Futurama/Band of Brothers Crossover, Part 2
By Ramon 51
Vicinity of the German Battery, Normandy, France, June 6, 1944 1011 Hours
Leela watched as Lipton and Ranney began to crawl forward. Hearing the roar of grenade explosions, she turned her head to look at the second gun.
About half a dozen Germans were standing in a group with their hands in the air, while Winters, Compton and Guarnere were busy disarming them. Within a few moments, the Germans headed for the rear, with their hands still in the air.
Hendrix said, "Hey, Dorothy! A little help here?"
Startled at first, Leela turned her attention to taking a belt of ammunition from its can.
Fry was watching as well until Liebgott said, "Red, break open a can of ammo."
Fry opened one of the metal cans and handed it to Liebgott. Before he could look at the action again, he saw a German standing only 20 yards away. Then something landed with a “thunk” among Liebgott, Petty, and him. He realized in horror that the German had thrown a hand grenade. Petty and Liebgott were looking at it as well, their faces showing their shock. For Fry, everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. He was closest to the grenade, so he grabbed it and threw it back at the German.
The grenade detonated just as the German picked it up to throw it back. The roar of the grenade died away and the German lay there, bloody and not moving.
Liebgott punched Fry in the shoulder, "Way to go, Red. Nice pitching arm!"
With that, Liebgott turned back to working the machine gun. Petty continued to send measured burst of fire at any German who showed himself.
Fry sat staring at the German. He had killed a man! Unable to control himself, Fry vomited in the grass, trying not to let Liebgott and Petty see him.
Meanwhile, Lipton and Ranney reached the second gun position.
Within a few moments, Lipton crawled out, obviously heading back to get Bender. At the same time, two other soldiers, one of whom Leela recognized as John Hall, arrived in the position.
Leela watched as they attacked the third gun. Hall charged up the trench, with Winters on the outside on his right and Compton and Guarnere outside on the left. Firing and throwing grenades as they went, they reached the third gun within seconds.
Just as they entered the gun position, she saw Hall stagger backwards and fall to the ground. "Oh my God," she thought, "I saw the dust fly off his jacket when he was hit." She looked away to see Lipton reach the location where Bender still lay.
Lipton was about as pissed off as he had ever been. Uncharacteristically, he roared at Bender, “What the hell were you waiting for Tin Man? An invitation?”
Bender looked at him and said in a very sarcastic tone, “Yeah, coffin stuffer, an invitation would be nice.”
Lipton shoved his rifle against Bender’s head, "If Lieutenant Winters didn’t want you alive and kicking, I’d finish you off right here and now. Now crawl over to where I just came from. We need that demolition kit you’re carrying."
Bender thought of making a smart remark, but one look at Lipton’s face convinced him to start crawling. Better to take a chance of being hit by the Germans than to face a certain bullet in the head from Lipton!
As Lipton and Bender inched their way back across the open ground, the soldier who had accompanied Hall arrived at Petty’s machine gun, "The Lieutenant wants you should bring your guns forward to the second and third gun positions."
Petty nodded and the soldier scooted rearward, apparently headed for Battalion Headquarters. Petty turned to Fry, who had finally stopped vomiting, "Red, crawl over to Plesha and let him know the score. Tell him to displace his gun as soon as he can to the third gun position. We’ll cover him. When he gets set up, we’ll move and he’ll cover us, got it?"
Fry nodded and crawled off toward the position. Liebgott watched him as he reached the position, spoke to Plesha, and then crawled back.
Plesha turned to Hendrix and Leela, "We’ll cover the ground using five second rushes. I’ve got the gun; Hendrix, you’ve got the tripod; and Dorothy, you’ve got the ammo. Any questions?"
When no one spoke, Hendrix extracted the ammunition belt, Plesha hefted the gun, careful not to burn his fingers on the barrel. Leela grabbed the last remaining can of ammunition. They all came to a crouch.
"Let’s go," roared Plesha.
They covered the field in a series of five second rushes. Run like the devil for five seconds, then drop. Crawl a few feet, lungs burning, and leap to your feet again. Run another five seconds, then drop, crawl, and repeat.
