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Rambler's Top100

3

- A last-gasp attack Print E-mail

A last-gasp attack


Our battalion has been trying to pierce the German defenses for the entire day. For some reason, nothing works. Usually, when we press hard, they fall back; when they press hard, we fall back. Now, for some reason, they're refusing to retreat, though our own attacks are pretty weak. There is no artillery or tank support, and our replacements aren't particularly eager - go to ground about halfway to the German trenches.

By evening, we find out that there is almost no-one left alive in the companies. During supper, the battalion signals officer comes over and tells us that there was a long conversation with brigade HQ, and we got an order to take the German trenches by any means necessary. The battalion CO nearly cried, told them that he had nothing left, but the brigade told him to attack again in the morning. Every man left alive will go in.

After a while, our platoon commander arrives and tells us to go forward to the trenches of the first company. We were joined by a platoon of about 10 SMG infantry and a few signals men and battalion couriers. In all there are about 30 of us, mostly scouts and support guys who're almost never sent in during a general attack.

Another attack. Back when I was in regular infantry and made it through my first attack I understood that it's just a big meat grinder, the worst thing that can happen to a soldier at the front. You have absolutely no control over the situation, your job is to stand up and move forward under machine gun fire. Compared with frontline infantry, tanks, aviation or artillery feel like a spa - an infantryman's chance of survival is tens of times smaller. Seeing this, at the next unit reconstitution I decided that I'd rather serve anywhere other than an infantry company. So when they'd lined us up on the square and some lieutenant looked us over and ordered: "Anyone brave, two steps forward," something compelled me to take two steps forward. Of course, I also wanted to be considered brave. Some other guy took two steps. The lieutenant looked at us with some disdained and said: "Let's go!" And that's how I wound up in the scout platoon.

We get to the frontline trenches, catch a few winks of sleep and started to get ready at first light. The field in front of us is completely flat, the only cover - the many corpses of our soldiers piled up over the past few days. We climb out of our trenches and start walking forward in silence. Unlike the naval infantrymen I'd mentioned before, we attack without shouting "Hurrah!" - we, men of the 7th Guards Air Assault brigade, and we attack in silence, relentlessly moving forward. By the way, I've only ever heard battlecries like "For the Motherland!" or "For Stalin!" in the movies.

After about 30 meters the Germans start shooting, with the fire strengthening as we keep moving forward. We go to ground. One dash after another, from one corpse to another, and we keep advancing towards the Germans. Now the mortars start firing. In front of us is an impenetrable wall of dirt, shrapnel and bullets. I hug the ground and wait for the shelling to pass. Finally, the mortars fall silent. Time for another dash. Even though bullets are whistling all around me, I get ready, spring up and run forward.

The German line is very close now, and suddenly I feel that something is off. At first, I don't understand what it is, but then realize that the Germans stopped shooting. Did they actually run away? Can't be. Impossible. Why would they ever want to run away from us - they're in cover, in safety, while we're running at them almost at full height. It's practically like target practice for them - why run away?

Later on, when it was my turn to repel an attack, I understood why. You're sitting in a trench while firing at some German running towards you. You aim, you fire once, twice, but he keeps getting up and running at you like a charmed man. You start thinking that maybe your weapon is damaged, your gun site is off, whatever - and when he gets really close, you're almost certain that he's invincible, that you cannot kill him.


 

Translated by::
Gene Ostrovsky
Sources:
http://lib.ru

 
Discuss (1 posts)
StreloK
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Aug 17 2008 09:45:46
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