Category: war stories
Kgarner was parked on a hill SE of Hastiere, about 1.5k out. He proved impervious to everything that hit him, while from his lofty position, he could dispatch everyone at ease. Seeing that the fate of Hast rested on the ability to control the hills, I attempted to dislodge him. This ultimately meant driving all the way from Dinant, to the north, flanking wide to the east, and coming up literally behind him. I approached as close to about 150m, and then fired.
Astonishingly, after dealing devastation to him, and actually getting the kill, he turns and fires on me. (I should have maybe killed all his ammo before engaging). Sortie results show me getting the kill, with him killing me.
WELL. I was not going to let THAT stand. So I mounted up again from Dinant and did the same thing. I approached more from the south this time, getting a clear shot at his tracks and the rear at an angle. He already had his turret facing me. This time, he was not caught unawares. I used the crest of the hill and concealed my position by a bush, which I fired through until I saw a great explosion! Unfortunately, as I drove up to gloat over his smoking body, I discovered that what had gone boom was not him, but the OPEL, which was obscured by the bush I was firing on him through. Before I figured out what had happened, the one who went boom was ME. The humiliation.
WELL. I was not going to let THAT stand. The return trip took longer for a variety of reasons, not to mention that this time there were other Tigers on the hills between him and I which I had to avoid. I vowed to do what it took to have my revenge. When I finally arrived, he was again expecting me. I fired from a little further away, again from a slightly ‘hull down’ posture. As he fired over my head, I re-positioned, and hit him again. Then I displaced again, and hit him again. Now there are JUs and 110s overhead. I feared they had been called for help. This diminished by ability to really close in for the kill. I fired smoke into him to mask my movement from him, put in a few more shots, and displaced. When the smoke cleared this is what I saw:
I crept up to him as delicately as I could, hugging what tree lines I could find, before finally verifying, and I mean VERIFYING, that he was dead. THEN, I gloated over his carcass!
I couldn’t stay long due to the EA above, and plus there was still a battle going on for the last depot we held on the east side of the river. There wasn’t time to spare, so I made haste to lend a hand there while it still mattered, and was bombed by a JU for my efforts. However, although it took 2 hours to do it, my main objective was achieved: kgarner was dead by my hand.
Below are the sortie results for your enjoyment.
On the evening of February 10, I, pfmosquito logged on and surveyed the situation for the allies. My eyes fell upon the situation in the Namur river valley. I bespied that we had a full division (2eme) bottle-necked in Namur and Andenne, with no route to engagement except to be thrown up against Huy. 2 Brigs were in Namur, and 2 Brigs were in Andenne. The Namur brigs placed, certainly, to prevent an Axis movement north through Profondville. The Axis had penetrated as far as Flavion, with three brigades stocked into the town. See the images below for the situation as it unfolded.
Click on images to enlarge.
The initial logjam:
Note that the Allied forces do not have flags in at Profondville and the Axis do not have flags in Ahnee.
The Axis brigades in Flavion:
The Allied brigades in Namur:
Here is what I pitched, and why:
We have a whole division effectively stuck with one option–press Huy. Half of it are stuck in Namur, threatening nobody. By moving just one brigade into Profoundville, that sets up an attack option on Anhee, which the Axis had left empty. The downsides of such a move were minimal. Our forces in Namur and Andenne could be easily supplemented by moving navy brigades into both of them. *Probably* the Axis would see the movement of one brigade into Profondville and cover themselves by pulling back, putting a brigade into Anhee. This in itself would be a ‘win’ as it would weaken their ability to press their attack from Flavion. If, however, they did not act, and we took Anhee, we could throw their lines into disarray. Merely having the brigade in Profondville essentially raised a cleaver over the throat of the Axis lines. We didn’t have to act, but at the very least, every step of the way, by simply moving into Profondville, we’d upset their calculus and make them wonder what the hell we were thinking.
Birdman gave the go ahead to put the brig into Profondville with Henning and FrackU concurring it was at least worth seeing what would happen.