For Leela, this seemed to go on forever.
Bullets zipped overhead and ploughed up little fountains of dirt all around them. Miraculously, they made it!
They set up their gun quickly and began firing at the Germans. Leela felt her heart seem to stop as she saw Fry running toward the trench along with Petty and Liebgott. They had a much shorter distance to cover.
They entered the trench near the MG-42 position and used it to cover their movement to the second gun.
Within minutes, they were firing as well.
Vicinity of the German Battery, Normandy, France, June 6, 1944 1020 Hours
Bender and Lipton were pinned down.
Lipton realized that, in spite of the fatigue jacket Bender was wearing, he drew attention from the Germans across the field. They were unable to make any headway against the torrent of machine gun and rifle fire that chewed the ground up around them.
Lipton thought for a moment and shouted to Bender, "Tin Man, we’re going to have to back up and crawl to the trench near gun number one. There’s a slight depression there we can use for cover. If we lay here much longer, some Kraut is going to get the idea of dropping some mortar rounds down our throats. Understand?"
Bender answered, "I understand we need to get out of here, meat bag. Lead the way!"
They turned slowly around, keeping low, and began to slowly scoot on their bellies toward the relative safety of the trench.
Lieutenant Winters had gone to the rear to find reinforcements and ammunition. He was soon back, looking very angry. With him was a Private that Leela thought was named Hicks.
Leela overheard Winters tell Compton with some heat in his voice, "I sent a runner telling them to send ammo and reinforcements and they were sitting on their behinds looking at the maps we captured!"
Buck laughed, "I take it you let them know you were not happy?"
Winters smiled, the angry look leaving his face, "You might say that. Captain Hester will be forward soon with what we need to take that fourth gun. I hate doing a job half way."
As if on cue, Captain Clarence Hester, the Battalion Operations Officer (S-3), crawled up to the position. He was lugging a demolition kit. Behind him were a Lieutenant and four men laden down with boxes and bandoliers of ammunition.
Winters turned to Compton and said, "Buck, get this issued out as quickly as you can."
The Lieutenant who had just arrived said, “Lieutenant Winters, mind if Fox Company takes that gun?”
Winters smiled and said, "Be my guest, Lieutenant Spiers."
Spiers turned to the men who had come with him, "Sergeant Houch, Hicks, come with me. Taylor, you take DiMarzio and follow us to lay down a base of fire. Let’s go Fox Company!"
With that Spiers high crawled toward the fourth gun, flanked by Houch and Hicks.
Once within grenade range, Houch rose to throw a grenade. A German rose from the gun position and shot Houch dead. The grenade dropped from his hand, exploding a few feet away, wounding Hicks.
Spiers rose and charged into the position, firing his Thompson submachine gun with deadly accuracy into the gun position. No one who had remained up to that point escaped alive as thirty rounds of .45 caliber ammunition tore into them.
As Spiers was leading the charge against the position, Leela watched as Winters and Hester destroyed the barrels of the first three guns by stuffing them with explosives and then following that with a grenade. It all took less than five minutes.
Stuff, grenade, bang!
Winters could see Spiers waving from the position, signaling that it was in friendly hands. At that moment, Bender and Lipton arrived at the third gun position.
"Sorry it took so long to get here with the TNT," Lipton said apologetically. He had seen that the first three guns were already taken care of, a fact which caused him to want to shoot Bender.
Winters merely said in a calm voice, "Head over to the fourth position and blow that gun for Lieutenant Spiers. Then meet us at the rally point."
"Yes, sir. Come on Tin Man, let’s go." Lipton and Bender moved off toward the fourth gun, keeping low in the trench.
Lieutenant Winters turned to Lieutenant Compton, "Buck, let’s pull out to the rally point. You lead the men out. The machine guns will withdraw last. I’ll give them the word when to withdraw myself. Questions?"
Buck shook his head.
"Okay, let’s move out."
Buck headed down the trench to begin the withdrawal.
Winters tapped Plesha on the helmet. When Plesha looked at him, Winters said, "Burn it up Walt. Give our guys covering fire."
Plesha began to squeeze off long bursts of .30 caliber toward the German positions. Within a few seconds, Petty began to do the same.
