So....My Tank Corps in Prussia...

Fiction, movies, alternate history, humor, and other non-research topics related to WWII.

Moderator: Commissar D, the Evil

User avatar
Commissar D, the Evil
Moderator
Posts: 4823
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2002 7:22 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: So....My Tank Corps in Prussia...

Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:13 pm

must be hard deciding which buddy's alter ego gets whacked, realistically! :shock: :evil: That part of the work I don't envy you. There are several ways a scenario like this could go. Trying to choose the right elements has got to be difficult. We have faith in you, though! Hell, look what you've accomplished so far!
Hi Tom, my Bestens Buddy! Not quite what I meant, sorry to say. Fact is, it grows, for some unknown reason, physically harder to put the words down. Can't explain it, except to say that I feel like I've worked my arse off in the last few weeks and each installment requires much more physical effort than the last.

Ah well, something more for you this weekend, I hope and pray...... :up:

Bestens,
David
Death is lighter than a Feather, Duty is heavier than a Mountain....

User avatar
Commissar D, the Evil
Moderator
Posts: 4823
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2002 7:22 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: So....My Tank Corps in Prussia...

Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:41 pm

NEGOTIATIONS

“Has this been confirmed by reliable witnesses?
“More than a half-dozen, Sir, both military and civilian.” Colonel Gruber answered.
General Rosselsprung nearly crumpled the report up in his hand--what stopped him was the knowledge that, of all people, Gruber would be the last to falsify such a report.
“Then show our guest in, please.”
Colonel Valery Sonovovich strode into the central room of the German command bunker, dressed in his finest uniform, bearing every medal he owned and his lips tightened into the sort of empty smile one wears when meeting a deadly enemy on his home ground.
“I have to congratulate you, Sir, if only for this moment, for the incredible bravery of yourself and your soldiers in the defense of this place.” The Russian Colonel said quickly, extending his hand.
While they had not exchanged the customary salutes, General Rosselsprung found this offering much more pleasing than the formality of a salute and grasped the extended hand of the Soviet Colonel.
“And I must say that the Guards Tank Corps has been an opponent worthy of the greatest respect, “Rosselsprung replied, shaking his hand and returning the compliment.
Gruber gestured for both of them to sit, and orderlies suddenly appeared, offering fine crystal goblets of Cognac--a far cry indeed from the mugs of good German beer he had served his Fortress Commanders.
Colonel Sonovovich drank cautiously, and put the glass down half-empty. “Of course you know that, with the failure of your Northern offensive, that we are now in the position of taking this town at will.”
General Rosselsprung reacted as if this were simply a bad joke. “But then of course, you were always able to do so, since we were…shall we say...slightly outnumbered?”
Valery laughed in good spirits. “Yes, slightly outnumbered… But we have to bring this to an end that satisfies both the honor of the German Army and the Heroism of the Red Army—yet spills the blood of neither. You’ve waged a good fight—an excellent fight, an honorable fight. But now those days are done and we offer you some small comfort for your great sacrifice.” Valery had an ear for languages and his words in German were as subtle as the situation demanded, as taught to him by the Commissar.
General Rosselsprung’s own ears pricked up at this, since he possessed more than his share of irony. “And what are your terms to a now somewhat harmless enemy?” He said, smiling falsely but with effect.
“We will offer you the terms of an Honorable Surrender—that is to say, the lives of your men will be spared, your officers may keep your side arms, your civilians will be unmolested and your wounded will receive adequate medical care.”
At this declaration, General Rosselsprung smiled falsely again, before saying harshly, “At this very moment, your soldiers are executing our wounded, having over-run our hospital. I have the report here. And I have witnesses!”
His eyes hardening, he thrust the report at Colonel Sonovovich, who took it with some evident surprise, only to lay it quickly down without reading it, upon the table. “Whoever says this slanders both the Heroic Red Army and, in particular, the Guards Tank Corps!”
“I have fought the Guards Tank Corps since January of 1944.” Rosselsprung responded, “Its’ courage is not a questionable matter to me, but these reports show you to be false in your proposed promises to the members of my command—if you deny them, or are ignorant of them, then simply take your American staff car to the hospital, under my personal guarantee of your safety and investigate them for yourself.’
Valery realized the trap implicit in this offer. In all truth, he had no idea whatsoever of what was occurring at that moment at the German hospital.
“I repeat that such accusations are a lie, a slanderous lie and have no bearing on this conference!” He replied, knowing that his declaration alone would never be enough to satisfy the Germans.
At this, General Rosselsprung simply shook his head, a deep frown etched into his face. “Then simply tell your masters that there will never be any surrender here--not today, not tomorrow, and not in the future. We will fight you to the last soldier and to his last bullet, as it is our privilege in the service of the Reich. Colonel Gruber, you may show this Gentleman out. I do not expect to see him again.”
At this, Colonel Gruber simply looked at Colonel Sonovovich, who stood, pulled his uniform tunic down into its proper position, saluted and left. The Russian Colonel was then taken to his jeep, blindfolded and returned unharmed to his waiting troops.
But the real fireworks were in the bunker between General Rosselsprung and his supremely loyal IA, Colonel Gruber, after Valery left.
“You more than anyone wanted this meeting, so why, I ask myself, did you sabotage it?”
“It was a good thing to me that you even (he sought the right word)...flirted with the idea of surrender under the circumstances, as it seemed that your own reputation meant less to you than the fate of our troops. But still, a General must receive all of the relevant information—that’s the job of his staff officers, and always has been in the German Army, so what was I to do when this report arrived?”
Rosselsprung forgave him, instantly. “When I inspected the men, if they had hated me for being in this fix, if they had resented me for being in this mess, I would never have considered that it was possible to save even the slightest portion of them by surrender. But these reports proved that even that ultimate desperate measure was a totally false hope.
I suggest that you contact Berlin and tell them we admitted a Russian negotiator to express our...dismay and abhorrence, that their troops were summarily executing wounded prisoners even during his visit. Also, contact each of our company commanders and tell them what the Reds are up to—that might put a bit of bone into their spines.”
Gruber hung there, like a kite caught in contradictory winds. “It may yet prove to be better to surrender than doom our men to the slaughter.”
“No, not better—there are no promises the Russians will keep, not in this war, at any rate.”
“And in your years on the Ostfront, you never shot a badly injured prisoner of war, Sir?” Those words simply slipped out of Gruber’s mouth, whether he meant to ask the question or not, whether it was a rhetorical question or not, they came out without him being able to stop them.
Rosselsprung stiffened. “Not really the point now, is it?”
Feeling the bite of his General’s remark, Gruber hastened off to carry out his wishes.

