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Purple Hearts - Combat! Fan Fiction

 

 

Back Up Next

An Easy Capture

Combat! Fan Fiction
By
Eagle Lady

 

          Captain Schmidt automatically ducked as a shell exploded a short distance from the stone farm house where he and his men had taken shelter.  Cautiously sitting up again, he looked at his men.  Belzer was lying on the only bed in the place, the bandage that was wrapped around his thigh showing traces of fresh blood.  Warner, Mueller, and Klein were crouched at the base of the walls, looking as miserable as he felt.  They hadn't eaten in three days, they had run out of cigarettes two days ago, their boots were in shreds, their uniforms had gaping holes, and they had run out of ammunition yesterday.

          The Americans were between them and the rest of the German army, stranding them in this deserted farmhouse.  Not that it really mattered - as far as he could tell, Germany was losing the war anyway. 

          "Men, I have come to a decision.  As you know, we are out of ammunition and food.  The Americans are much better equipped than our army.  Despite what we are being told, Germany is losing the war.  We will remain here.  When the Americans reach this house, we will surrender to them.  We will have food and medical attention for Belzer."

          The men exchanged glances without speaking.  They had discussed this very matter among themselves and had decided to slip away one by one and surrender.  Having their officer make the same decision relieved their minds considerably.  They were looking forward to eating again.  Maybe the Americans would even give them some cigarettes.  The Germans passed the rest of the morning playing cards and trying to help the injured man as much as they could without any supplies. 

          Early in the afternoon, they heard the sound of a vehicle and crowded around the window in anticipation.  A single American jeep roared into the farmyard, driven by a lieutenant.

          "You men stay inside until I talk to him."  Captain Schmidt ordered.

          He tried to straighten his uniform by tugging on the collar, which tore loose from the jacket, brushed some of the dirt off of his pants, donned his hat and removed the belt holding his sidearm.  After coiling the belt around the weapon, he stepped outside, holding the belt in his right hand.

          The lieutenant was standing in the jeep, looking around at the house, barn, and small storage building.  Schmidt stepped forward, hoping the American didn't shoot him on sight.

          "Looks like a good observation post.  Well, you got here first."

          With that, the lieutenant dropped back down onto the seat, jammed the jeep into gear and roared back out of the yard, leaving Schmidt standing there with his wrapped gun extended and his mouth hanging open.  His men slowly filed out the door and joined him, their gaze going from him to the rapidly disappearing jeep.

          "Captain?"  Mueller questioned.

          "Well."  Schmidt finally dragged his attention back to his men.  "Well."  He said again.  "It does make one wonder why they are winning the war, doesn't it?"

          "What do we do now, sir?"  Warner asked.

          "Continue to wait.  I suppose eventually someone will arrive who will accept our surrender.  Back inside."

          The men returned to the house, sitting on the floor with bewildered expressions.  Though he felt just as confused as his men, as an officer, he believed he should appear more confident.  Confident of what? Schmidt wondered. 

          About mid-afternoon, the shelling began again, only this time it was German shells.  All I want to do is surrender and get my men food and medical help, and now our own army is trying to blow us up.  What else could go wrong?

          "Captain.  More Americans! A sergeant and four others.  They're going into the barn."  Mueller, who was closest to the window, called to him.

          "Keep an eye on them.  Perhaps they will accept our surrender."  Schmidt sighed silently.  Now he knew what else could go wrong. Why would they go to the barn instead of the house?

          

^^^

          Saunders stood at the doorway to the big stone barn, counting heads as his men ran inside.  Billy, Caje, Kirby, and Doc.  That was all of them, he thought as he ducked inside a second before another shell peppered the side of the barn with debris.

          Billy and Kirby were sprawled on the floor, tangled together, while Caje and Doc stood to one side, laughing.  Saunders looked at the men on the floor, then at Caje, one eyebrow raised.

          "Billy stopped.  Kirby didn't."  Caje explained.

