Apologies again. I have completed my BA in History, did it in 18 months. Pretty impressed with myself. Back to the beginning is in reference to the fact that I have returned to working on the novel that inspired me to begin working on my education.
The novel had the working title “The History of World War III” and began as a thought exercise answering the question “What if President Truman had NOT used Atomic weapons against Imperial Japan?”
First, I had to determine what would cause Truman to NOT use nukes on Japan?
Next, I had to determine what was Japan’s actual situation because it was pretty bleak as most Japanese people were starving at this time.
I did take some artistic license with the story as I had General Patton create a fantom army in preparation for the fighting the Russians. The following is an excerpt from the novel of this army preparing to engage the Russians.
This is the only place that this portion will appear as I have determined that this scenario could NOT have occurred in the post war situation given the animosity between the Americans and the Germans after the War.
16 August 1945
4th Armored Division Motor Pool
East of Nuremburg
Tech Sergeant Timothy Carmichael finished connecting the ignition line to the starter motor on the Maybach Engine in another Jager-Sherman probably the last for a while. It was the last because they had run out of converted Sherman Chassis that could be converted into the American-German hybrid tank hunter. The German 88mm Gun had been mounted, appliqué armor added to the sided of the hull and the turret that was now turned to the side to allow access to the engine compartment in the rear.
“Go ahead and give ‘er a go!” Carmichael yelled to the German mechanic sitting in the right hand driver’s seat.
“Yes, Herr Carmichael.” Replied the German mechanic.
The engine roared to life as almost all of them had done before as they were much more reliable than the original Chrysler Engine of the Sherman Tank. The German mechanic quickly clambered out of the driver’s hatch, sidled over the turret back to the engine compartment to tune the fuel injectors as he had done with all the new tank engines since he had arrived a few months before. Soon the engine was purring like the lion that the Jager-Sherman was designed to be.
Carmichael looked at the German as he worked. The man called himself Karl Schmidt, but Carmichael doubted that it was his name because he didn’t always answer to the name when he was called. Karl also appeared to be more educated than a mere mechanic and Carmichael assumed that he had been an engineer of some kind. Karl had also spent some time teaching Carmichael German that seemed like an odd endeavor for a mechanic.
Karl smiled up at Tim, who smiled back and gave him and gave him a thumb’s up. Karl flipped the fuel cutoff valve and the engine rumbled into silence.
Immediately they could hear the sound of thunder to the east and both men climbed down from the tank and went outside to see the cause of the noise, as it had been a pleasant summer day.
Once outside Karl’s face darkened as he looked east into a clear sky, he knew the sound all too well.
“Konigkrieg,” Karl whispered under his breath.
“What’s that?” Timothy asked. He had understood ‘krieg’ as war but did not understand the first word.
“The King of Battle, Russian Artillery, my friend.” Karl replied in perfect English with almost no accent unlike the way he normally spoke.
Tim looked at Karl in amazement.
Karl was every inch Hitler’s ideal of the fictitious Aryan Race, features that looked like they had been chiseled from marble, blonde haired, blue eyes and physically fit although he did walk with a slight limp at times.
Dread entered Tim as he was faced with the fear that for some reason the Russians were firing artillery and the man that he had been working with for the past few months was not who he said he was.
Tim had been drafted late in the war and had arrived after the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1945. As a mechanic he had been far from the fighting and in May he had assumed that his war was over and he would finish his enlistment and return home the following spring.
Tim’s dread was replaced with uncertainty he had no idea what to do in a war as most of the Combat Veterans had been sent home. At that moment he had no idea where his helmet and rifle were located. Tim turned to Karl.
“What do we do?” He asked Karl, knowing that the man’s reaction to the artillery meant he would know.
“We get on the panzer, find some ammunition for the main gun, mount some machineguns and put in the radios. Try to find a shortwave and maybe we can find out what is happening.” Karl ordered his accent almost completely gone.
Both men turned to the distinct roaring ‘whoosh’ of Katyusha Rockets being fired in the distance to the east.
“We don’t have much time.” Karl stated and then turned back to the tank.
Tim went to his quarters to find his helmet and his rifle.