Safely on the road back to the anxious Commissar, Colonel Sonovovich focused on only one issue--what exactly had happened at the German hospital and who was responsible? It was very scant comfort for him to recognize that the Guards Tank Corps might have been spared their next enterprise but for the actions of a unit he wasn’t even aware of. And he secretly wondered what the Commissar might make of his report.

As it turned out, the Commissar received his report in silence, only drawing quick little lines on his map and not admitting his devoted Colonel into his private thoughts.

Accepting his behavior as a unnaturally solemn, Colonel Sonovovich returned to the practical matter of command of the Guards Tank Corps, receiving within minutes after his report, the Commissar’s orders for the final assault. As he expected, the assault was launched from the North and the South simultaneously, as those were the strongest forces in easy reach of the German headquarters.

A howl of katyushas, artillery and mortars filed the air around and before the Colonel. As if finally given free range, every indirect fire weapon of the Tank Corps opened up on the narrow ledge the Germans sat upon. For two hours the artillery roared, so fiercely that even the veteran Corps' infantry drew back to give it room to strike.

Underneath this terrible bombardment, even the most dedicate S.S. trooper shrank back n his hole, but, being veterans of the now-familiar Soviet fire tactics, their hesitation was only until the Soviets used up their shells and sent in their tanks and infantry.

Sidirov’s unlucky assault was first to suffer.

While his T-34’s simply bulled aside any roadblock, they quickly found themselves enveloped by minefields. This was Gruber’s doing, although none of them knew it until decades after the fight. What types of mines the defenders of Bad Frostberg had left were largely deployed on the Northern road, where the Germans had the fewest troops to deploy.

But this was no mere minefield. Using the covering snow, the Germans had placed teller anti-tank mines along with a mix of S-mines and other anti-personnel mines.

After the first T-34s were stopped in their tracks by the teller mines that the S-mines started to take their toll. These were solely anti-personnel mines of the worse sort. A soldier would step on one, its miniature charge would propel the mine to waist high-level and the mine itself would explode. An S-mines’ sole purpose was to either gut, or worse, to castrate an infantryman. It wasn’t designed to kill outright, only to maim--on the well-conceived theory that a wounded man costs the enemy more personnel to care for than a dead enemy soldier.

Sidirov’s men were reluctant, most understandably, in a battle they already considered won, to tangle with this minefield and made only minor gains.

But the Southern Russian force, having been in close combat for weeks with the Germans, didn’t expect, nor extend any mercy and weren’t about to be denied their triumph after so many hard days of battle.

Von Kessel’s men found, on every street, an overwhelming number of Soviet tanks and infantry. They retreated into the ruined houses, only to find themselves rooted out by flamethrowers and suicidal infantry attacks. In the South, from experience, neither side expected quarter and neither side gave any—it was only a matter of who had the most firepower and who was willing to shed the most blood.

As it turned out, Von Kessel’s men were more than willing to match the Soviets sacrifice for sacrifice, wound for wound and death for death. But, in the end, there were so many less S.S. than there were Soviet infantry that despite all of the gallantry of their struggle, for Von Kessel’s Command, it was all a forgone conclusion.

Only the individual landser refused to see the inevitable and all around the Southern edge of Rosselsprung’s headquarters, these hopeless firefights flared-up and burned themselves out as men died in wholesale lots defending their last inch of freedom.

As the Soviets ground up from the South, Von Kessel kept up a steady commentary over the radio, recording the destruction of each of his fire points. General Rosselsprung grew suddenly and quite weary of this depressing monologue of destruction and ordered the radios switched off, but in the very next minutes, he himself shouldered an MP-40 and went up the stairs and alone into the open.

