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Book One World War Three 1946

Book One World War Three 1946
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Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Attack on the Airfields

First they flew over in those weird ball shaped formations. We laid into them with our massed 3.7 inchers. 3.7 inchers armed with VT fuses. There was no shortage of fuses now. Fire, eject, load aim fire, load eject aim fire…his crew were like robots in in a Charlie Chaplain movie. Shot after shot left his muzzle. Something was wrong. The shells seemed to be exploding much too soon and way below the massed balls of bombers. He could see as they passed overhead that it was not a true ball but more like a semi sphere with well-defined spaces for the bombs to fall and not hit the planes below. Pretty clever these Ivans. The semi spheres were staggered and some of the bombs that dropped were slowed down by parachutes. Others fell straight and were dropped from a lower altitude.

He braced for the impacts. As the first bombs hit the ground they exploded as expected but the ones attached to parachutes hit and formed huge clouds of smoke. They were 1000 pounders and spewed a lot of smoke for what turned out to be a longtime. Everyone scramble for their gas masks.

The ones who forgot or couldn’t find theirs waited for death to come and watched in terror as the clouds reach out for them. Fingers of dense smoke marched towards them carried on the weak winds of the day. Everyone held their breath and a few of the unfortunate ones without gas masks panicked and started to run. Everyone expected the worst as the clouds reached their stumbling mates…The worst didn’t happen. Their mates kept running even after breathing in lungful’s of what appeared to be poisoned gas.

It was a smoke screen… just an old fashioned smoke screen! A few of the runners shouted for joy as the others in in their gas masks yelled as best they could with the contraptions attached to their faces. A few of the runners sheepishly started to feel their way back to their duty stations. They had no fear that their fellow crew mates would be angry or consider them cowards. They would however get a real ribbing for not having their gas masks along.

Then they heard the next wave of planes approaching. These were low and fast. Single engine planes from the sound of them. They couldn’t see shit. The radar directors where pretty much useless at this altitude and the 20 mm and heavy machine guns were not tied to them for the most part. Eric remembered thinking that if he couldn’t see them, then they couldn’t see him. The 3.7” could still fire at the higher flying bomber stream because of the radar and were ordered to fire blind with their aim being controlled.

Before the smoke blotted out the sun he could see that the only planes that were being damaged and shot down by the 3.7“ shells were the ones that had strayed or were on the very edge of the formations and even then they were few and far between.

He had noticed that the fuses were not in the best of shape. Some smelled moldy and musty like his grandmothers basement. He couldn’t worry about that now … fire, eject, load, fire…no aiming anymore… fire, eject, load, fire. Then the other planes were on top of them. The 40mm, 20mm and heavy machine guns fired blindly in the general direction of the noise. He vaguely wondered about the engines of the Russian planes. They definitely had a different sound to them. Not anymore powerful or even weaker sounding, just different.

Then he felt the first heat wave coming from his left. Something had exploded and was pouring out heat like a ship on fire. Must have been a fuel storage unit, but there were none that close by. The engineers wouldn’t be that stupid. Damn that was hot. He had never felt anything that hot. Then the radar director link malfunctions. The smoke was still blinding and he sent Billy to see where the cable had been cut. Billy never came back. He never even found Billy or his body. He did hear him scream when another explosion and heat wave swept over them.

More explosions and waves of heat all around him. What he thought was a human being came rushing at them totally aflame from head to foot. It was not making a sound just walking fast, it’s flesh dripping off it as it was slowly consumed in fire. After about 5 more steps it collapsed and a new horror caught his attention. A small bomblet bounced around at his feet. This one did not explode but the ones farther to the right did, cutting Ferguson in half, Jones’s legs off and causing Williams to lose his head.

