CHAPTER 13: Putsch (Leaving Bodenwerder)
28 December 1989, South side of Weser uplands, outskirt of Bodenwerder.
After last night's artillery strike, all that was left was craters of artillery shell's impact, followed by burning wrecks of enemy APCs, wrecked attack helicopters, and countless numbers of dead bodies. Rodriguez and Erich stood facing the charred remain of their enemies at the uplands, looking at how much devastation that their force has inflicted.
"Our Intel suggest that 2 mechanized battalion of the Czechoslovakian force attacked us last night. They were supposed to be heading for Hannover." Erich said to Rodriguez.
"2 Battalion. Just to attack our position." Rodriguez said. "That's some bullshit right there, I mean why on earth they would try to attack us with infantry wave. That's suicidal and stupid."
"And all that for what?" Erich replied, looking at the German Leopard 2A4 parked just behind their Leopard 1 platoon. "Sometime I have to wonder, what the point of this war is anyway. All it gives is death and chaos."
"That's just the fate of human nature, Erich. There's really nothing you can do about it." Rodriguez responded. "Then again, why did they come here anyway? They should've known better when we engaged their armored force yesterday evening" He criticized.
"They probably had no idea that we have taken the town nor even near the town." Erich said to him in return. "According to my gunner, she said that the town was previously occupied by deserting Czech units." He said to Rodriguez "And from the reports of my battalion commander, he reported that it happened in several other places as well."
"By the way, what's the condition of your tank is it still okay or not?"
"Apart from my Machinegun and vision slit on the roof that was damage from your canister shot, my tank seems to be working fine as wine." Erich replied "but thanks for saving my ass back then"
"Herr Kommandant!" Erika called him from the distance on top of their Leopard 1A5 tank.
Erich turned his head towards her. He sees her waving at him, pointing at his commander station.
"Battaillonkommandant just radioed in, something urgent!" She exclaimed at him in German language.
"Got to go first, see you later" Erich pats Rodriguez's shoulder before slowly walking towards his tank. Upon reaching his tank, he climbed on top of the turret with his right foot on the stepping hole of the sideskirt while his left leg firmly on top of the hull. With Erika's help, he climbed the tank and reached for the radio. Erika slide to her gunner seat immediately when Erich entered the hatch.
"Gefechtsstand, this is Saber 1-1, go ahead."
"Saber 1-1, Division just issued an order for your panzergruppe" His battalion commander told him "You are to return back to Münster immediately."
"Saber 1-1, verstanden." Erich replied. "Any particular reason why?"
"Division decides to give you one-week temporary leave after seeing your performance in the battle" Their commander replied "They are also trying to consider the possibility of giving medals to your platoon."
Erika heard what their battalion commander has said, eavesdropping their conversation.
Erich paused for several second, looking at the scenery from his periscope mirror surrounding the hatch. Of all the time they can give us a break, they give it now? His thought runs wild.
"Sir, can I refuse the temporary leave?"
"No. Division's order state that your leave will be in effect when you return to Münster… Unless you're disobeying their order." His battalion commander sarcastically told him.
He exhaled a long breath, sighing before replying "This is Saber 1-1, understood. Will be returning now." He then switched the radio channel from his Battalion commander's frequency to their tank platoon radio frequency.
"All Saber callsign, this is Saber 1-1"
"This is Saber 1-2, go ahead."
"Saber 1-3 reporting."
"Saber 1-4 reading you loud and clear."
"Division command is ordering us to go back to Münster. We're given a one week temporary leave." He notifies his tank commanders.
"Temporary leave sir?" Dietrich said to him.
"Yes." Erich concisely replied. He then switched the radio channel again, this time connecting with Rodriguez's tank.
"Saber 1-1 to Rook 1-1 Actual" he tried to contact Rodriguez's tank.
"Rook 1-1 actual go ahead." One of his crew replied.
"Can you call your Sergeant? This is an urgent matter." Erich told the American tank crew.
"Sure thing, one sec." The radio then went silent for a couple of second before Rodriguez took the radio.
"This is Rook 1-1 actual, what is it?"
"Bad news Rodriguez, My division is giving me one week break. Looks like I won't be seeing you for one whole week now."
"Too bad, I was about to share my secret porn stash with you" Rodriguez joked followed by a slight laughter from him. "But congratulations for that, you deserve that good one week rest." He congratulates Erich.
"I don't know man; I still want to fight until I reach Berlin." He continued. "It's a vendetta that needs to be settled."
"Look man, you seriously need a break. I know your country is invaded by these lowlife commies, but if your own commander has gave you a break like that, take it. Even I am still trying to wait if my Battalion commander would grant my leave since last week."
