sees one man pointing his weapon at the ceiling and aiming at it as if he were shooting someone and says, “You’re dead Kraut.”  Another man just sits on his bottom bunk and runs his fingers through his hair as he stares at the ground as if he is hoping to wake up from a bad dream.  Another couple of guys throw a football down the narrow walkway as if they are on a summer cruise.  Craig thinks about how lucky he is to have someone at home waiting for him.  Their loneliness makes him appreciate Susan even more.

The first 3 days of the cruise are uneventful.  The ship tosses up and down on the waves and forces the soldiers on board the hollow tube to battle against seasickness.  Boredom is another enemy that is usually fought off with sleep or writing letters.  It appears that the entire cruise is going to be without incidence, until the fourth day.

Just after breakfast, the speaker sounds with the Captain’s voice, “An enemy battleship is spotted 12 miles out.  All crews to your battle stations.”

Seamen scurry from the dining area.  They put on their battle gear and attend to their weapons.  Craig and the rest of the soldiers are on a very lightly armored troop transport ship.  They all know that they would lose for sure if they were the only ship, but the Navy sent a battleship and aircraft carrier with the troop transport, not only as an escort, but to get the warships into the war.

A second announcement is broadcast to all Army personnel for them to go to their bunk areas and remain below until given notice that the threat has left the area.  This announcement does not sit well with Craig and the other soldiers.  The main reason is that they are at or below the water level.  One torpedo hit and it is their area that will flood first.

Once all the seamen have settled in to their stations and the soldiers on their bunks, the ship takes on a haunting silence.  5 minutes pass, which seems an eternity, and then the announcement, “The enemy battleship has turned towards us.  Prepare for battle.”  Craig and his fellow soldiers look at each other with wide eyes.  They can’t believe that they are about to enter their first battle and there is nothing they can do but sit on their bunk and hope for the best.

Craig says, “I can’t just sit here.  I’m going up top.”

Stanton, a soldier from Texas says in his slow draw, “You better not, it could be dangerous.”

Craig says, “I would rather be shot up there than drown down here.”

Craig walks out of the room and down a long narrow hall.  He gets to a set of stairs that take him up to the deck.  He walks out onto the left side deck of the ship.  Immediately in front of him is a seaman in an anti-aircraft turret.  On the other side of the seaman is the large aircraft carrier.  He can see pilots in the Corsair airplanes with propellers running.  They have begun launching airplanes armed with torpedoes, to try and sink the ship.  Craig sees one in the air that has just taken off.

Craig looks up in the sky to see the storm that had been forecast for that night, moving in.  The sky is gray and the wind is picking up.  Fortunately, the clouds are high, so as not to impede the airplanes from their mission.

The ship is tossing a little, so Craig holds on to a wall in the middle of the ship ending with the bridge at the top.  He makes his way to the front of the building like structure.  There he sees one lone cannon that the transport will use to defend itself.  Then he looks to his right to see the magnificent battleship.  It is two ship lengths ahead of the carrier and transport.  All of its crew have their helmets and life vests on and are manning their weapons.  Craig knows that the performance of that ship will determine their fate.

Craig looks forward of the ship to see the impending enemy, its guns at the ready.  The Americans man their arms and stare down the enemy for 15 to 20 minutes as they get closer and wait valiantly for the signal to enter combat.  It makes Craig wonder if this is how the Roman legions use to feel, just before battle.

Craig thinks that maybe it is safer for him to go below, but he has to talk to one of the crew to see what their chances are.  Hugging the wall, Craig slowly works his way down to the crewman in the anti-aircraft gun and yells, “Hey, what are our chances of winning this?”

The gunman responds, “What are you doing up here?  You should be down below.”

Craig says, “I know but I have to know what our chances are.”

The gunman responds, “They look great.  They just have one battleship against ours and we have a carrier.”  No sooner does the man finish his sentence when Craig notices the air filled with airplanes above the enemy ship.  “Oh my god, Jap Zeros, things just got a lot worse.  You better get down below.”

Craig looks at the incoming airplanes again, just as they shoot down a torpedo airplane that the carrier had sent up.  Craig looks over at the carrier to see fighter planes being launched one after another.  He figures that this is the time to get below and pray.

Just as he lets go of the anti-aircraft gunners station to go back to the door that leads below, a shell from the enemy battleship lands in the water, no more than 50 feet from where he was standing.  Craig dives to the deck as water is sent flying into the air.  He lies on the deck for a few seconds to regain himself when water from the shells entry, drenches him.  The ship tosses to his side and Craig finds himself sliding down the deck towards the ocean on a small bed of water.  He grabs out at the deck, but it does no good.  Looking behind him at the approaching sea, Craig sticks his legs out and stops himself on the ships railing.

