4. A Fathers Footsteps
Oberst Pieter Fischer looked at the devastation around the HAMBURG HQ and the surrounding suburb, utterly shocked at the level of violence that had been unleashed in less than 12 minutes. The warning just 3 mins before the strike by the HIND Units and their Spetsnaz Cargo had barely been enough to get the HQ Garrison to the Armoury. They should have all died here, but lady luck had saved them, a warm front no less. A warmer spell had melted much of the January snow just enough to make many of the pre-prepared positions flooded and unusable, before it turned cold and iced. The OiC had shifted his GEPARD battery, so when the HIND’s swept in and struck the long known about prepared positions they hit nothing of value. The counter fire from the Gepards whilst slow at first knocked out three quarters of the Assault force within minutes, several managed to perform controlled crashes close to the HQ and approximately 30 Spetsnaz had carried the assault into the buildings. The firefights were brutal and quick, but the Spetsnaz were off balance, lacking Leadership and reeling from their heavy losses and rapidly lost the initiative. 12 were Captured and they were under guard at the Provost post. Many of the Duty Staff had died, due to a Handful of Spetsnaz that had infiltrated inside the base by 5th columnists and socialist sympathizers. Local staff had been compromised and, in turn, compromised the Facility. It had been deadly to many of the staff who thought the threat was external to the HQ building had never expected its domestic and ancillary staff would be part of an assault force.
The facilities had been thoroughly trashed by a liberal use of High Explosives and there were typewriters, Computers, paperwork and files scattered over a huge area, the heat from the fires within the building had added yet more problems as the snow on the roof melted and flooded the basement and lower floors. It was utter chaos, he didn't even know where to start, but then that wasn't his task. He was a Commanding Officer of a Frontline Combat unit not a collection of Staff and rear echelon logistics types. But there was a glimmer of hope, the members of the Duty Staff had been eradicated almost to a man, but most of the core staff were on a weekend leave and scattered all over Germany and the Netherlands. They were all racing back, although for what reason he had no idea, his Brigade General was setting up an alternate shoestring HQ using the Brigade HQ as a skeleton for the Divisional HQ, but the communications suite was woefully inadequate for the task.
The British Sector was also in tatters, in point of fact the whole of NORTHAG was in disarray. CENTAG had fared better but was being hit by near continuous Chemical Weapons and conventional rocket attacks which were severely hampering Airbases, Supply depots and HQ’s. The 11th ACR was already in contact and fighting a desperate rear guard but was haemorrhaging as it traded space for time, and kept pressure on the leading Soviet elements. The USAF had been battered, losing over 50% of the desperately needed A-10’s on the ground and the AH-64 had been prioritised by the USSR as well.
What a disaster, this is what my father must have experienced in 1944 he mused to himself. After a quick jog around the HQ building finding no Senior Officers, he grabbed a Staff Captain by the shoulder.
“Right, the 171 are moving East to New positions outside of Hamburg, we will take up defensive positions in and around Elmenhorst. The Ratzeberger See, will force them south and probably south of Moln, if the Garrison at Lubeck holds them back, then the weight of the attack will fall south of Moln. I will setup positions at Elmenhorst and report back”.
“But Sir...The General has not give orders for that..You must await your orders”
“If we wait for orders we will lose Germany, initiative is the only thing that counts on a day like this” replied the Colonel.
With that the Colonel leapt on his Command Marder, and the vehicle moved out. His 6 Companies were already on the Autobahn 24 heading east at the most economical speed; god knew when resupply would come so he had ordered them to drive frugally. His Panzer Grenadier Regiment had an attached Squadron Leopard 2A2. They were the very latest upgraded mark, he was equally pleased with his Marders with their MILAN missile system and gun system they were a potent combination and would no doubt give a good account of themselves, if used wisely.
As his Marder sped on to the Autobahn, his own 2iC, Major Schultz brought him up to speed and reported that the Recce Platoon of LUCHS vehicles had passed through Elmenhorst and were now fanning out across country to report Enemy movements south of the Ratzeberger See. Well he thought, it’s all in the hands of fate now.