Once the brigade moved into Profondville, the Pathfinder squad moved to destroy the Axis forward base between Flavion and Anhee; this removed the Axis ability to spawn into Anhee from the Flavion depot. (This idea was provided by Blackhawke, one of the Pathfinders.) The Pathfinders then destroyed the south rail bridge, so that the Axis spawning into the Dinant CP could not easily cross the river to defend their army base. The Pathfinders put 50% damage on the main bridge, leaving it up just in case we ourselves decided we needed it. At this time, the Pathfinders had two FMS set up in town. One, northwest of the Army base at minimum distance of about 400m, overlooking the AB itself. The other on the east side for attacking the east CPs.
The stage was set for an AO on Anhee, if the HC determined to go forward with it. Right about that time, the Allies took Waremme, freeing up an AO. The AO on Anhee was granted, and the game was on.
Since the Axis did not have the forward base from Flavion, they could not move in that direction. They were forced to move in their HQ from Dinant, which they did before the radios were ‘hot.’
Flavion CP was quickly capped, and before long we had every CP capped except our own spawn (Profondville) and the AB itself. Things bounced around a little bit, and it was hot and heavy for awhile, but with our FMS placement we could easily pour into the AB area and threaten both the bunker and our spawnable with (relatively) short time and risk. The Axis eventually ran FMSes out, which threatened the Flavion CP, and they re-captured it and the Dinant CP. But, by this time, the Pathfinder Dougyfarm capped our spawnable. With the Axis HQ nearly attritted, Dougyfarm led an attack on the bunker, and booted the HQ from Anhee as well. In the meantime, it is worth noting that FrackU diligently defended the Flavion CP, while Blackhawke led the defense of the east side of the river. Pfmosquito and Snappled ran armor, with Snappled eventually switching to air support as 109s showed up (the Axis had little other option!). Blakeh left in the middle of the attack as I recall, but had been instrumental in taking down the AI and the bridge in preparation for the attack. These were all Pathfinders, showing what they do best–behind the scenes work that is usually thankless and unnoticed.
Not that they were alone in this attack. B2K’s squad switched quickly to the attack after Waremme was subdued. After a pitched battle, and an HE111 finally bringing down the main bridge (too late, because our armor was across by then for cutting the Dinant CP!) and taking down the Axis supply to virtually zero, the town was ours.
Granted, the battle turned out to be fiercer than I envisioned, the taking of the town effectively gave us the whole river valley… for free… as the Axis pulled back to cover the threat to Ciney. They had to do this, because otherwise if the Allies took Ciney, the entire Axis underbelly would be exposed to the whims of Allied HC, whether they decided to thrust the knife north or south. This was the state of the line when I checked it out about 1 p.m. CST on February 11th. Note the Axis towns with the surrender flags:
Not easily seen from this view is also the fact that the Axis had to re-deploy forces out of Huy, weakening their attack posture there, as well.
As of this writing, the Allies have also captured Hastiere. The map looks like this:
Compare how it was with how it is now (again, click on it to view larger):
Not too bad for merely moving a brigade!
While I don’t know all the names involved, kudos have to go to the members of HC and the Allied forces who held down the fort during TZ3 which made this morning’s map possible. Its clear to me that HC made a decision to press their advantage by taking Anhee. They deserve credit for this, even if I don’t know who it was. Furthermore, props should go to Birdman and Sgthenning for backing my play, and seeing that while the idea was ‘crazy,’ it had very little risk while having a great deal of possible reward, depending on what the Axis did.
Members of the Pathfinders really did a great job, here. The battle to get the spawn raged and raged, but Dougyfarm slipped in unnoticed and pulled it off. It was a turning point that made his assault on the bunker possible. Blackhawke’s proactively placed FMS on the east side made our attack on that side possible. We could not have gotten the east side with my FMS on the NW side alone. And FrackU’s holding of the Flavion CP became crucial as the battle neared its end. Congrats, men!…
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How to Catch a Sniper
by PF Mosquito
It all happened in the ruined shell of some forgotten town in the hinterlands of France, smashed up like it was an egg placed in between two thick books which were then slammed together. Such towns were ubiquitous at this stage of the war, so trying to remember where this all happened is nigh impossible.