Less than a minute passed before Winters turned to Plesha and said, "Cease fire and fall back to the rally point."
Without waiting to see if his orders were obeyed, he set off down the trench toward Petty’s gun.
"Come on, Dorothy!" Hendrix said, "Let’s haul ass back to the rally point."
Lugging their gear, they headed for the rally point as they could go.
The Rally Point, Vicinity of the German Battery, Normandy, France, June 6, 1944 1050 Hours
Lieutenant Winters checked to make sure everyone from Easy Company was present. "Popeye" Wynn was absent, having been wounded early in the fight. Everyone else was there, a bit winded, but elated at the same time.
Captain Hester, who had withdrawn with the company, looked at Winters, "Dick, keep those Krauts busy. I’m going back to see if any more of Easy Company has shown up. If they have, I’ll send them forward."
Winters smiled at his friend, "Thanks. If you see anything else that might help us clean them out, will you send it forward?"
"Sure, Dick. Once you feel you’ve cleared them out, the battalion is pushing on the Sainte Marie-du-Mont."
With that, Captain Hester moved in a crouch toward battalion headquarters. As he moved, a German MG-42 sent a stream of lead his way, ripping into a hedgerow just a few inches from his position. He dove through the hedgerow and was lost from sight.
Winters called out, "Anybody spot that gun?"
Malarkey answered, "Yes sir, it’s right next to the Manor house, about one thumb to the right in that outbuilding."
Winters looked and saw that Guarnere and Malarkey were already setting up a 60mm mortar to seal with the problem. Winters knew it was capable of throwing a three pound antipersonnel high explosive round for around 2000 yards. He also knew that Guarnere and Malarkey were naturals with the mortar.
The only problem he could see was that they had no sight or base plate for the mortar. This meant that they would have to rely on eyesight to direct the rounds. They would also need to dig the mortar out once it fired a few rounds, as the recoil of the tube would cause it to bury itself in the ground.
Guarnere turned to Fry, "Hey Red, see those cardboard tubes stacked over there?" Fry looked, saw them, and nodded. He remembered that everyone had carried two of them and dropped them off, along with the mortar, at the rally point. "Bring me a couple, will you?"
Fry ran, hunched over as he had seen everyone else move, to where the containers were stacked. He grabbed two and brought them to Guarnere.
Guarnere looked him in the eye and said, "Nice job back there with Petty and Liebgott. Joe won’t shut up about it. Here, let me show you how to unpack a mortar round."
Fry watched as Guarnere opened the cardboard tube and extracted a round. It looked like a shiny rocket ship, but somehow it seemed to radiate danger.
Guarnere said, "Now pay attention. Under no circumstances do you bang the nose of this baby on anything hard. If you do, the next time it even brushes anything, BOOM! Got that?"
"Great! Now go bring the rest of the rounds over here and unpack about a half dozen. Malarkey and me are gonna give that friggin Kraut machine gunner a headache."
Guarnere turned to sighting the mortar tube. Once he was satisfied, he said, "She’s all yours Don."
Malarkey took the first round, prepared it for firing, and dropped the round down the tube. When the round reached the bottom, it struck the firing pin.
"Whoom!" The explosive charges at the base detonated and the round sailed out of the tube.
Fry, who was unprepared for the blast, nearly dropped one of the rounds he had just unpacked. Guarnere was watching the second hand on his watch, "Three, two, one…now!"
Just as Guarnere said, "Now!" the mortar round exploded within a few feet of the machine gun position. A second later, the sound of the round detonating rolled over their position.
Within three minutes, Malarkey and Guarnere aided by Fry pumped sixteen rounds onto the German position. Somewhere in the process, they killed the crew and wrecked the position.
As the last explosion died away, Fry felt somewhat elated. He had unpacked sixteen rounds without a screw up. Guarnere and Malarkey had even shown him some respect. And that machine gun wasn’t going to bother anyone anymore.
Within a few minutes of the destruction of the MG-42, a Lieutenant arrived with around thirty men. He moved to where Winters was sitting, talking to Lipton, "Hey Dick, I brought a few more of the boys for the cleanup."
