Thursday, January 19, 2017
Concussion Equals Confusion
The sergeant was still reeling from a concussion. All he knew for sure was that he was in mortal danger, surrounded by people who spoke a different language. Strangely, they were wearing the same uniform as he. Oh and one more thing, they were panicking. For that reason, he decided to make his escape or possibly he was going AWOL. He didn’t care.
He knew he was a sergeant, but could not recall his name, or what he was doing here, or even where he was. But he did not panic when he saw his chance. It was time to react! Fight or flight was a basic reaction and he was down to basics. He grabbed his 45 Colt and M1 Garand rifle when they were not looking and slipped out.
The majority of the noise and explosions were coming from the west, so he went east. Most of the men in uniform seemed to be going southeast. He decided to head for the sunrise. He did hear and understand the word “paratroops.” Then, he remembered those were the soldiers who jumped out of perfectly good airplanes to land behind enemy lines. He couldn’t remember if he was one of them or the enemy. He decided that despite the fact that all those around him didn’t speak his language (whatever that was), he would not shoot them. That course of action seemed to be the correct decision as they basically left him alone.
He had to use a crutch because of a huge bandage on his right leg. He hadn’t had time to examine the wound. He must be on some powerful medication because even though blood was seeping through the wrapping, he felt only a slight discomfort. He had a feeling that his pain level would change dramatically in a few hours.
He was stumbling along, almost dragging his rifle, suffering from a concussion, missing a big chunk of his calf muscle, and loopy from some drug. Suddenly, some guy comes out of nowhere and shouts a word he recognizes. Without thinking, he shouts another word back. Some kind of greeting he assumed. Anyway, it worked. A man he vaguely recognized poked his head around a piece of wall and didn’t shoot at him. The fellow didn’t seem too pleased to have found him, whoever him was, or was it whom he was.
As the man approached him, he recognized every third word. While, not all of it was completely clear as to it’s meaning, it was enough to trust the guy. Another 12 or so sullen individuals appeared from behind various hiding places. They seemed to know him. But again, were not very happy to see him. He felt kind of like a bad penny showing up. He couldn’t worry about that now as a big, ugly plane with red stars flew over them at very low level. He was going to take a shot at it, but the others warned him not to. The bullets would just bounce off and it would only warn the pilot that something unfriendly needed killing in his target area.
The plane flew straight and level over a particular section of the city. Liquid flame started to pour out of the tanks on its wings. That was enough to get the small group running to the east at a very fast pace with him trying to keep up, bad leg and all. He felt something squishy in his boot and stopped for a second to check it out. Every time he took a step a squirt of blood oozed from his bootlace holes. Not good.
The leader of the group doubled back and added another rag to his bandage, tying it very tight. The bleeding seemed to stop for the time being. When he stood up, he was very unsteady. Once again, his companion came to his aide. Luckily the man was on the large size and almost as big as he was. They made a good pair and soon caught up with the others.
Just as the others had disappeared around one of the seemingly endless corners, a man with their back towards them shouted something to someone else out of sight. Mankowitz shrugged off his human crutch and as he was dropping to the ground he unslung his rifle and shot the man just as he was about to shoot one of the other men in his group. Well, it was very nice to know he knew how to use the rifle he was lugging around. The move he just made, even impressed him, and he had no basis for being impressed. Hell, he couldn’t even remember his name.
His companion helped him to his feet, and once again, they hobbled east. The attack by the plane spewing fire made them go beyond exhaustion. It was two hours later, and he was feeling the pain and lots of it. He jerked away from the grip of his rescuer and fell towards a set of steps. He just barely caught himself before his head hit the ground. He lay there and waved on his companions, motioning that he was too tired and too much in pain to continue.
Out of nowhere, one of the squad pulled out a syrette…now, why did he remember that word and not his own name…and jammed it into his leg. Then, the soldier squeezed the tube and administered the medicine. He didn’t think that was how it was supposed to be done, but within seconds he didn’t care. They pulled him up and two others half carried and dragged him for another couple of hours. They stayed just ahead of the massive explosions and the ominous sounds of those flame throwing planes.