That said, it is one of those places which, if I saw it again, I’d instantly recognize. As it happens, I knew the layout of the ruins like the back of my hand… which I had several opportunities to study intently as I lie in the alleyway, bleeding out. My hands were the last thing I could see as the curtain of death slowly enveloped me.
The two armies had cleared out. It was no longer an object of contention for them. But I was a member of the Pathfinder squad, which took to heart the maxim, “first in, last out.” There was still the hint of an enemy presence, so it didn’t feel right to leave the town without first taking a final patrol through the town’s vital parts. Emerging from one, a shot rang out. Down I went.
It was Piercer.
I was laid out like a mangy cur by that renowned Axis sniper, Piercer.
And this I could not abide.
Unfortunately, there was only one way for me to re-enter the town. It was down south, about two sprints away from the rest of the town. Once you reached the outskirts, the cover wasn’t much better. A row of buildings ran parallel with the road, which funneled into a larger complex of ruins. If someone knew that the enemy was coming from the south, he’d have a clear shot from any angle he desired. The row of buildings might shield me from sniper fire, but there was still a large open space between them and the city outskirts that would have to be traversed. The patient sniper, knowing all this, would never have anything to fear.
Piercer was such a sniper.
Having been cut down in one direction, I took a different tact, crawling to the gutted remains of some poor peasant’s house that allowed me a better view of the town. I fumbled with my binoculars, knowing that if I wasn’t careful, the motion would catch his attention, and death would follow an instant later. I scanned the complex. Nothing. Still keeping to my belly, I aimed for a bush as my next destination. It wasn’t much, but if I hadn’t been spotted, it would perhaps be the concealment I needed before moving ahead.
He let me get a few meters towards my goal and put a round through my head.
I clenched my teeth.
I had expected to get popped, but in exchange I had hoped to learn his location. I had zilch for my efforts.
There was nothing for it but to give it another go.
I know what you’re thinking. If I’m dead–now thrice–how is it that I keep getting new opportunities to die yet again? This is one of those magical realms where the keepers of life and death are a tad on the capricious side. After you die… or even if you just want to move along to a different place… you just ‘despawn’ and then ‘spawn’ back in somewhere else.
As I spawn in again, I think about this whole idea of ‘spawning.’ There is something about the word I don’t like. The image of thousands of frog eggs comes unbidden into my mind. That is not how I like to picture myself. If ‘spawning’ isn’t the best description, neither is reincarnation: upon death, regardless of what my French uniform would suggest, I do not come back as the frog before working my way up to cow. I do not even come back as some other person; for example, if I was some other soldier right now, say, one named Agave, I might stand a better chance of getting out of my current predicament. No, I come back as me.
As I toss smoke and run like a lunatic for cover, bullets zipping by my ears, I think to myself that it’s more like a resurrection. A few moments later, I lather myself up in resurrection-cream again, because I’m dead, Jim. He got me again.
This time, though, I got something from him out of the deal. I now know approximately where he is.
Clearly, though, it’s time for a new strategy.
Before I leave the safety of the my resurrection-building, I dig through the remains of the armory. It’s been picked through pretty good, and the Allied cause has already made off with the good stuff, but I know that what I’m looking for is not used nearly as much as it ought to be. The odds are good I’ll find one. Tossing aside a few dusty satchel bags with the name ‘Cabby’ scrawled on them, sure enough, there lies a mortar tube with a case of smoke rounds next to it. I gather it all up as quickly as I can and head to the roof.
Using the pitch of the roof to shield me, I first fire off a round of high explosive to make sure my range is right. It is. I switch to the smoke canisters. I put a thick wall of smoke between my location and the row of buildings that provides my best cover into the town, and then a few more in the killing field between the row of buildings and the town, proper.