FOB south of Hannover
"Hey Wilma, are you okay?" Hans asked her, looking her sitting on her gunner seat with uncomfortable expression.
"I'm okay, it's just that this wound at my stomach is killing me" she replied. "But nothing serious though, the doctors I've met in that town yesterday treated me well enough…. Though a painkiller would be lovely right now" She adds.
Hans stared at her for a while sitting on his loader seat and then reached for his ration carton. He took the chocolate bar in his ration and handed it to Wilma.
"How about this? Will this lessen the pain?" He said to Wilma as he handed out the chocolate bar.
"That would help" She replied with positive tone and taking the chocolate bar from his hand. "Thank you by the way." She grinned cheerfully.
"If it makes you smile, that would be enough for me" He said in return, later giving her a wide smile.
"Hans!" Schroif called him from outside.
He quickly responded by standing on top of his seat and poking his body out of the turret.
"Yes Herr Kommandant?"
"How much ammunition is stowed in our panzer?" Schroif asked him for details.
" Just give me a moment, Herr Kommandant" He replied back before entering the turret and checking the ammunition stowage below the turret at the hull and later bringing his head up, looking at the stowed ammunition at the turret's rear.
"One… two… three… four… five…." He counted all the ammunition and identifying the type before calculating all the 100mm rounds stowed in their T-55AM2B tank. "Kommandant, we have only 10 rounds left; 4 Bastions, and 6 Sabot rounds." He gave his report to Schroif.
"Thank you for that." Schroif expressing his gratitude to Hans before jotting down the information he just acquired into his notebook.
"Herr Kommandant." Hans called Schroif.
"Yes Feldwebel Hans?" Schroif replied, looking at him directly.
"Any news from Wunstorf yet?" Hans queried, feeling curious after noticing the gunshot sound from the west has now gone silence in the past few hours.
"No news about that. We could probably assume it's already under the capitalist's dirty hand." He replied with a slight tone of hatred at the end of his sentence. "And If they're coming in closer to the city, we'll blast them to hell as soon we can supply our panzers with more ammunition."
"No need for that, Schroif" His Battalion commander approached them from behind, which both Hans and Schroif quickly saluted. "At ease soldiers" He said to them and they dropped their hands.
"What do you mean, herr Kommandant?"
"We got order to retreat back to East Berlin right now. It's an urgent matter they said." Their battalion commander replied, whilst his heavy breath was visible from the condensed vapor coming out from his mouth while speaking to them.
"But any specific reasons for this?" Schroif continued asking.
"Division got wise I guess." The old commander replied, taking the cigarette out from his pocket and lighting it up. "Do you want some?"
Schroif shook his head as a reply.
"Oh yeah, I forgot. You don't smoke." His battalion commander then put his cigarette back in his pocket. "Which reminds me, we'll be pulling out from Hannover tonight, so pack your stuff and refuel your kampfpanzer."
"What about our allies? Can't we stay here to support them?" Schroif continues to ask more and more question.
"This city is already hard enough to defend with our dwindling forces, this front is basically a lost fight for us, we better be consolidating our force back to defend the capital…. And I don't want to waste good men like you" His battalion commander patiently answer his question while patting his shoulder.
"…" a few second of silence from Schroif indicates his reluctance in following his order, but he understood that there is nothing they can do right now other than to fall back. "Understood Herr Kommandant, I'll notify my platoon." He replied, saluting him.
"Good." His commander succinctly replied. "At ease soldier."
Flashback, 22nd December 1989, Day six of the Warsaw Pact invasion. Northern Outskirt of Glandorf.
Panzeraufklärungslehrbataillon 11, Panzerlehrbrigade 9
"Marcus", Erika whispered, tried to wake him up from his foxhole.
Marcus woke up, his eyes half opened and still feeling sluggish.
"What is it?" He replied with weedy voice tone.
"Enemy is coming sir." She informed him.
"Steltz counted a company sized enemy platoon, at least 30 kampfpanzer and 30 more schutzenpanzers" she reported. "And they're heading towards this town as we speak"
"Alright…" Marcus rubbed both of his eyes and stood up from his foxhole, looking around. "Tell the others to get ready. Tell them not to turn their engine on first until it's confirmed that the enemy's direction is unchanged."
"Verstanded" She replied with slow voice, rushing towards the other tank in the platoon.
Marcus took his binocular and heads toward the edge of the forest, where his platoon member overwatching the front is located. Few minutes walking and he arrived at their nest.
"Steltz." Marcus whispered.
"Yes Herr commandant" Steltz replied, him and his partner looking at Marcus.
"Any developing situation?" He inquired to them.
