For those who have read my Battle Report :
Location: Somewhere in Belorussia
Date: Mid July 1944
Obergefreiter Hans was despondent, most of the news they had been receiving through the radio network were of desparation and despair. Units were surrounded and destroyed by the gigantic Soviet armored offensive that had opened up in June 1944.Vitebsk, Orsha, Mogilev and Bobruysk had fallen to the Soviets and the Wehrmacht was still trying to cobble up effective defense. And now Hans had heard that Soviet tanks were seen approaching Minsk despite desperate German resistance.
He was still monitoring the radio chatter as the rest of the small kampfgruppe rearmed themselved at an abandoned German ammo dump. Hauptman Grieff was delighted to discover the ammo cache had the AT shells for their Panthers and more fuel cans for them survive on. Most of the Germans they had discovered abandoned by the roadside were due to lack of fuel. They had chanced upon a platoon of Panzer Scouts led by a Feldwebel who were scouting out for enemy breakthroughs in this sector. But in this fluid situation it was pretty difficult to draw out where the German defense lines starts and when the Soviet lines had encroached.
Suddenly somebody shouted, "Achtung! Incoming vehicles!". Hauptmann Grieff was calling out on whether they were German or Soviet vehicles. Hans took out his scavenged binoculars and traced down the dust trails. During these dark days of 1944, it was a hazardous way to invite the ever present Jabos (Soviet Fighter Bombers) to attack any daylight vehicular movement.Hans saw a platoon of PZIVHs and a half-track rumbling over the dirt road, some of the PZIVH crews were on lookout duties, scanning the skies for Jabos.
Somebody was shouting at their Panzer Flak Zug to watch out for Jabos as the German vehicles made their approach towards their bivouac area. The Panzer scouts fanned out to their dugouts in case the approaching vehicles were driven by disguised Soviets, they had heard such stories from some survivors of such dirty tricks used by the Soviets.
As if on cue, a flight of Jabos streaked by their position which their Flak promptly responded with bursts of 20mm Quad fire. Caught offguard by the well camouflaged Panzer flaks, one of the aircraft jinked around to escape from the deluge of 20mm shells and it crashed in a pillar of smoke and fire.Hans was enthralled in the spectacular in the macabre duel and he realised belatedly that the German vehicles had reached their bivouac position after somebody in the half-track fired off an identification flare to show as friendly forces.
The half-track stopped near Hauptmann Grieff and Hans, out came a tall and monocled-wearing General. "It's General Von Saucken!" somebody exclaimed behind Hans before their 2IC, Leutnant Holger shouted those in present to come to attention and salute.The General returned their salute and called for Hauptmann Grieff for an "O" group session together with his 2IC, Leutnant Holger. They were followed by Feldwebel Stein (Panzer Scouts) and Leutnant Kessler (PZIVH Zug).
General Von Saucken, a rallying call for the embattled troops of Army Group Centre! Hans was in awe of this impressive hero as he watched the General conducted the briefing. It seems the Soviets had been detected approaching this abandoned ammo dump and more importantly there's a fuel dump located a few kilometres from their position which the pioneers had failed to demolish as they retreated westward. The General had decided to cobble up whatever forces in the area and seeking to deny the Soviets the prize they seek.
It was a surprise when a Luftwaffe liaison officer came out from the half-track (yes...they were familiar with those Luftwaffe dregs who were drafted into the Luftwaffe Field divisions and were shattered by the Soviet juggenaut effortlessly) but this Luftwaffe officer was field spotter for Luftwaffe aircraft which is a rarity since Luftwaffe presence in this sector was a rarity. The Luftwaffe officer went to the briefing area and informed that he mananged to contact a Luftwaffe Stuka squadron who had agreed to fly combat air support for this mission.
The General ended the briefing with some crude joke about poking the Soviet bear at its rear with a red hot poker.There was laughter but nervour laughter of men trying to put aside their minds that this battle could always spelled as their last battle against the Soviets.