          "Real funny, Caje."  Billy grumbled.  "Get your elbow outa my ear, will ya, Kirby?"

          Saunders reached down and fastened a hand in the BAR straps crossing Kirby's back and hauled him to his feet, carefully keeping the grin off of his own face.  Sometimes I  feel like I'm running a camp for school kids, not leading a squad of grown men.  That thought was reinforced when Billy and Kirby started arguing about whose fault it was that they'd collided.

          "Knock it off, you two." 

          "Sarge..."  Kirby started to say.

          "Shut up, Kirby."  Saunders pulled a map out of his jacket and walked over closer to a nearby window.  "Check the place out.  Nelson, upstairs. Doc, the windows.  Caje, Kirby, the rest of it."

          "Okay, Sarge."  Caje said, snagging Kirby's sleeve and dragging him away.  "Can't you see he's not in the mood to mess with you?"  He asked quietly.

          "Mess with me?"  Kirby demanded indignantly.  "I just..."

          "Later, Kirby, later."  Caje turned his back and walked toward the back of the barn, leaving Kirby standing there with his mouth open.

          A few minutes later, the men rejoined the sergeant, who was replacing the map.

          "When they quit shelling, we move north.  Rest while you can."

          Caje and Doc slid down to the ground, leaning against the wall while Saunders lit a cigarette, staring out the window, lost in thought.  The sound of voices raised in anger brought him out of his reverie with a jerk.  Kirby and Billy were at it again in the back of the barn.  Saunders waved Caje back down and strode toward the arguing men.  They were standing toe to toe, yelling at each other about foot powder?  Suppressing the urge to slap both of them silly, Saunders contented himself with grabbing Kirby's shoulder and spinning him around to face him.

          "Can't you two..."   He broke off as a shell landed just outside the barn. 

          Thrusting the two men to the ground, he threw himself over their heads as the back wall and part of the roof collapsed on top of them with a tremendous crash, raining stones, wood, hay, and dirt down on top of them.

          Lunging to their feet, Doc and Caje stared at the mass of debris that hid their friends.

          "Sarge!"  Caje yelled, racing across the barn before the dust had time to settle, Doc at his heels.

          

^^^

          

          "Sarge?"  Billy's voice was muffled as he tried to wiggle out from underneath the sergeant's body that was pinning him down.  "Kirby?"

          "Yeah."  Kirby's voice was equally muffled.  "You alright, Billy?"

          "I think so, but I can't move.  What about the sarge?"

          "Don't know.  I'm almost out.  Hang on for a minute."

          Spitting out a mouthful of dirt, Kirby wriggled backwards, Saunders' dead weight pushing his face into the dirt as the BAR man moved.  Once out from under the sergeant, Kirby rolled onto his side and spit out more dirt.

          "Kirby?"  Billy sounded like he was starting to panic.

          "Take it easy, kid.  I'm coming."

          Moving carefully, Kirby sat up and took stock of the situation.  The three of them were in a pocket about four feet high, six feet long and maybe four feet wide.  A huge beam lay lengthwise over them, smaller timbers caught crosswise on top of it, supporting stones, dirt and chunks of wood.  It looked like it was ready to come down any second.  Beside him, a sizable piece of wood lay across Saunders' head and shoulders, and underneath the sarge, he could see one of Billy's hands, his fingers digging into the dirt.  Kirby reached out and grabbed Billy's hand, stilling the motion.

          "Billy, take it easy.  I gotta figure out how to move the sarge before I can get to you."

          "Hurry."  Billy begged.  "I can't breathe too good."

          "Okay, okay."

          Wiping the dirt from his face, Kirby checked to make sure that moving the wood on top of Saunders wasn't going to bring anything else down on them.  Getting to his knees, he tugged at the wood, ignoring the splinters slicing into his hands as it slowly slid across Saunders' shoulders and back, one end settling onto the ground.  Very carefully, he tipped the wood back against the side of their prison, vaguely aware of Caje and Doc calling to them. 

