Saturday, November 27, 2010
Personal Observations of an FO
August 21st, 1946
The Pyrenees Line
Lt. Arthur Smyth
936th Field Artillery Battalion
Personal observations of an FO
From my observation post I could see almost the whole attack unfolding. It was a strangely beautiful sight from 4000 ft. perched nice and safe far from the action. My BC scope was my weapon. It was to a Forward Observer what an M1 was to an infantry man.
In the days leading up to the attack there had been many probes by the Red Army’s reconnaissance forces. All had been given bloody noses and sent scurrying back to their holes. There was a close call at Vielha when a Soviet OMSBON unit showed up a full 4 days before we thought possible and caught the local forces with their pants down. Somehow a battalion size unit had gotten to Vielha undetected and gave us quite a scare. Luckily they were far ahead of their support units and supply and after a 6 hour fire fight they were surrounded and had to surrender. They were a tough bunch of yahoos. Pretty much fought to the last man.
I heard a few more meeting actions occurred with the Reds being turned back. Then they tried to bull rush us. I guess they were counting on sheer numbers and shock value. It’s pretty hard to continuously charge up hill but they gave it their best shot. They die bravely…but they died. It was pretty much a slaughter after the first initial contact.
I mean we had pre-registered the artillery, had mine fields set, tank traps, interlocking fields of fire, our artillery was placed on the high ground, trenches dug. Everything that could be done by desperate men in desperate times we did. I’m surprised we didn’t have some boiling oil ready. Jees it was still a close call until the flyboys finally showed up. Man have we been missing them. I usually can’t stand to see them in a bar but I would have kissed em this time. Those Red bastards just might have over whelmed us in a few key passes if the Navy and the Army fly boys hadn’t done their thing.
They got this new thing call napalm. Wicked stuff made out of gasoline they say. Somehow it sticks to you and burns like a son of a gun. I guess you die pretty horribly. Amazing what man can invent to kill another man.
The F4Us, P47s and even some P38s did the trick on the most advanced units and it was over in less than 20 minutes for start to finish. Strafing and bombing till there was nothing left to kill. Hell the arty barely got started and it was over. I guess it was a peek at what was to come. Those Reds are some fighters and man can they die hard. I hope I never meet one face to face. That’s why I have my scope and binoculars so I can get them before they get too close.
We still don’t have the kind of coordination we need between the flyboys and us ground pounders. One artillery barrage messed up a flight of P47s that attacked just as the shells hit. I’m pretty sure 3 of the planes went down. That’s not good for moral but neither was the bombing of the 20th Armored HQ. What those flyboys were thinking is beyond me. Why would there be and enemy command post so far behind our own lines? Once the first guy started they all joined in. It was a mess. That unit is one piece of bad luck.
The Reds pulled in their heads for a few days and are getting coiled like a spring. We can hear them bringing up their air units and heavy arty. It was going to get very ugly and hot sometime soon. They got those friggen rockets. Stalin’s organ they call em. More bark than bite I hope.
They say it’s going to be a war of attrition and we don’t have any reserves. We got 15 full strength divisions against over 45 of theirs and they are getting stronger everyday and we aren’t. I don’t know where all those new units are going we keep hearing about but they aren’t showing up here. Ha that’s going to be edited out I’m sure.
They should come again tomorrow or the day after and this time they will have their own air forces and those damn Stormervicks or whatever they call em. Those things are like a flying tank. Very hard to shoot down and they pack a mean wallop. I won’t be like that first attack. This time things will be very even. I hope we have some kind of bucket brigade waiting to plug the gaps that are sure to appear. Yeah this could get real ugly real fast.
Request #10 “Fox oboe Baker number one fire mission! Azimuth 3200, from check point #210, right 300 add 500, enemy tanks in the open, will adjust.”
That’s how you do it. That’s how you rain death and destruction upon your fellow man.
It comes in a variety of sizes from mortars to 155 mm guns. I even got to assist the navy in Operation Louisville Slugger. Those 16” were really something. You didn’t even have to get close. I doubt the Reds will be anywhere near our left and right flank. Not with those old battle wagons still moving about.