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Now part two: As all that gunfire was going on with the two American half-tracks, two more half-tracks were coming up the road behind them, making four in total. Right when the first firefight wa

The smoke screen was still forming so the upper floor of that building was not yet blocked by smoke when the screenshot was taken.  Below is a screenshot of the tank that won the bottle of schnapps. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Unteroffizier Schäfer huddles for warmth on the second floor of a farmhouse.  He has been pushing his men for over twenty minutes through deep snow, and getting out of the cold wind is a blessing, although a short one.  They are moving cautiously, ever since the tank commander warned that there is an Ami tank across the shallow valley.  He watched as the tank commander blew up an enemy halftrack earlier - the flames are still visible - but the tank is still out there.

Schäfer sees the tank slowly crawl to a hull-down position behind their building.  The barrel lowers, and the night is split with a flash as the main gun fires.

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Schäffer has no way of knowing if the enemy tank is hit.  In the still icy night voices carry.  He can hear the tanker shout to fire again.

 

There is a roar and the night explodes into day...

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One of Schäffer's men cries out "He's hit!"  Seconds later Schäffer hears the screams of men dying horribly.  His unit is new, and they are unaccustomed to the carnage of the battlefield.

 

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Editors Note - B & W for photograph purists. 

 

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Across the shallow valley, the US tank destroyer crew views their handiwork with satisfaction.  The commander knows they dodged a big one this time.  There is a glowing 75mm hole cored through the armor on the front of his gun carriage.  The German tank was firing down on them, so the round punched through the front but on a downward angle.  It missed anything vital and exited through the floor.  They were backing up too, so everything worked out pretty well.  Anderson, the bow gunner, would not completely agree, as he is bleeding from several wounds caused by hot metal shavings from the enemy shell.  Still, they aren't burning but the other guys surely are.

 

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Schäffer watches in horrified fascination as troops that had been near the tank rush away from the inferno.  He can see a wet blackness on some of their uniforms, glistening in the flickering light from the fire.  He will find out later that it is blood, as several of the troops have suffered injuries from the catastrophic explosion.

 

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Unteroffizier Kramer is no stranger to the battlefield.  He instantly knows they are silhouetted by the flames and he orders his men to disperse quickly.

Edited by Heinrich505
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Again, B & W of the same shot posted earlier.  Didn't crop the previous shot correctly...sorry about that.

 

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Krämer leads his men deeper into the shadows, expecting more enemy shells to come roaring in.  His men follow quickly, trusting their leader's instincts.  Krämer can feel a warm sticky wetness spreading across his chest.  Dammit, he thinks, wounded again.  He has lost track of how many times now.  They'll be replacing my black wound badge with a silver one, he thinks to himself ruefully as he quickly pushes his way through the snow-covered branches. 

 

The war goes on...

Heinrich505

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17 hours ago, Heinrich505 said:

Bud,

  Love those fall colors.  What were those guys doing, Leaf Watching?  Nice shooting at 1000 meters.

The top picture shows a column of smoke in the far distance. That's the burning vehicles in the bottom picture. Gives an interesting sense of distance, I think. When I get low with the camera at either end, it's hard to spot shooter or target. Scary, to imagine having to watch for attacks both close by and so far away.

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  Hadn't seen you posting for a while and wondered where you were off to.  Some white sandy beach in the Bahamas, perhaps?  ^_^

Heinrich505

I wish I'd been off to a sandy beach. We had some err..health related crises unexpectedly show up. Slooooowly getting back into my hobbies now that things are better. :)

 

Edited by Bud Backer
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17 hours ago, Bud Backer said:

 

I wish I'd been off to a sandy beach. We had some err..health related crises unexpectedly show up. Slooooowly getting back into my hobbies now that things are better. :)

 

Welcome back Bud, and I hope you are fully back to your previous health levels, or at least a path towards such....

 

We have missed your many and varied contributions around here!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Waffen SS Jagdpanzer IV/70(V) seen during the battle of the Bulge. This footage/photo is seen in a Wochenschau newsreel that depicts the battle on the northern flank (6th SS) during the first few days.

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2075565/Vivid-new-Battle-Bulge-photos-offer-seen-look-war-weary-soldiers-braving-frigid-weather-fight-Nazi-Germanys-major-offensive-World-War-II.html

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The forest is suddenly quiet.  The wind still sighs gently through the trees but all other sounds are muffled by the falling snow.  It is cold, oh so cold.  He cannot feel his feet. 

