Combat! Fan Fiction by Mary Wright
An Enigma
An Easy Capture
A Giant of a Man
The Last Straw
No Greater Love
Murphy's Law
Musical Chairs
Sergeant to Sergeant
A Strange Patrol
The Bridge
The Worst and the Best
An All Inclusive Tour
Purple Hearts - Combat! Fan Fiction



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(Combat! Fan Fiction)



          Kirby tossed his cigarette aside and headed for the shell of the shop he and the rest of the squad were staying in, crossing behind the remains of the little shed behind the church.  He was a city boy.  These French country nights gave him the creeps and he wanted to be back with the others.   He stopped in mid-step, listening hard.  It had sounded like a whimper, but he couldn't localize it.  Just as he started to move on, it came again, only this time it sounded more like a moan, and it was coming from the shed.  Silently, he slipped the bayonet from his belt and eased up to the side of the shed.  The sound came again, definitely a moan, definitely human.  Bayonet in one hand, lit match in the other, Kirby knelt at the side of the doorway and peered inside.  A man lay just inside, half on his side, both arms wrapped around his ribs.  In the weak, flickering light of the match, it looked like one side of his face was smeared with blood.

          "Oww, dammit!"  Kirby cursed as the match burnt his fingers.

          "Kirby?"  The man's voice came faintly.  "Kirby, is that you?"

          "Billy?"  Kirby questioned in astonishment, quickly lighting another match.

          It was indeed Billy lying in front of him.  Sheathing the bayonet, Kirby crawled to Billy's side, dropping the match in the dirt.

          "Billy, what happened?"  Kirby asked, feeling for him in the dark.

          "Don't know."  Billy mumbled.  "Got jumped from behind."

          "Can you walk?"

          "Don't know.  Gimme a hand, will you?"

          Working totally by feel, Kirby managed to get the younger man to his feet, his arm around Billy's waist, then guided him out of the shed.  He debated a moment about whether to take him to the aid station or to the squad, deciding that the squad was closer and they could take him to the docs later if he needed it.  They had just reached the doorway to the shop when Billy stumbled and nearly went down.  Tightening his hold, Kirby practically carried Billy inside.  Caje, Littlejohn, Doc, and Saunders all glanced up, then jumped to their feet.  Littlejohn reached them first, taking Billy from him and  helping him to the nearest blanket, which happened to be his own.  Billy lay back with a soft moan and closed his eyes. Doc pushed Littlejohn aside and started checking the injured man.

          "Kirby, what happened?"  Saunders demanded.

          "I don't know, Sarge.  I heard a moan from that little shed behind the church and found him inside.  He says someone jumped him from behind."

          "Doc?  How is he?"  Littlejohn asked anxiously.

          "He got beat up pretty good.  Looks like some bruised ribs and he's gonna have a heck of a shiner.  We better get him over to the aid station and let one of the docs check him over just to be sure."

          "Kirby, go find the lieutenant and bring him to the aid station.  We'll meet you there."

          "Sure, Sarge."  Kirby hurried out while Doc and Littlejohn helped Billy up.


           "Over here, Lieutenant."  Littlejohn called, seeing Kirby and Hanley entering the aid station.

          Followed by Kirby, Hanley strode across the room, stopping to look down at the young soldier lying on the cot, his face criss-crossed with bandages.

          "Alright, Sergeant, what happened?"  Hanley asked.

          "He doesn't really know, sir.  As far as we can figure, he was heading back to the squad from visiting a guy in Item Company and was cutting around behind the church.  Someone jumped him from behind and knocked him out.  The next thing he remembers is Kirby talking to him."" Saunders replied.

          "You mean, someone beat him up like this while he was unconscious?"  Hanley asked incredulously.

          "It looks that way, Lieutenant."

          "This far inside the camp, I can't imagine that it was a German."  Hanley said slowly.

          "No, sir."  Saunders agreed.

          "How badly is he injured?"

          "Nothing broken, Lieutenant."  Doc answered.  "Bruised ribs, mainly.  Cuts and bruises on his face.  The doctor says he'll be okay with a day or so of rest."

          "That's good news.  I'll report this to the Captain." Hanley left, his face tight with anger.

          "He'll sleep for at least a couple hours."  The doctor told the others.  "You might as well go get some rest yourselves."

          Nodding, Saunders headed for the door, the others at his heels.

          "What kind of sicko would beat an unconscious man?"  Kirby burst out once they were outside.  

          "And just a kid besides."  Caje added.

          "I don't know."  Saunders shook his head in disgust.

          "Billy's so easy-going, I can't imagine him making anyone mad enough to do something like that."  Doc commented.

          "I can't imagine anyone doing that, no matter how mad they were."  Littlejohn growled.