I move fast. That smoke doesn’t last forever. I don’t even have time to grab a different weapon. I’m stuck with the rifle. Since Piercer ‘only’ has a rifle, it is a fair fight. However, I’m feeling vengeful at this point, and what I really want is Bar’s submachine gun so I can drain a full magazine into Piercer’s chest. Settling for the rifle, I run like the wind.
Fortunately, I had planned ahead. The smoke I dropped in the killing field was dropped last, so there was still some to work with when I got to it. For the first time in an hour, I stepped inside city limits. I hastily made for a ruin that still had four walls, so I could lie down and catch my breath without getting capped as I thought through my next move.
I noted to myself that throughout my smoke-guantlet, I hadn’t heard a single shot.
It could be because Piercer hadn’t had a shot. Perhaps my curtain of smoke had so concealed my movements that he never caught a glimpse of my body streaking through it. This seemed unlikely. Given his last known location, he could have had me, literally, dead to rights several times.
The town was eerily silent. I belly-crawled out of the building so that my own footsteps wouldn’t give me away. I was pleased that I was able to get to the next building without being ‘dead-ed’, since the last time I thought I was invisible, I discovered that Piercer had been playing with me, taking me out just at the moment that I thought I was safest.
I moved craftily and as silently as possible towards the sniper-hide he had been using, being sure that my angle of approach would be from behind his line of sight.
I didn’t really believe that Piercer hadn’t shot at me because he didn’t have a visual on me. He’s not that kind of soldier. Some perspective is in order.
When the Axis army prepares to roll up on a town, they like to ‘prep’ it first. They set up artillery and hammer it awhile. Bombers come in to cut morale down a notch. But they are not above propaganda when it is available, and it was available in this attack, too. Just hours earlier, a JU52 had come flying over. Perched, as I was, on the roof of the church, watching the attack unfold, I had a perfect view of the thousands of fluttering leaflets the plane dropped onto the town. I scooped up one from the several that landed on the church, I saw beaming up at me, the gritty, determined, and slightly smug face of the master assassin, Piercer. In blurred typeface below was the caption, “He’s coming for you.”
The threat was not idle. Having been party to such battles in the past, I knew that they only dropped this leaflet when Piercer was actually available to make an appearance. The leaflet often had its desired effect: stifling our movements, making us over-cautious, and so on. It worked because Piercer had a reputation. A well-earned reputation. Give Piercer a rifle and set him loose in a town, and havoc would follow as he moved from one hiding place to another, plinking one of my fellow soldiers before moving off to another.
That’s why I knew he did not shoot me because he hadn’t seen me through the smoke. He hadn’t seen me at all, because he was no longer in the same location. Perhaps he had re-located because he guessed that my smoke trick would do the job, but at any rate, he had almost certainly displaced.
Displacing is the technique whereby one engages the enemy from one location and then moves to engage the enemy from yet another location.
It was a technique that had led to innumerable complaints from soldiers on both sides of the war. It wouldn’t be a typical day at the office if charges of war crimes didn’t bubble up to the high tribunals, accusing soldiers of the other side of various nefarious acts with obscure names such as ‘clipping’ or ‘hax’ or what not. It was standard fare for soldiers to die from a direction they did not anticipate in a manner they could not imagine, and conclude that the only explanation was that someone had broken some code of honor. No… it couldn’t possibly be that the one that cut them down had appeared in an entirely new location and you, not even contemplating the possibility that someone might move, hadn’t protected yourself accordingly!
No, Piercer would have displaced. But not, I think, because he knew my smoke gambit would almost certainly work.
I crawled into another empty hull of a building to catch my breath again. I dried my sweaty palms on my uniform and with the back of my hand wiped the perspiration that was dripping into my eyes. With better clarity of vision, I pulled out my map and searched for a way to test my hypothesis. A quick look through the binoculars sealed the deal. I stowed them away and army-crawled towards a new destination.
