Hartford World: The Battle for North America Part XLIV

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Hartford World: The Battle for North America Part XLIV

wb
Joined: December 2nd, 2006, 8:35 am

July 11th, 2018, 8:55 am #1

August 31, 1942

The motorcade slowed.  Captain Copen and Sergeant Colton crossed the Rocky Creek bridge and stopped.  The spread-out convoy pulled together, and Major Westmoreland pulled his Razorback alongside Captain Copen’s Coonhound at the head of the column.

“Sir,” said Captain Copen, standing in his seat and saluting.

“Captain,” said Major Westmoreland, returning the salute.

“Greenwood is probably defended.  How should we approach the city?”

A Rolls-Royce slowly made its way down the hill from town to Rocky Creek. 

“You behind Snappers and Eggbeaters unless this car changes things,” said Major Westmoreland.  “Who is this?”

“I don’t know, Sir.”

“Well, let’s talk to him before we decide.  He seems to think he’s important.”

“Nice car.”

“Too nice.  He must be the Mayor.”

“Agreed,” said Captain Copen.  “But he’s alone, and we could kill him in a heartbeat.  He’s not a threat.”

“We’ll see,” said Major Westmoreland, placing his hand on his service revolver.

Sergeant Colton caught the cue and was ready at the Coonhound’s gun.

The Rolls-Royce stopped.  A young Scots-Irish man with a bad haircut who didn’t look too smart got out from the drivers’ side in a very cheap-looking dark suit.  He ran back to let out somebody from the back seat.  A rather hefty, not-too-tall, chubby-cheeked man of British heritage got out from the back seat.

“Gentlemen!” he began.

“Yes,” replied Major Westmoreland.

“Dusty Chandler, Mayor of this fine city.  We have rebelled and overcome our occupying enemies.  Your path is clear.  We are ready to turn our prisoners over to you.”

“Mayor Chandler,” began Major Westmoreland.

“Dusty, please.  And you are?” he asked, extending his hand.

“William.”

“Bill?”

“My friends call me…Major Westmoreland.”

“You don’t have close friends, Bill.”

“I would die for him, and I know already that there is not a soul on earth who would do that for you, Mayor,” said Captain Copen.  “Why the fuck are you here in your pretty car?”

“Who is this man!” exploded Mayor Chandler.

“My friend,” said Major Westmoreland, “And I would die for him, too.  Now, why the fuck are you here in your pretty car?”

“I lost three policemen and two good citizens fighting to free our town from the Americans,” said Mayor Chandler.  “I now have seventeen American prisoners I need you to take.  Our jail has room for just four.”

“Do you have a sledgehammer?” asked Captain Copen.

“What, young man?” asked the Mayor.

 “General Patton recommended that we break the kneecaps of those who surrender.  Given our challenges, it makes good sense.  Break their kneecaps if you must to prevent trouble.  Is the city safe for our passage?”

“Yes, of course!”

“Road order, I lead, Major,” said Captain Copen.

“Can we refuel in town?” asked Major Westmoreland.

“Yes!  Of course!” said the Mayor.

“Refuel in town.  Reform column beyond the stations.  No time for chow, just fuel.  After that, road order, roll fast.”

August 31, 1942

Major O’Brien pulled his motorboat past the stern of the Merrimack, heading for the east side of Governors’ Island.  He pulled down the New England flag.

Commander Butler watched him as he disguised his boat again.  He wondered what the obviously wounded man had done.  There was no time to allow him to board. He felt…sorry.
Enlisted men on the bridge screamed.  The Chrysler Building fell from the sky and into the streets.

The Merrimack shifted fire to Wall Street, just beyond the Battery.

August 31, 1942

Major Rideout realized that the Gulf Coast fog had made him late in responding to the threat.  Those seconds lost, he held his tongue.

The American aircraft were P-39 Airacobras, not P-40 Warhawks.  They broke left and right before his Mammie as if it were a granite rock in the surf.  There were not four or eight of them.  There were dozens, or hundreds, pouring past the battle-toughened ad hoc Newfie Marine survivors of countless horrible and brutal moments of life and death.

Behind the Mammies carrying the Marines, the gaggles of warbirds closed again.  Machine guns chattered.  Large cannon barked.  Bombs dropped.

