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Book One World War Three 1946

Book One World War Three 1946
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Monday, August 9, 2010

The Fight That Lasted All Day by Dan

"The contrast between silence and sound, between night and day, between heaven and hell was heralded by the shrill siren call of the incomming artillery.

Those of us that had fought in the Winter war and the Continuation war knew what it meant, but too many of the youngsters did not. In our company, we lost maybe 15 dead and the same wounded in that first bombardment. Even having been through it before, the flash, crash and hammer blows of those shells landing never seemed less terrifying and felt like it went on forever. As NCOs and veterens, we had to keep everyone sharp, for we knew, the moment the artillery stopped, the Russians would advance.

As it happened, the Russians didn't think too clearly about that. Their General at the time, Lopatin, clearly had learnt nothing during the Russians previous encounters and was I suspect thank God, probably the most inept commander the Russians could have sent us. A massed wave attack against dug in positions with heavy machine gun and artillery support over broken ground. An American general once said, "there is no greater horror as a battle lost, than a battle won". After 45 minutes on that hill, he could have been talking about what remained of that Russian assault.

What struck me more than the sight, which having worked in an abattior in my younger days I was familiar with, it wasn't the smell, roast pork, feaces, copper, cordite and woodsmoke, but how quickly the crows came. Within hours a murder of crows, (how appropriate), bigger than I have ever seen, before or since, came and feasted on the dead and dying. We sent men forward to help the wounded that could be helped, and help those that couldn't, it was a job that lasted until later that afternoon when the Russians returned.

We lived that day and we knew we would carry on living, certain that the devil would not come for us, even his stomach would turn at what we saw in those opening days of the Summer war".

Extract from "The Fight That Lasted All Day - My life in the Summer Offensive" by General Yanni Grappaleinnen (Rtd)

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