Tim tried to put the key in the lock of his wall locker and realized that he was shaking. He calmed himself by thinking that if he didn’t know what to do, Karl seemed to know exactly what to do. Tim took a breath and put the key in the lock. Inside the wall locker was his M1 Garand and his clip of eight issued rounds that he had been given for the times he was on guard duty and when performing police duties in the Zone of Occupation. Behind the rifle Tim had hung two full ammunition belts for the Garand, which he grabbed as well. Soldiers returning home would leave all kinds of weapons, ammunition and souvenirs behind in their haste to get home and Tim had collected some of these items. His prized possession was a Walther P-38 complete with holster and belt. He took a moment to put on the pistol belt and check the magazines to ensure that they were loaded, which they were and shoved a box of pistol ammunition into his pocket.
Timothy turned to leave and saw a wide-eyed Christopher Sire standing before him. Private Christopher Sire had arrived a month before a draftee Infantryman with no war left to fight. His father had owned his own filling station and automotive repair shop in the Midwest and the young man had gravitated to the motor pool for lack of anything better to do.
“Grab your rifle and meet me on the tank we just finished.” Tech Sergeant Carmichael said in a calm forceful voice. He knew Christopher was scared and knew that being ordered to do something pushed the fear to the back of your mind. For a moment he wished someone would order him to do something so he wouldn’t be so afraid.
East of Nuremburg
Tech Sergeant Tim Carmichael looked across the top deck of the Jager-Sherman’s hull at Private Christopher Sire sitting in the Number Two Driver Position and smiled at him. Private Sire returned a week smile then returned to scanning the road to their front as they drove east. The constant artillery had ceased and Karl had told them through the headsets that this meant the Russians were moving their armor and infantry forward in the attack. Tim Carmichael smiled back at Karl who was standing high in the turret trying to determine where would be a good place to engage the enemy.
Many things had changed in the hours that the artillery had began firing. The three men had taken their new tank out of the motor pool to the ammo dump to try and find ammunition for both the 88 millimeter tank gun, the two .50 Caliber Machineguns on the turret and the MG 42 Machineguns mounted in front of the drivers and the co-axil machinegun mounted in the gun mantel next to the main gun.
The guards at the ammo dump looked confused by the tank crew for a few moments until a Captain Baker arrived in a jeep followed by two 2-½ ton trucks.
“Sergeant, these are orders from General Patton.” Captain Baker stated after returning the Sergeant’s salute, handing the Sergeant the General’s written orders.
Captain Baker waited a moment for the Sergeant to read the orders and another moment for the Sergeant’s expression to signify that he understood them.
“Shit, yes, Sir.” The Sergeant said. “Give the Germans munitions?” The Sergeant asked.
“Yes, Sergeant, the rumbling to the east is Russian Artillery.” Captain Baker explained. “Old allies are new enemies.”
“What about me and my men?” The Sergeant asked.
“You are with me now until we get all the ammunition out or destroyed.” Captain Baker said. “Then you stay with me as a security detail, understood?”
“Yes, Sir.” The Sergeant replied.
“Get your men, get their gear up here to the gate.” Captain Baker ordered.
“Yes, Sir.” The Sergeant replied with a shaky voice and a salute, which the Captain returned.
The Sergeant gathered his men around him giving them instructions that Tim Carmichael could not hear.
The Captain walked up to the Jager-Sherman and Tim turned the fuel cutoff lever to ‘Off’, killing the engine so he and the crew could hear the Captain.
“Are you Colonel Johann Schmidt?” The Captain yelled up at ‘Karl’ who was sitting in the Commanders Hatch of the Jager-Sherman.
“I was,” Tim heard ‘Karl’ reply.
“Congratulations, Colonel, you have been commissioned as a Colonel in the Volkesmacht and are to command the 7th Volkesmacht Regiment.” The Captain began. “I am Captain Robert Baker, Sir. I am now your Operations and Intelligence Officer.” The Captain came to attention and saluted Colonel Schmidt. Colonel Schmidt returned the salute.
“People’s Force, I like that.” Colonel Schmidt stated referring to the new army name of Volesmacht. “What are our orders, Captain?” The Colonel asked.
Tim and Private Sire sat in the two driver’s positions in the front of the Jager-Sherman, their jaws had both dropped to the point where they were almost touching the top deck of the tank. The two men turned to look at each other in amazement.
