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Chapter III


                It was only until today I find myself enjoying my life here in the army. I made many new friends in battle with my fellow comrades. All the hard work we’ve done wasn’t for nothing. Fresh clothes and people from the river, we’re ready to head back to the camp. There was apparently some news back at the camp and it didn’t seem pleasant. I think I know what’s up.

                As we returned to the camp and aligned ourselves, Schwarze, who was standing in front of us the whole time, stepped forward.

“As you all may already know, the Russians are attacking in the northeast near Sachson. The town was damaged, but we were able to push the Russians out of Sachson and assemble a counterattack. The 57th Panzer Division however, has taken moderate casualties and would need additional support to fight the 51st Tank Army. The 8th Panzer Division led by Major General Himmler to reserve the 57th Division. You will be assigned to the units of 8th Division as new arrivals. Now this is your first battle, expect anything to happen as we approach the eastern front. It’s important to remember your training, but you must also know how act upon unusual situations. We will leave this camp at 1400 hours at noon. Pack everything and standby. Best of luck.”  (Schwarze)

This is it; it came sooner than I thought it would, but this is it. We returned to our barracks to pack our belongings. I didn’t have much to pack, but some of my old clothes and a few letters. There was still some time, but I figured I rather not write a letter right now. About five minutes later, we waited outside for the trucks’ arrival. The trucks soon arrived, with about six Opel trucks and three 251-halftracks. I boarded one of the trucks along with one of the infantry groups of the camp. A short moment after I sat down in the truck, we began to move. We were heading out of camp, not for any training purposes, for the first time.

                It was quite a long journey. We reached our destination after for about a four hour ride. As I stepped out of the truck, the brightness outside blinded me for a second, but as my vision was clear again, I found myself in another camp. This camp, however, didn’t look like the one back at Anhalt. There were pillboxes, towers, foxholes, bunkers and a building near the center of the camp. I didn’t have much time to take a tour, but we have a tour guide; it was Schulz. I stood in one of the big groups of people from our camp as Schwarze walked up to Schulz. He was whispering to Schulz about something and then he nodded, walked up towards us, and spoke.

“As you already know, you’ll be joining the 8th Panzer Division for this operation. Your assignments will be given accordingly. Once you received your assignments, regroup and standby. The operation will begin at 1900 hours.” (Schulz)

There were about five soldiers in each of the groups handing out our assigned groups. I soon got mine; I was assigned to the 153rd Infantry Regiment. I met up with the group and waited. It was getting really dark out here, especially when it’s starting to get cloudy too. It wasn’t for long until everyone is called by a signal. Himmler was there along with six more officers.

“Operation Night Trail will begin at 1900 hours. Our objective is to reach and assist the 57th Panzer Division to repel the Russian 51st Tank Army. To encounter minimum resistance, we will be mobilizing at night. Keep your focus and don’t stray off from your unit. Lieutenant Bosch will be leading the artillery battalions along with the supply units through the longer route in west and reach the 57th Division in the rear. I will be leading the rest of main force through a shorter route to flank the 51st Tank Army and regroup with the 57th Division along the way. Any questions?” (Himmler)

Silence...

“Commence operation Night Trail!” (Himmler)

                At his word, we all began to mobilize. The artillery guns and trucks along with some tanks left the scene before we did in the west. The rest of us, with about six halftracks, thirty tanks and more than a few hundred troops as far as I can count. Himmler however, ordered about a third of his division to stay behind at the headquarters. Schwarze, who was leading the 48th Assault Battalion took point with the rest of us following. It was quite peaceful for the first few moments with only the exception of the rolling tanks shaking the ground near us. It was dark; I can barely see what was in front of me. Suddenly, we stopped when there was sound coming from the far distance. Himmler also suddenly gave out a command to take cover in the nearby forest. I was quite confused and scared of what the hell was going on. It was only then I realize that there were Russian planes in the air patrolling the night skies. Thanks to the trees, those pilots couldn’t see us down below.

                As the roaring engines of the planes passed by, we continued our journey to 57th. It was oddly quiet as we moved on for almost two hours without much of resistance from the Russians. Daylight was far from reaching us which I suppose should keep us safe. We neared the third hour of travelling, only this time with some company. I heard some roars in the far distance, probably from artillery guns. Before we could see what lies ahead of us, an obstacle halts the division.

“Major General...” (Schwarze)

Himmler raises his hand to hold Schwarze.

“Schulz, take the reconnaissance squad down the road. Schwarze, you take the assault battalion and search for different route for the tanks to pass. We’ll hold here near the forest and contact the Luftwaffe for support.” (Himmler)

“Yes sir.” (Schulz/Schwarze)

The road ahead of us was apparently covered by heavy snow. It seemed almost like a hill, a few feet high, not even can the tanks move through it without trouble. So Himmler sent Schwarze and Schulz ahead while we tried to contact for aerial support. I waited on the side in the forest for quite some time. Himmler and his radio squad had been rolling ever since. Even Schwarze and the others returned, but still without hope.