          Grasping the back of the sergeant's jacket, Kirby rolled him off of Billy, guiding the inert body to the ground.  Billy lay on his stomach, his eyes tightly closed, his body tense as a coiled spring.

          "Okay, Billy.  You're in the clear."  Kirby assured him.  "You can move now."

          Kirby had no problem not laughing as Billy opened first one eye then the other.  He hadn't enjoyed being pinned under the sergeant either.  Lifting his head, Billy's gaze fell on the motionless sergeant between them and he sat up quickly.

          "The sarge?"  He asked anxiously.

          "Haven't checked him yet."  Kirby answered.

          Just as he reached for him, Saunders groaned and opened his eyes, one hand reaching for the back of his head.

          "Take it easy, Sarge."  Kirby cautioned, one hand on Saunders' shoulder.

          "What happened?"

          "A shell hit the barn.  Don't you remember?"  Billy asked.

          "A shell?  Barn?"  Saunders closed his eyes for a moment, then squinted at the beam above his head.  "Yeah.  I remember.  Are we trapped?"

          "I think so."  Kirby answered.  "I'm afraid to touch anything."

          "I think I hear Caje."  Billy cocked his head.

          "Yeah, me too."  Kirby agreed.

          "What's he saying?"  Saunders couldn't hear anything but the pounding in his head.

          "Caje!"  Kirby yelled, making Saunders wince.

          "Kirby?"  The call came back.

          "Yeah.  You and Doc okay?"

          "Yeah.  What about you?"

          "Billy and me are okay.  Sarge has a sore head.  Can you get us out of here?"

          "We're trying.  Take it easy and stay put."

          Kirby looked across the sergeant at Billy in disgust.

          "Where does he think we're gonna go?"

^^^

          "They're alive!"  Caje grinned at Doc, relieved.

          "How are we going to get them out?"  Doc looked worried.

          His grin fading, Caje studied the massive pile of wood and stone between them and their friends and shook his head. 

          "I don't know, Doc."

          Seizing one end of a board sticking out of the pile, Caje wiggled it experimentally, jumping clear of the cascade of dirt and small rocks his move had started.

          "We better find out where they are first."  Doc suggested.

          "Good idea.  Kirby!"  He hollered.

          "We're still here."  Kirby yelled back.

          "Where are you?"

          "Under the barn!  Where d'ya think we are?"

          "Kirby, you know what I mean."  Caje yelled, angry at Kirby's flip response.

          "We're directly under a big beam.  It's holding the rest of the stuff up.  We got a hole about four feet high, four wide, and six long.  There's a bunch of wood and stones on top of it.  We should be about the middle of where the wall was."  Billy called back, after smacking the grinning Kirby on the shoulder.

          "Okay.  We're gonna try to move stuff.  Yell if it starts shifting in there."  Doc shouted.

          "Doc, we haven't heard the sarge."  Caje pointed out, his tone concerned.

          "I know.  I can't do nothin' for him till I can get to him, Caje. Let's see if we can shift some of this."

          Working very carefully, they managed to move some of the smaller stones and pieces of wood, but they were stopped cold by the bigger pieces.  The two of them simply were not strong enough.  

          "I'll see if I can find something to use for a pry bar."  Caje said.

          Doc sat on a nearby pile of rubble, wiping his sweaty face while Caje turned to search the barn. 

          "Doc.  Turn around real slow."  Caje told him quietly.

^^^

          "Captain Schmidt!  A shell hit just behind the barn. It looks like the back wall and part of the roof fell in."  Mueller called out.

          "I guess we won't surrender to those Americans."  Warner said.

          "Someone is still alive.  I can hear them shouting."

          "Klein,  do you think you can get close enough to find out what's going on without being seen?"

          "I think so."  The young soldier slipped out the back door and worked his way through the berry bushes to the side of the barn. 