“Sir, I have began marching the prisoners from their camp to the auxiliary motor pool where they will receive uniforms, weapons and man vehicles to move here to draw ammunition.” The Captain explained his action so far. “After we draw ammunition, General Patton wants us to engage the Russians on Highway 6 as you see fit, husbanding our forces as we reduce and delay the Russian advance.”
“Maps?” The Colonel asked. The Captain waved at a Sergeant that he had brought with him and the Sergeant moved to the Captain’s jeep.
“What about resupply?” Colonel Schmidt asked thinking about what would happen after the first engagement.
“Sir, there are numerous supply dumps hidden throughout the area.” Captain Baker explained. “When we need resupply we will call Division Headquarters and they will direct us to the nearest supply point.”
“So that the supply dumps remain hidden from the Russians if we are captured.” Colonel Schmidt said completing the thought behind keeping the location of the supply dumps from the Regimental Commanders.
“How soon will the rest of the Regiment arrive?” Colonel Schmidt asked needing to begin planning and trying to start forming a timetable. He had no idea how soon the Russian would arrive and wanted to engage them as far east as possible.
“Sir, they heard the artillery and are moving at a quick pace.” The Captain offered as an answer.
“Let’s take a look at the map and come up with a hasty plan and then go see how the Regiment is doing.” Colonel Schmidt said as he climbed down from the Jager-Sherman.
“Sergeant, get some ammo for the guns and move down to the side of the road there about 100 meters.” Colonel Schmidt instructed Tim from the side of the tank, pointing down the road the way that the Captain had come from in the direction of the Russians.
The Colonel walked over to the Captain’s Jeep as the Sergeant began spreading the maps on the hood.
As the Colonel and Captain looked over the maps, Tim and Christopher Sire moved the Jager-Sherman through the gate of the ammunition dump, where they were handed cases and cans of ammunition for the .50 Caliber Machineguns and their personal Garand Rifles.
Driving out the gate, Tim wondered where they were going to get ammunition for the 88mm Main Gun and the German Machineguns mounted on the tank. At the gate both men could see that more 2 ½ Ton Trucks had arrived and were offloading ammunition, uniforms, German weapons, food and fuel on the road to the right of the gate.
Stopping at each supply point, Tim and Christopher loaded the tank with the necessary ammunition for the mix of guns on the tank. They were issued uniforms after giving their sizes that they accepted with puzzled looks. They were issued five STG44’s, one for each member of the tank crew, along with double basic load of ammunition but both men kept their Garand Rifles. The food was a mix of American and captured German rations that at least offered some variety for them during their foreboding task ahead.
Colonel Schmidt soon joined them having moved Captain Baker’s Jeep moved down the road next to the Jager-Sherman. The three men took some time learning about the weapons systems that had previously served each other’s armies before during the war that had just passed. Captain Baker joined them when it was came to the STG44 that he had only seen carried by some of his soldiers when they had captured them.
Colonel Schmidt not only explained the function of the STG44 but he also explained the idea behind using it as an assault weapon as it had been intended.
“When firing aimed fire, one round at a time.” Colonel Schmidt instructed. “When firing in the assault place it on Feuerstoß, ah, automatic fire as you say.” He continued stumbling over the translation. “Also full auto in the defense too like a big machinegun or a sub-machinegun. Lots of fire to keep the enemy away.”
After a brief walk through the woods to determine that no one was hiding there it was determined that the men would be able to test fire their weapons to the right side of the road.
As the 7th Regiment of the Volkesmacht began to form on the road Colonel Schmidt gave them their first order. “Piss on the left, shoot on the Right.”
Colonel Schmidt and Captain Baker spent the next hour organizing the men into companies. A total of six companies for the Regiment with each company containing a platoon of Jager-Shermans, meaning four, and Mechanized Infantry or Panzer Grenadier platoon in each company. Initially each Company was short both tankers and infantry but as word spread throughout the surrounding area both Americans and former soldiers from the German Army began to arrive and fill out each company.
Tim and Christopher met Hans and Dieter who had volunteered to be the loader and gunner on their Jager-Sherman. Tim spent some time showing the two men how the sight for the gun functioned at it was the gyro stabilized American sight fitted to German 88mm gun. Dieter had obviously spent time in a tank too because he quickly figured out how to securely store the main gun rounds in the ammunition racks that had been designed to hold the smaller American rounds. Hans was enjoying the electronic drive that traversed the turret of the Jager-Sherman as he explained in broken English that the Tiger I turret was hydraulic powered and much slower.
