Shit! I hate wet sand down my shirt front. At least I'm alive to hate it. This shell crater was literally a life saver. I was able to dive in just before that damned Kraut MG42 (machine gun, model 1942) had a chance to cut me in two. At least this elephant condom of a plastic sleeve over my M1 has kept the water and sand out of the mechanism. Now, if some artillery will just quiet down that MG42, I'll be able to get to the cliff face, though I ain't exactly sure how much good that will do me.
What I can't understand is how I let myself get to be a squad leader. When I was in North Africa, I was perfectly happy to let somebody else have the responsibility of figuring out what to do, now, I'm the one who has to do the figuring. I just didn't duck fast enough when the company XO (Executive Officer) was nosing around. Oh, well, the few extra bucks I get paid for being a sergeant is nice.
Speaking of which, just where is my squad? They were right behind me when we cleared the landing craft, but I don't know how many made it out of the water. We weren't supposed to be dumped in chest-deep water, but trust the Navy to screw up something as simple as getting us to the beach. I saw some poor souls go under and never come up; they had the bad luck of having short legs. I know some of my men made it to the beach because I heard them cussing as they tried to run through the sand. Yeah, I found out how hard it is to run through beach sand when we landed in North Africa, but that time we were put down on the beach and not in deep water.
Shit, look at that poor fool trying to outrun those machine gun bullets. He'll never make it. Yeah, they got him, all right. The bullets sawed right across his belly and flung his guts out over 10 feet of beach sand. The poor bastard is still alive; I wish I had the guts to put a bullet in his head and put him out of his misery. I wonder how much longer he'll live like that; not long, I hope.
On, no, just what I needed! The waves are starting to reach my hole. I don't know how long before it fills with water, but I do know that I'll have to move pretty soon. Maybe I can make it up to the cliff if I crawl, instead of try to stand up and run. I know that standing up is sure death, so I guess I'll have to crawl. Shit, here comes more water. I got no choice; here goes nothing. Remember the training: keep your head down and keep your ass down. It hurts more to get shot in the ass because a head shot will kill you, and that don't hurt at all because you're dead.
Damn, I feel like I've been crawling for hours, but I'll bet it was really no more than 20 minutes. How the hell did I get here without getting shot? Just lucky, I guess. It sure does feel good to be next to this cliff; the Krauts can't depress their MG42s enough to get to me, here. Well, I guess I better start earning that big sergeant's pay the XO said that I would get. "ANY OF MY SQUAD AROUND? FORM ON ME! MOVE IT OR THE KRAUTS WILL SURE GET YOU!"
That looks like Jimmy, the squad BAR man headed this way. Thank God, we'll need that BAR pretty damn soon. "Hi, Jimmy, what took you so long? Did you stop off for a beer?"..."Yeah, I know, them Kraut bastards were shooting at me, too! Did you see any one else from the squad?"
"Yeah, I saw Bill and Ed, but I don't know who else made it, Sarge."
"OK, We'll just make do with who we have handy. Here come Bill and Ed, now ... Hello, boys, welcome to the tea party. Look, we got to get off this beach damn soon. The water washes up on these cliffs as much as 10 feet high, you can see the mark up there. We landed way off our spot, so I don't know where we are, do any of you know? ... Yeah, I thought not.
"That looks like a way up the cliff over there about 30 yards; let's try for that. OK, follow me and keep your heads down ... This looks good. OK, let's strip the condoms off our weapons and lock and load. Once we start up, anything you see move is bound to be a Kraut, so be ready to shoot. Click your safeties off as soon as you start climbing off the beach."
They're following me, that's good. I thought they would, but you never know. It depends on how scared they are, I guess. The more scared, the more likely they are to follow orders. Damn, I fired off that round without even thinking about it; I wonder if I hit anything. "BAR! OVER THERE! FOUR OR FIVE ROUNDS!" By God, Jimmy got him! That was the bastard who was shooting that MG42 at me a while ago. "LET'S GO! UP THIS GULLY! KEEP GOING!"
"OK, we're at the top and all four of us made it. Let's squat here a minute and catch our breaths. Jimmy, you watch the right; Ed and Bill, you watch the left. I'll watch the front. Don't be too timid to shoot. You don't have to pay for wasted ammunition, and it can keep you alive."
We'll wait here about 5 minutes to see if anybody else comes up that gully. They ought to, now that we got it cleared... "OK, boys, let's swing off to the right. There was an MG nest or two along here a few minutes ago. They may still be there. Remember not to show yourself to anybody below, we don't want any wounds from friendly fire. Stay low and follow me, I'll take point; Ed, you're drag."
We've only gone about 15 feet and we're taking fire from our left. Must be some Krauts in those bushes. "BAR! 5 ROUNDS! THOSE BUSHES! SPREAD IT AROUND A LITTLE!" I wish I had a Tommy gun. This M1 is great for one or two shots at a hundred yards, but it leaves something to be desired at a hundred feet, or closer. The first chance I get, I'm going to swap off. Better yet, I hope I can find a Schmeiser machine pistol. That's one damn fine weapon!
Take that, you Kraut SOB! It took a whole clip, but I finally got him. Shit, I hope I don't run out of ammunition ... What was that? Man, I was lucky, the bullet just bounced off my helmet. I better take my own advice and keep my head down. "Bill, you got any grenades? Good, lob one into those bushes. We may have gotten all of them, but we'll cover you, anyway. OK, boys, let the lead fly while Bill makes like a pitcher." Nothing! I guess we got all of them, or scared them away, at least.
"OK, let's see what else we can scare up. Bill, keep an eye to the right, just in case. We might not be so lucky next time." It looks clear to the front, maybe the Krauts have cut out. That would be nice, but I won't bet on it. Movement up ahead! Show yourself again, and I'll blow the shit out of you. Hey, that's a Thompson he's shooting this way! "HOLD YOUR FIRE, YOU GOD DAMNED FOOL! WE'RE AMERICANS!"
"YEAH? WHO'S THE 'GALLOPING GHOST'?"
"HELL, I CAN'T REMEMBER HIS NAME, BUT HE PLAYS FOOTBALL FOR THE CHICAGO BEARS!"
"OK, THAT'S GOOD ENOUGH! WHAT UNIT?"
"WE'RE WHAT'S LEFT OF A SQUAD FROM THE FIRST OF THE FIRST! I'M SGT. JIM HAZZARD!"
"WE'RE FROM THE SAME UNIT. I'M CPL. JACK JACKSON."
"YEAH, I KNOW YOU! COME ON OVER! WE NEED TO GET TOGETHER!"
"ON OUR WAY!"
Well, this is one way to beef up a squad. Five more men makes us a decent fighting unit. I wonder where Jackson got the Thompson... "Jackson, where's you get the Thompson? I wish I had one."
"I picked it up when Sgt. Asshole Anson bought the farm down on the beach. He didn't need it any longer, so I thought I'd give it a try. It's a good weapon, but it sure chews up the ammo."
"You seen any officers, lately. I haven't seen any since I left the destroyer"
"Nah, Sarge, they may have joined the Tommies for tea time. Well, I did see a few dead ones on the beach, but no live ones, lately."
"Do you know where we are? We're so fucking far from our intended landing point that my map's no good."
"No idea, Sarge. Except I think that we are in France and Germany is thataway."
"OK, smart ass, just for that, you can be point for a while. Let's head inland and try to find some more Germans to kill. OK, YOU MEN! FALL IN BEHIND JACKSON, AND LET'S SEE WHAT WE CAN FIND!"
.... There is more of this story ...