          Cautiously, he lowered himself to the ground and poked his head around the bottom of the front door.  There was pile of rubble at the back of the barn, and two Americans were trying to move the rubble.  Klein could hear the trapped Americans yelling, but he was too far away to make out what they were saying.  He watched while the soldiers tried again and again to free their companions, only to be stopped when the pile shifted.  Scooting backwards, he rose to a crouch and returned to the house.  Schmidt listened to his report, absently chewing on his bottom lip.

          "Mueller, you stay here with Belzer.  Klein, Warner, come with me."

          "What do you have in mind, sir?"  Warner asked.

          "We're going to capture them."

          "We don't have any ammunition, Captain."  Klein protested.

          "They don't know that."

          "Captain, what if...well, what if your plan doesn't work?"  Mueller asked.

          "Then you and Belzer surrender to them."

          Belzer and Mueller exchanged uneasy looks as the other three filed out the back door.

^^^

          Schmidt eased up to the front door of the barn, trying to ignore the shells that continued to fall nearby.  Warner and Klein followed at his heels, wondering how they could capture the enemy when they had no bullets and why the captain wanted to capture soldiers to whom he'd intended to surrender.  Peering around the edge of the door, Schmidt watched as the medic sat down on a pile of rubble.  The other soldier turned toward them, oblivious to their presence as he looked for something.  The American had only taken three steps when he saw them and stopped in his tracks, staring at them.

          "Doc.  Turn around real slow."  He said.

          The medic did as he was told, his jaw dropping in surprise.  Schmidt moved forward, his men fanning out on either side of him, their empty rifles pointed at the Americans.

          "Where is your weapon?"  Schmidt asked the soldier.

          "Over there.  Against the wall."  He answered reluctantly.

          "Warner, get it."  Schmidt hoped that Warner would have enough sense to continue to use his own weapon and not tip off the American that they had no ammunition.  To his relief, Warner simply slung the M-1 over his shoulder and resumed his position.

          Schmidt advanced to within four feet of the American soldier, noting how the angry set of his jaw contrasted with the desperate look in his eyes.

          "You seem to have a problem, American."

          "No problem."  The American shrugged.

          "Where is your sergeant?"

           "What sergeant?"

          "We saw your sergeant and four others enter the barn.  Now there are only two of you.  Where are the others?"

          "There are no others."

          At the sound of a yell from the pile of rubble, the American briefly closed his eyes, his shoulders slumping.

          "I believe those are the others?  Why have you not dug them out?"

          "We can't."  The medic said.

          "Why not?"

          "It will take more than two of us to move that stuff. The debris keeps shifting."

          "Warner, Klein, help them."

          All four men stared at him in disbelief.  Keeping the plan he was forming to himself, Schmidt glared at his men and nodded toward the pile of rubble.  Laying their weapons, and the M-1, on the ground beside Schmidt, his men moved forward.            

          "We need a pry bar or something."  The American had a French accent, Schmidt noted.

          After a fruitless search, they settled on a stout timber.  Carefully, they set it in place and pried a large stone up and out of the pile, jumping back as more rubble slid down.

          "Hey, careful out there!"  A voice called.

          Warner took hold of a broken timber, teasing it out of the pile, while Klein and the medic were busy moving more stones.  The other American was studying the pile, his head cocked to one side.

          "Kirby!"

          "I'm still here, Caje."  Came the disgusted reply.

          "Can you see where we're working?"

          "Yeah."

          "Can we move more stuff without it caving in on you?"

          "Yeah, I think so.  Just be careful."

          "Okay,"  Caje looked over at the others.  "I think if we can get that big stone out of the way, they might be able to crawl out.  We'll have to be careful not to knock those two timbers over.  I think they're holding the rest of the stuff up." 

          "I think you're right."  Warner said, moving over beside him to examine the area.  "Klein, you and the medic take that side.  We'll take this side."

          "Kirby!"  The one called Caje yelled again.

          "Yeah?"

          "We have a problem out here."

          "Yeah, well, we got a problem in here, too.  What's your problem?"

          "We've been captured."

          "Captured?  By who?"