          "Maybe he wasn't 'angry' mad.  Maybe he's 'crazy' mad."  Doc suggested.

          "You mean, we've got a crazy man loose in the camp?"  Littlejohn stared at him.

          "I don't know, Littlejohn." 


          Late the next afternoon, the squad was unloading their gear after returning from a patrol when Billy walked in.

          "Billy!  How ya doin'?"  Littlejohn turned, a huge grin splitting his face.

          "I'm okay."  Billy grinned back.  "How is it out there?"

          "We spent all day just looking for some Krauts to fight with."  Kirby said in disgust.  "We finally get a break from havin' them shoot at us, so they send us out to find some."

          "Did you?"  Billy asked interestedly.

          "Nah."  Caje shook his head.

          "Did the docs say you're okay?"  Saunders asked.

          "Yep.  But I don't think I'm up to carrying the BAR."  He grinned at Kirby.

          "I don't know as I'd let you, anyway."  Kirby snorted.

          "Sarge?  Did anyone else get jumped?"  Billy asked, trying to sound casual.

          "Not that I know of.   Did you beat somebody at poker?"

          "Not in this lifetime."  Billy laughed.

          "I'm going to go report to the lieutenant. "  Saunders said around a yawn.

          "I'm going to go look for a beer."  Kirby remarked.

          "Good luck."  Caje grinned.  "I'm going to sleep."

          Slinging his Thompson over his shoulder, Saunders paused to light a cigarette before heading out the door.   He was a little over halfway to the lieutenant's area, coming around a corner, when a board was swung around the corner, aimed for his face.  He had just enough time to throw an arm up and turn his head away.  The force of the blow knocked him to the ground, his helmet bouncing away.  Before he could make a move, the board came down against his unprotected head and the world exploded in white-hot pain, then faded to black.  His attacker threw the board aside and dropped to straddle the unresisting sergeant, pummeling his face in a fury, then rising to kick him in the side.  He paused at the sound of voices, and slipped away through the damaged buildings.

          "Hey, isn't that Saunders' helmet?"  Kirby asked.

          "Looks like it."  Littlejohn replied.

          They came around the corner, nearly tripping over the injured sergeant.

          "Get Doc!"  Littlejohn yelled as he dropped to his knees at Saunders' side.

          A moment later, Doc shoved Littlejohn out of the way, taking his place and starting to examine the sergeant.

          "Doc?"  Caje asked anxiously.

          "He's alive.  He got it good.  Let's get him to the aid station."

          Littlejohn handed Billy his M-1, and lifted the limp body of the sergeant to his shoulders and headed for the aid station.

          "Billy,, Doc, you go with Littlejohn.  Billy and I will go for the lieutenant."  Caje took command easily.  


           "Over here, Lieutenant."  Littlejohn called, seeing Hanley enter the aid station, followed by Caje and Billy.

          Once again, the lieutenant strode across the aid station to look down at one of his men.

          "How is he?"

          "He'll be okay, Lieutenant."  The doctor paused in the act of bandaging the still unconscious Saunders' head to look up with a reassuring smile.  "He's got a concussion and he'll have a headache for a day or so.  The ribs are bruised, but nothing is broken.  His left arm is badly bruised, but it isn't broken, either."

          A moment later, a groan from the man on the cot drew their attention and Hanley squatted down next to him as Saunders' eyes fluttered open.          

          "Sergeant?  What happened?"  He asked.

          "You tell me, sir."  Saunders started to lift a hand to his head, but Doc stopped him.

          "What do you remember?"

          "Coming back in from patrol.  Billy came in.  I was going somewhere."  He paused.  "That's all I remember. What happened?"

          "You were going to report to the lieutenant, Sarge.  Someone jumped you."  Doc told him.


          "I doubt it."  Hanley shook his head.  "Until we find out who did this, you men be very careful.  Don't go anywhere alone, if you can help it."

          "Looks like we're safer out hunting Germans than we are in our own camp."  Kirby said angrily.

          "Let's just not take any chances.   Saunders will be safe enough here, with all the people around."

          "Are you saying that an American here in camp tried to kill the sergeant?"  The doctor stared at Hanley in disbelief.

          "Coming on the heels of the attack on Billy, it sure appears that way."

          "We'll keep a close eye on him while he's here, Lieutenant."  The doctor promised.

          "Thanks."  Hanley nodded.  "You get some rest, Saunders.  The rest of you come with me."

          Silently, the men followed the lieutenant back to the building he was using as his office, seating themselves when he waved them down.

          "Alright, let's think this thing out."  Hanley lit a cigarette.  "Two attacks in two days, both on this squad.  I want you to think.  What's happened lately?  Did you guys get in an argument with anyone?  Fight with anyone?"