The shock of what was happening was complete all he could do was to stand there paralyzed as horror after horror appeared out of the smoke and flames. One after another they appear, the headless this, an armless that, a screaming torch of fire, a whimpering legless head and torso dragging itself with one arm. Horror after horror struck his all-seeing eyes. He didn’t even think he blinked for what seemed like hours. He couldn’t move and he couldn’t look away. He always remembered thinking that he should be at least helping some of these apparitions. Helping to drag them to where ever they were going or at least attempting to put out the fires immolating them. I was like your standard nightmare where you can’t move as the monster or horror comes running at you. All you can do is watch. Watch with unblinking eyes. Watch as your friends die horrible deaths all around you. Deaths that only Dante could imagine or that only humans invent for each other. Nothing else in nature could do this to any other creature much less to its own species. Any other species would be wiped out by Darwin’s law if they did this to each other but not homo sapiens.

More small explosions and shrapnel everywhere as those smaller bomblets exploded by the thousands then he caught a glimpse through the smoke of what was causing the heat he was feeling. About a hundred yards to his right he had a fleeting yet perfect view of a hunched back ugly looking Russian plane spewing liquid flame from twin pods on either wing. He remembered thinking…So the bastards have their own form of napalm. Napalm a horrible invention by the Yanks if you were on the receiving end.

This thought brought him back to his senses and got him running. Running for his life. As he looked back at what had been a mighty flack trap all he saw was flames and smoke, Nothing moved except the boiling pillars of flames appearing here and there above the clocking clouds of smoke. He never did see the cessation of the smoke screen. He just ran and ran and ran. He finally ended up miles away in a ditch next to a stream bed. That gradually turned from pink to red. The stream ran through part of the air field complex. Right near where his gun emplacement was. He knew things were getting bad when he actually started to fill his canteen with the reddest of trickles with the full intent of going back and putting it back into the lifeless body of Roger. Roger who he watched slowly bleed to death from a very small wound in his belly. Very small from the front but when Roger finally fell over from his kneeling position, it was very large from the back. Here you go old Roger, all you need is a little fill me up. Drink up now and all will be right. Drink up and we’ll go have that pint I owe you. Drink up and we’ll talk about the Williams sisters and how we’re going to get them drunk and screw them. Drink up and all will be right with the world.

They eventually did find him near the creek walking back and forth between a body and the creek pouring blood tinted water down it’s throat. The pink colored water would go down through the mouth and out a large hole in the back of the body of Roger Peters. Eric must have poured a hundred gallons of water through the body before they found him.

Next Spring what would become the largest willow tree currently in Amesbury proper took root on the exact spot where all that pink colored water had made a small puddle. The airfield at Boscombe Down ceased to function. Without anti-aircraft defenses it became a death trap for any RAF plane attempting to land. Anything that moved in the area was slaughtered that day and for the following weeks. It might as well have been an ancient field of battle full of the dead and dying.

The willow that grew created shade for the cemetery that eventually appeared. Unofficially a number of unidentifiable bodies were laid to rest over the coming weeks and months. Never again was the air field used to launch planes into the air. Although many other fields were hit that day this one was damaged the worst and was continuously attacked when attempts were made to use it again. Over the course of the Second Battle of Britain it was visited almost daily by the VVS and anything that was put in place to defend the area was immediately attacked. In large parts of Britain the RAF had lost control of their skies much like the Luftwaffe lost control of German skies.

Cambridge Airport on the Day by Tallthinkev

Tom's leg hurt, not the one that made him limp the other one. He decided to have a sit down for five minutes. Less than thirty seconds later an RAF corporal laid in to him.
'What do you think you're doing lad?'
Tom looked up, said nothing.
The corporal took him by the arm and pulled him to his feet. The RAF man then found himself on the ground, a hairy arsed fitter standing over him. 'Don't do that, it's not very nice.' he said in a soft tone.
Moments later there was pushing and shoving that involved both members of the RAF and Marshall employee’s.
It only stopped when some Snowdrops waded in and pulled the sides apart.
This kind of thing was getting more frequent over the last number of days. The pressure was getting to everyone. Civilians, RAF, army, Germans, Italians, Poles. Even the NAFFI and WVS were a bit short with their customers and each other.

