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  A Village Not Far Enough 

An After Action Report of the Battle Fought 5 January 2008

Using Arty Conliffe's Crossfire Rules


by Peter Hunt


  4th  Military Hospital

Dear Freddie,
By now Mumsie will have received the telegram telling her that I was wounded in action so I want you to reassure her that it’s only a scratch and that I’m in ripping form.
The mission was supposed to be simple.  A night time drop with two companies outside the village of Waanzailoon in Holland.  We were to blow up the supply depot in the centre of the village and break off to the northwest.  Jerry was supposed to have a couple of platoons of old men and boys in the place, nothing serious.
Well, of course, the drop was a complete balls up.  Instead of putting us over the heath to the west, the “green light” was late and we dropped over the town itself.  My company fell mostly together but Biffo Burnett’s boys were dropped from a higher altitude and came down all over the place.  I say most of my chaps came down together but yours truly was blown off to the north and came down with only my HQ stick on the other side of the main road that skirted the village.
Still I was better off than poor old Biffo.  He came down in the back yard of a house containing a Jerry platoon HQ … gunned down before he could get his ’chute off I’m afraid he was.
It turned out that Jerry had a whole company in the town, billeted along the main east-west road with one platoon on the east, (the buggers who got Biffo), and two to the west – astride our escape route.
Good old Stingo Simpkins of my company got his platoon together quickly and led them towards the supply dump on the church mount in the middle of the village.  Meanwhile Biffo’s boys to the east had their dander up, seeing their old man cut down like that.  They went for the houses containing the Jerry platoon hell for leather.  Tactically it shouldn’t have worked but it put the wind up Jerry and they legged it through the back door – which was covered by one of Biffo’s squads that had dropped on the church mount above.  Biffo was soon revenged.
Stingo’s platoon scaled the side of the mount and went straight for the church.  Unfortunately the church housed Jerry’s company HQ.  He might have been a Hun but I have to hand it to that Jerry Major – he was a real man.  A veteran of the Russian front, he had one of those PPsH drum fed tommy guns and took out two of Stingo’s squads before they could get through the door.
At least now we knew where Jerry was and started putting mortar rounds and everything else we had into the church.  Dinko Dimbleby leading the platoon that had revenged Biffo made its way up the mount and assaulted the church.  The Hun Major had copped a bad mortar shrapnel wound in the neck and Dinko’s chaps took out the Jerries with no losses.  Dinko had a word with the Jerry Major as he lay dying.  Dinko say’s he spoke perfect English and sounded a bit like that young actor James Mason we saw at Shaftsbury Avenue last leave apparently.  Funny old world, isn’t it?
As Stingo and Dinko’s boys delighted themselves blowing up the supplies I still had to work out how we were going to break off with Jerry having two platoons in the houses blocking our retreat route.  Pongo Pommeroy’s platoon of Biffo’s company took one of the houses but couldn’t get across the road to take out the other.  Jerry tried to pull some of his chaps out of a third house and we pinned them in the open, but with them still firmly holding two houses we couldn’t get past.
For about half an hour we poured everything at those houses but couldn’t crack them.  Private Grimshaw of Biffo’s company ran all the way around the village with a despatch for me.  He arrived breathless and dishevelled to discover he had lost the dispatch!  Another of Pongo’s boys, Private Smithers tried to run across the road direct to me but was cut down by Jerry in the house.  It was so frustrating to watch.  Eventually though all that training on Salisbury Plain kicked in, if we couldn’t take the house we could at least mask it! So both company mortars started dropping smoke around it so out platoons could move again.  The only side of house that was not smoked was the side facing me, and I have to get around the village: 
“Follow me boys!”  I cried.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you Sir”, said Colour Sergeant Bledsloe as a burst of MG 42 fire pinned us down.
“Come on boys!”  I shouted.
“Steady on Sir,” said Bledsloe as another burst pinned us again.
“After me!”  I screamed.
“Careful Sir,” advised Bledsloe as longer and more accurate burst drove us to cover a third time.
“Oh bugger!”  I exclaimed as a round went straight through the fleshy part of my arm.
“Never mind Sir.”  Said Bledsloe pulling me back behind the safety of the wall, “I’ll make you a nice cup of tea.”
As Bledsloe was dressing my wound, and making a remarkably good brew considering all the circumstances, the platoons in the village were mopping up the Jerries outside the problematic house.  With my arm finally fixed up Bledsloe led the way behind the roadside wall and we finally got out of sight of that MG 42 in the house.  I circled the village and linked up with Yoyo Young’s platoon and led them through the smoke into that troublesome house.  Well, little brother, I don’t mind telling you that the action in the house was “short but desperate”, but Yoyo’s chaps and my HQ stick all survived.  There is some talk of an MC apparently … Mumsie and Pater will be so proud.
And then we made off and linked up with our Dutch Resistance guides for the trek back to our lines.  As we left we could hear Jerry motorized reinforcements making for the village, seems we got out not a minute too soon…
Assure Mumsie and Pater that I’m in the best of form and will be out of hospital soon.  There should be some convalescence leave and I’ll be down to see them.  But first I’ll have to go and see poor old Biffo’s girl.  When we were last on leave in Paris Biffo bought the most wonderful backless green silk dress for her.  I know he’d rather think of her in that than in mourning black, I’ll have to console her.
                        Your loving big brother,



Click on the image above to see the close ups of the action


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