          "No, sir."  Caje answered promptly.  "For the last week, all we've done is go on patrol, and hang around that shop, eating and sleeping.  We haven't even had a card game."

          "That's right, Lieutenant."  Littlejohn chimed in.

          "You know Billy, Lieutenant."  Kirby said.  "He gets along with everyone.  He and the sarge are about as different as you can get.  Not that I mean the sarge doesn't get along with folks,  I mean..."  He stumbled to a stop, unable to express himself.

          "I think I know what you mean, Kirby."  Littlejohn said.  "How could two people so different get the same person mad at them?"

          "Yeah.  That's what I meant."  Kirby nodded.

          "Did you run into any other units on patrol?  Step on any toes?"  At the resulting negative headshakes he received, Hanley sighed and stubbed out his cigarette.  "Okay, let's go at it a different way.  Think about the last week or two.  Anything happen on your missions?"

          "Like what?"  Billy asked, puzzled.

          "I don't know.  I'm fishing, here. "  Hanley shrugged.  "Anything unusual?  Anything at all?"

          "No, sir.  We didn't run into any other units.  We didn't run across anything unusual.  We didn't have any casualties.  We didn't see many French citizens.  We hardly saw any Germans, either.   I think Kirby got burned by a bullet once, but that's all I can remember.  Any of you remember anything?"  Caje replied.

          "No."  The others answered one by one.

          "Alright, Caje.  You're acting squad leader till Saunders gets on his feet.  Keep your eyes open and be careful."

          "Yes, sir."

          The squad got to their feet and headed out the door in a tight bunch, looking around warily.  Hanley lit another cigarette and went to look for the captain again.


          Hanley entered the shop and glanced around.  Caje and Billy were sleeping and Littlejohn was watching Doc replenish his medical bag while Kirby was making coffee.

          "Hi, Lieutenant.  What's up?"  Kirby greeted him.

          "I'm sending your group on a mission.  Wake them up, will you?"

          Kirby crossed over and shook Caje and Billy.

          "The lieutenant is here, Caje.  He has a mission for us."

          Caje was sitting up before his eyes were all the way open. Billy took a little longer to make it up.  Nodding his thanks, Caje took the cup of coffee Kirby handed him as soon as he was on his feet.

          "How's the sarge, Lieutenant?"  Billy asked.

          "Sleeping at the moment.  You're in command, Caje.  You're to take the squad out and check out that bridge near the bunker south of here.  There're reports of German activity near there.  Take a radio with you.  If it's clear, stay there till I can get someone in to relieve you to guard the bridge.  If you run into any Krauts, call in and I'll send reinforcements.  Questions?"

          "No, sir.  No questions."

          "Alright.  Get going."  Hanley turned on his heel and left.

          "Billy, you and Kirby go get a radio and rations for three days.   Littlejohn and I will get the ammo.  Doc, you, you'd better come with us.  Meet back here in ten minutes."

          "Okay."  Billy and Kirby grabbed their gear and left.

          "Ready, Caje."  Doc had his gear ready, his helmet in hand.

          The three men headed out, returning to find Billy and Kirby waiting.  A few minutes later, they set out, Caje in the lead, Littlejohn bringing up the rear.  Moving quickly, they left the camp behind, working their way into the low hills to the south.   They'd gone less than a mile when a single shot rang out and all five men hit the dirt.

          "Anybody hit?"  Caje called softly.

          "No."  Billy, Kirby, and Doc answered.

          "Yeah."  Littlejohn replied.  "Got me in the arm."

          "Can you move?"  Caje asked.


          "Head for that pile of rocks.  Where'd the shot come from?"

          "Behind us on the left."  Littlejohn told him.

          The squad came to their feet and ran for the rocks without further incident.

          "Doc, take care of Littlejohn.  Billy, stay here and keep your eyes open.  Kirby, you're on me."  Caje ordered.

          Leaving the three others behind, Caje and Kirby moved out cautiously, searching for the sniper.  When they finally returned, frustrated, Littlejohn had his arm bandaged and he and Billy were both waiting impatiently.

          "Did you find anyone?"  Billy asked.

          "No.  Just a shell casing.  American.   Can you go on, Littlejohn?"  Caje asked.

          "Sure.  It's just a scratch."

          "Doc?"  Caje looked to him for confirmation.

          "It's minor, Caje.  Littlejohn said he'd just stepped on a rock and staggered when he was hit.  If he hadn't, it would have hit him in the back."

          "Billy, give me the radio."  Caje set it on the rock in front of him and cranked it up.   "King Two, this is White Rook.  King Two, this is White Rook.  Over."

          "White Rook, this is King Two.   Over."  Hanley's voice echoed among the rocks.