Winters stood and shook the Lieutenant’s hand, "Good to see you, Harry. Let me give you the lay of the land."
The Rally Point, Vicinity of the German Battery, Normandy, France, June 6, 1944 1120 Hours
As Winters and Harry were discussing a plan of action, the squeal of tank tracks and the roar of engines could be heard coming from the direction of battalion headquarters. Two minutes later, a Sherman tank nosed around the corner, with Lieutenant Nixon riding on the deck, talking to the tank commander who was standing half out of the turret hatch. Right behind the first tank was a second Sherman tank.
The tanks pulled up with a roar and ground to a halt, their engines idling loudly. The smell of engine exhaust drifted over the area, causing Leela to cough. Nixon hopped down and said, "Colonel Strayer thought you might be able to use these to good effect."
"Well Nix, It beats the heck out of risking paratroopers."
Winters hopped up on the tank and spoke to the commander for a moment, then dismounted. He gave the hand and arm signal for all officers and NCOs to come to him. Everyone responded quickly.
"Alright, here’s what we do. The tanks will move up to the positions we used to launch our assault this morning. Buck, you take a squad and accompany the first tank. Keep them from getting torched by any Kraut antitank weapons. Harry, you take a squad with the second tank…same drill.
We will use North as twelve o’clock. Tank one will take from 12 to 6 going counterclockwise. Tank two will work from 12 to 6 clockwise. I’ll ride on tank one to make sure they do a thorough job. Questions?"
No one spoke.
"Okay then, let’s move out."
In around ten minutes, everyone was in position. Leela, Fry and Bender watched as the tanks clanked forward to their positions. The tank commanders stood in their turret, manning their .50 caliber machine guns. Inside the tanks and hidden from view, their gunners manned the .30 caliber machine guns.
The full throated roar of two .50 caliber machine guns was augmented by the staccato chatter of the .30 calibers.
Fry borrowed a set of binoculars to watch the action. "God!" he thought, "Nothing could live through that!" Trees were cut in half, branches fell like rain, and dirt flew everywhere as the tanks systematically chewed up the German positions.
In another ten minutes it was over. The tanks clanked by, headed for a resupply at the beach. Winters and the two squads returned. After a few moments rest, Winters collared Buck and Harry.
Leela was sitting nearby trying to be inconspicuous and heard him explain to Harry about Easy Company’s "guests." Harry listened with apparent amusement. Then Winters switched to tactical matters.
"Okay, our destination is Sainte Marie du Mont. We don’t have enough men to make up three full platoons. Harry, you take half of the riflemen as first platoon. Buck, you’ll take the other half as second platoon. The heavy weapons, both mortars and machine guns, will travel with me. Our guests will travel with heavy weapons as well. Order of march is first platoon, heavy weapons, and second platoon. We’ll use the road as much as we can. Our traveling formation will be tactical column on the road. We’ll use the platoon wedge crossing danger areas. Move out in ten minutes. Questions?"
Neither Harry nor Buck spoke.
"Okay, then let’s get going."
Outside Sainte Marie du Mont, Normandy, France, June 6, 1944 2000 Hours
Easy Company had settled into position in a hedgerow just outside of the town prior to sundown. Soldiers who had been separated from the Company continued to trickle in. There were close to one hundred men assembled, although the Company Commander, 1LT Meehan, and First Sergeant Evans hadn’t shown up. So Lieutenant Winters was still company commander.
Lieutenant Winters had told Leela, Fry, and Bender to stay with the Weapons Platoon. Looking at Guarnere he said, "Bill, you’re responsible for our guests tonight." Guarnere had merely nodded and answered, "Yes sir."
As each new person joined the platoon, Liebgott would launch into his story of the fight. He would always pause dramatically when he related how the German grenade landed next to the machine gun. Then he would say, "I was sure that Mrs. Liebgott was going to get one of those letters about how her dear Joseph died heroically, when old Red here snatches that friggin grenade. Cool as a cucumber, he threw it back…nailed that Kraut right in the chest with it! BOOM, bye-bye Kraut boy!"
He would then laugh and pound Fry on the back, "Good old Red, you should’ve been a paratrooper!"
