Friday 19 November 2010

War Diary Pt2

Diary of Technical Sergeant Betts

The Battle for Pagorki 19 November 2010 11:04:18 UTC
Tank: T29
Designation: 'Mickey'
Crew: Technical Sergeant Betts (Commander), Staff Sergeants Dancer (Gunner) & Symcotts (Driver), Sergeants 'Phones' Flower (Radio) & 'Reboundie' Boundie (Loader) and Corporal Bates (Loader)


At 1104 UTC we were mobilised to stop a contingent of enemy armored assets. Intelligence suggested that they were combining light mobile tanks with several heavy prototype designs, much like our own 'Mickey' T29. For this op we had the support of several artillery units however our intel was telling us they had even heavier guns to rain down shells on our parade. 

Previous encounters with the enemy had not been too great and we found our old faithful T29 to be lacking in certain areas with the newfangled tanks we had faced. The grease monkeys refitted us with the new 105mm T5E1 gun and the T135 turret which has some curious 'ears' on the side. This has earned us a slightly mocking nickname of 'Mickey'. However the crew like the name and it has stuck, I hate it but it keeps the boys spirits up so how can I argue?
From our deployment zone several of our light and medium tanks proceeded to cover the two flank points at the beach and the outskirts of a small village from advancing enemies. As one of the heaviest tanks in our contingent it was down to me and my fellow heavies to punch through the enemy to secure the hill. In this battle, he who controlled the hill would dominate the battlefield... the artillery had to be neutralised ASAP.

When engagement with the enemy was impending Symcotts threw the engine wide open as we headed for our objective, the hill. Taking Mickey up hill is always hell... such a heavy tank does not like gradients and when around hostiles it's even worse. Hostiles... As we were climbing that hill an enemy T30 lumbered towards us... ****!! Sides exposed and they pack that 105mm T51E gun too. We were caught with our pants down and the tank compartment was filled with the brown stuff. 

Dancer swivelled our new, slick turret as fast as it would go and aimed at the T32, readying to fire a warning shot and put it off coming after us. Our support was lagging behind, some sort of mechanical failure I was told and we were climbing at a mere 5km/h. As Dancer turned, he let loose with a shot which penetrated the top part of the T32's rear armour. Whatever he did saved our bacon. He lit up their engine with one shot. The T32's crew was in a complete panic and it drove erratically into cover. As the fire raged, the crew all winced as the fire cooked off their ammo storage... poor blighters. Not a way any tanker wants to go out...

From the hill, the view was impressive... except for the artillery firing off round after round in the distance. With most of my support making it to the hill we radioed in our own artillery to commence counter battery actions. The shells rained down upon the enemy positions like massive hailstones, kicking up mud and metal, leaving massive craters around the lush, grassy field.

The battle was far from over. With their artillery damaged or destroyed we still had to dislodge some heavy resistance in the form of heavy tanks. Almost immediately an artillery shell landed close to Mickey and shards of metal sliced through the side armour like it was made of butter, hitting Bates in the shoulder. Poor kid, excellent loader, proud to have him on my side but wounded in the way he was, it will be a week or two before he's fit for active duty again.

Then trouble struck... shrapnel from that artillery shell (damn artillery!!!) had lodged itself between the wheels of the tracks and was refusing to let the track move. The turret of a Tiger tank crested the hill and the muzzle massive, grey heavy tank seemed to light up as it caught us dead in the water. We started to pray as Symcotts pushed the engine as hard as he could to dislodge the piece of shrapnel preventing us from moving. I thought the bells of heaven had rang to greet us when in fact the Tiger's shot had struck Mickey's turret on the front armour and the shell had bounced off it's thick skin. Dancer expertly turned our turret towards the oncoming Tiger and roared as he sent a 105mm shell crashing through the Tiger's skin...

The Tiger did not seem phased by the gaping hole in the front of it's glacis and came after us relentlessly. Bates, pushing himself through the pain barrier helped Reboundie load up the 105 for another round. We braced for impact and we were greeted by a friendly IS-3 firing at the side of the Tiger, almost rocking it with the force of the impact. The Tiger seemed to sit still for a moment in time, not moving... then the hatch popped open and the crew ran.... they ran for their lives, carrying their wounded back to base... it's a shame they never saw fit to give us a machine gun for instances like this.

We limped back to the edge of the hill to resume spotting and trying to to locate the remaining battery of artillery, specifically revenge for the damage suffered to Mickey and the shoulder hit that young Bates took. 

Mickey took a hit to the left ear, slightly spinning the turret around from the force of the impact. We were being pounded by several light tanks emptying high explosive rounds into Mickey's hull with impunity... wolves baying around a wounded predator. Even the biggest, heaviest of tanks needs the support of lighter vehicles to be most effective... and our lighter tanks were in fine form, saving us again by sweeping in and sweeping away the threat handily. There is often sheer terror when facing down a mighty tank... but not much compares to the coordinated assault of several light and medium tanks against an unsuspecting enemy.

It is with regret to say that we had to abandon Mickey on the field of battle. She was recovered by the recovery tanks after our resounding victory on the battlefield yesterday and our mechanics told us that the damage was not too severe, fixable within a week. Having inspected the damage myself I was glad I ordered my crew to abandon tank.. several small puncture holes caused by shrapnel spray were just one stray shell away from popping into gaping holes and ripping apart my men.. I cannot afford to lose such a crack team of individuals...
This war cannot afford to lose such men...

I have given the men permission to have some time to let off steam. I'll perhaps join them for a drink later in the 'Officers' club... I'm sure Reboundie will get rejected by that Nurse he's been chasing since she shipped in from Britain...

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