          "The Canadians."  Caje rolled his eyes.  "Who d'ya think?  The Germans, dummy."

          "The Germans?"  The reply sounded disbelieving.

          "Yes, the Germans."  Warner shouted in German.

          "Aw, shit."  Was Kirby's disgusted comment.

          Grinning, Warner nodded to Caje to grab hold of the stone.  Working together, the four men laboriously slid the stone out of the pile, keeping an eye on the supporting timbers.  Once it was clear of the mess, they quickly shoved it aside.

          "Kirby?  Can you get through there?"  Doc called.

          "Yeah, I think so.  I'm gonna shove our packs through, then the guns. You may have to help Saunders, he's still pretty shaky."

          "Alright, just be careful not to bump anything."

          "I already figured that out for myself."

          A moment later, a pack appeared, pushing a small dam of dirt ahead of it.  Two more packs followed, then a rifle, a BAR, and a Thompson.

          "Here comes Saunders."

          "Ready."

          Caje and Doc crouched at the sides of the hole.  As soon as they saw the top of the camo helmet, they reached in and grabbed the shoulders of the sergeant's jacket, pulling and guiding him through the hole.  Doc helped him to his feet and over to the stone they'd just moved.  While Caje helped the other two out, he removed Saunders' helmet and started to examine the gash on the back of his head.

          As soon as the other two Americans were out,  Warner and Klein retrieved their weapons, taking the American's weapons with them.

          "Bring your packs, Americans.  Let's get out of here before the whole thing comes down."  Schmidt ordered.

          Taking Saunders' arms to support him, Doc and Caje followed Billy and Kirby as Warner and Klein herded them toward the door.  Another shell hit behind the barn and the whole structure trembled.

          "Run!"  Schmidt shouted.

          The eight men had cleared the barn by ten feet when the barn crashed to the ground, sending up a choking cloud of dust.  Stunned at their close escape, the Americans and Germans stared at each other for a moment, then Schmidt  started grabbing men indiscriminately and shoving them toward the house as the shells continued to fall.

^^^

          Mueller stared at the dust-coated men stumbling through the doorway, unable to tell American from German for a moment.  The voice of his captain left no doubt as to which one he was.

          "Klein, get Belzer into the cellar.  Americans, you follow them.  Mueller, you and Warner take the packs and weapons.  Hurry up before this place comes down as well.  Move!"

          Pulling Belzer's arm over his shoulder, Klein hauled him off the bed and half-carried, half-led the injured man to the cellar stairs.  The Americans, looking somewhat bewildered, followed them, the sergeant now assisted only by the medic.  Mueller and Warner split the load of packs and weapons between them, pushing the Americans on ahead of them.  Schmidt swept a quick glance around the room and grabbed the blankets from the bed and the bucket of water they'd recently pulled from the well, then followed the group, closing the door behind him.  When he reached the bottom of the steps, he found that Belzer had been installed on a narrow cot, and the Americans were all lined up against a wall, Klein holding his empty gun on them.  Warner and Mueller were piling the packs in a corner, and had the American's weapons pushed back, out of reach underneath Belzer's cot.

          "Sit down."  Schmidt ordered the prisoners.

          

^^^

          Doc helped Saunders to the floor, his worried gaze going to the still-bleeding laceration.

          "May I take care of his head?"  Doc asked.

          "Go ahead."  The captain nodded.  "After you finish, would you be kind enough to take care of my man?"

          Startled at the polite request, Doc stared at him a moment, then grabbed his bag and cleaned and bandaged the cut.

          "How do you feel, Sergeant?"  Schmidt asked.

          "I'm okay."  Saunders didn't bother to mention his double vision or pounding headache.

          "Do you and your men have any food with you?"

          Saunders squinted at him, puzzled.  Why didn't the Krauts just search the packs like they usually did?  What was going on here, anyway?

          "Some."  He admitted.

          "Cigarettes?"

          "Yeah."

          "My men have not eaten in three days.  Where is your food?"

