Continued from here
Unfrozen. Meade gripped the door handle and squeezed.
Sheets of asphalt exploding. Tree limbs splinter and burst asunder. Smoke, shrapnel, stone hurtled like shuriken through the heavy morning air.
A cacophony of sounds pound the thin hollow shell of Meade’s M113. The driver swerves behind a tree and into the lee of a building as the patch of cobblestone road explodes behind them.
50 Cal guns open up from the M2 and M1 Abrams in Meades rear along the road.
No where to run, the gunners squeeze the triggers, straining to push bullets out faster. Fighting the kick, pressing down to stay on the now side sliding, bobbing and weaving target. Praying for deliverance the men send a wall of lead.
“Out, Out NOW”. The gangway drops ponderously, men press out into the noise, running low and fast to cover.
Ahead Meade can see the plumes of smoke at the river indicating where the French 2nd regiment and ragged remains of 4th Divisions airmobile command hold the bridge.
Relief had arrived.
For both sides.
The distinct sound of the T-80 engines could be heard by Meade and his men. If the analysts were right the plumes of spoke were likely the thin skinned French AMX series vehicles. Which packed a punch but splattered like hot butter when hit.
Today he would test Americas best against the Soviets newest.
Barely four feet or a 1.5m of the AMX-10RC was exposed as it sat snug behind the high wall waiting for the Soviets.
Ltn Sharp’s looked on from across the River. His French was flawless. It was the Parisian accent that dis enchanted his more rural subordinates. Again Sharp cursed Adc Mitchell for his aggressive forward posture. Always the one with the smart answer. Mitchell had the AMX such that it would certainly get the first shot off. But that would likely be its last.
Mitchell was honourable, brave, resolute and mortally wounded. Yet he refused to retreat nor let his men leave the Eastern side of the bridge.
Sharp watched the T-72 lumber thru the harvest ready crops. Its tracks flattening all under its wide tread.
The recoil from the 105mm gun knocked the AMX back on its 6 wheels. Less than a second later the T-72’s turret popped skyward. Secondary explosions rocked and vibrated the waiting Frenchmen. A small cheer arose, the sound of “Vive la France” drifted across the water.
“Hurry” Sharp said in his native tongue. “Reload and fire”. A second T-72 rumbled, then traversed pulling in behind the burning wreckage of its team mate. She wasted no time, firing quickly. The wall, did little to protect the AMX. The 23mm armor did even less.
Oblivious to any danger the tank commander popped out of his command hatch and surveyed the scene. Sharp saw him point to the bridge between two crumbling buildings. It would not be long now thought Sharp.