Tim and Christopher took a moment to change into their new Volkesmacht uniforms.
“Goddamn, we look like Krauts!” Christorpher exclaimed gesturing at his smock. “Sorry, Sir.” He said apologizing to Colonel Schmidt.
“It’s okay. I don’t like sauerkraut.” The Colonel replied with a smile, much to the relief of Private Sire.
The entire Jager-Sherman crew burst into laughter at the Colonel’s joke. It had been just what the crew needed to break the tension that had been building as they prepared for the coming battle.
The four men that were now the Colonel’s tank crew next took out the German MG 42 Machineguns and the two Germans gave the Americans a quick class on their function and then they test fired them into the woods. Both Americans enjoyed the high cyclic rate of fire but the Germans warned them that the machinegun would go through a lot of ammunition because of it. Both Americans became solemn in their understanding.
An American Lieutenant from the Prisoner of War camp had assumed authority of 1st Company, 1st Battalion and had been tasked with providing reconnaissance for the Regiment.
“Lieutenant, put a mixed platoon on each side of the autobahn.” Colonel Schmidt instructed. “Use the American model of having a Jeep or Kubelwagen in the lead covered by a Jager-Sherman and followed by one of the mortar vehicles.”
“Yes, Sir.” The Lieutenant acknowledged, conveying that he understood the practice.
“When you meet the Russians lay down fire, call for air support and get the heck out of there.” Colonel Schmidt concluded.
“Will do, Sir.” The Lieutenant replied with a salute.
“We are counting on you to allow us to get as far forward as we can and hopefully surprise the Russian because I know that they have us outnumbered.” Colonel Schmidt concluded his orders to the Lieutenant with a salute.
The Lieutenant turned to move off then spun around.
“Sir, Fire Support.” The Lieutenant stated. “Artillery.”
“Of course,” the Colonel answered turning to the hood of the Jeep.
The Lieutenant stood beside him looking at the map showing the area east of Nuremburg, the Colonel tracing the line of Autobahn 6.
“The Autobahn has markers at each kilometer and we will keep adjusting the artillery 500 meters to your front as you call in your location.” The Colonel began his hasty artillery plan. “You call in fire and we will fire the next half-kilometer so be sure that you call in each kilometer.”
“Got it, Sir. Any spare maps?” The Lieutenant asked.
“Just one for the Reconnaissance Company Commander.” Captain Baker said handing the Lieutenant a rolled map. The Lieutenant wisely unrolled the map and checked to make sure that it was the correct one satisfied he rerolled it and saluted the two officers.
The Colonel and the Captain returned the Lieutenant’s salute and turned back to the hood of the Jeep.
“What about artillery?” The Colonel asked a little embarrassed. He had just sent the Lieutenant off on his mission without having any idea where the artillery support was going to come from when the Lieutenant needed it.
“They should be here soon.” Captain Baker answered looking at his watch. “Another camp north of Nuremburg, another motor pool and hidden ammo dump.”
“What about radios?” The Colonel asked exasperated that he had not thought about it earlier.
“Sir, Oberleutnant Wentz has been organizing the communications for the Regiment.” Captain Baker explained trying to calm the Colonel. “We are already in contact with Division and General Patton’s Headquarters.”
“Thank you,” Colonel Schmidt acknowledged Captain Baker’s assistance. “How are things going in our new war?”
“Things are pretty chaotic.” The Captain explained. “Hard to tell right now.”
“Okay, I want all the officers here in 10 minutes and I want to be moving in another 20 minutes so we are on the autobahn in half an hour.” Colonel Schmidt instructed Captain Baker.
“Yes, Sir.” The Captain replied saluting the Colonel, which he returned.
Preparations were interrupted for a moment as a flight of four Me 262 Jet Fighter-Bomber flew over heading east. The distinctive sound of their jet engines caused everyone to look up and watch them as they passed overhead. Moments later these were followed by a flight of eight P-51 Mustangs fitted with rockets under their wings and then a flight of eight P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter-Bombers. Tim Carmichael watched as he sat on the hatch fingering the fire controls of his STG44 making himself familiar with their operation, as he feared that his life might depend on his ability to operate this weapon at some point in the near future.
