It was June 7, 1944 and earlier that day in a small town near St Come du Mont, he had patiently outlined his patrol plan to his men and fellow Fallschirmjäger while sipping on his favorite French blend and studying the map around Tameville. The word was already out that the Allies had landed in northern France but it was nearly impossible to separate rumors from fact at this stage.
Despite that, the sound of artillery and heavy machine gun fire that punctuated yesterday and all last night was confirmation enough that there was fighting in this sector. Weiss gathered his men near a field. "Men, you have undoubtedly heard that the Allies have landed in France and they are pushing inland. Our mission is to find the enemy positions so that the rest of the regiment can join the other defenders and push the Allies back into the sea." Nothing was said and there were no questions. That was good. He thought about making some inspirational speech but what could he say that his men didn't already know? They were Fallschirmjäger , the pride of the German army, and they would successfully complete this mission or die.
Less than an hour later, advance elements of the patrol reported back to Weiss that an American jeep had been spotted in a small stone building near a large old house along the road to Tameville. It was then that the unmistakable rumble of armored vehicles met his ears. American tanks were moving directly towards them.
Weiss quickly formulated a plan, sending small groups of men to cover in front of the house while he raced with a squad and an MG42 machine gun to the second floor of the building and quickly set up. There was no need to give further instructions. The men of the Fallschirmjäger knew their job was to spring a trap on the Americans as they drew near.
Capt. Weiss and his men set up in and near the house.
Minutes later, the first Sherman tank approached. The German machine gun opened up on it while the Panzerschrecks poured fire at it. Far to the east, American M4 tanks were slowly pushing through bocage to get a line of fire on his men. There were also the Americans in the nearby building to worry about. Weiss sent his best man, Lt. Frietag and a squad to cover the nearby Americans and prevent them from entering the main house. As he shouted a command, he was rudely interrupted by machine gun fire,which destroyed the nearby American jeep parked close by. Weiss allowed himself a smile as his men went to work but then he quickly got back to the task at hand. "How many tanks are coming for us?" he wondered.
US troops and vehicles push through from the east.
The American tanks to the east finally pushed their way through the bocage and were firing at the house from a distance. Thanks to the long range, the American fire was inaccurate but Weiss knew the rounds would soon land on target. He ran through the hall upstairs and knelt on the bed in the next room, peering through his binoculars. Looking through the trees, he saw a handful of Americans running to engage his men just outside the house. The US troops were cut down mercilessly by the German machine gun outside. The nearby Sherman, however, let loose on his men in the trees below. From his position, he thought he could see some Americans far off in the trees to the north east, struggling to advance through thick bocage and other terrain.
Sherman fires on Germans near the house. A US BAR squad made an attempt to rush Germans in N6 and failed.
Suddenly, one of his men yelled for him from down the hallway. He rushed back to find more American soldiers attacking his men below, rushing towards them through the grass. The MG42 opened up on them, and the enemy below fell. Before a smug sense of satisfaction could sink in, a tank round crashed into the room next to him. The entire building shook. Heavy machine gun fire from the US tanks slammed into the building, tearing fist-sized chunks through the wall. Men around him were shouting and the familiar cries of the wounded began to fill up the room. His body shook as he fought to regain his thoughts and put away the fear.
More machine gun fire sliced into the room around him. His hands shook as he reached inside his pocket and found his cigarettes. He managed to put one in his mouth but he knew trying to light it would be impossible. Finally, he calmed down enough to send a few men to man the MG42.
Tank fire erupted outside and the sound of machine gun fire burst again but this time it was all aimed at his men in the trees below. Weiss felt guilty for his sense of relief that he was not the target. The US tanks were getting gradually closer. He pulled his binoculars up again and he could see his men outside making an aborted rush at the American tank. The nearby Germans fired panzerschrecks at the tank, which missed or glanced off the armor. Some of the shots slowed the American tank but none of them could stop it.
US troops have captured some German positions outside the house and several squads are approaching it.
Weiss heard a commotion in the large entrance hall below as Lt. Praun, who had been trying to direct fire against the nearby Sherman, had decided to pull his men back into the house. "This place is getting crowded," was all Weiss had time to think before more tank and machine gun rounds hammered into the building. Plaster and wood from the ceiling above were pouring into the room and everything around him was covered in thick white dust. He slowly got up and coughed out orders to several men to run downstairs and start firing at the approaching American tanks. Again, his men shook off the trauma of being under heavy fire and manned their machine gun, firing at the approaching American troops, cutting them down just as they got near the entrance of the house.
Last turn: The US troops approach the house but they are too late. The game is over.
As he staggered to the rear of the house, he looked out a window and nearly cried at the sight of German reinforcements arriving. The rest of the battalion had caught up with them. The Americans had run out of time. He was saved.
Soon it would be time for a coffee.
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