Fry found himself half believing he had done something heroic. But every time his mind turned to the mangled corpse of that German, he felt his stomach churn. "No," he decided, "I'd never be a good paratrooper."
Leela watched Fry as Liebgott told the story over and over. She knew Fry well enough to sense he felt anything but heroic. Still he had saved the lives of two other men…that was something.
Guarnere came up to her, "Hey Dorothy, want some chow?" When she looked puzzled, he laughed, "You know, chow, something to eat."
She smiled, "Yes, I’m really hungry. Good Lord, I haven’t eaten all day."
Guarnere handed her what looked like a large chocolate bar. "Try this. It’s called a D Ration. They taste pretty good, even if they are filled with lots of vitamins. We sent a couple of our best scroungers out to find something tastier than rations. If they don’t come back soon, I’ll share my K Ration with you."
Leela had already eaten half of the D Ration but managed to mumble, "No thanks, this is great."
When she finished the D Ration, she looked around and noticed Bender was missing. "Sergeant Guarnere," she asked with some concern in her voice, "have you seen Bender?"
"Oh, he went off with More to see if they could find something a little stronger than K Ration lemonade powder, if you know what I mean."
Leela nodded, "Bender…I mean Tin Man needs alcohol to survive. He gets really crazy without it."
Guarnere chuckled, "Me too."
Don Malarkey loomed up in the darkness, "Hey, I got us some beef."
"Great!" Guarnere responded, "Get an ammo can and we’ll cook it."
While Malarkey hustled off to cook the beef, Leela looked over at Fry. She felt a little guilty at having gobbled down the entire D Ration, but she saw that Liebgott had given Fry a K Ration, which he was busy consuming. He saw her looking at him and stopped eating, "Hey, Liebgott, give me another K Ration for Dorothy."
Liebgott pulled one from a box he had "liberated" from supply and tossed it to Fry. "Eat hearty, for tomorrow…who knows?"
Leela smiled as Fry walked over with a K Ration, "Leela, do you want a K Ration? They’re really not that bad."
"Thanks Fry, but Guarnere just gave me a monster candy bar. I think he called it a D Ration."
"Oh yeah, Liebgott told me about them. Never eat more than one, or you’ll be on the toilet for a good while!"
Leela looked at Fry closely. In the faint light, he looked tired and somehow different. "Maybe it’s just that I'm so tired," she thought.
"Leela, aren’t these some great guys?"
Startled by the question she took a few seconds to answer, "Yes, I don’t believe I’ve ever met a better or braver set of men…especially Lieutenant Winters and Bill Guarnere."
Lieutenant Winters’ voice sounded from the darkness, "Thanks, be sure to tell Colonel Sink when you see him." He loomed up out of the darkness and took a seat on the ground next to Leela and Fry. He looked tired, but still alert.
"Listen," he said in his normal calm voice, "we are only a few miles from your ship. Colonel Sink wants us to secure your landing area, get you on board, and see you on your way. He thinks that you being here might disturb history if you stay too long."
Leela spoke up, "Lieutenant, we’re grateful for all you have done so far."
He nodded, "That’s okay, but we still have to get to your ship. Just stick with the weapons platoon and stay close to Sergeant Guarnere. Don’t do anything rash, okay?"
Both responded, "Okay," simultaneously.
Just then, Bender came in with Private Alton More. They were lugging a large cask of Calvados, the local firewater. "Drinks for everyone!" Bender said with a laugh.
Outside Sainte Marie du Mont, Normandy, France, June 7, 1944 0500 Hours
Leela felt someone gently shaking her foot and saying, "Dorothy, wake up." She sat upright, tossing off the poncho that Guarnere had put over her when she fell asleep.
Leela looked and saw that it was Bill Guarnere who was trying to get her up. "What’s up Sergeant Guarnere?" she asked.
"We’re moving out in about an hour or so. I thought you might want some coffee."
Leela gave Guarnere her best smile, "Thanks, Bill."
Guarnere handed her his canteen cup, which was half filled with dark hot coffee. She sipped the steaming liquid, which was so strong it gave her a rush. She took a second sip and handed it back to him.