It was so quiet and still, I half-thought that maybe Piercer had moved on to a different town, even though that would have been entirely out of character for him. Even as I had the thought, white noise crackled on my radio; someone had pressed and released the ‘transmit’ button on their radio just long enough to prove that they were still in the area, and close. None of my allies were in the town, so it could only be him. I considered maintaining radio silence so as to keep him guessing, but then I was afraid that if he thought he was finally alone, he would indeed shove off. I clicked my own radio, and continued crawling.
How do you hunt a man who displaces intelligently and takes into account the possibility that his opponent is aware of this, and is likewise hunting you?
One had to assume that Piercer was no longer in his original hide but anticipated that his opponent would feel compelled to rule it out. What would the wise sniper do when he displaced? He would set up in another location that would allow him line of sight over his old position. Where in this city was the best place to snipe into the sniper’s old sniper-hide? Answer that, and that is probably where Piercer is now, I reasoned.
I had now crawled over rubble and heaps of iron-shards and other detritus from war in a wide flank to test my hypothesis. I eased my way up the stairs of a three story, red-bricked building, and gently hoisted myself and my gear onto the roof. Very slowly, I lifted my head over the crest. It was exactly the kind of view I was hoping for. While I had a very limited view of the original sniper-hide, I had an excellent view of the building that had the best view of the approach to the original sniper-hide.
I saw nothing.
I was suddenly struck with the fear that my own reasoning was being used against me. If he knew that I would check out the sniper-hide, but knew that I knew that he knew that I would check the sniper-hide, then he wouldn’t be watching the sniper-hide. He’d have scoped out the location that would have an excellent view of the location that had the best view of the location with the best view to the approach to the sniper-hide. But if he knew that, I knew that he would know that…
I gripped my rifle tightly in my hand and backed down the roof a bit. As discretely as I could, I scanned the area buildings and roofs for the glint of a rifle barrel or the tiniest bit of movement. Seeing nothing, I reasoned that there was nothing for it but to hope that this shrewd warrior was not luring me into an infinite regress–something that I knew was logically impossible, anyway, but could be played out practically speaking until I died of old age on this roof. Besides, the war was waging elsewhere, and I wasn’t doing much to contribute to it. Perhaps it would be better to get a bullet in the back of the head and then join my companions on the front.
Even as I had the thought, I decided that pinning down a sniper such as Piercer in a town with no other targets was itself a good contribution to the cause.
I edged my way back up to ridge of the roof. I trained my rifle on the location where my math predicted he would be, and waited.
A few minutes passed and I heard the familiar white noise of the radio clicking. I replied. The fact that we were able to pick up each other’s transmissions at all meant that we were within fifty meters of each other. Perhaps I startled him just by virtue of being alive near him, or maybe I had just exhausted his patience, but just at that moment, in the area I hoped he would be, I saw the tip of his rifle move. I didn’t even bother to wipe the sweat away from my eyes. This wasn’t the time to break concentration, but it required a real act of the will to ignore the rivulets of salt water streaming down my face.
First the tip of the rifle, then the rifle, and now his head. He was on his belly, creeping into a new vantage point. His own weapon was aimed straight at the old sniper-hide. I knew I didn’t have long before he displaced or became gripped by the sensation that he was being watched, so as soon as I saw his shoulders… CRACK!
A hint of red followed by his slumped body told me all I needed to know, but what I wanted to know was how he felt about the whole thing. I didn’t have long to wait–white clouds of expletives poured out of my radio. With deep satisfaction, I retorted with my own puffs of profanity, and let him sort out for himself just what I thought about his comments.
It seemed as though we were going to be exchanging pleasantries all night, and I didn’t mind. But then came the report that a JU52 had been spotted dropping leaflets on yet another defenseless town on the edge of the Alsace, and I knew I was needed elsewhere.
First in, last out.
Copyright 2016, PF Mosquito. All Rights Reserved