Suddenly a vibration fills his body as the battleship fires three of its Volkswagen beetle size shells at the enemy ship.  He hears machine gun fire from the airplanes dog fighting and the anti-aircraft guns firing at planes trying to make diving runs on the ship.

Craig knows that he has to ignore the chaos around him and get to the door.  The next time the ship tosses right, Craig stands up and dives for the door.  He manages to get a strong hold of it.  Before he goes in he takes one more look at the battle.  The sky is much darker which makes Craig wonder how much longer the airplanes will continue to fight. Nevertheless, the sky is filled with planes that look like small, black gnats flying in circles.

Craig looks at the carrier and sees the rear part of the flight deck is on fire from a hit by the enemy battleship.  He cannot see the enemy ship and is afraid to try and look.  Instead he decides this battle is for those who like the sea and hopefully his battle will come soon and not end today.

The wet Craig walks into the room with all of his Army buddies.

“What happen to you?”  One of the men asks.

Craig responds, “A shell landed in the water near me and soaked me.”

“What’s it like out there?”  Another soldier asks.

“It’s not good.  Our ship and planes are battling their ship and planes.  All we can do is hope for the best.”

The men get silent and grasp their bunks every time the ship shakes from the enemy battleships shells or pitches in the stormy waves.  A feeling of helplessness and, for a few despair, comes over them.

The battle lasts for a couple of hours and then the stormy weather forces both sides to retreat.  The Captain of the ship gets on the speaker and says, “Attention all personnel.  The enemy has left our area.  We are continuing on course.  This ship has taken very little damage, bullet holes mostly.  The aircraft carrier was hit the hardest, but they were able to put out all fires and secure the areas of the ship that were flooding.  The battleship sustained minimal damage.  We lost 11 airplanes and more than 82 crewmen.  We are going to have a moment of silence for these soles.”  The soldiers and the rest of the ship observe a thirty second moment of silence.  The Captain says, “All hands to crew quarters.  We are going to ride out this storm and make repairs tomorrow.”

The constant tossing of the ship has taken on a lighter feeling for the ground pounders.  They now only have to worry about Mother Nature killing them instead of man.  All thought the storm is nothing to take lightly; they feel that Mother Nature will not be quite as intent on their destruction as the Japanese.

 

Chapter 2

 

After 6 more days at sea, his unit disembarks in England.  They march off the ship as they walked on, in long lines of green.  Immediately upon arrival repair crews from the port get on the damaged ships and begin making repairs.

The Sergeant forms the platoon and yells; “We will be here for a month training and then off to the war.  Follow me and we will go to our new home.”  The platoon forms a single file line.  They load trucks and are driven to a large warehouse next to a field.  This time Craig gets a seat on the bench seats and is assured he was correct in his thinking.

The British driver stops at a make shift gate with armed guards and gets clearance to enter.  The men are told to exit the vehicle at a large warehouse.  The British have turned it and the surrounding area into a training camp for the Americans.  The soldiers make their way into the warehouse and find a bunk.

The Sergeant yells, “Dinner tonight is a sea ration.  Showers are from 1600 to 2000 hours.  Get cleaned up and get some rest and we will begin training at 0800 tomorrow after breakfast.  The rest of the day is yours.”  He promptly turns and leaves the building.

The men break into a flurry of activity.  Some men roll out their sleeping bags and lie down.  Another group looks through their personal bags to try and find their shaving gear and go to the shower.  Yet, another group pulls out their sea rations to eat.

Craig decides he wants to eat.  He grabs his rations, sits on his bunk and begins to eat.  His neighbor in the next bunk sits facing Craig and pulls out his subsistence.Craig looks up and says, “Hi, my name is Craig Mitchell, what’s yours?”

The tall, lanky man responds in a John Wayne style draw, but without the deep voice. “I’m Will Stanton, it’s nice to meet you Craig.”

“I’m pleased to meet you too.  It sounds like you’re from out west.”

“Yep, Texas, how ‘bout you.”

“North Carolina.”  The two men take a bit of food.  “What do you think about this war?” Craig says as he finishes chewing a bite.

“I don’t know.” Will responds as he takes another bite. “I hear we are winning, so I guess I’ll just point my weapon at the enemy and fire and pray I don’t become a bullet stopper.”  The delivery was dry, so it took Craig a moment to figure out that he was being witty, Craig smiles.

Craig asks, “Have you ever fired a gun before you where drafted?”

Will responds, “Sure, I won the county marksmanship contest the last two years.  I’m a great shot.”

“I guess I know who to get beside when the action starts.”  They both laugh.  Will does not make much eye contact with Craig during the conversation.  It appears he has not had a lot of social interaction and is uncomfortable talking to strangers, but he is kind nevertheless.