He never returned.

Indeed, the Soviets, who ultimately captured Bad Frostberg’s War Diary, never claimed to have found any trace of his body or personal effects.

Von Kessel’s’ end was, however, well-documented, by both the Soviets and German survivors.

Having holed up in the last surviving MG-42 position, once his men had shot off all of their ammunition, he released them to their own resources, in other words, to surrender or not on their own choice. But he himself, although severely wounded by mortar fragments, stayed behind. When Soviet infantry finally closed on his position, he shot himself through the mouth, dying instantly from a self-inflicted German bullet.

With Von Kessel’s death, the German lines finally caved in. A Soviet tank rumbled into the town square and after a few rounds, shot down the steeple flying the Nazi flag and the banner of Bad Frostberg itself. As General Rosselsprung had predicted, by the time this happened, neither he nor Von Kessel were still alive and the hands that brought down the flag were strictly Russian hands.


Whatever anyone might have thought of Colonel Gruber—Von Bellow, Von Kessel-- or any of he other fighting commanders, including General Rosselsprung, his true mettle wasn’t tested until long after all hope for the city was lost.

The Soviet assault troops stormed down into the General’s command bunker. Colonel Gruber didn’t fight, didn’t resist, nor did he commit suicide as Von Kessel had when the situation was hopeless. Rather, he placed his hands up in the air and accepted his fate.

But that was not the fate the Soviets intended, as above all, they needed a surrender of the city for propaganda purposes.

This, he never gave them. For many days the NKVD sought to persuade him, but despite having both his legs broken, he never signed the documents surrendering Bad Frostberg.

For this failure on his part, he remained listed as “Missing in Action” in everyone’s official records until well after the fall of the Soviet Union, when it was finally proven that he had been tortured to death by the NKVD after the fall of Bad Frostberg for his refusal to write his signature on the documents of surrender.

Men resist their enemies and keep true to their beliefs in odd ways at times.
Death is lighter than a Feather, Duty is heavier than a Mountain....

bil
Supporter
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:05 pm

Re: So....My Tank Corps in Prussia...

Post by bil » Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:10 am

Incredible! With a story like this,having grown and been nurtured over this amount of time,it must be extremely difficult to even realise it must finally come to an end.I can see where it can be so hard to write now.This is no tale that is not read until it has been finished,proofread,and refined.This is a tale that has fermented in your mind over the last few years,through all of your personal travails,and has become a part of your life.Many people await your next word.I truely applaude your dedication to both the story and your readers.Thank you!! ---bil

User avatar
Commissar D, the Evil
Moderator
Posts: 4823
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2002 7:22 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: So....My Tank Corps in Prussia...

Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:17 am

Thank you Bil, those are very kind words indeed. :up: :up: :up:

Bestens,
David
Death is lighter than a Feather, Duty is heavier than a Mountain....

User avatar
Me-109 Jagdfleiger
Supporter
Posts: 122
Joined: Fri Oct 17, 2008 4:53 pm
Location: USA

Re: So....My Tank Corps in Prussia...

Post by Me-109 Jagdfleiger » Sat Feb 21, 2009 8:28 am

Another great chapter D.! :[]
Jahn
Cheers Jonathan,
Only the spirit of attack borne in a brave heart will bring success to any fighter aircraft, no matter how highly developed it may be.

— General Adolf Galland, Luftwaffe.

User avatar
Tom Houlihan
Patron
Posts: 4301
Joined: Mon Sep 30, 2002 12:05 pm
Location: MI, USA
Contact:

Re: So....My Tank Corps in Prussia...

Post by Tom Houlihan » Fri Feb 27, 2009 1:30 am

Holy sh*t!!!

Not what I had anticipated. Somehow I honestly thought we were going to have our own little FH Gotterdammerung! Still, that was a powerful ending, David. My congratulations, Sir, on an epic achievement.

Who can make this into an animated movie? Lemme see a show of hands...
TLH3
www.mapsatwar.us
Feldgrau für alle und alle für Feldgrau!

User avatar
Commissar D, the Evil
Moderator
Posts: 4823
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2002 7:22 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: So....My Tank Corps in Prussia...

Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:36 am

Oh no, it's not over yet Tom....... :shock:

I just took a week off to think up new and interesting ways to kill off Forum Heroes..... :evil: :wink: %E

Bestens,
David
Death is lighter than a Feather, Duty is heavier than a Mountain....

User avatar
Commissar D, the Evil
Moderator
Posts: 4823
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2002 7:22 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: So....My Tank Corps in Prussia...

Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:55 am

As proof, I wasn't prepared to post this little section yet, but, lest the good Folks on Soldatenheim lose faith in their humble, but EviL Commissar, here it is. We'll just call it:

TIDBITS

W.F. and Jahn walked ahead of Von Ribbentrop and Erika, who had finally brought he emotions under some semblance of control and was no longer sobbing. This was all well and good, W.F. reckoned, but she was definitely slowing them down at a time when speed seemed to be all-important. There were signs of Russians throughout the forest; footprints, discarded ration tins, brunt out camp-fires. Even more ominously, there were enough tracks of Cossack ponies and tire tracks to suggest that the path ahead might be positively infested with enemy troops.
W.F. suddenly crouched in the snow, signaling Jahn to move slightly ahead to his right. “Ever hear of such a thing as a “gift horse”? W.F. whispered.
Jahn crawled behind a bush and leveled his rifle. There were four Reds, two of whom were cursing and working on the wheel of an American vehicle. Neither of the Germans knew the type, but it was in fact a Lend-Lease American Dodge WC52 ¾ ton 4x4.
Perhaps because of W.F.’s improvised training, but more likely because Jahn had a natural affinity for sniping, the young man coolly laid his sights on the Russian look-outs, who clearly weren’t looking out well enough. He judged the distance at just below 200 meters and relaxed into the rifle in preparation for the shot.
W.F. gently pushed the muzzle of Jahn’s rifle down, winked at him and said softly, “Just wait a few minutes until they’re finished changing the tire.”

The Russian lines East of the North road and facing the approaches to Danzig were not particularly dense, having been drained by Sidirov of men to crush Von Bellow’s attack and not, by any stretch of the imagination, under threat by the Germans defending Danzig. Even so, sneaking an armored vehicle through those lines took a great deal of patience, skill and especially nerve.
For Prit and his crew, the time during the night that it took to pierce even this slender defensive crust were agonizing, nerve-wrecking hours. While not well-manned, the Russian positions were, as usual, deep and after them were the miscellany of support troops and vehicles, none of which could be trusted to have laagered in the most obvious positions.

And, of course, there was Prit’s fundamental distrust of his vehicle. Of course, if you had to wander through and behind Russian lines, the Luchs was designed for that purpose. It was only about 15 feet long, 7 feet high and 8 feet wide. And it was fast, capable of 26mph cross-country and tracked and light, (only 13 tons) so there was little worry of bogging down. In close forest, its size made it hard to detect and easy to maneuver.
On the other hand, some genius designer had decided that four men and two radio sets could be accommodated in its tiny hull. But Prit’s major concern about the Luchs was its lack of armor and 20mm armament. While his StuG commander’s senses appreciated its ability to hide in just about any fold of the land or behind a a stand of trees, those same senses kept reminding him that a StuG could take a hit at a reasonable range from the 76mm anti-tank guns most commonly used by the Russians or even the T-34's 85mm gun. That is to say, either might knock a StuG out at combat range, but neither necessarily meant instant death for the StuG crew. With only 30mm of armor protecting the Luchs, a hit from either of the two types of guns at any combat range seemed excessively likely to be fatal to anyone in the vehicle.

So, he deided to do what a Luchs commander does best: snoop and scoot.......
Death is lighter than a Feather, Duty is heavier than a Mountain....

User avatar
Me-109 Jagdfleiger
Supporter
Posts: 122
Joined: Fri Oct 17, 2008 4:53 pm
Location: USA

Re: So....My Tank Corps in Prussia...

Post by Me-109 Jagdfleiger » Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:20 pm

Sounds like W.F, Jahn, Von Ribbentrop and Erika might have a new set of wheels :D
Another great piece D.! Keep up the great work! :[]
Jahn
Cheers Jonathan,
Only the spirit of attack borne in a brave heart will bring success to any fighter aircraft, no matter how highly developed it may be.

— General Adolf Galland, Luftwaffe.

User avatar
Luftman129
Supporter
Posts: 170
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2005 4:37 pm
Location: Marble Falls, Texas
Contact:

Re: So....My Tank Corps in Prussia...

Post by Luftman129 » Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:12 pm

And it's a Chrysler product, you've done some research on me, eh, Commissar! Woohoo!

Thanks,
Chris

User avatar
Commissar D, the Evil
Moderator
Posts: 4823
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2002 7:22 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: So....My Tank Corps in Prussia...

Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:18 pm

Thanks Jahn!!

Hi Chris! I don't normally study American equipment until the Korean War era--so I was surprised to find out that this was indeed a Chrysler!!! And the sheer numbers of them made was astonishing! Then I found out that they were indeed lend-leased in vast numbers to the Red Army!! Just as a side note, this is a very popular vehicle now with the vehicle restoration crowd! I couldn't afford one in mint condition today!!! :shock: :D :D :D

Best,
David
Death is lighter than a Feather, Duty is heavier than a Mountain....

User avatar
Commissar D, the Evil
Moderator
Posts: 4823
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2002 7:22 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: So....My Tank Corps in Prussia...

Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Fri Feb 27, 2009 7:52 pm

TIDBITS 2

While Prit searched for survivors of Von Bellow’s command in the North, Lt. Jaeger found a good use for the hour he had before the expected contact with the Russians. Without hesitation, he crammed his men into the Sd. Kfz. 251’s or aboard the engine deck and roof of the Hetzer and even managed to get a few aboard Ulrich’s 234/1. Then he set off with his entire command to reach the next rendezvous point, expecting to encounter the prepared positions of an entire German infantry company.
In that he was disappointed. What he found instead was a scowling Hauptmann Rath in his command halftrack, another Hetzer, Tom’s Puma and perhaps thirty infantry.
Through the hours, Rath had formed up group after group of fleeing soldiers to send to his under-strength rearguard, but even with the rather half-hearted prodding of their officers, these groups immediately melted into the general confused throngs of refugees once he left the area.
Acknowledging the futility of his efforts, he decided to address the situation personally, gathering about his last armored resources and drafting into his column at gunpoint those unfortunate and reluctant soldiers he ran across on his way to the rendezvous point.
Rath’s choice of positions was one forced on him by circumstance, set at the edge of the woods at the very point where the refugee column had previously left the forest and tramped into the open ground. He chose to place his men in an “L” formation, with the upright end of the “L” in the forest to prevent flanking attacks from his right. The base of the “L” faced the Russians and was hurriedly fortified with fallen or cut-down tree trunks. This meant that his left flank, which faced off into the snow-covered farm land, was completely open. To prevent the enemy from simply going around his left and attaching themselves to the tail of the refugee stream, Rath placed both Ulrich and Tom’s armored cars a thousand meters out on his left flank. Although isolated, they were covered, somewhat, by one of the Hetzers which was stationed on that end of the infantry line. Still and all, both Tom and Ulrich counted it lucky that, in case of a truly dire emergency, they possessed the fastest vehicles on the German side of the looming fight.

Running his professional gaze over the defenses, Leutnant Jaeger couldn’t stop himself from commenting to Hauptmann Rath, “Not much to make a last stand with here, Sir, even Leonidas had 300 Spartans”.
Rath looked at him narrowly, “We have no time for a “last stand” Leutnant! We have to break their nose here. If we don’t, we’ll never get them off our tail. We have to hurt them and it has to be here. Withdraw the troop carriers to the rear and send out patrols.”
Jaeger looked dubious. “Patrols sir?”
“Yes, two five man patrols, armed with panzerfausts and submachine guns. I want them to ambush the Russian point and fall back to this position. That should bring them to us.”
“Yes”, Jaeger replied, “Like flies on….honey.”
Rath relaxed a little at the joke, since, in his experience, no matter how terrified he might be, a man capable of joking before a fight was usually capable of making the fight itself.

If Rath was preparing for a fight without quarter--a fight to “break the Russians' nose”--he hadn’t informed any of his troops of these plans except for Leutnant Jaeger, whom he trusted. Men with experience, like Arajs, his Latvians and Hansen guessed what it was all about. But the majority of the troops would never suppose that it was his intention to stop the Soviets solely on their chests and at their sacrifice. Rearguard missions were fatal enough, in the average Landser’s mind, without the added complication of a commander who was unwilling to retreat a step, or give an inch, and who actively sought out an engagement with the enemy.

Rath had the cold knowledge that the Reds were following close on Leutnant Jaeger’s tail, a fact the troops knew. But their comprehension of his overall plan to force the Russians to attack only his men--rather than expend some of their efforts and forces chasing down the helpless folks struggling ahead of them--was not so obvious to the average cold-numbed Landser squatting in his hole on the line.

Rath’s singular purpose, as he explained at length to Leutnant Jaeger, was to draw upon himself and his few men the full fury of the Red Army, so that it might protect the pitiable civilians up ahead.

But neither Hansen nor Arajs had signed up for a either a last stand or an unnecessary fight to the death. What Hansen and Arajs wanted was only to survive the day and when they separately recognized the Hauptmann’s true intentions to sacrifice them all, they made their own plans accordingly.

“This bastard’s trying to get us killed.” Hansen whispered to Arajs.
“Not much we can do about it, since he has the vehicles.” Arajs stepped slowly down from the armored half-track, lugging with him the dismounted MG-34 and several belts of ammunition. His sudden return to apparent health, on the verge of a battle, was enough to cause even an atheist to suddenly worship some Latvian Forest God. The truth simply was that he was naturally strong and, like Hansen, a man of incredible willpower.
“True, but let’s try our best not to let him get away with it, yes? It’s not like he ever asked us our opinions on where and why to die, is it?” Hansen asked.
To Araj’s great and incredible surprise, Hansen said this sentence in flawless Latvian, a language he supposedly hadn’t picked up in two years of war and fighting alongside them. But Hansen had his own game to play, as he was primarily concerned at the moment that they might be overheard.
“Never worry.” Arajs answered back in Latvian. “There are six of us out of sixty Germans—who do you think will survive?”
Hansen snorted and said, again in good Latvian. “Only the good die young--that naturally excludes us, right?”
Arajs gave him a grin. “Just so long as we agree that the sides are evenly divided.”
Hansen grinned back, but this time spoke quietly in German. “I’m not losing my life for a bunch of fat, rich Prussian burghers who never thought of, or much less cared about, a dirty, stinking, starving Kiel laborer--and neither would you, I think.”
Araj’s looked at him long and hard, thinking that if these were times hard enough to have to choose sides amongst allies, than his own estimation of what was about to happen was correct.
Hansen rightly interpreted this look as a simple question directed at him as to whether or not he could be trusted, so he waited for Arajs to speak again.
“I will tell my men.” Arajs said, with finality and in Latvian. “That it is only ourselves and Sturmscharführer Hansen who can be trusted.”
Death is lighter than a Feather, Duty is heavier than a Mountain....