"Want to share a K Ration? I got some ham and eggs already cooked up. It ain’t much, but it’s better than starving."
"Sure, Bill. Thanks."
Leela looked over and saw that Fry was still sleeping on the ground next to Liebgott and Petty. All three were snoring, which struck her as funny.
She smiled and Guarnere said, "They look like the Three Stooges, don’t they?"
Who?" she asked with a confused look on her face.
"You know, the Three Stooges…Moe, Larry and Curly!"
Suddenly her face brightened, she remembered seeing a Three Stooges episode when she was in the Orphanarium, "Oh Yeah!" She gave a short laugh, "Come to think of it, they do look a lot like them."
Bill handed her his mess kit, into which he had placed better than half of the ration, and a spoon, "Eat up, you can’t keep up on an empty stomach." He produced a second spoon from his right jacket pocket and began to eat what was left of the ration out of the can.
She enjoyed eating the chopped ham and eggs and the biscuit actually tasted pretty good, too. They split the fruit bar and D Ration chocolate. Bill said, "Keep the D Ration in your pocket. You never can tell when we’ll get to eat again."
She nodded, "Bill, when are you going to wake the Three Stooges?"
He glanced at his watch, "Right now, thanks for reminding me." He walked over and tapped the sole of Liebgott’s boot with the toe of his boot, "Hey Joe, you lazy bastard. Get up. We’re moving out in less than half an hour."
Liebgott came up to a sitting position, "Petty, Red, let’s shake a leg. We’re moving out in a half hour."
Petty sat up and rubbed his eyes. Fry turned over on his side and mumbled, "Just five more minutes, Mom."
Petty shook his head and laughed. Then he yanked the poncho off Fry and said, "Come on Sleeping Beauty. We got a date with some Krauts. Get your lazy ass up."
Both Petty and Liebgott laughed as though Petty had just uttered a penetrating witticism.
Fry sat up slowly, looking bleary eyed and confused. He ran his hand through his hair and shook his head. He had come to the edge of getting truly hammered on the Calvados that Bender and More had brought back. It tasted like apple cider, but it had a kick!
Liebgott was already brewing coffee. Fry could smell the aroma and asked, "Hey Liebgott, is that coffee I smell?"
Liebgott smiled and shot back, "Well, the Army says it is. Do you want some?"
Fry said, "Please!"
"Help Petty get our gear ready and I’ll fix us a quick breakfast."
Fry went to work with Petty, rolling up the ponchos, packing the musette bags, and making sure the machine gun, tripod and ammo were ready to go. When they finished, they sat down together and consumed the three K Rations and two canteen cups of coffee Liebgott had prepared.
They finished up and began to don their equipment. No one had passed the word yet, but everyone knew they wouldn’t have long to wait before they moved out.
They were right.
Outside Sainte Marie du Mont, Normandy, France, June 7, 1944 0600 Hours
Leela was sitting nearby when Winters briefed the assembled officers. "Here’s the deal. We don’t know what’s in the town. Strayer thinks it’s empty, but I’m not willing to take any chances. Order of march will be First Platoon, followed by Second, mortars, and then Third Platoon."
"If we meet any resistance, Harry take your platoon to the left of the road. Buck, you deploy to the right. Lieutenant Rousch, you are in reserve with the mortars. We move out in five minutes, questions?"
"Good, get your men assembled."
Easy Company assembled on the road. They were leading the 2nd Battalion’s advance to Vierville, a small town about 1000 meters away from their position. Two hours prior, the 1st Battalion had cleared the village of light resistance, with the aid of a few tanks. But no one knew for certain what lay ahead.
At Lieutenant Winter’s orders, Fry, Leela, and Bender were traveling with the mortars. Fry was irritated that he wasn’t moving with his buddies, Liebgott and Petty.
Guarnere had absolutely refused to listen to any arguments to the contrary, "The Lieutenant wants them to travel with the mortars and that is it. Now quit bothering me and get your asses over to Second Platoon. You’re supporting them today."
Petty and Liebgott stalked off, muttering to themselves. Fry continued to protest, but Guarnere just ignored him.