He finally learned that Nazik was the name of the leader and that his name was Sargent Mankowitz. He really didn’t think that was his name but he was assured by all in the group that it was. Also, learned that he was American, they were Turkish, and the enemy were Russians. None of it made any sense to him what so ever. He remembered another war where the Russians were his friends, and he had even gotten drunk with a bunch somewhere. No matter, memories were starting to return. Now, he could start to really think about the long-term survival of this little band of men who had saved each other’s lives. And that’s what it’s all about in the end he was sure. It didn’t matter if you were enemies one day and fighting side by side the next it seemed. Today was what mattered and today meant he would survive until tomorrow.
In the North, the story was similar to that on the banks of the Black Sea. What was left of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet bombarded areas 100 km from the Dardanelles along with massive attacks by the Soviet version of the Marines. Many of the troops were veterans of the Moonsund Landing Operation in the Baltic. They were better trained this time, thanks once again to the Americans. The Soviets had even more of the amphibious vehicles called DUKWs or more commonly Ducks. Over 5000 had been left behind in Germany and France and were now being used in the Black Sea.
The Turks opposing the landings had never seen anything like the DUKWs. For the most part, the Turks didn’t even try to shoot at the vehicles with small arms fire believing them to be more heavily armored than they were. In hindsight, a good 50 cal would cut through their hulls like a buzz saw. But, that was hindsight for you.
The end result was that 10,000 Soviet troops were on dry land north and east of Istanbul in a matter of hours. Also, the DUKWs could be used to transport supplies and troops on land like any other truck. These odd looking, possibly heavily armored, vehicles were quickly dispersing Soviet troops throughout the area around Sile. Soon, they were on their way to Izmit in an attempt to cut off three divisions of Turkey’s finest soldiers.
The old Russian battle cruiser Parizhskaya Kommuna took part in the bombardment along with the remainder of the Black Sea Fleet including the cruisers Molotov, Voroshilov, Krasnyi Krym and Krasnyi Kavkaz. These ships proved devastating to the shore defenses once the VVS and IL-10 Beasts had napalmed the shore batteries that could have posed a danger to the old ships. Unfettered from their fears of retaliation, they drove in close to shore and used their guns to silence all opposition worth note around the beaches of Sile. Shutting down the resistance gave the DUKWs an almost leisurely cruise and got the troops well on their way towards their respective objectives.
Things were going so well that something had to go wrong and it finally did. Finally, the Turks discovered that the DUKWs were just floating trucks and very vulnerable to small arms fire. They were not the fearsome armored beasts they had expected. That would come later. For now however, the DUKWs and the troops in them started to die.
The Turkish military was very good at small unit tactics and their soldiers some of the bravest in the world. When their generals did not place them in hopeless situations, they could more than hold their own. The invasion of the DUKWs ended at Tiki or about 19 km from Sile on the way to Izmit. A combination of rugged terrain and even more rugged Turkish soldiers started to devastate the flock. Even the shells of the old battle cruiser could not reach out and assist them now. The VVS did not have the range to make use of its ground attack arsenal. The IL-10 had a formidable collection of weapons, but it also had a relatively short range without drop tanks. It was the Soviet soldier with his small unit tactics and heroism against the Turkish soldier on even terms. The fighting became up close and personal as both sides preferred.
Scenes straight out of Stalingrad and Berlin started to unfold with meaningless buildings suddenly taking on life or death significance. One such building was the local mosque in Teke. Without artillery or anything larger than a grenade, this holy building changed hands over and over again for two days. 239 men died within its walls by ones and twos, while killing other men in ones and twos. After the first few attacks and counter attacks, every grenade thrown, was muffled by the dead bodies lying around. Following the first day, most who entered would shoot anybody who didn’t have a bullet hole in their forehead, just to make sure it wasn’t someone playing dead. It was a house of horrors with recognizable body parts lying all around from previous attacks. Large artillery and bombs tend to vaporize most human remains whereas grenades just chop them up.
How could you keep entering a building filled with such gore with the intent of creating more? Yet, they did, squad after squad went in with the goal of winning the view from the minaret or preventing the enemy from gaining that view as well. Then, squad after squad followed them in and carnage continued.
These types of assaults were repeated all along the lines until the VVS finally was able to move it bases closer to the front and started to end the Turks’ hold on these small strong points.