Craig says, “Are you scared?”

Will responds, “I am but I don’t have a choice, so I’ll do the best I can.”

There is a moment of silence while the two men eat some more food.  The man on the top bunk interrupts the silence.

“You two are pitiful.”  The man (Russo) says with a strong New York accent.  “Death is everywhere where I live and if you don’t get tough you get hurt or worse.”

“I would not want to live where you live.” Craig says.

“That’s because you’re weak.  Don’t get near me when the fighting starts.  I want killers next to me not you two.  And as for us winning, it is a load of bull.  If we were winning, do you think they would have pieces of shit like you two fighting.”

Will looks up and says, “I think you’re the piece of shit.  Shut up and leave us alone.”  The man from the top bunk jumps down, at the same time Will stands up.  They get face to face.

The man from the bunk says, “Why don’t you make me country boy.”

It appears punches are about to be thrown so Craig steps between them and says, “We are on the same team, why don’t you save your anger for the enemy?”  The two men look at each other for a moment and then turn.  Will sits down on his bunk.  Russo yells out, “Who are killers here!  A group of guys in the corner yell out a loud “huha”.  Russo grabs his things and says, “I’m going to go where the killers are and let the dead men be alone.  He occupies a bunk on the other side of the room.

At 2100 hours, the Platoon Sergeant walks in and calls for lights out.  Right afterwards he yells, “Mitchell, get in my office!!”

Craig thinks, what could I have done, as he walks briskly between the bunks to the Sergeant’s office?  “Yes Sergeant.”  He says while standing at parade rest (a stance where his legs are spread shoulder length apart and his arms are behind his back) at the door.

“Come in and close the door behind you.”  Craig does. “I saw what you did earlier when you broke up that fight.  I think you are the man I am looking for.  I need someone to take over 3rd Squad and I want it to be you.”  Sergeant Russell says.

“Yes, Sergeant, I will do whatever you need.” Craig says.

“Excellent, effective tomorrow you will be promoted to Corporal and will be in charge of third Squad.  Dismissed soldier.”  Sergeant Russell says.

Craig does a sharp about face and leaves the office.  He is very excited.  He is going to be in charge.  This is something he never expected.

 

Chapter 3

 

It is November 1942.  Craig had grown to like England and the people.  He found the people to be nice and in an area of the world that seems out of control, the English seem to be very much in control.  Although he liked England, he could have done without the training.  The time in the camp was intense.  The men spent most of their time practicing shooting and small unit tactics.  Additionally, physical training was scheduled 6 days a week.  Craig thought he was in good shape from football, but found he had room to improve.

Craig was at the obstacle course with some of his squad when the Platoon Sergeant called him off to the side.  “Corporal Mitchell, I have spoken to the other squad leaders.  We leave in a week!”

“You mean we are leaving for war?”  Craig responds.

“Hell yes Mitchell, why do you think we’re here.  Tell your squad to prepare to load ships in 5 days.  We are going to North Africa as part of Operation Torch.  Intel expects minimum resistance.”  Sergeant Russell says.

“Yes, Sergeant.” Craig moves quickly to get his squad together.

After 30 minutes of running to the rifle range, bayonet range, and obstacle course, he has everyone in one place.  His squad consists of himself and eight other men.  They are all between the ages of 18 and 23.

“Men” Craig starts and pauses, “We are one week from going to war.”  Instant tension overcomes everyone and they all exchange glances at each other.  They size each person up trying to figure out who will live and who will die who will fight and who will not.  It only takes a matter of seconds to accomplish such a task.  Although, they knew the day would come, they had convinced themselves that they would fight the war from a training base in England.  They hang on Craig’s every word.  “We will board ships in 5 days and sail to North Africa.

Craig continues, “There is expected to be little resistance, so let’s hope for a safe landing.  As of right now, I am ceasing all training for the squad.  If you don’t know it by now you won’t know it in a week.  Everyone take the next five days to ensure you are packed, letters are written and you say goodbye to local girlfriends.” Everyone in the squad looks at Jones, the member of the squad they call Loverboy, because of all the English girls he has been seen with.  “That is all I have.  Are there any question?”  The shock prevents anyone from saying anything.  Craig dismisses them and he goes to the barracks to get his own affairs in order.

For the first time, the war is consuming more of his thoughts than Susan.  He is excited about being a squad leader, but now he has to lead eight men into battle.  Their lives are his responsibility.  Doubt fills him.  “What makes me qualified to lead those men?  A Sergeant telling me so?”  Craig wants to pray for help, but he feels bad praying to God for help in killing another person, so he says a prayer asking for a blessing for himself and all people in the war.

