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Subject: The Jumping Betty rss

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Matt Rice
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I return to the 2nd Company on the 27th of August… Captain Smith assigns me to Charley Platoon –lead by Lt. Dillon - and the Jumping Betty – Charley 3 - for the duration…

As I walk into the larger, my baggage slung over my left shoulder (the right is still incredibly painful) a mildly cheering sight greets me. Slumped against the tank’s track is ‘Monkey’ Willey, a cigarette hanging loosely from the corner of his mouth. We catch up with the meager news – I was in the hospital bed next to one of Monkey’s old friends from back home, Monkey had been loading for two tanks since the Kingmaker bought it – We avoid talking about Kingmaker and I make myself at home with the new crew…

Collins the gunner is a small grubby looking man from New Jersey, whilst Isles the driver and Bob Horris the assistant driver both hail from Michigan. All three are quiet and withdrawn having lost their commander two days before, their loader having been moved over to one of the tanks in Charlie Platoon…

The 28th and 29th pass without incident, Charlie Company in reserve as the Regiment pushes on into France, but the 30th marks my first day of combat since losing the Kingmaker…

The day begins early enough, the Company moving out at 5:30… I stretch as far as I can in the cupola and sigh as Monkey starts his early morning griping session…

“It’s not as if we need to get up this damn early every f**kin’ day, is it? I mean, it’s not as if the Krauts are desperate to fight it out…”

“Monkey… Are you just doing this to try and cheer me up, or is it just something you feel the need to do every morning, come rain or shine…?”

The faces of the Kingmaker’s crew flicker back and forth in my mind for a moment. “Either case, clam it… I don’t think any of us wants to listen to you bicker on and on about the early morning ablutions of the Wehrmacht…”

It rained the night before and the sky is still cloudy as we churn through the mud, passing silent, deserted farms. It comes down from HQ that the Company Commander wants a deep, fast thrust with as few pauses as possible… Fat chance with the ground like this…

We halt for 15 minutes whilst we await reports from the recon units out front, eventually turning east to cut across the wet fields. The mud slows us down and it takes us an hour or so to reach the next track.

“The Big Cheese ain’t gonna be happy with this,” Monkey chuckles across the intercom. “This is taking an age…”

I have to admit I’m glad I’m not in the Captain’s boots, but sticking to the road network can be a recipe for disaster… Rumours of Medium resistance ahead evaporate as the Company steams forward…

By 12:00 we grind up onto the main road north between **** and ****… Our main objective, however, is once again over the fields to the east. Captain Smith has us line up for the advance, Alpha Company just ahead and to our left, Bravo on our right.

Captain Smith comes on over the Company net, telling us to go hell for leather on his command. I can hear the strain in his voice… Maybe his job’s on the line over this one. We really have made appalling time this morning, what with the general conditions and all…

He gives the order and I tell Isles to floor the accelerator. The company lurches out into the fields, the tanks of Alpha platoon with fantails of mud spraying up behind them, still a little ahead…

“Ambush!”

The call comes without a call sign, but the sound of an anti-tank gun cracks loud enough for me to catch it over the tank’s engine… Where the hell are they? I scan the line of trees to our front, looking for smoke…

“Jesus! This is Bravo 3… Panzer IV to my right, rear… They’re behind us…”

I swivel hard, ignoring the heavy twinge of pain tugging at my right shoulder and spot the enemy.

“Collins. Turret to the rear... fire smoke”

Seconds later we’re shrouded in smoke. A pair of our half-tracks hurtle past, a line of infantry running hard to keep up… Somewhere, someone is shooting and I feel, rather than hear, a detonation…

Charley 2 comes up on our left, halts in a spray of mud, reverses…

“Driver,” I order. I don’t remember his name, I want to say Cooper… “Find cover, fast…”

We find cover to the rear, in a ditch, the hedge adjoining flattened a moment earlier by our passing. Reports are coming in of another Panzer IV to our front-left… The smoke clears for a moment and there it is, rumbling steadily towards us.

“Collins… turret to the front… Load AP…”

The enemy tank, still coming at us, fires off to our left, the explosion as Lieutenant Dillon’s tank explodes blasting the remnants of drifting smoke away…

“Hell! That was the Lt. …”

“Wait for it…”

I don’t want Collins to screw this up…

The Panzer’s turret swinging our way… The flash of its gun… The impact as we’re hit… ‘Not again!’ is all I can think as I scramble out of the now dead Jumping Betty.

There is mercifully no fire, no flames… Collins tumbles out after me, the driver – Isles, yes, that’s his name, Isles…, leaps from his own hatch, Horris quickly behind him…

And the enemy Panzer still rumbling towards us, its hull machinegun chattering. I fling myself into the ditch, thinking, ‘I’m missing something, here… I’ve forgotten something…’

Where’s Monkey?

“Where’s Monkey!?” I yell over the impact of artillery – there’s or ours, it doesn’t matter. I’m aware the Panzer is still bearing down on us…

Collins lifts himself from the bottom of the ditch ignoring the approaching Panzer.
“Didn’t he jump? I didn’t see him!” He stares wild-eyed around him. “ S**t!”

I jump up, clamber up the side of the Jumping Betty, push myself headfirst into the turret. Monkey lies crumpled in his position, most of his arm hanging off his shoulder, the blood, a deluge….

As we pull him clear, the German tank is hit, the heat of its death burning away the wet and damp of the ditch we fall back into… Men appear, our troops, leaping into the ditch with us, setting up machine guns, readying rifles, the ammunition in the German tank cooking off…

------------------------------------------------------------------

I wave Monkey off at the clearing station. He couldn’t wave back, for obvious reasons…

I light one of Monkey’s last cigarettes and go and report to Head Quarters for re-assignment, wiping at my eyes with the grimy sleeve of my jacket.

Damn smoke always makes me weep….




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SSgt. Crapgame
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Pretty gritty story, unfortunately that is how most of my PB's battles ended. You have to play with a fatalistic view almost.
 
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Team Ski
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Delaware
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Well written! You got me to read it all of the way through. Excellent. It really makes me want to pull my copy out for a turn!

-Ski
 
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Matt Rice
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Tell me about it!

Atleast Sgt. Davies lives to continue his tale...

I'm not holding out much hope he'll survive to the end of the war, though...

Cheers
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Matt Rice
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Ski,

many thanks...

This write-up has been waiting for a couple of months now...

Now that it's down, I'll go ahead with the next instalment, still yet to be played...

As you can see, I've chosen to stick with the commander of the tank rather than the tank itself! (I suppose in a similar vein to Queen of the Skies...It's great to follow the survivors - if they survive!)

'Kingmaker' lasted longer than I thought it would, but 'Jumping Betty' certainly bit the big one rather quickly...!

Obviously, I'd love Sgt. Davies to get through the whole war, but as I've already mentioned, I dont hold out much hope. The round that took out the 'Jumping Betty' was only 3% off NOT penetrating...

But I was lucky there was no fire (and no explosion, come to think of it...)

Anyway, tune back in for the next instalment over the next few weeks!

Cheers

 
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John O'Haver
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Well written, thanks.
 
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I'd rather be gaming...
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Great report. Always enjoy reading these. Looking forward to the next instalment.
 
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Steve Walker
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A well-written combat report! This is how ALL of my PB games ended, sooner or later...before I lost my copy of the game when I moved, my Easy Eight "Bargain Basement" was knocked out by a Panzerfaust team in the Hurtgen Forest just after we KO'd a StuG III and a Panther. My experienced crew were all either killed or sent home, and I got to spend a month in hospital. After taking everything the Krauts could throw at us from Avranches to the German border, it was all over in a matter of seconds!
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