He remembers cold from bird hunting in Nebraska.  It was never like this.  He hates the cold here.  He hates this country, so closed in, the forests deep and silent, as if they were some living malignant entity that swallowed up the living and left no traces.  You could see for miles across the fields back home.

The town nearby is St. Vith.  He knows that.  He has no idea where in the world he is.  France?  Belgium?  Germany?  It doesn’t matter.  Death is stalking him and he is cold and afraid.

 

 

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He glances up at the sky.  What time is it anyway?  His watch says 3:30 PM.  It might as well be night.  The snow drifts through the openings of the trees.  It could almost be beautiful…

 

 

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He gives a quick glance back towards his jeep.  It waits, cold, beckoning.  He could run to it and fire it up and race away from here…just keep driving as far and as fast as he could.  Of course he knows he can’t do that.  He is posted here, along with Stan.  They are the left flank.  They are to warn the others if the Krauts come through this way.

And they have.  He is pinned down though.  The enemy came upon their position too quickly and too quietly.  If he moves, death will find him.  He lays in the cold snow, trying to conceal his breath that comes out quickly in puffs of white condensation.  He is so cold and so scared…

 

 

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He glances through the underbrush.  He sees them.  Straight ahead and flanking him to the right.  He ducks back down.  Stan is up ahead of him, but he isn’t sure where.  He doesn’t know what to do.  Fight?  Flee?  He can’t leave Stan in the lurch.  “Stan,” he hisses, trying to keep his voice low.  He thinks he hears…no, he can’t be sure…the damn Krauts are probably too close to Stan and he can’t move or speak either.

 

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He tries to make himself small in the snowy undergrowth.  He clutches his helmet close to the side of his face.  He wills his body to stop shivering.  He is so cold – he’s never felt cold like this.  It must be fear, he tells himself.

 

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He imagines they are close now.  He daren’t look up any more.  He can barely hear muffled voices in German.  They are hunting him.  How ironic, he thinks.  He used to be one of the best hunters in his small town of North Platte, Nebraska.  These guys are good, he thinks.  They really know their craft.  He shivers involuntarily, and wonders if they will take prisoners.  He works his fingers to try and get blood back into them.  He can barely grasp his grease gun.

 

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Finally he forces himself to look again.  Damn, they are closer.  He has to make up his mind fast, but his thoughts are dulled by the cold.  Should he run?  Should he open fire?  He’ll get some of them, but he probably won’t get away.  Where the hell is Stan?  What is Stan going to do?  If only they could coordinate their movements…

 

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…and Stan opens fire.  He thinks they must have gotten too close and Stan had no choice.  Where seconds before he could see the approaching hunters, now he sees nothing.  Those bastards are really good, he thinks.  They’ve gone to ground in an instant.  He ducks down and tries to will himself to fire his weapon.

Now he hears a cry of agony.  Stan, that sounds like him.  He’s been hit.  I’m alone now.  Do they see me?  They saw Stan.  Will they think they got all of us and just bypass me? 

 

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His hands are too cold.  Or is he just frozen with fear?  Bullets are keening past him, clipping branches and leaves.  If he tried to surrender now, he’d just be cut down by all the lead ripping past him. 

He feels a punch in the side.  What the…?   He is surprised.  What caused that? he wonders, thoughts dulled by cold and fear.  Now he feels a wetness spreading inside his layers of jackets.  It feels warm and cold at the same time.  There is no pain though.  He must be too cold to feel anything.

He can’t move.  He tries to grip his grease gun.  He can’t.  He doesn’t cry out.  What good would it do?  His cheek feels cold against the frozen earth.  It feels like the damn forest is sucking the life out of him as the cold slowly worms its tendrils deep inside his body. 

He wonders if anyone will find him.  How will his parents take the news?  He imagines his mother crying inconsolably…and his mind drifts away into oblivion with the frozen touch of Death.

 

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Silence falls again, disturbed only by the frozen, incessant wind, rustling through the tree boughs.  The hunters rise slowly, gently, alert for any signs of movement.

 

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The enemy approach cautiously and find Stan’s body, lying partially concealed by the forest path.

 

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B & W of same shot.

 

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He lies silent, not far from his jeep, but far enough off the path that he won’t be easily noticed.  None shall know of his fate.  He joins the legion of those listed as Missing In Action.

 

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The Forest jealously guards her dead.  She gave up Stan, for now, but that is all.  She will hold onto the boy from Nebraska for a while yet. 

Death moves on, riding on the shoulders of the hunters…for now.  The hunters know that Death is capricious and can change sides in an instant.

 

The war goes on…

 

Heinrich505

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