The officers gathered around the Jeep at the front of the column that had grown along the road. They were a mix of Americans and Germans but they now all wore the green dot pattern uniform of the Volkesmacht. Their weapons were a mix of the STG44 and the American M-1 Garand Rifle as some of the Americans were not willing to accept the new rifle just yet. Many of the American Officers had not seen combat as they had arrived in Europe after the conclusion of hostilities. Colonel Schmidt looked at them not sure what he was going to say to them beyond some idea of a plan.
“Sir, I’m the 7th Battalion Artillery Commander, Major Johann Haufbräu, I served under General Model in Army Group B. I have two Batteries of eight self-propelled 155mm Howitzers on Maybach modified chassis.” The Major introduced himself in English, offering the Colonel his hand. Colonel Schmidt shook the man’s hand.
“Nice to meet you, Major Haufbräu. Captain Baker, could you please brief the Major on our artillery plan and get his Battalion deployed to cover our movement.” Colonel Schmidt said instructing Captain Baker.
An American halftrack with a Quad-.50 Caliber Machinegun in the back pulled up to the assembled group and stopped. Out jumped a man dressed in the Volkesmacht Camouflage Smock with a brown American shirt collar sticking out of the smock with Captain’s Bars pinned on it.
“Captain Robert Smith, your Air Defense Commander, Sir.” The Captain introduced himself with a crisp American salute.
“Welcome, Captain.” Colonel Schmidt said, returning the salute.
“German Officers, please inform your men that they will no longer salute as Nazis but as the Americans as we are the army of the people as we should be.” The Colonel instructed the officers.
“Yes, Sir.” The German Officers replied.
“Also try to communicate in English as much as possible to avoid confusion.” Colonel Schmidt ordered the Germans.
“Yes, Sir.” They answered again.
“We don’t have much time but our plan is to move ahead along Autobahn 6 and ambush the Russians as far east as possible. Then we are to fight a delaying action for as long as possible.” Colonel Schmidt began laying a general plan. “We will stay in combined companies of Panzers, sorry, armor and infantry. Companies will cover one another’s movement and I would like the artillery to do the same so that we always have a battery of artillery in position to fire. Air defense, I want you to intermix so that we have good coverage. The damn Russians are just as bad as the Americans, sorry.” The Americans present laughed at the Colonel’s slip. “The Russians do a good of ground attack with their planes and I need you to stop it, Captain Smith.”
“Yes, Sir.” Captain Smith answered with pride.
“I want to expose as little of our force as we can. Hit them hard, fall back, hit them again.” The Colonel continued. “After we have them stopped we will adjust artillery onto their following forces to reduce them more. If your vehicle is disabled, destroy it and make your way on foot to the rear along the autobahn so that we can pick you up. To you Americans, there is no surrender with these animals. We are in a fight to the death.
“I want the order of movement 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Company, Support, Artillery and 6th Company is rear guard in case the Russians get behind us. Does anyone have any questions?” The Colonel concluded.
“What about wounded?” One of the Company Commanders asked.
“Keep them with us and we will do the best we can, I’m afraid.” The Colonel answered grimly.
“Prisoners?” One of the American Officers asked.
“No,” answered Captain Baker.
Everyone understood what that meant and it seemed to carry with it the greater gravity of what they were faced with now. Each man seemed understand at that moment that they were fighting for the future of the free world. The last war had been Germany verses the World. This war seemed to be freedom verses a new kind of tyranny that the World had only heard rumors of and few that had fought on the Eastern Front during the last war had witnessed.
“Gentlemen, you have your orders. Radio checks and move out in 12 minutes.” The Colonel said checking his watch.
The American Officers saluted the Colonel, which caused the German Officers to stop and salute the Colonel as well.
“Good luck, gentlemen.” The Colonel offered.
“You too, Sir.” Many of them replied before moving down the road to their vehicles.
Many of the Germans and Americans took a moment to introduce themselves to one another. Some Americans made jokes about how many of the Germans spoke better English that the Americans did and the Germans replied by saying it was nice to be on the side that looked like it was going to win this time. Nervous laughter followed as most knew that America and Germany would win against the Russian but few believed that they would survive to see it.
