Saturday, 26 May 2012


                                   RECON IN FORCE 5TH SS            

Area of operations 25-5-1944
 After the companies hard fighting the week before, we were tasked with scouting an area south of Gloucester. The reports were that Amis troops were deploying for a counter attack. So division wanted some eyes on the area in case they were right. As this was recon work I only sent 2/3rds of the company giving time for some maintenance on unit vehicles and down time for personal. Only the previous day a MK IV platoon had been reassigned to the 2nd Coy. The leader was a Max Endelberg (iron cross with oak leaves). He was a veteran of the eastern front.So lets see how he handles a little recon work. I went with them, as well as my 2IC just in case. I was warned that he could be reckless in the heat of action and had suffered high casualty rates in Russia.We still have many days of hard fighting ahead of us, so if need be I would be able to curb his blood lust if required.

Right hand side battle group

 We travelled by two parallel roads until we were about two km. from a main cross road south of Gloucester. That was when two Amis AA half tracks came barrelling around a corner straight into the tank platoon and accompanying infantry support. The were faster than us in recovering and opened fire on the infantry causing some casualties. That was the last time they would fire though, Max quickly swung into action and fired two quick rounds at the half tracks with the rest of his platoon joining in. The results were as one would suspect, two burning enemy vehicles.

Infantry scatter but armour engages and scores two hits.
 Then the radio waves crackled to life with reports from the left hand battle group, they had spotted more Amis infantry dug in near a wood to their front. Max had them hold and deploy their pak support and await further orders. Mean while the tank platoon advanced very aggressively, coming under light artillery fire. We could hear the weapons firing so they had to be close. Max then spotted more Amis infantry to his front right flank. I will admit his control of the escalating situation was first class. He ordered his supporting infantry to make there way to the front via a woods on the right flank and prepare for close action, but he still charged to the front centre looking for the light guns firing. About now my 2IC who was travelling with the left hand battle group radioed in that a section of AT guns was stationed on the reverse slope of a hill on the left flank of the tank platoon. The trouble was that Max was in his element, so he thought. He rounded the hill to find some M8 GMC firing the bombardment, he quickly engaged them and that was when every thing went wrong.

The M8 GMC with the protecting AT gun section

The aftermath of a close quarters gun dual.
 Max closed too much with the M8GMC's, allowing the AT guns to man handle up the hill and engage the tank platoon. The AT guns also had hand held AT weapons in large numbers. As he was leading from the front the enemy gunners singled him out and the volume of fire was too much.When the smoke had cleared Max and his crew were no more and his platoon had retired into a field of wheat. I had to act quickly, I radioed my 2IC and told him to put as much fire on the guns as possible with out exposing his force to needless casualties. I communicated with the 2IC of the tank platoon and rallied them to stay in the fight. My 2IC radioed back that he was using a mortar platoon to direct fire onto the guns as well as his Pak 40's, but they were firing at max range. I could see that this was going to be a long day.
The tank platoon was pressed very heavily by the AT guns and bazookas, but they managed to inflect enough damage to detoured them whilst only losing one other tank.The tanks then informed me that they had taken fire from a barn on their right flank. Their infantry confirmed that when they spotted more dug in infantry around the barn. I rapidly organised a combined assault on the barn and surrounding fields, driving as fast as possible to catch up with the now ready to assault infantry.

The Amis in the field near the barn.
The Amis troops were of a calibre not yet seen by our forces in this war yet, they laied down a suppressing fire like no other, even while pinned down. My infantry platoon was stopped dead in its tracks and broken with large amount of casualties.The tank platoon then had to change targets as the AT guns were pressing on them again, over the next ten minutes a gunnery dual developed between them, with the tanks finally reducing the AT gun section to its command group only. I was now near the position that my infantry were before their demise

That's when I spotted two AT infantry teams stalking my tank platoon, they were unable to bring their guns to bear in time. I looked at command support group and said if we do not try to stop them we may lose this engagement and to my pride they all agreed to the man. So with my half track laying down suppressive fire and us with grenade and SMG in hand we charged the AT teams. At this stage I thought that two LMG teams to the rear of the AT teams would not see us coming, how wrong I was they both opened fire at a withering rate (after the engagement my Coy. Sargent checked with everyone involved and out of the three of us I had one hole in my right sleeve, my sargent one in his left leg pants and our runner had two in his jacket, but no blood lose amongst us). We still closed with the enemy and dispatched him, then beat a hasty retreat. No infantry wants to tackle two LMG single handedly, two bazookas not a problem. Around now the command team of the AT guns lost their nerve and headed for the rear, firstly the Amis infantry on the left noticed their centre go and started to withdraw, rapidly followed by the other flank. It had been a very close run affair. Conclusion, we now know that the Amis are deploying veteran troops to this theatre and they are more organised than we believed. They fought well and acquitted themselves bravely, we should not under estimate there capabilities.

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