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How Carentan Could Have Gone Down, WWII
“Damn outrageous plan.”
The Admiral, Alan Kirk, took another drag from his cigarette. “I respect General Eisenhower, but this is pushing his trustability, even if it’s been working well.”
“Sir?” the Colonel asked. “What did you say?”
“General Eisenhower’s crazy,” Kirk repeated. “Forcing those poor soldiers to rush onto the beaches? We may have gotten a foothold, but this is near madness.”
The Colonel nodded. They had just managed to capture the beaches and move inland. There were thousands of soldiers who went over the top and under the sand, and plenty who drowned within sunken ships. It was, overall, horrible out there. Neither Kirk nor the Colonel could deny that.
Kirk tapped ashes to the floor. “And even with our ridiculously large lie, the coasts were still fortified.”
“Didn’t help the Nazis that their forces are busy on another front,” the Colonel said.
Kirk nodded, taking another pull from his cigarette.
The Nazis were already using most of their forces on a whole different front, thanks to Russia allying with the Allied Forces. The Nazi troops were thinned out being spread along such along area to fend off the Allies.
“They’re running out of time,” Kirk said. “The Nazis. They’ll have to surrender soon enough.”
“Soon enough,” the Colonel echoed.
The Allied forces were already pressing inland and taking over the German forces easily. No miracle would save them now. Let hell come down on them, Kirk thought.
Kirk looked out one of the small, grimy windows. “Sir Bertram did a damn fine job leading the assault.”
“Quite so. Admiral King trained them well,” the Colonel added. “Sir, how much… do you think is luck?”
Kirk thought for a minute, finally responding with, “Our lie played out well, yes, but the rest has been relatively low in luck. Our forces have outsmarted and outgunned them.”
The Colonel looked down at his desk. “Do we need to send more troops?”
“Wait for General Eisenhower to give the command. For now, we wait on his orders to make any moves.”
The Colonel set his pen down. Kirk chuckled to himself, ashes falling to the floor as his head bobbed. “When this is over, maybe I’ll retire.”
There was silence between them.
“Apparently the people back home are calling it D-Day,” the Colonel mused.
“Why?” Kirk asked.
“I don’t know.”
Kirk grunted, blowing out another breath of smoke. He left the small, compact room and walked out onto the deck. The soldiers spread out across the beach were milling about, passing around bottles and conversing.
These poor boys, Kirk thought. God save us.
The day was the eighth of June, 1944. Joseph Adams was a soldier sent out to the Normandy Invasion and got incredibly lucky. During the storming of the beaches, his helmet was barely clipped by a bullet. He carried an eight-round per magazine .30 caliber M1 Garand rifle, slung over his shoulder.
As he walked through the streets of Carentan, he could feel the weight of the assault still on his shoulders. Not by gear, but by fear and dread. His fellow troops had fallen beside him. If God had made a divine intervention for him, then his feelings were mixed towards His Holiness. Seeing everyone fall beside him… it was a sight he’d never forget.
Several soldiers were carrying the deceased; some were Allied, some were German, but they littered the street still. Buildings were crumbling and shattered during the bombings, railways upended and separated.
Faint gunfire could be heard, but Joseph paid no attention to that. Instead, he was listening to orders being passed by other soldiers to fall back to a safer position. “We’re going to be shelling this place,” one soldier said to him. “Pass it on down.”
Joseph did, repeating it to a soldier behind him. He turned onto another road, more buildings with walls blown in and rubble pouring out onto the sidewalks. There were fewer dead bodies down this stretch, but it was still unsettling. Joseph knew there were supposed to be civilians living here. The lack of other life besides the Allied troops was disturbing.
They were hiding somewhere underground, safe from shellings and bombings, and yet it was as if they left for good and were to never return. Joseph sent out a silent prayer for the civilians in hiding, wishing them safety until this was over.
As he was heading back towards the channel that came from the ocean, gunfire opened in what sounded like the next street over. Like moths to a light, Joseph and the other troops around him moved quickly through an alleyway and into the other street.
German soldiers were firing at a separate cluster of Allied troops. There were roughly seven of them, and none had noticed Joseph’s group arrive on the scene. Soon enough, the German soldiers were riddled with bullets, their bodies adding to the fallen in the street.
Joseph looked back to the other group of Allies, who were just emerging from alleyways. Several of them were injured, and one or two had taken fatal injuries. “Let’s get the hell out of here,” someone said, and Joseph couldn’t agree more.