The day comes to board the ships.  Columns of soldiers move up loading ramps onto five different ships.  He feels pretty insignificant when he sees the numbers of people, but then Craig looks back at the eight men.  He thinks, “These eight men, that is the focus of the war for me.  It isn’t what the Germans are doing in Russia or what the Japanese are doing in the Philippines.  Those are another person’s problem.  These eight men are my reason for being here.”  This realization makes Craig feel significant and not just part of a sea of green.

The boat ride is only a few days.  The next morning all the troops are off loading onto the beaches of North Africa.  It is a creepy feeling for Craig and his men.  They are there and there is no turning back until the job is done.

Craig and his squad are walking to regroup with the rest of his company when he hears Sergeant Russell call for him.  Craig tells his squad to move up with the rest of the company as he walks over to meet with Sergeant Russell.

“Yes Sergeant.”  Craig says as he sits down in the sand behind a sand dune that Sergeant Russell has chosen to use as the Platoon’s Headquarters.

“Corporal.”  Sergeant Russell says, “We have a German lookout post a mile up the road.  We are certain that the German scouts saw us land and are going to report it to a higher authority.  The Captain has given our platoon the mission to neutralize that outpost.  In other words, we have to destroy all personnel and equipment in it.  Craig,” This is the first time Sergeant Russell had ever called Craig by his first name. “The LT and I want you to lead the assault on the house.  We don’t know what they have for weapons.  The Platoon leader is getting a dump from the CO right now.  We will get briefed in 30 minutes.  Gather your men.”

“Yes Sergeant, we will accomplish the mission.”  Craig says.  He feels good saying the party line to the Sergeant, but deep down he is nervous.  Surprisingly to himself, he is not nervous for himself, but for his men.

Craig gathers his squad and tells them the same information the Sergeant told him.  They walk across the beach where a young Lieutenant is crouching down and drawing in the sand.  The rest of the platoon arrives and forms a horseshoe shape around the map the Platoon Leader has drawn.  Craig and the other two-squad leaders are in the front.  The Platoon Sergeant says in a firm voice, “Listen up. The LT is going to give us the brief.”  He turns to the Lieutenant and says, “Sir, the platoon is ready.”

Lieutenant Lenander, a 6’2”, 22-year-old West Point graduate, begins to speak; “I want to start the brief by saying that this is all of our first time in battle.  I’m nervous and I am sure you are too.  You don’t have anything to worry about, because we will take that building.  This is our first real action and we will be better prepared for the big battles when we get to them.  Just make sure you look out for each other and we will all be fine.”  He is sure and confident beyond his years and it makes the soldiers feel confident in him.

Lieutenant Lenander points to the map.  “This is the building we will attack.  It is surrounded by trees; allowing us to get within 50 yards of it, but it is open space after that.  We can lie in the trees and take pot shots all day, but that would give the Krauts a lot of time to radio for help and give away our position.  What we’re going to do is have 1st and 2nd squad lie to the left and right front of the building in the trees.  They will fire-up the lower level of the building, using a full magazine per man.  Once reloaded, I will give the signal to charge.  1st and 2nd squads will fire-up the top floor while 3rd squad, Mitchell’s boys, rush the front of the building.  3rd squad will then clear the building.  1st and 2nd squad will stop firing once 3rd is in the building and will shoot only when they positively identify an enemy.  1st and 2nd squads will also need to move to totally surround the building.

One of the squad leaders asks, “Where will you and the Serg be?”

Sergeant Russell responds, “On your ass if you don’t put more emphasis on the “ant” in Sergeant.”

“Yes, Sergeant.”  The soldier responds.

The Lieutenant smirks and says, “Good question.  I will be with 3rd squad and Sergeant Russell will be in the trees making sure you don’t shoot anyone your not suppose too.”  The platoon laughs; which does wonders for breaking up the tension everyone feels.

The Lieutenant finishes by asking anyone if they have any questions.  No one does.  It is a simple mission and they know what to do.  The platoon spends 10 minutes ensuring their gear is packed and weapons are ready.The platoon leader lines them up in formation and off they go down the road to their first combat of World War II.  Craig nervousness does not subside, but he exudes confidence for his soldier’s sake.  As he walks with the platoon he looks down the beach and sees hundreds of soldiers lying on the beach with their arms and weapons held high.  One guy is waving a small American flag he had brought with him.  Craig and his men hear yells like, “Let ‘em know we’re here and we ain’t leaving!” and “Give ‘em hell!”

Combs, soldier in Craig’s squad says, “Makes you feel good, eh Mitch?”

Craig responds, “Yeh, it sure does.  It’s kinda like those World War I movies.  The good guys always win in the movies, let’s hope we do.”  He laughs.

Jones, a soldier in Craig’s squad says, “That’s what I like to see, my leader laughing in the face of danger.  A fight is about to start and you are cool and collected.  I can’t wait to charge that house with you.