'I don't like it' said Jack 'not one bit.'
'I know, I know.' replied Arthur Marshall.
Thing were moving on a pace at the airport. More ack-ack for a start, there had been two accidents with them getting trigger happy, at least no one had been hurt. Mini hangers where being built, just enough for one plane. Plus there were more slip trench's being dug. They had caused injuries to three people. One of those digging put a spade though his foot and two more had fell into them.
Everyone knew what was going to happen, but just not when, couldn't be too far off that was for sure.
Jack was now very glad his family was in Wilbraham, he wished he was too. Yes he had been over the evening the before and had even slept the night, and that was something that was getting increasingly rare. Nice to see the family anyway.

Arthur and himself looked, up a Thunderbolt came in, smoke coming from the engine, one wheel up, the port wing digging in. The pilot was out, it was lucky there was no explosion
'More mess to clean up.' observed Arthur.
'Yes never rains does it. Have you an idea when Wilhelm maybe back with us?'
'None at all. He one day here gone the next. Won't mind so much if they let us know. A good lad that one.'
'Yes he's come a long way in the last few months, I want to keep him around, the youngsters look up to him.'
'What? He's only, what three, four years older that the new lads.' said Arthur
'A hard few years. Very hard. I won't have wanted to have them. Still no word from the rest of his family.'
'That is where you are wrong, Jack.'
'What do you mean?'
'Oh sorry I didn't tell you did I.'
'He had word about his bother.'
'Which one, think he had two.'
'The older one. The one who was serving in the U boats.'
'Where is he then?'
'He was a POW in Canada. Out now of course. Gone to train up some of their lads I think.'
'Speak of the devil.' Jack had spotted him coming towards the office.

Day One

Adam was witnessing an odd sight, waves of planes flying not in the usual V or Box or even Finger Four formation but in kind of a school of fish formation. He did not have firsthand knowledge or had ever seen a Soviet bomber or even fighter before but here they were in the hundreds. Droning overhead in their odd formation going much faster than the US and RAF heavy bombers. They were traveling closer to the speed of the few Mosquito formation he had seen. He had joined the Anti-Aircraft regiment after the Blitz and had not seen many large formations of similar German medium bombers. The numbers were staggering and disconcerting.

He had read that the largest daylight raid ever mounted by the Luftwaffe was around 800 planes during the first Battle of Britain…First Battle of Britain. He could never in his wildest imagination think that he would ever utter or even think that phrase.  Yet here it was. This was of course the second day of raids. That first couple of raids a week ago had decimated the airfields and maintenance units used to repair RAF planes. It had been a stunning success for the VVS or Red Air Force. Hundreds if not a thousand repairable planes laid to waste and ruin. Then came the debacle over the beacons.

From what he was observing this raid was stating out like the other ones. He could not imagine why they would once again hit the same targets. From what he understood they were decimated. So his thinking was that something else was in store for the RAF. His 3.7” gun was ready for action. Screw the German 88 this baby hit just as hard. Cases of the super accurate VT proximity fuses were ready to be mated with the 3.7” shells. The VT fuse possibly stood for Veritable Time fuse. This more commonly called proximity fuse exploded when it even got near an enemy plane. It increased the accuracy of an anti-aircraft shell by a factor of at least three and certain circumstance seven. It was a nasty piece of work and some say responsible for decimating the Japanese Kamikaze effort. The factor of seven comes into play when a plane is coming straight at you or on an easily determent course. Most Kamikaze came right at you or at your buddies without deviation. The factor or three came into play when a plane was dodging around and not flying straight.

They had not had much practice with the shell towards the end of the war and even now only a few shots here and there until today. Today they would be using a lot of them he was sure. There was not a real shortage but a shipment of close to a million fuses when down from a lucky hit by one of those midget submarines he heard.

