Thursday, March 24, 2011
The Shoe Factory by Mad Missouri
September 11th, 1946
Battery A, 4th Super-Heavy Artillery Battalion
20 kilometers west of Porvoo, Finland.
Colonel, sorry to interrupt, but we are ready. All we need is the signal from command.
No changes, Sir. We fire 6 rounds at target 1, then another 6 at target 2. Then we break down and move to the spur line near Litti and stand by to support the forces attacking Kouvola.
And what is target 1?
A suspected rifle corps headquarters, Sir.
Recon flights show what is believed to be the main supply depot for that rifle corps hidden near a small factory, Sir.
What are the specifications on our gun?
The specs Captain, what are the specifications of the cannon?
Yes Sir, the gun is a 356mm m/1946 super heavy railroad howitzer, it fires a 640 kilogram HE or AP round at a muzzle velocity of 808 meters per second out to a maximum range of 45 kilometers. It’s has a rate of fire with a well-trained crew of one round per minute. The gun has a firing crew of 30, a support crew of 100, and an attached security/air defense company of 500 which brings the total to 630 soldiers per battery. Four were manufactured in the United States from naval cannon under the name 14 inch M1920. The Americans sold all four 2.5 months ago, 2 to us and 2 to the Swedes. Our 2 were stationed in Panama until sold to us for the scrap value cost.
Outstanding work Captain, you and your crew have out done yourselves once again.
Thank you, Sir.
Did you know I commanded a full artillery regiment during the last war?
Now I command a single gun…
Sir, are you alright? You look horrible…
Of course, I am alright Captain. I was just thinking of home. Where is your family from Captain?
Vaasa, Sir. My father is a doctor there.
Did you know where I am from?
Yes, Sir. Everyone knows you family was from Viipuri.
Yes, my family was one of the wealthiest in Viipuri, but my father disagreed with his bothers about how to run the family business. My father feared being so close to the Russians so he moved his wife and children to just outside of Porvoo in 1930. I was 16 years old he moved us. He started a successful shoe company near Porvoo.
I am sorry, Sir. I did not know. Was your family able to get out before the Russians took the town?
No, I haven’t heard anything from any of them. I keep hearing the rumors on how the Russian treat civilians caught behind the lines… I fear for them.
I am sorry, Sir.
Seven years of war have cost all too many of us loved ones, Captain. Why should I be any different? Before the last war all I wanted to be was a university professor; mathematics was my specialty. I left the university to join the army during 39 to defend my family and my nation. And now in about 13 minutes I am going to give the command to fire 6 356 mm shells into my father’s factory.