          "King Two, we've got one man wounded.  Minor damage.  Over."

          "German?  Over."

          "No. Over."

          "See him?  Over. ''

          "No.  We're about halfway to objective.   Over."

          "Keep in touch.  Over."

          "Roger.  White Rook out."

          Caje handed the radio back to Billy and looked around at the squad, thinking.

          "Any of you tell anyone we were going out?"  The men all shook their heads, and Caje sighed as he got to his feet.  "Alright, let's head for the bridge.  Billy, you take the rear."

          "Let me take it, Caje."  Littlejohn requested.  "I'm already hit.  No point in getting someone else hit, too.  Besides, he probably hightailed it back to camp."

          "Alright, Littlejohn.  Everybody keep your eyes open."

          They reached the bridge without further incident, finding no Germans, or anyone else, in the vicinity. 

          "King Two, this is White Rook.  Over."  Caje had the radio on the ground by the end of the bridge.

          "White Rook, this is King Two.  Over."

          "We've reached the objective, sir.  All clear. Over."

          "Any more incidents?  Over."

          "No, sir.  Over."

          "I'll have someone up to relieve you in a couple hours.  Over."

          "Roger.  White Rook out."  He shut down the radio and turned to the others.  "Okay, move back and spread out.  Keep your eyes open.  The lieutenant will send replacements up in a couple hours.  How's your arm, Littlejohn?"


          "Hey, while we're waiting, can we break out the rations?"  Kirby asked.

          "Yeah, go ahead.  Just stay alert, huh?"

          The men moved back into the undergrowth and spread out, Doc staying with Caje.

          "Caje?"  Doc said softly.


          "You didn't see the guy back there?"

          "No.  Just found the one casing."

          "I wonder who it is?  And why?"

          "I don't know, Doc.  Why don't you get something to eat?"

          Caje touched Doc's shoulder to wake him three hours later, when he heard men approaching.  The  squad remained where they were until they identified the men from the third squad, then emerged into the open.

          "Caje."  The sergeant from third squad nodded.  "All quiet?"

          "Yeah.  Nothing moving."

          "Okay.  Lieutenant Hanley said for you guys to head back.  He told me to tell you Saunders is improving, whatever that means."


          The five men headed back for camp, conversely getting more cautious the closer they got.  They made it back without incident, heading straight for the aid station to see Saunders. 

          "How ya doin', Sarge?"  Littlejohn asked with a big grin when they found him awake.

          "I'm okay.  You?"  He answered, looking at the bandage on Littlejohn's arm.

          "Just a scratch."

          "The lieutenant told me what happened out there.  Any of you tell anyone where you were going?"

          "Caje already thought about that.  No, we didn't."  Billy shook his head.

          "Then he must have just followed you.  The lieutenant said we get 24 hours off.  Have you reported to him?"

          "Not yet.  We stopped in here first."

          "Kirby, you and Caje go turn in the radio and report to Hanley.  The rest of you better stick together."

          "Sure, Sarge.  We'll head back to the shop, Caje."  Doc said.


          "Caje, you two drop this message off to the captain on your way back."  Hanley stopped them as they were dropping off the radio.

          "Yes, sir."  Caje slipped the message into his pocket and left, Kirby at his heels.

          "Twenty-four hours off, and we have to be more careful than we are when we're fightin' the Krauts."  Kirby grumbled.  "What good is it gonna do us?"

          "You can wash your socks."  Caje grinned at him.

          "I don't know if I can stand so much fun."  Kirby snorted in disgust.

          "Maybe you can sew up that hole in your jacket, then."

          "What hole?"

          Caje reached over and poked a finger into the hole in the sleeve of Kirby's jacket.

          "That hole."

          "Huh.  Wonder where that came from?"  Kirby pulled the sleeve around to look at it.

          "Looks like it's been there awhile."

          "Hold up a minute, Caje.  I've got a rock in my boot."

          Caje stopped, leaning up against the corner of the nearest building while Kirby dropped to the ground and started to unfasten his boot.  A hand suddenly snaked around the corner of the building, fastened over Caje's mouth, and jerked him out of sight.  Something hard slammed into the side of the Cajun's head and he went down without a sound, sprawling on his side.  A boot slammed into his unprotected stomach, knocking him over onto his back.

          "Caje?"  Kirby sounded more irritated than worried as he stepped around the corner, right into a fist that smashed into his jaw, slamming him into the side of the building.  Stunned, he slid down the wall to lay still in a crumbled ball.  His attacker grabbed him by the front of the jacket and hit him several more times, then kicked him in the ribs and back.  Turning back to Caje, the man seized his jacket, jerking his head and shoulders off the ground. Grunting with the effort, he hit him in the face with both an open hand and closed fist, then paused, his arm drawn back, when he heard someone approaching.  With a muttered curse, he flung the unconscious man to the ground and fled.   A few minutes later, the captain came around the corner. He stopped in his tracks, staring at the battered men.