Pridgen blurts out, “We are charging with Mitchell.  Mitchell’s Chargers!”

Jackson soldier from the Bronx that had resided on Craig’s top bunk yells to the troops on the beach, “We are Mitchell’s Chargers, first in, first to fight, first to win.”  A load roar overtakes the beach as weapons are waved in the air and the officer’s flurry around the troops trying to get them to quite down.  Craig gives thumbs up to Jackson.

 

Chapter 4

 

The walk to the woods near the house seems like a short one.  Craig wants more time to mentally plan exactly how he will conduct his attack.  The single file line stops and everyone takes a knee.  The hand signal comes for the squad leaders to go to the Platoon Leader.  Once all the Squad Leaders arrive, the Lieutenant whispers, “Are there any questions?”  Everyone shakes their head no.  “Great, I will be with 3rd Squad.  1st and 2nd take up your positions; the Platoon Sergeant will oversee your movement.”  The Platoon Sergeant and Squad leaders move to their troops, gather their men and move into the woods.  “Mitchell, get you boys and let’s move forward into the woods.”

“Yes, sir.”  Mitchell whispers.

Craig moves to within sight of his Squad and gives the signal for them to move forward.  Once they are with the Platoon Leader, they all move into the woods, following the Lieutenant.  Craig can see and feel the apprehension of his soldiers.  The talking was over.  It is time for real bullets to be shot.  Craig is overcome with the desire to stop and run away but through will and the pressure he feels from his men he forces himself into possible death, but it is his duty and he knows his men are counting on him. 

After a very short movement into the woods, the Lieutenant tells everyone to get down using a hand signal.  Everyone can see the house now.  Occasionally, a German soldier looks out the window.  Most of the Squad freezes at their first sighting of the enemy.  The disciplined, stern look of the German soldier intimidates most of the young American men.  They know his kind has seen combat and they haven’t.

Lieutenant Lenander signals for everyone to take off their rucksacks and put one extra clip in their pockets.  He moves up to the edge of the tree line to see if he can see where his men are.  He catches a glimpse of Sergeant Russell in the trees and signals him over to his location.  Shortly the Sergeant arrives and Lieutenant Lenander asks, “Are we ready to go?”

“Yes Sir, they will begin firing when you fire.”

Lieutenant Lenander says, “I want you to fire first with one of your Squads.  Tell the other to begin firing as soon as they hear shots.  Begin firing as soon as you can.”

“Yes sir.”  The Sergeant runs off into the woods.

Lieutenant Lenander signals Mitchell and his men to move forward with him.  The Squad comes to rest right on the tree line.  They could stick their hands into the open field they are so close.  Knots form in everyone’s stomach as they realize that the time has come.  Most of the soldiers feel that a regurgitation of breakfast would be an easy task in the current situation, but all manage to fight the temptation.  Then it happens.  A single shot from their left, a second shot and then the woods to the left and right of the soon to advance squad light up with smoke and muzzle flashes.  Craig can see things inside the lower part of the house exploding.  Holes appear in the main door of the house as if magic.  A couple of rounds hit the top hinge of the door making it teeter on the bottom hinge.  He can see Germans falling down.  It is hard to tell if they are being hit or just taking cover.

The Germans quickly figure out the shots are aimed at the first floor.  German soldiers on the second floor began returning fire.  They have compact machine guns that lay down an impressive amount of fire into the tree line.  Craig’s tunnel vision is focused solidly on the door.  He can’t even see the second floor much less if anyone is getting hit in the tree line.  He just knows that the Germans haven’t begun to fire on his squad sitting quietly in the tree line across the field.

After what seems an eternity of gunfire the signal is given to lift fires.  “Get ready boys!” the Lieutenant yells to Mitchell’s squad.  “Charge!!”  The lieutenant yells when he confirms all friendly fires are concentrated on the top floor.

Lenander jumps from his position in the tree line, then Mitchell, Stanton, Jones, Russo, Winchester, Combs, Pridgen, Jackson and Little.  In a matter of seconds the 10-man team is rushing across an open field with fires to the left, right and front of them.  Half of Mitchell’s squad is in a dead sprint with the Lieutenant.  The other half is shooting at the building as they run.  Seeing that they are only slowing down their progress, Craig stops and yells at the men, “Stop shooting! You’re not hitting anything and you are slowing the charge!”  The men do as Craig says and rush forward in a full sprint.

About half way to the house, Lenander realizes he is several yards ahead of the squad.  He stops, looks back and with a forward rounding arm gesture, a smile and a confident yell, says, “Let’s go boys were almost there!!”  The entire display is truly inspiring to the squad and the soldiers in the woods.  The rate of fire picks up from the woods and Mitchell’s squad runs faster and sounds a thundering HUUUHAAAH!