Tech Sergeant Tim Carmichael looked down at himself and laughed at how much his life had changed in the past few hours. He as now wearing a new uniform in a new army armed with new weapons driving a new tank for a new commander that had been his assistant just that morning. Tim looked up at Colonel Johann Schmidt as he stood in the commander’s hatch in the Jager-Sherman’s turret conducting radio checks with the Headquarters and the Company Commanders. Tim had to admit that the change in the mechanic he had known as ‘Karl’ did inspire him and it explained many of the questions he had about the man over the past few months. Colonel Schmidt knew what to do, even if he didn’t know the enemy that they would be facing, he had something of an idea of what to do with the tools that he had at his disposal and that made Tim feel a lot better about the uncertainty they were about to face.
Private Sire loaded the German MG 42 that was mounted in the ball mount in front of the assistant driver’s position at the front of the Jager-Sherman. This time they were preparing the tank for combat so all the wonder and fun of firing new weapons was gone and things were very serious. Sire checked his STG 44 again as he has already adopted as his personal weapon. His M-1 Garand Rifle was still tucked down next to his seat just in case the situation got really bad.
Through the headsets the crew was listening to the communication checks of the companies and the situation updates from the 1st Company that was scouting the autobahn to the east. Intermittently they could hear the calls of the pilots of the fighter-bombers as they engaged Russian fighter planes and made bomb, rocket and gun runs on the Russians to the east.
“1st Company push hard east as fast as you can.” Colonel Schmidt yelled into the radio. “The fighter-bombers have engaged them east of you so you should be able to move rapidly east without concern.”
“Understood, Colonel, we are moving out.” The Lieutenant’s reply came over the radio.
“Tim, let’s move out.” The Colonel ordered over the intercom.
Tim gunned the Jager-Sherman onto the road the Maybach Engine had quit a bit more power than the original Sherman engine and Tim was still getting used to driving the tank with its increased power.
Soon the column was on Autobahn 6 headed east passing south of Amberg. Above the flight of four Me 262 Jet Fight-Bombers flew to the west, one had a smoking engine but all seemed to be capable of making it back to base.
“Sergeant, we’re doing 50 miles per hour.” Sire yelled through the headset.
“Nice,” Carmichael commented. “And I kind of thought I was wasting my time making these things.”
“Yeah, me too.” Added Colonel Schmidt. The entire crew laughed at the comment.
“Major Haufbräu, what is the range your guns?” Colonel Schmidt asked over the radio.
“23 kilometers, Herr Colonel.” The Major replied over the radio. Colonel Schmidt ducked into the turret to get out of the wind to look at his map. He traced his fingers along Autobahn 6 from the Czechoslovakian Border to their location.
“Major Haufbräu, deploy both batteries east of Amberg in the fields east of the forest. When we engage the Russians I want to hit them hard with artillery.” Colonel Schmidt instructed his artillery commander.
“Colonel, my batteries are new and untrained so it will be slow and inaccurate.” Major Haufbräu explained.
“Major, then we will fire long and walk the rounds onto the enemy.” Colonel Schmidt explained. “Before we are engaged, try to get the crews some exercise.”
“Jawohl, sorry, yes, Sir.” Major Haufbräu answered.
“Taking an untrained Regiment into an engagement with an unknown number of Russians. Heck of a way to start a war.” Colonel Schmidt said over the intercom to his tank crew.
“Sir, we’ve got the Tiger’s gun on a faster tank. We’ll be fine.” Sergeant Carmichael said reassuringly through the intercom.
“Wish we had at least bore sighted the main gun.” The Colonel lamented.
“We did, Colonel.” Hans answered, causing everyone to smile.
“Apache to Baker, Apache to Baker.” Cracked over the radio.
“Apache, this is Baker.” Captain Baker replied. Because Baker was normally used for B in American radio traffic Captain Baker had no problem using his last name in unsecure radio traffic.
“Apache is moving past checkpoint 74. Starting to see a lot of refugee traffic and vehicle fires in the distance.” The 1st Company Lieutenant reported.
“Copy,” Captain Baker replied, meaning that he had recorded everything the Lieutenant had reported and he could continue his report.