Bender spoke up, "Fry, you’re an idiot for wanting to risk your neck any closer to the shooting than necessary."
Fry shot back angrily, "What the hell would you know? Those guys are my friends. I know it’s dangerous, but so what? Like the screwy missions we go on aren’t dangerous?"
Bender replied, "Hey Meat Bag, I just wanted to remind you of the dangers."
Guarnere broke in, "Close your pie holes, guys. We’re moving out. Dorothy, Tin Man and Red, travel with Don Malarkey’s gun. When the s**t hits the fan, help to break out ammo. Keep low and don’t take any chances, got it?"
Before anyone could answer, Guarnere called out, "Mortars, saddle up!"
Two platoons were already on the road, spread out with a 5 meter interval between each man. The mortars fell in, followed by Third Platoon. Once everyone was in place, they began to move toward their objective, the village of Vierville.
For the first 800 meters all was relatively quiet. The occasional "Crump" of distant artillery and staccato chatter of distant small arms fire echoed across the battlefield. The sickly sweet smell of a dead cow, laying rigidly in death on it’s back drifted across the road as well. Leela and Fry both fought their gag reflex as the smell wafted by their nostrils.
When the lead squad of First Platoon cleared a hedgerow that cut the road parallel to the edge of town, an MG 42 opened up from a small outbuilding at the edge of town. Their shooting was dismal, missing the squad and causing no casualties. Like a well oiled machine, Easy Company deployed just as Lieutenant Winters had ordered.
The volume of fire began to build as two platoons of paratroops and four .30 caliber machine guns began to rake the buildings closest to the hedgerow. The Germans, who turned out to be from the 1st Battalion, 6th Fallschirmjaeger (Paratroop) Regiment, were returning fire as well.
Guarnere turned to the mortars and shouted, "Deploy along this ditch. Malarkey is base gun. Target is the outbuilding with the Machine Gun, azimuth one-six-zero degrees, distance three-zero-zero yards. Fire two rounds HE Quick on my command."
The mortars set up in under three minutes. Fry quickly showed Leela and Bender how to unpack the mortar ammo. Then they feverishly began to unpack rounds for the guns.
Malarkey sighted his mortar by direct lay, simply pointing it at the target. The other gunners took his cue and did the same.
When all was ready Malarkey shouted, "Guns up!"
The other gunners followed suit.
Guarnere barked out, "Fire!"
All three mortars fired nearly simultaneously. Their shells described a lazy arc high into the air and came down all around the outbuilding.
Dirty grey smoke and flying debris filled the air. The explosions were so close together they seemed to be just one long, "Boom!"
Even before the explosions died away, the second set of three rounds were on their way. They struck with devastating effect as well. The MG-42 fell silent for the rest of the fight.
While all of this was going on, Dog Company deployed to the left of Easy Company and Fox Company deployed to the right. Soon the entire battalion was firing at the Germans, who were well dug in.
Through the midmorning both sides exchanged fire without much effect. It looked like a stalemate, until three Sherman tanks clanked into the firing line. Wanting to keep out of Panzerfaust (the German Bazooka) range, the Shermans deployed near the mortars.
The Germans fired small arms at them, which only annoyed the crews. The turret of the Sherman closest to where Leela and Fry were unpacking ammo swiveled toward a stone building that had resisted the best efforts of the mortars to silence a machine gun housed there.
The cannon fired, "BOOM!" Fry and Leela, caught unawares nearly dropped the rounds they were holding.
The other two Shermans opened up as well, blasting gaping holes in the sides of the closest buildings. Dirt, smoke and debris flew everywhere. Some of the buildings began to burn.
The cannons continued to roar and the German fire began to slacken. Emboldened by the lack of German fire, the tank commanders climbed out and began to use their .50 caliber machine guns on the buildings as well.
After fifteen minutes of unremitting pounding, they could see Germans trying to flee the village. They were almost all cut down before they got fifty yards.
The Shermans ceased fire and Dog Company entered the village. There was little firing as the Germans were more interested in surrendering than fighting.
The Shermans had tipped the scales.
Guarnere turned to the mortars, "Okay, saddle up. We've still got a job to do, unless I miss my guess."