The motivation in the face of fire of his platoon fills Lieutenant Lenander with exuberance.  He forgets about the shooting for an instant.  He stands in the open field and takes a couple of seconds to look at his whole platoon fighting his fight.  They are fighting like real soldiers.  That realization along with his pride is the last thing Lieutenant Lenander remembers before falling to his knees.  He isn’t sure why he is on his knees until he looks Craig in the eyes and sees the panicked look Craig is displaying as he runs towards him.  The smile on the Lieutenants face is slowly replaced by a look of melancholy, surprise.  Lenander moves his eyes down his body to see three red patches of blood.  One is just below his right shoulder, the second at his sternum and the third about 2 inches below his heart.  The lower part of his body is red with blood.  He looks up at Craig with an unsure expression and then his eyes roll back in his head and he falls face first onto the ground.

Craig slides in beside him as Combs and Pridgen take a left and right position on each side of Craig and shoot vigorously at the German.  Bullets hit the wall beside the German soldier with what appears to be at least one shot hitting him.  He spins inside the first floor window and disappears to the floor.  The two American soldiers kneel beside Craig as he picks up the Lieutenant and rolls him over. The corpse lay straight out with his legs bent inward towards Craig.  There is no movement and his face is expressionless. He is certainly dead.  It is the first time Craig had ever seen a dead person, much less held one in his arms. Craig can only look at his motionless leader in horrified shock that someone who he had come to know and respect is now dead.  Craig knows that this is not the time morn.  His men are yelling, “Lets go Mitch we got to take the house!!”  Craig grabs his gun and runs forward with his men to the door.

There are two windows on the bottom floor.  No shooting is coming from them, so Craig surmises that all the Germans are upstairs.  He and the squad have to get to the radio quickly because the Americans can only jam the German radio for a short time.  Craig tells Jones and Russo to throw grenades in each window.  Stanton and Combs move away from the house and began firing into each window.  Jones and Russo move away from the house and throw grenades in each window.  The entire squad hits the ground hard after the grenades are thrown.  A horrendous explosion sends glass and wood from the pains flying.  Craig can hear the cries of soldiers inside the house.  Craig and his other four men bust down the tattering front door and began firing.  Craig orders the men to stop shooting.  The soldiers in the woods stop shooting when they see their comrades enter the house.

Craig can see a small hallway leading to stairs.  It looks like a basic house, four rooms downstairs and possibly four rooms upstairs.  Craig knows the hardest part of the day is about to begin.  He and his men have to find the Germans and clear the house.  The doors to the first two rooms are a short ways down the hall and where the hand grenades went off.  Craig orders Pridgen and Jackson to look in the rooms.  They run past Craig and Little and Winchester who have their rifles pointed down the hallway for cover.  Pridgen and Jackson take a knee; one beside the door on the left and the other beside the door on the right.  On the count of three they point their weapons into the rooms.  Each soldier, looking down the barrel of their rifle, look left and right and say softly, “Clear.”

Pridgen says, “I have one dead here.”

Jackson says, “I have two dead here.  That grenade got ‘em.”

Suddenly, out of the other two rooms down the hall, German soldiers fire a burst from their machine guns.  The hall lights up with fire.  Craig can hear bullets passing by his head and hitting above him into the wall.  Pridgen and Jackson are cut down instantly as they try and stand and return fire.  Little and Winchester are halfway down the hall.  They drop to the ground and immediately return fire.  Craig and the rest of the Squad collapse to the ground in an unorganized and clumsy matter.  Some of the squad returns fire.  Both enemy soldiers retreat back into their perspective rooms after only a few seconds of fire.

The men in the tree line hear the gunfire.  They are antsy to charge the house, but the orders of their slain leader stand in his death as strong as in his life.  The Platoon Sergeant yells to stay put.  All feelings of rushing the house are subdued.  Although it feels wrong in the bellies of the soldiers, they will wait in the tree line.

Craig doesn’t know what to do about the Germans in the rooms.  He has two men dead and two in the hall that are afraid to turn their backs to the rooms where the Germans are.  Craig gathers his four men lying down behind him in the hall.  He whispers to them to rush past the guys lying face down in the hallway and fire into the rooms.  He makes it clear that they are not to take prisoners.  Just prior to the men beginning their rush, Craig notices that he can see through a bullet hole in the wall.  He points to the hole, making sure his men understand that the bullets will go through the walls.

His men do just as they are instructed.  Stanton and Jones take the room on the left and Russo and Combs take the room on the right.  Jones and Combs stop in what they believe to be the center of their targeted rooms, one left and one right.  With their rifles held at hip level they fire through the walls into their respective room.  Stanton and Russo run to the doorways of each room, drop to the floor and stick their rifles and heads around the doorframes to look into the rooms.