The surviving P-40 Warhawk pilot had described to these flyers the correct tactics for the situation.  The Airacobras had avoided the Mammies and had struck the civilian vehicles in column behind them.  It was late in the day—too late for a full follow-up strike—but enough damage had been done to thwart any concept of a significant force breaking out from the Negro lines to the northwest. 

Major Rideout looked back.  There were fires everywhere.  Every fire meant six to twenty men wounded or killed.  At least a thousand Negro Army soldiers had just become casualties.  As many as three thousand Negro Army soldiers had just been killed or lethally wounded, with even more injured.  The screams of the burn victims were punctuated by the detonation of gas tanks and the chatter of burning ammunition.

The Great War had taught that cavalry did not charge infantry in trenches with machine guns.  This battle had taught, once and for all, that unarmored mechanized columns did not advance against air supremacy in daylight.  Two divisions of the Negro Army were useless for further combat.  They might somehow retreat successfully to Beaumont and Port Arthur by night.  More likely they would be counterattacked, unready, at low morale, and they would die, almost to a man.

“Let’s go,” ordered Major Rideout.  “We’ll find fuel on the way.”

The ad hoc Marine battalion moved on.  Major Rideout wondered if this had been the plan all along—to sacrifice two divisions of Negroes to give himself and his men a slightly better chance to succeed.  It didn’t matter, ultimately, however much it disturbed him—and a disturbed commander was a useless commander.  He buried the thought, and he felt the taste for blood.

August 31, 1942

The financial district of New York City was burning and crumbling into ruins.  The Merrimack, its forward magazines almost emptied, by intention, hit hard right rudder and used its screws to decelerate to a stop.  The hull rotated clockwise.  The previously masked secondary batteries opened fire in a deluge of six-inch shells.  The one remaining rear turret fired point-blank at a formation of city police gathered and ready to act.  The two shells annihilated eighty of New York’s finest before they had a moment to realize their error in not taking cover.

Southeast of the Merrimack, the Baton Rouge headed for west side of Pier 11.

The Merrimack gently grounded just off the southwestern tip of Manhattan Island.  Her bow butted Pier A.  Bos’n Mates raced to drop a ladder.

The Baton Rouge plowed through two thin ferry piers and grounded with Pier 11 to starboard.  A huge ramp elevated slowly from the bow, engines straining.  It dropped onto the pier.
Valentine tanks surged from the inner parts of the APCL that had once been dedicated to forward turrets, barbettes, and magazines.  New York police officers had converged to confront the cruiser, lacking better doctrine.  They were mowed down by secondary and anti-aircraft batteries.  The tanks deployed, as planned, in parallel supporting columns heading north.  There was nothing left to stop it.  The policemen foolish enough to have been in line of sight were dead. Following the tanks came half of the Baton Rouge’s engineering department, untrained angry Negros with machine pistols and hand grenades who had volunteered for the chance to protect tanks and to kill White boys.  They were led by Chief Petty Officers able to direct such passion.  The Chiefs held the boiler mates and enginemen in check, as best they could, and most stayed behind the tanks.

Six-inch shells, aimed deliberately, began to tear apart the financial district.  Valentine tanks inched their way up the New York city streets.  Fanatic infantry supported their advance.

Admiral Van Auken turned to Hospital Corpsman Johnson.  “This is where I get off, son,” he said, uncharacteristically quietly.

“Yes, Admiral.  May I come with you?”

“No.  Go develop your film…carefully, please.  Thank you for your work recording these moments.”

“Of course, Admiral.  Anything…to ease your pain…before you go?”

“No.  It really doesn’t matter much at this point, does it?”

“No, Admiral.”

That said, Admiral Van Auken limped his way off of the Flag Bridge.  Corpsman Johnson watched him leave.

The Valentine tanks and the Negro sailors from the Baton Rouge crawled their way up the New York city streets.  The few remaining policemen chose not to flee, and they died in vain, outnumbered and outgunned.  History would record their futile heroism.

Hospital Corpsman Johnson watched, from the Flag Bridge, as Admiral Van Auken struggled to make his way to the pier.  He watched as he limped his way away from his battleship into combat.
Then, he readied his camera, he focused on his greatest magnification lens, and he took his last seven shots as Admiral Van Auken unsheathed his sword, raised it, bellowed something, and entered the fight on the ground in Full Dress Whites.

August 31, 1942

“The place is ruined, Sergeant,” came the muffled but distinct voice on the staircase.