"So far nothing Herr Kommandant except their numbers now doubled from before, so we're expecting some 60 plus panzers heading to our they are still advancing." Steltz replied while point at the enemy's direction. Marcus used his binocular and tried to spot the enemy.
"Alright, get back to your panzers and get ready." He informed.
"Alles Klar." Steltz responded before he and his partner got up, picked their MG3 machinegun and MP2 submachineguns, and headed back to their tank.
This is some kind of mockery, isn't it? His thought speaks, as Marcus raced back to his tank. Upon arriving, everyone is already packed and manned their tank, but their engine is still turned off. Marcus hopped on top of his tank's deck from the front and making his way towards his station.
"Everyone ready?" Marcus wore his earphone set and turned on the radio.
"Yes Herr Kommandant" Erika replied, followed by the others.
"Good." Marcus then pulled out the tactical map on top of the radio. "Right…. The enemy now has doubled their number and there's only 16 of us defending this position."
"That's a hard job for only 4 panzers here." Erika said to him.
"Maybe…. Maybe not. We can fall back to the west side of Glandorf's outskirt and perhaps we can ambush them once their unit are trying to exit the town" he said.
"Sounds good sir" His loader replied, feeling convinced that his plan might work.
"Well, that might work, if the enemy wouldn't decide to flank around the town and ambush us instead" Erika stated her opinion.
"They could, but that's a risky move for them to expose their flank, so I don't think they can flank us" Marcus assured her.
"Alright then. Then promise me Herr Kommandant" Erika said to her.
"Promise you what?" He replied, feeling awkward when Erika said the word 'promise'
"Promise me that if we are able to get out of here alive, you'll take me in a dinner?" She stated to Marcus.
"Alright. That's a promise." Marcus replied "And promise me this as well, you will visit my family's house for dinner." Marcus said to her.
"Promise." She replied happily before manning her gunner station.
23rd December 1989, Glandorf.
"Thanks for suggesting me about that flanking maneuver, Wilma" Schroif thanked her. "Should we followed them right through the town, we wouldn't be able to capture this town" he adds.
"Well Herr Kommandant…. That was the only obvious choice we have, considering only 4 of them defended the town, and majority of the enemy managed to retreat." She replied apathetically. "And from what I learned, it's never a good thing to let your enemy retreat."
"Well, but we did capture this town." Hans cheered.
"In what price Hans, 20 Panzers knocked out by only 4 panzers." She stated. "That 4 knocked out panzer has more determination than our comrade commissar who blindly told to charge against them."
"But remember Wilma, our casualties might be even higher if we didn't stop them" Schroif added. "I was going to ask you why are you hesitant to pull the trigger on that fleeing soldiers but i decide to overlook it."
"If you want an answer from me Herr Kommandant, it's possibly because we aren't just some savages shooting retreating soldiers…. But at least Schmidt did the job you asked and he mowed them down like some helpless animal" She replied with a hint of sarcasm in his word.
Shortly afterward, One of their tank crew approaches them with two prisoners, who apparently an unarmed civilian.
"Herr Kommandant, my scout found this men wandering near our position, and it looks like they aren't Deustch." His men presented the prisoner to Schroif with both of their hands raised up.
"Here's their equipment as well, her Kommandant" One of the soldier gave 3 Polaroid camera belonging to their prisoners. Schroif took the camera and began his interrogation.
"Who are you and why are you here?" Schroif asked both of the prisoners. None replied.
"They're must be photographer or journalist from the looks of it" Wilma told Schroif. "And from my guessing…" She then hopped off from the tank and walked towards the prisoners.
"Do you speak English?" Wilma asked the prisoners, uttering English language to them which surprised not only the prisoners, but Schroif as well.
"Y-yeah" one of the prisoners answered her question.
"What's your name?" She asked again, this time with softer, calmer voice.
"I'm McTaggart. This is Jenson. We're photographer from UK" McTaggart identified himself with thick British accent. "We're here to photograph the scenery after we were told that there's a big scoop here." He hesitantly told Wilma.
"I see…" Wilma then turned her head to Schroif and talked in German "Herr Kommandant, they're here to take picture, nothing more. I suggest we should just let them go" she told him..
"Are you sure about that? What if they're some kind of spies watching our movement?" Schroif said to her, feeling suspicious.
"Don't worry Kommandant, they're harmless." She assured.
"Alright… you can send them on the nearest road and release them there." Schroif reluctantly decides to let both of the prisoners go. "Hans, you follow her, make sure that both of them will not do something funny."
"Alles klar Kommandant." Hans got up from the ground and picked his assault rifle.