Stanton sees a wounded German sitting in the corner of the room with his machinegun laid across his legs.  Jones hit him by firing through the wall.  The German looks up from his wound to see the Americans head and rifle staring at him.  The German makes an attempt to get his weapon up to fire, but it is no use.  Stanton has his rifle aimed at him.  As soon as the German makes his move the American fires two shots square in his chest.  The German goes limp with his head resting back against the wall.  Stanton pans the room for any other Germans and sees none.  He yells, “Clear!”

A few seconds later, the room on the right turns into a gunfight.  As soon as the Americans bullets begin to pierce the walls, machinegun fire sends bullets the opposite way, through the wall.  Combs falls to the ground shooting as he sees a line of holes moving towards him from his right.  Unfortunately, he is unable to tell Jones behind him.  Two bullets hit Jones in the back.  The first goes straight through his left back and heart, splattering blood on the wall in front of him.  He is not alive long enough to feel the second bullet.  Russo sees two Germans, both with machineguns.  One is in the corner of the room behind a table, firing through the wall.  The other is knelling in the corner of the same wall the door is on.  As soon as he sees the rifle of the American soldier he lets a burst of machinegun fire go.  Russo quickly crawls backwards as he receives a bullet through his right forearm and flesh wound through his right lat.

Craig lies down between Little and Winchester who appear to be frozen from their initial confrontation with the Germans.  He says, “Your buddies need your help.  Move forward!”  The two men crawl slowly towards the men fighting.  Once they get to a point where they can fire through the walls, they do.  Combs and Stanton help the wounded Russo to the stairs while the other soldiers provide cover fire through the walls.  Machine gun fire from the Germans continues producing holes in the wall.  Little and Winchester move back once the other men are safely on the stairs.

Craig’s Squad is split.  Three men are on the stairs on one side of the room, with one being wounded and Craig is with two men on the other side of the room.  Craig doesn’t know what to do.  He has to kill the Germans, but he is uncertain as to where there are in the room or he would just fire through the wall.  The only thing he can figure out to do is a full frontal assault.  The worst maneuver any military person could do.  He decides that he, Little and Winchester will crawl down the hall and at the same time sit up and begin firing.  Stanton and Combs will charge through the door while Craig and his men shifted their fires into the room to the right.  The only problem is telling his men what to do.  He decides to sneak down the hall and run in front of the door to get to his men.  He opts to walk instead of crawl because of the easy of sprinting in front of the door from a walk position as opposed to trying to stand from a crawl position, just in case the Germans begin to fire.

The machine gun fire from the Germans had been quite for a while.  The building was as silent as a desert night.  Each side was trying to listen for what the other is doing.  Craig slowly stands up and begins his walk.  Each step is slow and softly put.  Craig’s anxiety races as he looks at the wall the Germans are behind and see the holes in the wall at the same level as his gut.  Step by step he makes his way down the hall towards the doorway to the room, then the floor creeks.  Craig freezes.  He knows the Germans heard it, but do they suspect anything.  ‘What should I do now?’  He thinks as sweat forms on his head.  He looks at the wall and he sees bullets passing through it at him.  In reality there are none, but just as someone afraid of sharks may visualize one coming up through the blackness of the sea, Craig is certain he sees the bullets.  Panicked, he runs.  As he crosses in front of the door to the room, machine gun fire erupts, tearing apart the doorframe but missing him.

Out of breath and in a minor state of shock, Craig sits beside his men on the stairs.  He leans his head against the wall and tries to calm down.  Combs leans into him and says, “Damn that was close.  Are you okay?”  Craig shakes his head yes.  “What’s the plan Mitch?”  Right as Craig turns his head to say something, one of the Germans sticks half his body out the door and points his machine gun right at Craig.  It all happens in slow motion to Craig.  First he sees the Germans shoulder, then his cold, stern eyes and then the barrel of the machine gun.  Although small, it looked like Craig could stick his head in the blackness that made up the cylinder.  Craig knew this was it.  He waited for the flash that would take him out of this war, but before the German could pull the trigger, Little and Winchester, still lying in the hallway, let off two shots each.  The German was hit in the left shoulder, left lung, and base of the neck.  The fourth bullet hit the doorframe just to the right of his head.  The German fell down dead in place.

Craig is traumatized now.  He takes a moment to himself followed by a deep breath.  He mouths thank you to the guys on the other side of the hall.  Craig then tells the plan to the men on the stairs.  He changes the plan slightly.  He decides to lead the charge into the room.  He gives the signal and Little and Winchester move into position and began firing through the wall.  Craig, Stanton and Combs rush through the door as the men firing shift fires to the right.  Russo guards the stairs in case any enemy comes down.