“Allied aircraft drove off the Russian planes and put in ground attacks until they were out of ordinance. We were unable to contact them by radio however.” The Lieutenant continued his report. “We are slowing and moving into a bounding over-watch until we make contact. Apache, Out.”
“Why is he saying Apache?” Sire asked over the intercom.
“Apache Indians as in scouts. That’s his call-sign.” Sergeant Carmichael explained.
“Oh, okay.” Sire replied looking down the road. “Why aren’t the other’s using call-signs?” He asked after a moment.
“Some radios don’t transmit that far.” Sergeant Carmichael answered.
The crew of the Jager-Sherman glanced up as the Mustangs and Thunderbolts flew back to the west. A few of the pilots waved their wings in a friendly gesture.
“Apache to Baker, Apache to Baker, Over.” 1st Company Commander called on the radio.
“This is Baker, Over.” Captain Baker answered.
“Apache is at checkpoint 75. We are establishing a screen at this time, Over.” The Lieutenant reported.
“This is Baker, Copy All.” Captain Baker replied.
“Apache, Out.” The Lieutenant concluded.
“Sergeant, stop the tank.” Colonel Schmidt ordered.
Sergeant Carmichael pulled back on the brake laterals to slow the tank to a stop. He put the tank at an angle so that the enemy could not get a straight shot at the tank or have a straight view of a side of the tank to get and accurate range of the tank. Hans oriented the turret down the road to engage any potential enemy. Colonel Schmidt was pleased with the actions of his cobbled together crew and his misgivings about taking them into combat in the next few hours were starting to fade.
Colonel Schmidt hopped down from the tank just as Captain Baker pulled up in his Jeep.
“What is a screen?” Colonel Schmidt asked.
“That is a line of scouts to warn of enemy approach.” Captain Baker explained. “I’d assume he’s deploying them along this road here north to south.” Captain Baker explained pointing at the map drawing a line from Pleystein in the north to Glöbenstädt in the south.
“Alright, that looks good. Inform Major Haufbräu of their location and have him target the intersections to the east and have him give those targets to 1st Company. I want 3rd and 4th Company to move to the north of Pleystein to cover this route from the east.” The Colonel said pointing at the map. “Keep 6th Company with the artillery now for security and have 5th Company move straight up 6 to reinforce 2nd Company.”
“Yes, Sir.” Captain Baker replied.
“Wish we had an American Artillery Officer.” Colonel Schmidt mused. “American Artillery used to really get us in France. Russian Artillery is predictable and you can move away from it.”
“Major Haufbräu has an American Battery Commander and I think we are going to be fine, Sir.” Captain Baker explained. “General Patton made sure that the POW’s received plenty of classes. He knew this was going to happen. I guess no one else figured that Stalin had the balls or was crazy enough.”
“People don’t want to remember the famines or the purges.” Colonel Schmidt offered as an explanation.
“Or the Concentration Camps?” Captain Baker stated reminding the Colonel of Germany’s own insanity.
“Every German’s shame.” Colonel Schmidt reflected. “Maybe we can do some good now to alleviate our sins.”
Colonel Schmidt remounted the tank and 10 minutes later Sergeant Carmichael pulled it next to 1st Company Commander’s Jager-Sherman at checkpoint 75. The tanks were set in the embankment of the road with just the barrel of their main guns setting up over the berm facing down the road. The gunner for each tank was scanning the wood line slowly rotating their turrets back and forth. The wood line was about 2000 meters away, which was well within the lethal limit of the 88mm Gun.
Colonel Schmidt dismounted the Jager-Sherman to get a briefing from 1st Company Commander, the American Lieutenant from the POW Camp that had taken charge of the ad hoc unit and taken it to face the enemy with no apparent backup.
The Lieutenant was standing in one of the Infantry Support Vehicles with the 75mm Infantry Support Gun looking through a set of captured Zeiss Binocular at the far wood line.
“Lieutenant, can I get a briefing?” Colonel Schmidt asked politely.
“Sir, really nothing to report.” The Lieutenant said not taking his eyes from his binoculars. “I’m most concerned about them infiltrating our lines before we can engage their armor, Sir.”
“Lieutenant, sounds like you have been listening to some of the Germans that have already fought the Russians?” Colonel Schmidt offered.