                After a short moment, the convoy and artillery battalions appeared from the left side of road. As confused I was as Himmler, it turns out the two roads lead to this same location. So, a new plan was formulated.

“Operation Night Trail will continue as planned. However, with the obstacle ahead of us, the artillery battalions will station here as long range supportive fire. The main force will be divided into three forces; two smaller parties to cover the flanks of the artillery guns and the remainder larger party will continue enroute to the 57th Division. Colonel Germanaro, you will be leading the two parties. The rest of us will continue on once preparations are complete.” (Himmler)

Just like Himmler said, we stayed put to cover the artillery guns until they’re ready. As preparations continued, the Russian planes returned, only this time with a surprise. The artillery guns were still being set up and are exposed to the planes in the open field. The Russians were hasty; within a few moments after they spotted the guns, they’ve already came down to attack. We didn’t have any anti-aircraft guns around; maybe that’s why they’re so reckless. However, what they didn’t know that we had were skilled machine gunners, at least that’s what I thought. The planes dove down and landed a few shots and a few bombs which took out two of our guns. The machine gunners however, immediately counterattacked and managed to shoot down two planes that were flying low enough. Explosions were imminent and it revealed the artillery battalions’ position. Not losing any time, we began to mobilize even before the preparations were completed as planned.

                On the way there, we were repeatedly attacked by Russian planes causing us even more delay. However, as we counterattacked and took down a few planes, the Russians finally left us alone. We were somewhat late as we finally reached our destination; nevertheless, we still had an advantage over the enemy. Himmler ordered his tanks over to a hill to provide support for the flanking forces and the 57th Division. There were about twelve tanks moving uphill in a two roll formation and about another seven tanks followed the flanking party. The tanks took point and aimed for the enemy tanks’ flank so that we, the infantry forces can move up without being chewed up by machine gun fire. Our first shots were fired. I couldn’t see the field with everyone else and the tanks blocking my view, but I did hear explosions. After a short moment, black smoke appeared in the sky signifying a hit on the enemy. The rest of us, the 153rd Infantry Regiment and the 48th Assault Squad advanced with the tanks. The ambush succeeded. The main Russian attack force penetrated the defense line of the 57th Division which gave us a chance to surround them once the supporting forces were eliminated. Himmler quickly made an order for the 153rd to hold off the supporting forces which lost their tanks in the ambush and the remaining tanks and infantry to flank the main force. I immediately took cover behind a giant boulder covered with snow as enemy rounds bounced off of it. I was too scared to take aim with all the chaos; so instead, I took a look at the other half.

                As planned, the tanks on the hill appeared with synchronized timing and fired upon the Russian forces simultaneously with the flanking forces. The attack was proceeding smoothly, but Russian aircraft appeared once again and took a few bites on the German salad. One of the bombs was actually less than eight meters away from me that knocked me onto the ground; exactly the same thing as the training session. This time, I was lucky to be behind the boulder. I couldn’t help but to take a peek and start firing my rifle. I couldn’t see the majority of my regiment, but I do see a lot of Russian corpse. I waited a little until I saw flashes appearing from the nearby woods. They were hiding in there the whole time?! It was getting quieter on both sides until the Russian planes came back again; only this time getting a higher score. The planes managed to take out three of our tanks that are attacking the main force. The next thing that happened......

“Look out!” (Voice)

Before my reflexes kicked in, I was brought to the ground by someone. In less a second later after I was down, a bomb, which was about five meters away, landed. The shockwave nearly rendered me unconscious. My eyes were so blurry and I think I was deaf for a moment. As quickly as I could, I got up from the ground and dragged the soldier who saved me further in behind the boulder. My ribs were killing me with pain as I tried to get a medic. The main force was nearly suppressed, but the supporting force was reinforcing and striking back. I couldn’t get out of cover; I nearly got shot just by peeking. I still couldn’t hear a thing which scared me even more. All I could tell is that there are a lot of bullets coming at us. It was very impressive to see that the other soldiers were still firing under these bullet storms and not get hit. The main force was completely suppressed and the rest of the division along with the 57th Division turned their guns towards the remaining Russian forces.

                Still observing, I noticed that the 153rd which was hiding in the woods was coming back towards the main force. They couldn’t reach us however under this condition. Himmler’s tanks were firing furiously at the enemy and the enemy returned the favor leaving both sides casualties. When the third Panzer IV was knocked out, our support fire finally came. The barrage from our artillery guns rained on the enemy forces. With the artillery barrage at hand, our tanks continued to advance and provided us cover — I was finally able to get a medic to help him; it was Anna. She quickly analyzed his wounds. Tragically however, there was no hope; he didn’t make it. I suddenly felt my ribs again and lost my balance. I felt very dizzy on the ground along with my ribs trying to kill me again. My vision was very blurry; all I saw was whiteness and some other colors like stain. I soon lost my consciousness......

 
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Rodeschild

  • United States
  • The Shadow In The Dark

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