August raised his hackles and growled, almost too softly to be heard.  Commander Adams touched August. He quieted his voice, although his eyes burned with the readiness to attack.

The gentle wind blew in through the open window from Narragansett Bay.

“They told us to search the building, Sir, and we’re not done.”

“What do you want to find?  We’ve found rat shit and hornets’ nests and broken bannisters and ruined ceilings.  They left this building weeks ago.  Let’s go.”

“Not until we finish.  What’s there?”

“Door’s locked, Sergeant,” came a different voice.

“Of course.  They’re all locked,” said the Sergeant.

“There’s a dog turd right there.  Do you really think that they’re still here?”

“They told us to search, Sir.”

“And I’m telling you to watch out for booby traps.  I think that we should leave.”

“And I’m telling you that we’re not done.  Care to go back to where we can disagree to the Major?”

“No.  No, Sergeant.  But for God’s sake, be careful!”

"Yes……..Sir!  Winters, with me!”

“Yes, Sergeant!”

“Miller, you say the door’s locked.”

“Yes, Sarge.”

“Could you turn the doorknob?”

“I…umm…I…I…”

“Gotcha,” came the voice of the Sergeant.  The sound of a doorknob turning was audible through to the inner office.  “The door isn’t locked,” said the Sergeant’s voice. 

John Alden closed his eyes.  He had been the last one through, with August.  He had locked the deadbolt.  He had forgotten to lock the doorknob.

“But the door is locked,” came the young officer’s voice.

“By deadbolt.  From the inside, Sir,” said the Sergeant.  “Somebody’s in there.”

“Or it’s a trap.”

“Yes, Sir.  Maybe.  Winters, kick the door.”

“Yes, Sarge,” said Winters, whomever he was.  He kicked the door hard.

“Got it.  Miller, your rifle.”

“Yes, Sarge.”

Five shots, in fairly rapid succession, struck the interior of the building.

“Reload,” said the Sergeant.

There was a brief period of silence.

With a crash the door to the outer office was kicked open, the deadbolt weakened by bullets.

There was a stamping of boots as men entered the outer office.

John Alden held his finger to his lips.  August looked at him for guidance, then looked back to the door.  The two women pointed their weapons at the door.  Lieutenant Colonel Muskie stood ready at the Bren gun.  Thomas B. Adams, his handgun ready by his side, instead was ready to use the flame thrower.

“It’s empty,” said the voice of Private Miller.

“Get out of there,” said the officer.

“There’s a door,” said the Sergeant.

“I’ll check it,” said the voice of Winters.

“I’ve got it.  Cover me,” said the Sergeant.

Ed Muskie began to pull on the trigger.  The bullets would easily pass through the door, still carrying lethal energy.

The land mine beneath the runner rug blew.  The interoffice door was riddled with shrapnel marks, and a few pieces bounced into and around the Inner Office.

“Oh God Jesus it was a trap!” screamed the junior officer. “Sergeant, Miller, Winters, can you hear me?”

“I’ll check,” said a voice.

“No, you won’t!  Corporal, keep him back!”

“Yes, Sir.”

“I’ll go in and take a look.  Corporal, if I go down, take charge.  Clear?”

“Sir, I can go in and…”

“Damnit, no!  I think I just lost three men!  But I’ll go to Hell before I send another man in there except myself.  You have your orders!  Clear?”

“Yes, Lieutenant.”

With that there was near-silence for ninety seconds.

“Lieutenant?” asked the voice of the corporal.

“They’re dead,” said the officer.

“I’ll get the men to bring them out.”

“We’ll leave them.  We need a demolitions squad to be sure that there are no other booby traps.”

“Sir, the bodies will rot.”

“Corporal, I…I…I don’t want you or the men to see them now.  Let’s play it safe.  Back down the stairs.  Retrace footsteps where we can.  Clear?”

“Clear, Sir!”

“Go.  I’ll be down after I check a few things.”

“Yes, Sir.”  Footsteps on the staircase signaled the retreat.

For a minute all was silent.

Then the young officer’s voice came through the wall, saying, “Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

He began to cry.  “Oh, God, what have I done?  I should have stopped him!  I should have stopped him!”

He fell against the wall a well-blocked foot away from Lieutenant Colonel Muskie.  The plaintive wail of his sobs came almost unmuffled through the barrier.
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Joined: June 6th, 2007, 9:07 pm

July 11th, 2018, 9:53 am #2

Well done!