His friends in the Navy had told him that the Seehund Soviet style midget submarine was a real hard nut to crack. Too small to show up on most sonar yet capable of sinking a good size freighter, it was something to be reckoned with and a lot of resources were being spent in defeating it. So far with not much luck. The point being that the loss of those million fuses prevented much of the usual practice with them. They had fired hundreds of practice shots with un-fused shells. The theory was that if you could come close or even hit the towed targets with a regular fuse then using a VT fuse would be almost like cheating.

From what he observed from afar the Soviet bomber formations where kind of like a swarm or ball of their medium bombers staying as close as possible to what looked like an American B25. They appeared to be just out of 40 mm Bofers range but easily within altitude range of his 3.7”. The action was going to be hot and furious today, he could feel it. The AA batteries were set up in the usual formation with a central command unit and radiating batteries of guns. 3.7” guarded by 40 mm Bofers . in turn guarded by 20 mm and finally heavy machine guns. They were unusually close together. The theory being that with the VT fuse they would be safer if closely guarding each other at their optimum range rather than spread out. Furthermore the high and mighty had decided that the target of the Soviet Red Air Force would be the fighters and their airfields. Believing that the Soviets had learned their lessons, they were sure that the Soviets knew how close the Germans had come to defeating the RAF in the First Battle of Britain by attacking the airfields.

Many a paper and memo had been written about the fact that the RAF was almost out of planes and trained pilots at one point during the first battle and would have been defeated if the Germans had not been tricked into ignoring Fighter Command. Ignoring them just long enough for them to catch their breath and then to tear into the German bomber formations once again with a vengeance. This broke the spirit of the German command and pilots.

They remembered how they themselves had defeated the superior speed and firepower of the first German jets by catching them while they attempted to land and take off. The only time when they were vulnerable to the slower Allied fighters. The Germans countered by concentrating flak batteries around the airfields used by the jets and it had been very effective but not effective enough. The Germans did not have the VT fuse. We did.

The concentrated firepower, superior fire direction of our radar directed guns and the VT fuse promised a safe haven for our little returning friends from Fighter Command and a hot reception to any VVS scum who tried to enter our airspace. Flak Traps were the common name for what we had set up around the various airfields. Killing zones was another term. Curtains of lead came to mind as well. The amount of concentrated firepower is truly amazing. It was felt that the Soviets could not effectively bomb cities so they had to concentrate on the air fields and the fighters based within. With their new found range thanks to the use of external fuel tanks and overwhelming odds it was certain that they could loiter just out of range waiting for returning planes. Even a SU 2 medium bomber, code named Bat, could easily shoot down the best RAF fighter pilot in the newest Spitfire if that pilot was out of fuel and attempting to land or take off. Just as it had been the case when many a German ace flying the Me262 had fallen to lessor pilots in lessor planes while vulnerable. Not very sporting but this war was far from a sport.

With our superior fire control, VT fuse and concentrated firepower we would be ready to defend our little friends when they came back from a hard day’s work. There was a nagging thought in his mind however. Is it wise to rely on the lessons of the last war? Could not the enemy adapt if he knew your tactics? He had heard that they were outnumbered 5 to one. In the first Battle of Britain it was about 1 and a half to one. Well what did he know? He was just a gun pointing piece of the grand puzzle that was going to save Britain once again.

Battle of Britain Two

The next morning beacons were again placed in locations similar to the others. The VVS waited circling to see the reaction from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. They waited by streaming towards their usual points of return. They headed on the same routes taken day after day. Waiting by moving towards their points of departure. Points of departure that could lead into the airspace of the British Isles. Points of departure that would begin the battle in earnest.

On the morning of Sept. 26th there was no reaction from the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force and the VVS did not turn back from its familiar course. The beacons sent out their signal long and strong.

The Second Battle of Britain had begun. Never has such a mass of planes filled such a small area. Never had four 1,000 plane raids simultaneously entered combat before. Never had an air force placed so many engines of destruction over so small a land mass. There was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide for the people of the British Isles. All that was left to do was to fight...and fight they did.