“Yes, I have, Sir.” The Lieutenant replied. “When General Patton started the POW Camp Regimental program and training, it wasn’t hard to figure out what he thought might be coming. I figured if General Patton was making preparations, I should make some too. I started talking to Officers and Sergeant that had fought the Russians about how the Russians had fought and what they had experienced.”
“What’s your name?” Colonel Schmidt asked.
“Lieberman, Lieutenant Abraham Liebermann, Sir.” The Lieutenant stated, still staring through his binoculars.
“Ah, oh, I see.” Colonel Schmidt replied realizing the Lieutenant was Jewish. “Well, I am very sorry for what my country did to your people.”
“We’re good Colonel. Our war is over. I’ve murdered more than my share of Nazis. The Russians aren’t much better to Jews, they’re next.” Lieutenant Liebermann replied casually.
Captain Baker pulled up next to the Infantry Support Vehicle in the Jeep. Captain Baker came flying out before the Jeep had come to a complete halt.
“Sir, the batteries are set. Companies are moving into the positions you ordered. Division is aware of our situation and location. Still no direct communication with any aviation elements.” Captain Baker said quickly updating Colonel Schmidt.
“Okay, gentlemen, I have been here for five minutes and something is wrong.” Colonel Schmidt remarked.
“No retreating soldiers from the border checkpoints and no refugees.” Replied Lieutenant Liebermann still looking through his binoculars. “Haven’t been any through here since we arrived.”
“Jesus,” said Captain Baker under his breath. He knew just like the other two men knew that this meant the Russians had murdered them all.
Since the end of the war an almost constant stream of refugees and returning prisoners of war and misplaced persons had been making their way in all directions but no refugees were visible anywhere.
“Captain Baker, get on the radio to Division to report the lack of refugees and let them know we have established a line of resistance here.” Colonel Baker instructed his Intelligence and Operations Officer. “Get communications with the fluggruppe, sorry, our flight group. We are going to need them.”
“Yes, Sir.” Captain Baker replied scribbling furiously in his notebook.
“We should also remove the Red Cross from our ambulances as they to have no meaning to animals.” Colonel Schmidt commented to no one in particular.
“Yes, Sir.” Captain Baker and Lieutenant Lieberman answered.
For the next twenty minutes the three men spent time looking at the far wood line, talking on the radio with Division and subordinate units on the radio and discussing what they thought the Russians might do.
On top of the Jager-Sherman, Sergeant Carmichael was teaching Hans and Dieter how the .50 Caliber Machinegun worked. As a mechanic, Sergeant Carmichael was also responsible for battlefield recovery of vehicles and the primary weapon of the recovery crews was the .50 Caliber Machinegun. The model was the M2 and the American G.I.s affectionately called it the ‘Ma Deuce’. Between Sergeant Carmichael’s bad German and the two German’s broken English the three men were able to work through the finer points of keeping the heavy machinegun in operation. Tim Carmichael got the sense that both men were happy to be on the operating end of it and not the receiving end of the Ma Deuce anymore.
In the distance the smoke could be seen rising from the town of XXX
“Where are they at? Where are they moving?” Colonel Schmidt asked no one in particular. “I really wish we could have talked to the fluggruppe to find out where the Russian are.”
“We need to recon the road.” Lieutenant Liebermann stated as a matter of fact.
Captain Jefferson walked up to the assembled command group huddled over the map on the hood of the Jeep. He was unsure about how he felt being in this new army of mixed nationalities but he knew that he still worked for General Patton and that was good by him. He decided to be professional as he always did when he was uncertain of the situation, he took a deep breath and moved to the group.
“Colonel Schmidt, Captain Jefferson, B Battery Commander, Reporting as ordered.” Captain Jefferson stated coming to attention, snapping a crisp salute.
Colonel Schmidt turned and returned the salute.
“Never thought I would be saluting a German Officer, Sir.” Captain Jefferson said sarcastically.
“Glad to be living in a World where I can salute a Black Officer, Captain Jefferson.” Colonel Schmidt replied, holding his salute. This caused Captain Jefferson to smiles as he lowered his salute.
“I didn’t ask you to report to me but as long as you are here we can refine our artillery plan.” Colonel Schmidt offered, bringing Captain Jefferson into the circle of officers around the Jeep to stand beside him.
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