Very different Scenes; Last one first, at the start I thought this would be the end of the war college. Now the end is still near, but the enemy is lead by a green Lieutenant, who is crying. Let´s see if the war college can shoot the GIs without remorse as O´Brian would have been able to. Somehow I think there will be no further fight to death. Just a Feeling.

New York is doomed, as said before. The Picture taken by the Corpsman of Van Auken lifting is impressive, the description is very imaginable.

The desctruction of the Negro divisions by air attack was surprising, let´s see what the remaining Newfies can do.

The Americans seems to have a serious Guerilla Problem with the armed Scots Irish. The kneecapping remark makes me remind of Biscari and Patton making colorfoul speeches.
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Joined: October 9th, 2006, 12:31 am

July 11th, 2018, 2:17 pm #3

Striking scenes, and two surprises. These brutal Allied thrusts might be racing forward, but American air power still kills.
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Joined: March 23rd, 2006, 7:57 am

July 11th, 2018, 2:34 pm #4

To use a current meme: "We are all O'Brien today."
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Joined: January 19th, 2011, 11:33 pm

July 11th, 2018, 2:35 pm #5

The impossible dominos are falling now.  The question is what happens next?

Has any of this even made a dent on the Americans?  It seems questionable.  So far, this is more of a swan song than anything else.

The War College scene is impossibly difficult.  I'm not exactly sure what to make of that.
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wb
Joined: December 2nd, 2006, 8:35 am

July 11th, 2018, 8:19 pm #6

bastiank81 wrote: Well done!

Very different Scenes; Last one first, at the start I thought this would be the end of the war college. Now the end is still near, but the enemy is lead by a green Lieutenant, who is crying. Let´s see if the war college can shoot the GIs without remorse as O´Brian would have been able to. Somehow I think there will be no further fight to death. Just a Feeling.

New York is doomed, as said before. The Picture taken by the Corpsman of Van Auken lifting is impressive, the description is very imaginable.

The desctruction of the Negro divisions by air attack was surprising, let´s see what the remaining Newfies can do.

The Americans seems to have a serious Guerilla Problem with the armed Scots Irish. The kneecapping remark makes me remind of Biscari and Patton making colorfoul speeches.
Thanks!

That green Lieutenant was a good kid, not lacking for courage.  He just didn't want his platoon to die needlessly while following stupid orders.  He's probably a 90-day wonder with a liberal arts degree from Notre Dame or something like that.  There are lots of Lieutenants and Captains like that in the 100-division HW US Army.  This scene was a chance to listen in on their thoughts and feelings.

There aren't enough New England troops and tanks to occupy New York City.  There are, however, enough to move into the financial district and raise hell--and that's where Admiral Van Auken is heading.

Sorry, the Americans have air supremacy.  Battleships have a chance at defense--pickup trucks don't.

Patton had literally ordered kneecapping.  He may not have been thinking that his men would do that--but it did solve this one issue.

Thanks again!
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wb
Joined: December 2nd, 2006, 8:35 am

July 11th, 2018, 8:29 pm #7

Cody2 wrote: The impossible dominos are falling now.  The question is what happens next?

Has any of this even made a dent on the Americans?  It seems questionable.  So far, this is more of a swan song than anything else.

The War College scene is impossibly difficult.  I'm not exactly sure what to make of that.
The War College scene is the first hint that American morale is less than perfect.  It's not bad, but there's the issue of "Who wants to be the last casualty in a war?"

Thanks!
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wb
Joined: December 2nd, 2006, 8:35 am

July 11th, 2018, 8:30 pm #8

chelt2 wrote: Striking scenes, and two surprises. These brutal Allied thrusts might be racing forward, but American air power still kills.
Yup.

Thanks!
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wb
Joined: December 2nd, 2006, 8:35 am

July 11th, 2018, 8:45 pm #9

Big Dave wrote: To use a current meme: "We are all O'Brien today."
Thanks.
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wb
Joined: December 2nd, 2006, 8:35 am

July 12th, 2018, 8:44 am #10

Four responses to one of the climactic posts of a ten-year series in 24 hours?

This is why Gunner Bob rightly gets upset.  At the standard of one post for ten looks ratio, we'd have 26 posts by now, despite the decline of the Board.

To the four of you who posted, thank you.
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