User avatar
Commissar D, the Evil
Moderator
Posts: 4823
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2002 7:22 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: So....My Tank Corps in Prussia...

Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Sat Feb 28, 2009 1:17 pm

Panzerfaust

In 1945, there was no other personal weapon to guarantee a quick Russian response superior to a panzerfaust. There was something about its lazy arc and devastating impact that simply incensed the Russians, even beyond the trail of burnt out tanks it left behind. A “faustnik” was something like a sniper who could take out a tank—a horrifying idea in 1945, when tanks were so much more than today seen as invulnerable.

It was the panzerfausts of Hauptmann Rath’s ambush teams alone that drew Soviet vengeance upon them, not their MGs and certainly not their pitiable rifle fire. Weaving through the forest past the corpses of tanks and weapons’ carriers, the Soviets surged lime angry bees towards heir enemy. They had nothing to fear except the panzerfausts—all other German forces were either in flight or digging in against their advances, so they plowed through the snowy forests, drove over the ditches, fallen trees and furrowed lands to eliminate their tiny tormentors.

And all this, indeed, only to run into a thin line of Germans commanded by Hauptmann Rath and Leutnant Jaeger.

Running from tree to tree, Rath’s patrols exacted a heavy price in both vehicles and men. The Soviets, who by 1945, valued their vehicles and mobility above all, quickly switched to using simple manpower, which didn’t take up either natural resources or manufacturing time. Droves of white-clad Red infantry probed into the woods and, after their first ranks were mown down by German MG fire, halted in place and radioed in their estimations of the Nazi blocking position.

To be fair, Soviet command reacted at first to their infantry’s cries for help with their now proven and undeniably effective mechanized techniques, sending armored patrols to the North (or German Left) of the reported positions, but these were driven back by fire from Ulrich’s and Tom’s armored cars. Ulrich’s 20mm simply devastated any unarmored vehicle, destroying a long line of jeeps and weapons carriers and leaving their carcasses burning in the snow. By the same measure, Tom’s 50mm killed any light tank that dared show its face—their success was based largely only on the fact that both Ulrich and Tom had gotten their first scouted the terrain and ranged in their guns on the likeliest approaches. But, either way, anything Russian that moved into the bleakly snow-covered farmland quickly died under their guns.

Denied a flanking attack by the unexpected appearance of German armor, the Russians fell back on a tactic as old as their country, knowing as they did that they out-numbered any defender by a margin that couldn’t be defied for long. It was at this point, as Soviet infantry poured out of jeeps, weapons carriers, and trucks to advance into the forest that what had begun as a normal late-war Russian advance suddenly became a stubborn, tormented, no quarters fight for a few yards of forest bunkers that themselves meant nothing to anyone who fought there.

Since the Germans literally had no where to go and the Russians were being hurled straight forward by their higher command, both sides found themselves locked in a death embrace that darted like a shadow from rock to rock, tree to tree and log to log.

Rath himself found shelter behind one of those logs as did the one-armed Leutnant Jaeger, who finally found the perfectly small killing ground for his ’08. Hard to argue with an ‘08 at four meters, Jaeger thought with some satisfaction. Meanwhile, Arajs kept firing over his head with the MG-34 he had removed from the halftrack and Hansen blasted away with his assault rifle. The Red infantry that actually reached their positions died in great swathes, despite their white camouflaged suits.

But numbers mean something in a fight in a forest, where every field of fire is intersected by a tree, a log or mere branches and bushes. It was inevitable that the Reds, with their excess of manpower actually closed in on the German line, peppering it with grenades and submachine gun fire.