"Can I get our camera as well?" McTaggart tried to plead for his cameras.
"Kommandant, can you give them their camera?"
Schroif gave their cameras back, much to his displeasure.
"Alright you two, come along." Wilma instructed both of the men to start moving.
They started walking along the field, trying to reach the road.
"Hey…" Jenson tried to speak to Wilma.
"Name's Wilma. Feldwebel Wilma. That's sergeant Wilma to you." She replied.
"Where did you learn to speak English?" Jenson asked her.
"My dad taught me. He used to travel to America all the time." She answered. "by the way, how did you reach this place anyway?"
"We came here using our jeep, we didn't know you guys had overrun this position." Jenson replied.
"Come to think of it, you're so friendly even though my country is fighting against yours" Wilma said to him.
"Nationality was never my biggest problem anyway, I usually live to travel and take a shot of picture wherever I go" Jenson replied to her saying with delighted feeling.
"I See." Wilma understood his point, fascinated by their story. Realizing the road is up ahead, she stopped her pacing. Hans and the two prisoners also stopped right there. "Alright boys, the road is up ahead. Hope we won't see you guys around" She said to Jenson and McTaggart.
"One more thing." McTaggart picked his camera. "Can I take your picture?"
Wilma smirked softly.
"Sure" she replied.
A couple of snap later, McTaggart is done. "How about yer fella?" McTaggart pointed his camera to Hans.
"N-Nein" Hans waving his hands off, a sign that he doesn't want his face getting photographed. "Wilma, tell them not to take my picture." He told Wilma.
"Okay." Wilma nodded her head. "He doesn't want his face to be photographed, he's kinda shy person actually." She explained to McTaggart.
"Understandable." McTaggart replied. "Well, we got to go now. Thanks for sparing us though."
"Just make sure you don't run into us again." She stated to them.
"We will" Both Jenson and McTaggart replied before walking towards the road.
"What were you discussing just now, Wilma" Hans asked her.
"Nothing important Hans, not that it matter to you." She answered. "Come on, let's go back to our Panzer.
Present time, 1700 hours.
"Saber panzergruppen, this is Geffectsstand"
"Saber 1-1 this is Hauptmann Erich, go ahead."
"Give me your current SITREP"
"We're 10 kilometers away from Bodenwerder FOB and now en-route to Münster, over."
"Understood, Standby" Their base commander told them. "Saber 1-1, we have a priority mission for you"
"Another Recon mission, Gefechtsstand?" He tried to guess.
"Yes." Their battalion commander replied succinctly. "I want your panzer –platoon to head towards the town Eschede. You'll be supported by a Saber 3 panzergruppe with their platoon of Spähpanzer Luchs for this mission. You'll rendezvous with them at grid point 421 665 on your map"
"…" Erich checked the map and noticed that the town they were currently told to go to is right behind enemy lines.
"Is there anything wrong, Hauptmann?"
"No, Kommandant. Nothing." He replied. "But we're currently lacking ammunition right now"
"Don't worry too much about that, a supply convoy is enroute along with the Saber 3 Panzergruppe, you just need to get to the rendezvous point."
"Verstanden, Gefechtsstand." Erich replied before turning his SEM80 radio off. He looked out from his hatch, and saw the town of Bodenwerder began to fade away from his view. Their tank passed a couple of knocked enemy armored vehicle, one which they engaged last night.
The crew inside Erich's tank was already dead beat, exhausted from last night's engagement and the fact that they were sleep-deprived for 24 hours now. Except for Josef who already took a quick nap back at the FOB, Erika and Friedrich both slept in their sleep, sleeping calmly despite the vehicle's vibration.
"Hey, both of you, wake up. We got a new mission." Erich woke both of them up.
A couple second of silence and Erich woke them up again. This time, there was a response, they finally woke up.
"Mission? What kind of mission is it right now?" Friedrich asked while rubbing both of his eyes.
"A legitimate recon mission for our platoon." He told them. "We will link up with Saber 3 Panzerplatoon in the next town."
"Anything more specific, Herr Kommandant?" Erika asked.
"Nothing. Gefechtsstand told me just to rendezvous with Saber 3 platoon. And head to Eschede."
"But Eschede is too far behind the enemy line…. That's basically close to the enemy position." Erika exclaimed, with suspicion lingering inside her head.
"Well, order is an order…"
"Verstanden, Herr Kommandant." He replied, half sleepy, unwilling but understood his order.
Erika on the other hand, looked at the horizon in her primary gunner sight, switching to thermal sight. The turret azimuth indicator next to her indicates that the turret is aimed straight frontally and all the green and red light from the fire control panel light the dark interior.
To Be Continued.