          "Lieutenant Hanley!"  Jampel roared in fury.  "Lieutenant Hanley!"

          As he rushed around the corner, the lieutenant almost ran into the captain's back.  A second later, Littlejohn, Billy, and Doc joined them, having heard the captain yell.

          "What is...?"  Hanley broke off, staring down at the bloody soldiers.  "Not again!"

          "Yeah."  Jampel snapped.  "Again.  What is going on, Hanley?"

          "I don't know, sir.  Let's get them to the aid station."  Hanley's voice was hoarse with rage.

          He and Littlejohn lifted Caje in a basket-carry while Billy and Doc picked up Kirby, the captain following them.   As they entered the aid station, the same doctor looked up, his mouth dropping open.  Recovering quickly, he pointed to two empty cots next to Saunders, who was sleeping.  He called another doctor over and they bent over the two men, pushing the others out of the way.  Jampel

watched over their shoulders while Hanley paced impatiently, the others standing together in silence.

          "How badly are they hurt?"  The captain demanded.

          "They've both been beaten pretty badly."  The doctor answered without looking up from where he was working over Kirby.  "This one has a fractured rib.  Bruises and cuts. He'll be out of action for awhile."

          "This one has a broken cheek bone, severe bruising to his stomach, cuts and bruises." The other doctor straightened up and looked at Hanley.  "I don't know what's going on here, Lieutenant, but your men are setting a record for non-war injuries."

          "I don't know what's going on, either, Doctor."  Hanley shook his head.

          "I'm setting a guard over these two, then I want to see all of you in my office.  Wait here until the guards get here."  Jampel stomped out of the aid station.

          The squad members exchanged looks, finding seats on nearby empty cots when Hanley waved them down.  When two MPs came in and took up posts at the side of each cot, Hanley heaved himself to his feet.

          "Let's go."


          "Alright, let's have it from the top, Hanley."  Jampel ordered when they trouped in.

          He listened in silence to Hanley, then to each man in turn as they made their reports.



          "You didn't hear anyone?  See anyone?"

          "No, sir."


          "No, sir.  Just a shot from behind."

          "And, of course, nobody saw what happened to Saunders, right?"

          "Not that we know of, sir."

          "Doc, you're the only one who hasn't been attacked yet.  Why?"

          Startled by the question, Doc stared at the captain for a second with his mouth open.

          "I... I don't know, sir."

          "He hasn't been alone since this started, sir."  Littlejohn said quietly.

          "Kirby and Caje weren't alone."  Jampel pointed out. "Rather than covering the same ground twice, Hanley, what have you come up with so far?"

          "Not much, sir.  As far as we can determine, they haven't gotten anyone mad at them through a card game or anything like that.  They haven't run into any other units on patrol.  They haven't run into anything unusual on patrol, no casualties immediately before this started.  They haven't run into any French or Germans.  I just have no idea what's going on or why, sir."

          "Okay.  No Germans.  No French.  No bad card games.  No bad patrols. What's that leave us?"  Jampel tapped his pencil on the table.  "Except for the shot at Littlejohn, it's all happened here in camp.  There've been no reports of any other squads having problems.  So, that means it has to be an American, he's in this camp, and he's got a beef with this squad for an unknown reason.  Right?"

          "Yes, sir."  Hanley nodded.

          "The question is, what do we do about it?"

          "I was hoping you had an idea, Captain."

          "How do you guys feel about being bait?"

          "Sir?"  Doc asked warily.

          "I think the only way to catch this guy is to trap him.  The only way to do that is to bait a trap.  The only bait that will work is your squad."

          "What do you have in mind, Captain?"  Hanley asked.

          "Talk it up around camp, subtly, mind you, that First Squad is going on a mission.  With a specific destination, at a specific time.  That's the bait.  Then we throw a net around you with men we can trust.  When he makes his move, we grab him."

          "Sir?  I have a couple questions." 

          "Yes, Lieutenant?"

          "Where do we get men we can trust?  How do we know he won't actually kill one of them this time?"

          "We get the men from another battalion.  He has had ample opportunity to kill, and hasn't.  We will have to take that chance, or let him continue to attack your men whenever he feels like it.  I can't order you men to do it."

          "Will it work with just part of the squad?"  Doc asked. 

          "The guy knows he hurt Saunders, Caje, and Kirby, but I doubt that he knows how badly.  I think we will have to wait till they're on their feet and use the whole squad as bait, since we aren't sure if it's the squad or specific members.  Like I said, this isn't something I can order you to do.  Give it some thought.  If you come up with any other ideas, I'm open to suggestions.  Unless you have any other questions, you're dismissed.  You can go back to the aid station or back to your quarters, but wherever you go, stay together."