As an additional aid to their assault, the Soviet recce infantry began to set up their small, but deadly 45mm cannon towed by their vehicles.
This was something that Ulrich, Tom and Michalik, sitting behind steel in their armored vehicles dreaded, but were watching out for with keen eyes.
The Russians were most intent on reducing the log bunkers of the German infantry and singularly ignored the armored vehicles, but that didn’t mean that the German armored vehicles ignored them.
The very first 45mm gun fired a round, after which the gunner on Michalik’s Hetzer followed the tracer back to its origin and put an armored piercing round--all he had left--straight through the 45mm’s gun-shield, killing its crew instantly.
Another gun crew tried--insanely, in the minds of Ulrich’s crew—to set up their gun on open ground and fire into the thin side of Michalik’s Hetzer. Ulrich’s gunner simply sent a long stream of 20mm rounds over the dead column of Russian soft-skins in front of him, splattering pieces of the Red 45mm crew and pieces of the gun itself on to the snow.
The fighting along Rath’s line had become so intense by this time that trained soldiers were forgetting where they stood and what they faced.
With a lunge, a group of bayonet-wielding Reds managed to reach the German line.
Standing and firing his weapon from the hip, Arajs cleaned them out, cutting them down in a neat row, and felling them with their bayonets still fixed in the direction of the German line. Utterly beside themselves with anxiety, the four Latvian troopers inevitably behind him had to pull Arajs to ground before he was hit by the return fire of the Russians.
Hansen didn’t have that protection, nor did he heft an MG-34. For him, it was a lone fight, inserting magazine after magazine of 7.92 bullets into his Sturmgewehr 44. Using the prescribed three-round bursts, he was only one of a couple of men who actually drilled their way into the Russian lines before realizing that he was both alone and unsupported. Ducking back, he took a quick few leaps backwards and found himself behind the same log barrier as Leutnant Jaeger. From there, they both awaited the next wave of Red assault troops.
But the Hetzers on either end of the short leg of the “L” were busy. Michalik was out of high explosive ammunition and only directed his fire at “hard targets”, but the other Hetzer wasn’t and proceeded to bombard any Soviet in sight, breaking their waves into relatively manageable portions while they assembled in the trees. The Russians responded with 45mm fire from the depths of the forest, but these shells simply bounced off of the Hetzer’s thick frontal armor. The Soviet recce unit only possessed T-70s with 45mm guns, not the deadly T-34s with their 85s and accordingly suffered once they drove within the range of the dedicated little tank-killers.
But it was the Red infantry that the Germans found to be totally implacable and totally fearless, weathering both the storm of high-explosive shells and the impact of German MG-34s. Like any good troopers, they hugged the ground, rushed from cover to cover and finally burst into the German perimeter firing their PPSh-41’s at anything that moved. By this time in the war, every second Red soldier had an automatic weapon, a lesson learned from the Germans themselves and now their pupils reaped the benefit as the German dead began to pile up behind the frozen logs they relied upon to keep the Soviets out.
Leutnant Jaeger was physically unable, having only one good arm, to do much about this intrusion, but Hauptmann Rath, sensing his troops were weakening under the assault, was more than wiling to accept the challenge.
Holding his MP-40 in front of him with both hands, he suddenly arose from a trench and sprayed the Reds with a long burst at close range, cutting them down like blades of grass.
It can never be said that Rath was fearless as even he would have admitted as much, but his fear hung on a different branch than many others—what he feared was capture, and every single effort he made that day was an attempt to avoid it. So he burned through one, then two, then three magazines before the submachine-gun itself failed. Tossing it aside, he grabbed a rifle and fired it into the seething masses of Reds thrusting through his lines.
They eventually cut him down, but only by firing above a pile of their own dead at his feet.
As he fell, the forward German line collapsed. Badly outnumbered and dazed by the harshness of the fight, the troops Rath had scrapped together disintegrated with his death.
“URRAH!!” The Russians shouted as the bottom of the “L” fell apart.
“URRAH!!” Other Russians shouted as they saw their comrades burst through what seemed to be the center of the German lines.
But Michalvik didn’t see it that way and neither did Hansen, Arajs and the remnants of the Latvian S.S. The Hetzer crunched towards the breakthrough, having plentiful ammunition for its remote control MG-34. Arajs added the punctuation marks with his own MG and Hansen simply stormed ahead firing, seemingly impervious to any weapon, but actually protected by Leutnant Jaeger’s pistol marksmanship.
Storming into the gap, one Latvian went down, a bullet through his throat. Even while his neck bled in spurts, Arajs sprayed his killer, the MG stripping off his flesh like a saw blade.
Hansen’s assault gun jammed at about the same time, but without thinking he grabbed a Russian rifle with its saw-toothed bayonet. With cold steel alone, he reaped a terrible and horrifying toll, thrusting here into a torso, slitting a neck open there with its keen blade and cutting out intact a man’s entrails against a tree over there, sending anyone in reach scurrying back from his crouching, blood-soaked, animal-like form.
Nor were Tom and Ulrich uninterested spectators at this point. Ulrich’s 234/1 picked up speed and drove behind the Soviet lines, cutting their infantry down in great heaps with his 20mm gun. It was a lone 45mm cannon, the last the Red s possessed, that finally stopped him; the shell struck the armored car just beneath its turret, blowing the turret off and setting the remains of the car on fire.
Tom’s gunner Sam quickly wreaked vengeance, lobbing three 50mm rounds at the gun and hitting it and its gunners with two of them. But Tom was enraged by this totally unnecessary bloodshed.
What possibly could the Reds have gained that they already didn’t have by pursuing the fleeing refugees from Bad Frostberg? There wasn’t a suitable answer to the question apparent to Tom and bearing that in his mind, he hurtled himself, his crew and his machine into the battle. His 50mm simply had to spot a target to destroy it. The Puma’s machine gun gobbled up any Red reinforcements that appeared and swiftly ground them into dead things.
It seems easy to say now, but Hauptmann Rath’s plan, although it cost him his life in the end, was a good one.

Having participated in the sealing of the line, Michalik’s Hetzer sat squarely and defiantly in the center of the hole.

There was something to an American vehicle, W.F. had to admit. It didn’t creak, it didn’t hesitate and it passed over every obstacle with a certain comfort. This observation was made by a man with longer years on the Ostfront than anyone around who was still alive and someone who had made many journeys in all kinds of German vehicles.