          "Caje, see what you can find."  Saunders motioned toward the packs.

          Hoping it wasn't a trick, and that he wasn't about to get shot, Caje snagged the nearest pack, which happened to be Kirby's and started to open it.

          "Uh, Caje..."  Kirby started to say, breaking off when the first thing Caje pulled out was a bottle of wine.

          Saunders stared at the bottle, then switched his cold blue eyes to the private, who was looking anywhere but at him.  Doc and Billy were trying hard not to laugh, while Caje was just shaking his head.  Setting the bottle aside, Caje rummaged through the rest of the pack, pulling out three boxes of rations and four packs of cigarettes, all of which he piled next to the bottle.  Throwing Kirby's pack at him, Caje dug through the others, coming up with one box of rations per pack, along with two more packs of cigarettes.

          The captain handed each of his men a box of rations and a pack of cigarettes.

          "Medic, would you assist Belzer, please?"

          "Sure."

          Doc moved over to the cot, and removed the bandage while the young soldier watched him warily.

          "It doesn't show any sign of infection.  I'll just clean it up and rebandage it."  He commented as he suited action to words, then returned to sit beside Saunders.          

          The Americans exchanged surprised and puzzled looks as the German captain motioned his men to put their guns down, and removed his own gun belt.  He sat down on the only chair in the cellar, braced his hands on his knees and studied the sergeant.

          "Sergeant." 

          "Yes, Captain?"  The sergeant returned his gaze with a touch of curiosity.

          "Sergeant."  He said again.

          The American soldiers and the German soldiers, their mouths full,  exchanged perplexed looks while the officer and the non-com continued to hold each other's eyes.

          "Yes, Captain?"  Saunders repeated patiently.

          "My men and I wish to surrender.  We have had no food for three days, we ran out of cigarettes two days ago, our boots and uniforms are in shreds, and we ran out of ammunition yesterday.  I understand that as prisoners of war, we will be fed and our wounded cared for.  Is that correct?"

          "Yes, Captain, that is correct."

          "Can I ask you something, Captain?"  Doc asked.

          "What is it you wish to know?"

          "If you wanted to surrender, why all that business in the barn?  Why did you take our guns instead of surrendering then?"

          "We had tried to surrender once before, Medic.  I wanted to be sure you would accept our surrender this time."  He shrugged.

          "You what?"  Saunders asked.  Maybe that head injury is worse than I thought.

          "An American lieutenant came here this morning.  I approached him, carrying my weapon.  He looked around the farm, conceded it would make a good observation post, and that we had found it first.  Then he left."

          "You got to be kidding!"  Kirby laughed.

          "Shut up, Kirby."  Saunders growled.  "Let me get this straight, Captain.  An American lieutenant drove up here, saw you standing there, and left again?"  He ran his fingers through his hair, leaving it standing up on end.

          "Yes, Sergeant.  That is what happened.  By taking your weapons and bringing you down here, I hoped you would be forced to accept our surrender.  I also hoped we would all stay alive through the shelling."

          "In that case, I assume you will return our weapons?"

          The captain rose to his feet, brushed futilely at his uniform, and stood at attention.

          "Certainly.  Do you accept the surrender of  my men and myself?"

          Saunders pushed himself to his feet, and extended a hand for the officer's sidearm.

          "Yes, Captain.  I accept the surrender of you and your men."

          "Thank you."

          The Captain handed him the belt and the weapon, catching the sergeant when he staggered.

          "Perhaps you had better sit back down, Sergeant."  He suggested.

          "Yeah, Sarge."  Doc agreed.  "That was a pretty hard knock you took."

          "Caje.  Get our weapons."  He lowered himself back to the floor, holding his aching head in his hands.  "When the shelling ends, we'll take you back to our lines, Captain."

          "Hey, Sarge!  This must be the easiest capture in the whole dang war!"  Kirby crowed.

          "Shut up, Kirby."  The order came simultaneously from Saunders, Caje, Doc, and Billy.

 

Copyright 2001

 

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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