To cut a long story short, we are to baby sit 2 Engineers, seems the telephone line from somewhere, to somewhere else, has been cut by artillery fire, ours probably, but it needs repairing and so we have been chosen to protect these upright citizens, Tex and Rex, don't know their real names, they're not one of mine so don't count.
Sounds a bit safer than the last mission he sent us on. Mind you if it was safe why would they need protecting.
No issued map so I’ve drawn one for you.
I had McKlusky with the BAR to go wide to the north, into the forest to get a good field of fire to protect us the best he can. See ‘BAR’ on the map, no it's not a place of rest and relaxation. :)
Tex was at the rear protected by Cpl Bolton and a couple of men. Me and 2 of the guy’s led out on point with Rex - also protected by 3 of the guys, following us.
Any of us can find the breaks in the wire but only the Engineers can repair them - so I have to keep them safe.
So I am close up front when disaster struck, we ran into a panzercheck team, they reacted faster than we did, dropping a charge right on top of us, Perrin went down, blood and intestines everywhere, obviously dead even before he hit the floor, Mears was down screaming, I’m hit, I’m hit. Me – well I was bowled over by the blast, hit my head on a bloody big stone but couldn’t feel any other damage. Good God I’m stunned but alive, all I need to do is get up, which was harder than it sounds.
Wilson starts running, fast, off to my left, trying to out flank them and get in a shot, but they dropped back fast through the tall grass and into the trees. Rifle shots and Wilson goes down, oh no, not Wilson too, fortunately he had just dropped prone to avoid the fire.
I was back up on my feet, shouting for Bolton to take 2 men and get off to my right and pull round onto the Germans, we should catch them between Wilson on one flank, me putting some fire into them from the front and Bolton and his men on the other flank, seems under control, hells teeth there’s only 2 of them. Bolton’s men start to move forward when phutt the damn Panzercheck again, Cornwall goes down OOF and Bolton is down also, stunned and with blood running down his face but still alive and looking feisty and really pissed off.
Wilson took a shot and the German loader is hit and goes down, one man left and we are in the clear. Just then 2 armoured cars burst through the grassland and straight at us. They must have been there all the time but we didn’t see them, well things aren’t looking too good at the minute, all we have is grenades and guts, and we don’t want them spread all over France.
McKlusky opens up with the BAR, the bullets bounce off the cars but one driver lost it and pulled to the side, stopping before he ran into the trees and crashed - bugger. I ran forward screaming, and lobbed a grenade before I hit the ground with my hands over my head, although what good that would do I've no idea. As soon as it left my hand I knew it wasn’t going to hit, there was a loud explosion but nothing else. Must have given Wilson the idea though because he did the same, his throw was better than mine and straight into the open top of the A/C bang - you’re dead, the car erupted in a sheet of flame. The other cars driver had seen enough, he wasn’t expecting to be charged by infantry, well who would be, he did a fast turn and drove off, - Welcome to the USA.
The Panzercheck man had picked up his wounded loader and helped him back the way they had come, we never saw them again thank goodness.
While all this was going on the Engineers had found and repaired 2 breaks in the cable. We quickly checked out the rest of it, it was OK so I decided to leg it back the way we had come. This is called a fighting retreat in the text books.
“Move it guys”, I shouted as we pulled back with the wounded into our original deployment area - taking up covering positions “Come on McKlusky”. We covered the BAR team as they ran from their position in the forest to join us.
We were just in the long grass when a full squad of Germans came round the small wooded area in front of us.
There we were, the two BAR lads McKlusky and Smith, Me with Dokes and Wilson, the cream of the squad, the Germans never saw what hit them, 7 of them went down and the other 3 ran. I was the only casualty in the fire fight with a flesh wound in the arm, and had to be helped back to our lines. Not very glorious but we survived.
We couldn't recover Perrins body and had to leave him there in the open with no marker. The guys are pretty quiet about it, I don’t think we had a choice but it sits badly with all of us, me especially because it was my decision.
So we have 3 wounded, Sgt Ryan (me), Mears, and Cornwall, we were all lucky I suppose, nothing serious and were patched up and are back with the squad now, all a bit stiff.
Bernard Perrin RIP. our first fatality.
Wilson did well - I have recommended him for a medal, but better than that, he has gone up from Rep 5 to 6, a good result. Dokes went Rep 4 to 5 and Smith went Rep 3 to 4.