F company were dug in. Haggard and tired from 5 days of intense fighting they were looking forward to ‘resting’ in Veghel whilst the Poms finished taking tea and got their ass’s up here pronto. The British never ceased to amaze him they would call in the most terrible new in such an understated way that you would do a double take.
Silly bastards. The Royal Dragoons were lead by a mans man tho! What a tough guy, Lt Thorogood was a barrel chested man from the Northen reaches of London. With ham hock sized fists, a handle bar moustache and a blood red eye; he put the fear of God into the Devil himself.
“Lt Monk” Thorogood called. “ theres a good chap would you mind relaying to HQ that most of what looks like a Battalion of SS are headed our way dear boy.
“A Kampfegruppe already” Are you sure ?”
“Ahh yes am I sure.? My man Tavish said he stopped counting platoons, Flak guns, and Stugs at 20 units…..so no ,I am not sure but I’m bloody sure they are headed your way”.
I rolled my eyes…. “Johhny get bloody HQ on the radio and tell them we got company and lots of it. “ I looked at Thorogood and drily asked “anything else? Tea of course, but besides that?”
He stiffened, saluted and spun a way, over his shoulder he said “ Yes, Tea is where I am headed. There are also a dozen of those things you call Panthers with the 10th SS as well. I nearly forgot.” His broad shoulders rumped up and down at his own joke.
“Allright – get the Platoon leaders appraised, we got 3 AT guns due any minute. Tell the boys to get ready for an arse pounding.. “ Yes Sir” Said the radioman. “Also 101st HQ is reporting the same and is headed back to us in a hurry they got Gerry on their tail and want some close support arty and smoke.
“OK,OK…fucking great. This damn mist is killing visibility, let me talk to the 105’”. Small arms fire drifted thru mist, then the whump of mortars firing smoke for the 101 HQ, he was way too far out with no support.
“Arty this isMonk, I need Fire for effect at the following co-ords…..you ready..”
At the other end of the line a squawk came back on the closeness of the fire…..” I know, I know but we are FUBAR’d here , the Captain is out there in Beukelaar alone, with a few British tin cans, They will take over the spotting shortly.
Both sides of town erupted in flames that could only be vehicle kills. In the distance thru the mist the roiling black smoke was visible even despite the fog. Monk glanced across at Thorogood. His back had stiffened ever so slightly. He knew the sound of his dying scout cars. He then carried on with tea.
“F company on me. Men get your arses dug in solid, as soon as the AT guns get here direct them to the point position, Platoon 1 cover the west of town, 2 take point. 3 come with me. Get those mortars workin’ up some smoke as best we can. Lets get tight on our ranging.” He continued ” No heros today fellas, watch each others back and take the time make your shots count.”
Lt Monk cast about, we gotta keep the windmill and the bridge at all costs or we are cut off and lose spotting he thought. “Sigh a KampfGruppe. Brillant. I hope I get to tell my 15 yr old son about the time daddy fought at the Alamo…..” He muttered
Arty started coming down hard on the 101’st forward post. The first rumblings of the German vehicles could be heard. Another Scout car bought it. They were no match for the panthers.
“This is squad Ldr Bravo , we got eyes on ‘em 3 Stugs they are gunna cut off battalion command, sir.”
The tempo picked up notably, Monk look around. He had nothing he could spare,.. “ Take a squad and inch up and try and draw some fire away.” ……”Nevermind.” Monks shoulders slumped.
An enormous volley of 150 mm shells flattened the area where Battalion HQ sat., their radio was not responding…. We had lost them. They are pounding the shit out of us.
Monk had hunkered down with the Bofors team on the right of the point company. Who also were being shelled heavily in return for the fire they were spotting into the outskirts of Veghel. “Johhny you tell Arty to keep pouring those bad boys on them there SS troops”
“Holy shit….get a bead on those Panthers. they are running thru our position!. Get your gun on them, I’m going to help. 2 squads with me.”
2nd company was pinned, I grabbed a handful of men and as the tanks wound thru barricade, we attacked the 3 panthers. We let the first pass by.
I stuck a huge splintered beam into the track of one, to slow it down whilst one of the men slipped satchel charges in their path just out of visual of the tank crew. The rear tank saw what was up and was backing up furiously to get a clear shot at us with their MG’s. As we were finishing up, German soldiers skidded around the corner. We traded pot shots and sought cover from them and the enormous explosion about to happen from the tank. 2 men were cut up badly by shrapnel, the lead tank did not stop though, to wait for either its third partner nor infantry support. They were headed for the mortar pit……
This is not going well I thought to myself. We have lost HQ Platoon and now 2nd platoon is a mere shell hiding in the building.
Thru my nocs into the clearing mist I could see 3 enemy platoons edging to the flank of the Mortar pit. Geez my guys will run right into them, bogged down as they are with this heavy mud and their equipment.
We need help.
“Johhny, put arty on across the square at our forward post., all of it damn it ASAP. Lets fall back to our 2nd line of defense and hope we get some tanks support soon”.
We could be thankful that nothing was coming at us from the other flank…….yet. Johhny nodded grimly and set to calling in 105mm and 75mm fire.