          "Yes, sir."  Hanley got to his feet and led the squad outside, then turned to look at his men gathered behind him.  "Where to?"

          "I'd like to check on Saunders, Caje, and Kirby, sir."  Doc replied.

          "Fine.  Let's go."


          When they reached the aid station, they found the guards still in position, keeping a good watch, and Caje just coming to.  Kirby was still unconscious.  Saunders appeared to be still sleeping.  The men gathered around Caje's bed, Hanley perching on the edge on one side while the others stood or squatted nearby.

          "Caje?"  Hanley placed a hand on his arm.  "Caje, can you hear me?"

          "Yeah."  He forced the eye that wasn't swollen open and added "Sir."

          "How do you feel?"

          "Like I got run over by a half-track."

          "What happened?"

          Pausing occasionally to rest, Caje told him.  Glancing around, he started to sit up.

          "Kirby?  Where is he?  Is he okay?"  Caje demanded.

          "He's in the cot next to you.  He got it too.  He'll be okay.  Take it easy."  Hanley told him, gently pushing him back down.            

          "What's he here for?"  Caje was looking at the MP.

          "Protection.  Get some rest, Caje."  Hanley got up and moved over to check on Kirby who was lying still, his face pale.

          "I've sedated both him and the sergeant, Lieutenant.  They're okay, just sleeping."  The doctor came up beside Hanley.  "Lemay and the sergeant should  be up and around in a day or so, but that cheekbone will take awhile to heal.  Kirby will be on his feet in a day or two as well, but not fit for duty for a couple weeks."

          "Thanks, Doctor.  Don't let any of them leave here alone."

          "Alright.  The guards will see to that."

          "Okay, men, let's get out of here and let 'em rest."  Hanley was watching Caje try to stay awake.

          He patted Caje on the shoulder, then led the squad outside.  Hanley headed back for his office while the others returned to the shop.

          "What do you think of the captain's idea?"  Billy asked.

          "Well, I don't agree that he hasn't tried to kill."  Doc commented. "If Littlejohn hadn't stepped on the rock, he would've been hit in the back."

          "Maybe if I hadn't stepped on the rock, I wouldn't have been hit at all."  Littlejohn shrugged.

          "Yeah, maybe."  Billy shrugged.  "I sure don't like the idea of being the bait, but I can't think of any other way to catch this guy.  If the captain brings in enough guys from another battalion, it might be okay."

          "I don't want to get killed, but just being here means there's a good chance we won't be going home.  Does it really matter if we get shot by a Kraut, blown up by a mine, or shot by this guy?  Either way, we're dead."  Littlejohn said.

          "Why don't we wait till the others are up and then talk about it again?  We can't decide without them."  Doc said quietly.

          "Yeah, you're right, Doc."  Littlejohn agreed.


          "What a cheerful bunch of guys."  Saunders grinned as he and Caje entered the building, finding Billy, Littlejohn, and Doc all stretched out on their backs, staring at the ceiling.

          "Sarge!"  Billy bounced to his feet with a wide grin.  "Caje!"

          "How're you guys feeling?"  Doc asked.

          "Just as mad as we are sore."  Caje answered.  "Find out anything yet?"

          "Nope.  The Captain has an idea that we need to talk about."  Littlejohn told them as he climbed to his feet.

          "Yeah?  What is it?"  Saunders asked.

          "Hey!  The lieutenant said you guys weren't to leave the aid station alone."  Doc pointed out.

          "We didn't.  An MP escorted us all the way."  Saunders assured them. "Now, what was the captain's idea?"

          "No, it's too risky.  It would be too easy to pick off somebody out in the open like that.  If the net guys were close enough to do any good, it would scare him off."  Saunders vetoed, when they'd finished telling him.

          "You got a better idea, Sarge?"  Littlejohn asked.

          "Not right this minute, no.  Give me some time."

          He wandered over to his bedroll, stretched out on his back and lit a cigarette, staring at the ceiling. 

          "Billy was attacked first, right?  Then me, Littlejohn, Caje and Kirby."

          "Yeah.  So?"  Littlejohn said.

          "Doc hasn't been attacked, right?"

          "Right."  Billy answered.

          "Billy, Caje, and Kirby were attacked with fists and feet.  I got a board, and Littlejohn was shot.  The lieutenant hasn't been attacked, neither has anyone else in the platoon."

          "Again, so?"  Littlejohn shrugged.

          "Just thinking out loud, Littlejohn.  Other than being in the same squad, do we have anything else in common?"

          "We're all men."  Billy offered.