It wasn’t exactly a comforting thought, but then, neither was their course. Following in the footprints of both Germans and Russians didn’t comfort him and W.F., of course, mentioned this sobering fact to Jahn. But, whatever his talents, Jahn was, for this blissful moment, suddenly only a young man driving a powerful vehicle and as likely to listen to his mentor as might a mule listen to its owner.
W.F. said plainly that following the tracks of both Germans and Russians was a surely only an invitation to a battle and nothing more, but like most older men, his logic was ignored.

After a few miles, the sound of gunfire and cannon shot couldn’t be ignored, so Jahn veered the weapons’ carrier off the track and as far out of the forest as possible. Still, W.F. disagreed and, after a few kilometers, demanded that they stop. Jahn did so reluctantly, hitting the brakes with a false anger. W.F. immediately piled out of the machine and stalked off over the broad plains of snow, his rifle slung across his back and his back to them.

Jahn, for all of his anger at his mentor’s stubbornness, couldn’t quite allow himself to see only W.F.’s back, so he parted with the keys, entrusting them to Von Ribbentrop, and made the dash through the snow after W.F. and towards the oddly seductive sound of the guns.
Death is lighter than a Feather, Duty is heavier than a Mountain....

User avatar
Commissar D, the Evil
Moderator
Posts: 4823
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2002 7:22 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: So....My Tank Corps in Prussia...

Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Sat Feb 28, 2009 2:54 pm

PERSISTENCE

Another fine old honorable Russian trait was persistence. The Reds fighting this day weren’t about to give up. Why should they? They were members of a victorious army and, more than that, proud members of the Guards Tank Corps. Even as their initial assaults were obliterated, the survivors were reforming out of range and calling for reinforcements.
Leutnant Jaeger used this lull to regroup and reposition his men, shrinking the “L” and thinning out his flanks to reinforce the center—this sounds militarily more complicated than it was in reality, as the Germans had lost close to half their men in the first battle. Now there were only about thirty men fit to fight left.
Leaving one in reserve, Leutnant Jaeger had the other two armored half tracks driven and placed sideways in the center of the tiny line, figuring that their steel hides could best be used to absorb bullets and shells meant for his men.
Both Hansen and Arajs read this as an act of grim desperation and lunatic determination, as logically they should all be piling on the half tracks and beating feet towards Neuburgh.
As if reading their minds and those of most of the men, Leutnant Jaeger defiantly walked over to the half tracks and put bullets through the front tires of each one.

The Puma drove into the perimeter and as brave as he was, even Tom advised Jaeger to retreat, even if he had to run the half tracks on their rims. But Jaeger was having none of it and responding to Tom’s whispered pleas, suddenly began to shout;

“You know what they’ll do if they overtake the refugees—they’ll run them over with tanks, rape the women and send the men to Siberia—we are German Soldiers and we have a duty to protect the weak, the old, the women and the children!”

The men listened from their holes in the snow and from behind their freezing log emplacements as Jaeger continued.

‘If we leave now, then those men lying in the snow died for nothing! I’m not going to die for nothing and I’m not going to have it said that under my command they died for nothing! So put some iron in your stomachs, clean your F******g weapons and gather up all the ammunition you can find!!!!”

Tom first scratched his head and then shook it in frustrated resignation before finally climbing back aboard his mount.

“Hey, check this!” One of the landsers shouted. Walking serenely past the blackened column of Soviet vehicles destroyed earlier by Tom and Ulrich were two German soldiers.

Hansen and Arajs recognized the loping gait of the first man and got to their feet. Whistling, W.F., closely followed by Jahn, entered the perimeter.

“Fine day for a picnic!” W.F. announced before Hansen and Arajs wrapped him in a series of bear hugs.
Considering the lingering effect of Leutnant Jaeger’s speech, W.F.’s arrival and evident good spirits cheered up even those who didn’t know him. He and Jahn found themselves sort of celebrities, being offered drink and food and asked innumerable questions about what had happened in Bad Frostberg after Rath’s group pulled out.
Finally, he asked Hansen directly exactly what they were doing here when the Russians were in spitting distance. Hansen explained as best he could and W.F. shrugged. Jahn looked around at the corpses, the shell holes and, above all, the other men, trying to gauge their mood by their looks and words. By and large, like Tom earlier, they seemed to be resigned to the impending fight, if not quite accepting the obvious conclusion.
“Zing!” A Russian sniper opened up from somewhere, sending them all to ground. This was the signal for W.F. and his mate Jahn to begin their crawl beyond the German line and deeper into the forest.
Death is lighter than a Feather, Duty is heavier than a Mountain....

User avatar
Prit
Contributor
Posts: 355
Joined: Sun Oct 06, 2002 9:20 am

Re: So....My Tank Corps in Prussia...

Post by Prit » Sat Feb 28, 2009 3:39 pm

We are all long past singing your praises, David. As the story reaches its closing stages, your writing has risen to new levels. All we can do is read on with awe and admiration.

Prit

Post Reply