Friday 26 November 2010

Diary of Unteroffizier Meister & FeuerSchutz

Diary of Unteroffizier Meister

Walking into Hell disguised as Heaven 
Date: 24 November 2010 18:08:54 UTC
Tank: JagdPanther
Designation: 'Feuerschutz'
Crew: Unteroffizier Meister (Commander), Unteroffizier Muiziere (Gunner), Unteroffizier Meindl (Driver), Gefreiter Fischböck (Radio), Unteroffizier Pellengahr (Loader).

A routine escort mission turned into a nightmare... a one we barely escaped from alive. We have to be be grateful to 'Feuerschutz' once more. The suppressive fire we lay down forced the enemy ambush to falter and tipped the scales of battle in our favour. The rather experimental 10.5cm gun we were recently refitted with has proved to be invaluable in all types of combat situations we have faced so far.

We were part of a tank column moving towards the front, a mix of medium and heavy units with several tank destroyer and artillery elements. Like a scene from painting the area we were travelling through was picturesque and beautiful, lush green fields with an ancient abbey in perfect condition adorned with beautiful stonework arches and the like.

The fastest route for the convoy lay down a side valley. This was dangerously narrow and a perilous drop into a ravine was to our left. As we traversed the valley cautiously we could see the abbey breaking the skyline above us and I was dazzled by the wonderful scenery as we passed. Several husks of burnt out tanks littered our path, obviously despite the perfect state the abbey was in, the war had even found it's way into such a beautiful place...

Such a beautiful place desecrated by our enemy... They rained fire from their artillery batteries and they brought hell to this heaven.

In the opening barrage I cannot count how many tanks we lost. Several exploded, their turrets forced open by the shells, like a crudely opened can. I saw the crew of one of our heavy tanks scramble clear as the ground crumbled underneath it's mighty treads and fell to into the ravine below. One of the men didn't make it in time, as he scrambled towards the edge, his crew mates tried to reach out and save him but.... his screams still haunt me as I write this...

Through all of the smoke and confusion Unteroffizier Muiziere scored several clean hits into the flanks of the oncoming enemy tank formation, crippling at least one and forcing the others to vacate our line of fire for fear of suffering the same fate. Our heavy tanks and the heavy tank destroyer that was accompanying us on our travels played a childlike game with several enemy tanks whilst our self propelled guns raised their barrels and gave a salute to the enemy in the form of a well orchestrated counter battery barrage.

Feuerschutz definitely lived up to it's name. As fast as Pellengahr could load the shells, Muiziere was firing them out aiming at the enemy tanks as they lined up like prisoners getting ready for the firing line. Visibility was poor in the smoke and Meindl, despite all of his war experience nearly ruined our treads on several smoking wrecks as we jockeyed for position in the close quarters battle. The covering fire we laid down allowed our heavier elements to move up on the enemy and turn the tide of the conflict.

As soon as our heavy tank destroyer strode onto into view, the enemy tanks seemed to recoil in an inanimate metal terror and their guns seemed to drop ever so slightly, almost like they had resigned themselves to their fate. They did not last long and our tanks showed no mercy.

Trusty Feuerschutz took quite a beating during our unexpected encounter. Several puncture wounds to the outer hull and both our radio and some of the observation and aiming equipment received damage. The worst damage came to our engine, which thankfully didn't catch fire but required constant nursing to even get us to the nearest repair station. Besides the bumps and bruises that come when you are a crew member of a tank and receive fire from multiple shells which ring across the thick metal skin of the tank like large hailstones, my crew was unharmed and for that I am always grateful.

With repairs underway my crew will never forget the mixed emotions that that place brought us. A heaven to behold, threatened by the hell that is war... I just hope it all ends soon. 

Something tells me I will be fighting for a long time still...

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