          "Very good, Billy."  Caje chuckled.  "Three of us have been together since D-Day, the other three are replacements."

          "I don't see any link there, do you?"  Saunders asked.

          "Nope."  Littlejohn answered.

          "Since the three joined us, we've hit the same towns, gone on the same patrols, pretty much stayed together, right?  So it has to be something that all six of us did, saw, or went together.  But what?"

          "Attacking Germans, I can figure out."  Billy grinned.  "This, I can't."

          "Since Hanley hasn't been jumped, or the other members of the platoon, it has to be something the six of us did.  Think back over the last two months.  How many times have we gone out, just the six of us?"

          "You're kidding, right?"  Caje stared at him.  "I can't remember where we were last week, let alone two months ago."

          "The doctor said you'd come back here."  Hanley said, startling them.  "Stay where you are."  He added when they started to get up.  "How're you two feeling?"

          "I'm okay."  Saunders and Caje answered simultaneously.

          "Have you thought of anything yet?"  Hanley asked.

          "Well, we've narrowed it down to something the six of us did, or saw.  What that was, we have no idea."

          "What about the Captain's suggestion?"

          "No, it's too risky."  Saunders said.

          "Got a better idea?"

          "I'm working on it.  Is there a map of this town?"

          "Now or what it used to look like?"


          "If there isn't, I'll get one made.  Why?"

          "I'm not sure yet."

          "Alright.  I'll be back later.  Kirby's still sleeping, by the way."

          "Thanks, Lieutenant."

          "Now what?"  Billy asked after Hanley had left.

          "I'm going to sleep."  Caje said.  "Wake me in a month."

          One by one, the others also dropped off to sleep, leaving only Saunders awake, still staring at the ceiling. 


          Hanley paused in the doorway, watching Saunders pacing the room, stepping around the sleeping squad members.

          "You're wearing a hole in the floor, Sergeant."

          "Did you find a map, sir?"

          "It's not detailed, but fairly accurate.  Will this work?"  He handed Saunders the map, and leaned against the wall, arms folded.

          "Yeah.  How many men can the captain get?"

          "How many do you want?"

          "A bunch."

          "That's very helpful, Sergeant."  Hanley grinned.  "What do you have in mind?"

          Saunders motioned with his head for the lieutenant to follow up outside, away from the men.  Hanley leaned against the wall, studying the sergeant.

          "I'm going to be the bait."  He stopped when Hanley straightened abruptly.

          "You?  Alone?  In your condition?"  Hanley stared at him incredulously.

          "Yeah me, Lieutenant.  Alone.  It should work.  As the squad leader, I'm responsible for what they do, right or wrong.  If someone is mad at the squad, they should be mad at me, as their leader.  As far as my condition, if it works, I won't have to do anything and he should be caught before he gets to me."

          "Tell me what you have in mind before I say no, Saunders."

          "He's jumping us here in town.  On the side streets, not the well-traveled areas."

          "Wait a minute.  What about Littlejohn?"

          "I think he just took advantage of an opportunity.  So we're going to give him another opportunity.  Have the captain's men along here."  He indicated a spot on the map.   "Bring them in one or two at a time,  so they don't draw attention.  When they're ready, send a noisy runner to tell me to come see you.  If I have it figured right, we'll get him."

          "And if you don't?"

          "I may end up back in the aid station.  Or I may make it to you without any problem."

          "I don't like it, Saunders."

          "I'm not real excited about it, myself.  But I can't think of anything else.  Can you?"

          "Unfortunately, no.  Alright, Sergeant, I'll go talk to the captain."



          "Make sure nobody can overhear you, huh?"


          Hanley hesitated a moment, about to say something, then just shook his head and walked away.



          Caje, Billy, and Littlejohn looked up from a game of pitching pennies as a soldier stuck his head in the door.  

          "Saunders in here?"

          "Yeah."  Doc answered, motioning toward the sleeping sergeant.

          "I been looking all over for him.  Lieutenant Hanley wants him, on the double."

          "Okay, I'll tell him."


          "Wonder what's up?"  Billy asked.

          "Beats me."  Littlejohn answered as they watched Doc shake Saunders awake.

          "Messenger just came, Sergeant.  Hanley wants to see you on the double."

          "We'll go with you."  Caje got to his feet.

          "No.  All of you will stay here."  Saunders gave them a stern look.  "That is an order.  An order!  You will stay here."  He repeated.

          "But, Sarge!"  Littlejohn protested.

          "You heard me."  Saunders snapped.  "I gave you an order and I expect it to be obeyed.  You got that?  If you step foot outside that door, I'll have you court-martialed.  You got it?"

          "Yeah, Sarge."  Caje answered.  "We don't like it, but we got it."