They set off at a quick pace for the river back to their base back at the beaches. Joseph had helped an injured soldier back. When they got to one of the ships, roughly half were let on. The rest, including Joseph, had to stay back. “We need men here to keep a lock on Carentan.”
“Yes, sir,” Joseph mumbled.
The ship took off shortly after. The remainder of the soldiers who stayed back had taken shelter in a building on the outskirts of Carentan, spreading out on the floor. Joseph sat against one of the walls and took out a locket, a picture of his wife sitting inside.
“She’s beautiful,” someone beside him said. “Name’s Jim. Jim Anderson.”
Joseph didn’t respond for a second. “Yeah.”
Jim nodded, scooting away a little bit. He began to clean his rifle, mumbling, “Those damn Nazis won’t catch me off guard.”
Joseph looked through his backpack, checking his supplies. Rations and some ammunition. He lay down, using his backpack as a pillow, and slowly drifted off to sleep.
He awoke to someone, Jim, shaking him awake. The sound of heavy boots hitting the ground got him up quickly and moving with the rest of his troops. “We’re heading further out of town, we’re shelling this area tomorrow.”
Joseph nodded, his drowsiness wearing off. He followed the person in front of him in the near absolute darkness; the moonlight barely sifting through the clouds and streetlights still standing here and there were the only points of light.
Guessing by the points of the moon, Joseph guessed that they had left around eleven, and had been walking for an hour before they reached a “safe” point. Apparently, this was as close as they’d get to the bombing areas without being hurt and keeping an acceptable distance to the town.
Joseph volunteered to take watch. Not that they needed it, as it wasn’t possible to see ten feet without any other light. Anyone that was foolish enough to use a light source would probably be shot at within seconds.
As night faded and faint, pale light started to color the sky, other soldiers were waking up getting ready for the day. They had been sleeping in a ditch with small puddles and loose dirt here and there.
Suddenly, an explosion shook the ground beneath them. And another. A third. Fourth. Soon they were rocking the area, shattering everything the explosions touched. It slowed down eventually, but it kept a steady pace until about four in the afternoon.
At that time, they began to march to Les Ponts d’Ouve, an undetermined spot on a marsh. Their orders were to push back against the Germans and secure the marsh. When they were first starting to step foot into marshy area, Joseph could see Germans moving in the distance, but only a couple.
Soon enough, gunfire erupted from both sides, bullets raining down on soldiers. Joseph was firing at one of the Germans. When he killed his target, he’d move on, kill another, reload, so on and so forth. He used what little cover there was. Someone, probably a Colonel, was shouting orders barely audible over the noise.
As Joseph’s ammunition was running low, a soldier near him was shot right in the skull. Joseph didn’t look, he grabbed his fallen soldiers ammunition and resumed fire. The Germans could be heard cocking rifles and shouting orders.
Even after the sun had set, gunfire hadn’t completely ceased. Very often would someone fire a short one-two or one-two-three of bullets and stop. As it picked back up, the Colonel shouted to fix bayonets and charge the German line. It was executed swiftly, the Allies running at the nearest Nazi and stabbing or beating them down.
Joseph had sort of snuck up on one and brought him down. Other soldiers rushed past him, a crazed bloodthirsty glint in their eyes. Joseph couldn’t deny it either, the lust for blood called for some hand to hand combat.
They drove the German line quite far back, up to a village called Pommenauque and beyond. As the Germans fled, the Allies stopped their attack and fell back to regroup. They had pushed the Nazis out of Carentan for now.
As part of the 502nd PIR, Joseph and the rest of the regiment returned to their base camp, exhausted from the night. On the way back, Joseph thought about how lucky he was. After all this, he was still around. Alive, well, and ready to fight another day.
Admiral Alan G. Kirk is a real person who had gone in on the assault of Normandy. Admiral King is also a real person who had actually trained soldiers prior to the Normandy Invasion. Sir Bertram Ramsay is also a real person who led the assault. The Colonel is a fictional character as well as everyone else, as well as the opening scene for this piece. As far as I am aware, Alan Kirk did not have a conversation similar to the beginning scene in the story.
Carentan is a real town/city, and the events such as bombings and assaults on the city were real; however, the soldiers' names were not real and are entirely fictitious. July eighth, 1944, had no significant events, so I had to make up some scenes to keep the story moving. July ninth, however, did have bombings and a fight between both Allied and Axis forces. Indeed, both sides were so close to each other that they could hear the enemy shouting commands and loading weapons. The 502 PIR did fall back and let the 506th PIR take charge after the July ninth battle. Further bombings came after July ninth and the battle continued for some time after.