As Craig rushes in firing, he sees that the German soldier is knelt behind a wood table for protection.  He has it turned so the top of the table faces the doorway.  The rounds of the soldiers firing through the wall are the perfect height to pierce the table and they kill the German before the men rushing into the room can do a thing.  Craig yells ‘cease-fire’ and goes to inspect the presumed dead soldier.  Stanton and Combs keep their weapons trained on the enemy as Craig pushes the German off the legs of the table.  He rolls over dead.

Craig and his men had secured the bottom level.  He sent one soldier out to give the arm signal to the soldiers in the tree line, that the bottom level is secure.  In the struggle for the first floor of this outpost, Craig had lost three men and the Platoon Leader.  Craig surveys the damage.  He looks into the open eyes of Private Jones.  He was a 20-year-old man from Oregon that always would say he just wanted to do something for America.  Now he is dead from a lucky shot of an enemy soldier, through a wall.  Craig wants to feel sorry for him and grieve over his death, but there is still a job left to do.

 

Chapter 5

 

The stairs are the scariest part of the mission.  He has no idea what to expect and he knows that whatever is up there, knows he is coming.  Craig doesn’t feel right sending his men into such an unknown, so he decides to lead them himself.  He gets on the left side of the staircase.  His men line up behind him.  They slowly walk up the stairs.  Near the top, they stop.  There is a door, cracked open, between them and what they believe to be the radio room.

Craig lays at the top of the stairs with his head peering over the first step.  It is an open room, but Craig can’t see the entire room through the crack.  He pushes a little closer and nudges the door.  It lets out a small creak.  Craig quickly moves back a foot from the door.  He expects to hear gunfire, but hears nothing.  Craig moves down the stairs to where he is centered on his squad and says, “We are going to burst into the room shooting anything that moves.”  He ensures they all understand to move quickly into the room and form a horseshoe pattern with the ends being farthest in the room.

Craig moves back up the stairs and looks at his men with a stare stating, “This is it.”  They all know that they only have to get through this and their mission is complete.  Using his fingers Craig counts to three, Craig and his Squad rush into the room.

The Craig and Combs run to the left and Stanton, Little and Winchester go right and the wounded Russo take the center at the door.  The Americans startle them.  A German soldier behind the tables didn’t start shooting until Combs got to the door.  Combs gets two rounds square in the chest.  Stanton goes around him to the right.  Combs falls backwards and sends Little down the stairs.  Russo is able to edge farther into the room.  Winchester dodged Little’s fall backwords and charges into the room. Craig keyed on the radio operator, probably because he is the first German he sees.  He is running and shooting at him.  The German has a pistol and is firing back.  Craig hits him at least once.  The German falls to the floor shooting at Craig.  At the same time, Stanton and Winchester were battling with the man behind the table and losing.  He must have had something behind that table because their bullets were not getting through.  Stanton is lying on the ground with a bullet hole in a leg and his lower torso, trying to fire at the Germans head.  Winchester is on the ground, barely breathing.  He has a chest and leg wound.  Russo sees the German behind the table move to the side to try and avoid Stanton’s shots.  He is also able to take another shot at Winchester.  It is another chest wound, his final wound. Stanton is firing so much that he runs out of ammo.  The German stands to finish him, but is unaware of Russo in the door.  Russo takes an aimed shot at the Germans head and pulls the trigger.  The bullet hits just in time to save Stanton.

The German Craig shot had fallen off the chair to get to a button to blow the room.  Craig yells, “clear the room.”  Russo falls back, while Little is finally able to get into the room and pull Stanton to safety.  Craig knows he can not get to the German in time so he lifts his rifle for a head shot.  Takes aim and fires.  The enemy’s helmet goes flying into the air and the German falls dead, his hand a mere inch from the button.

Out the front door of the building walk Craig with Stanton under his arm and Little with Russo under his.  The soldiers of the platoon emerge from their hiding positions in disbelief of how few men are walking out and the wounds of Stanton and Russo.  The Platoon Sergeant is on the radio calling for medical support as the platoon medics rush to the injured soldiers.  Craig and Little lay Stanton and Russo on the ground as the medics approach.  As Craig is turning to leave Stanton, he crabs Craig’s arm and says, “You’re a great leader.  I’ll follow you anywhere.”  Craig smiles and walks away.

Later, it was determined that the station was used to gather Intelligence from all around the area.  The Germans would have deployed a much larger force against the American landing forces if the mission would have failed.  The mission was accomplished, which led to surprise attacks for the next month.  The squad saved countless American lives by shutting down the radio station and getting the intelligence in the building.



© Copyright 2019 EdLow. All rights reserved.

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