          Leaving his men staring at each other uneasily, he grabbed his helmet and headed out the door.  Just outside, he stopped and took a deep breath.

          "I hope this works."  He said under his breath.

          Trying to act normally, he started walking.  His pulse jumped at every voice he heard, at every footstep, at the clatter of a dislodged rock, even at the unexpected call of a bird.  Logically, he knew he had only about a block and a half to go, but by the time he'd walked fifty feet, he felt like he'd been walking for hours.   He'd just passed the half-way point when he heard a rifle shot and felt a tug at the side of his jacket.  Before he could react, there was a yell behind him, followed by the sound of a struggle.

          "We got him!"  The call echoed through the street as Hanley burst into sight, running toward him.

          "Are you alright?"  He demanded, grabbing Saunders by the arm.

          "Yes, sir."  Saunders sagged against the nearest wall in relief.

          "Wait here."

          "Yes, sir."

          A long five minutes later, Hanley returned, his face carefully expressionless.

          "Well, Lieutenant?  Who is it?"

          "Bring your squad to the captain, Sergeant."  Hanley avoided answering Saunders' question.

          "Yes, sir."  Saunders hesitated, then turned back toward the squad.


          Saunders rapped on the closed door, the other four close behind him, entering when ordered to do so.  Jampel, Hanley, and Kirby were seated in front of them, an MP standing in front of a closed door off to the side.

          "Saunders, I had you bring your men here to face the man who has been attacking your squad.  I've talked to him, but I don't understand his reasoning.  Perhaps you will."  Jampel told him.

          "Who is it, sir?"

          Jampel motioned to the MP, who opened the door behind him and motioned for the occupant to come out.  As he stepped through the doorway, Saunders, Caje, Billy, Littlejohn, and Doc stared at him in stunned amazement.  Kirby stood so abruptly, he nearly passed out; the lieutenant's quick grab preventing him from falling.

          "Wilson??!!"  Saunders was the only one who could speak.

          His face darkening with anger, the sergeant took a step toward the private, clearly intending bodily harm.  Hanley stepped between them, gently pushing the sergeant back.  Fists clenched at his sides, Saunders glared at the man in fury.

          "Why, Wilson?  Why?  What did we do to you?"  He demanded.

          "What did you do?"  Wilson yelled, practically dancing in frustrated anger as the MP seized his collar from behind.  "Because of you, I spent six months in the stockade.  It was your fault!   Six long months because of you!"

          "What in the hell are you talking about?"  Saunders  stared at him.

          "Don't pretend you don't know!  Remember when Captain Johnson was chewing you out about Kirby?"  Wilson snarled.

          "Wait a minute.  Who is Captain Johnson?"  Saunders looked bewildered.

          "He was with Item company before he got killed, Sergeant."  Hanley explained.

          "Yeah, I remember now.  Wilson, how did you end up in the stockade because Captain Johnson chewed me out?"

          "It's YOUR fault!  Before that, everything was fine.  After that, they were always on my back.  Always watching me.  If you hadn't set them on me, they wouldn't have caught me and I wouldn't have gone to the stockade!"

          "Saunders' fault!"  Caje burst out.  "Your lies nearly broke up the squad and almost got Saunders killed!"

          "Caught you doing what?"  Saunders waved Caje to silence.

          "He was caught selling Army equipment on the black market."  Captain Jampel said.

          "Wilson, you're crazy."  Saunders shook his head.  "You're a lying weasel, and you got caught stealing from the Army.  You're responsible for what happened to you, not us."

          "It's your fault!"  Wilson was so worked up that he was spitting, trying to pull free from the much larger MP holding him.

          "Get him out of here."  Jampel said in disgust.

          When the door closed behind the still screaming prisoner, Jampel rubbed both hands down his face, then looked over at Hanley.

          "Well, Lieutenant."  He said heavily.  "I guess it's finally over."

          "Yes, sir.  I guess it is."

          "Captain?"  Caje asked hesitantly.


          "What will happen to Wilson now?"

          "He will be returned stateside, charged with four counts of assault, two counts of attempted murder, court-martialed, and hopefully jailed for a long, long time."

          "The Captain has authorized three-day passes for all of you.  There will be a truck to take you to Paris in an hour."  Hanley grinned at them.

          "Thank you, Captain."  Saunders herded the still bewildered members of his squad out the door.  "See you in three days, Lieutenant."  He grinned as he followed his men.

Copyright 2001 by EagleLady


With many thanks to TXMedic for being a sounding-board and for proofing the story!!  I couldn't have done it without her!


Story Copyright Mary Wright. All Rights Reserved.

Read more Dogface Tales by Mary:
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The CombatFan web site thanks Mary (aka "EagleLady") for letting us share these fan fiction stories on this web site.













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