Monday, October 14, 2013

All Americans, Non-Battle Period (14-20 July 1943)


1st Platoon performed admirably in the first phase of the invasion of Sicily and was rewarded with six days out of the line to rest, refit, and  bring in replacements.  The platoon dropped onto an alien land in the dark of night, formed itself in the face of the enemy, and fought its way to the battalion staging area before moving out smartly to eliminate enemy AAA nearby.  Following this the platoon led the assault on the German "Objective Y" defenses, taking Olive Tree Hill then turning it over to 2nd Platoon, which was badly mauled when elements of the German FallschirmPanzer Division Hermann Goering counterattacked Olive Tree Hill in its bid to reach the 1st Infantry Division's landing beaches.  1st Platoon immediately mounted a counterattack and ejected the Germans from the hill; however, the HGD soon returned, this time with Tiger tanks, but the platoon held fast.  Again the Germans attacked, with the platoon first holding its ground but then being forced to abandon the position.  2Lt Shepherd and SFC Ford immediately reorganized the platoon and led them back up Olive Tree Hill, evicting the Germans, who fell back in disarray.

The next morning advanced elements of the 1st Inf Divsion arrived to relieve the hard-pressed paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division.  Shepherd and Ford happily led their troops to the rear for some R&R, having no idea it would be almost a full week before their number would again be called.  All of the platoon's walking wounded are healed up, and all the locally evacuated men returned.  All replacements save one (a tough little Corporal named Keepers from 3rd Battalion) were 'boots' straight off the landing ships.  Shepherd promoted several of the 'old hand' Privates were promoted to PFC (though not anyone that ran!).

-I finally rolled up Sgt Glenn's attributes: conformist, religion, and bold.  He's a quiet, humble man, devoted to the Lord, family, and his country.  He believes in being a part of something larger than himself, and, while he doesn't desire to die, his devoutness makes him unafraid of it and thus aggressive on the battlefield.

-Due to his personal valor, the performance of his squad and the platoon as a whole, and the friendship of Sgt Hume, Sgt Hurley has broken free of the depression that gripped him early on.

-SFC Ford (if you've forgotten, he's hedonistic, a drunk, reckless, but a helluva guy under fire) took the Squad Leaders out on the town (strictly against US Army standing orders), where they all became quite drunk and Ford gave his best attempt at causing an international incident when he was caught 'getting to know' the local mayor's significant other.  This got all the way to the Bn Cmdr, who was none to pleased.  Heads didn't roll, but stern warnings were dispensed.

-Two days later Ford again found himself drunk and this time, instead of mixing it up with a local female he decided on an altercation that got physical with a logistics officer from the 45th Infantry Division.  Despite getting the better of the rear-echelon Captain, the BC was not impressed, and Ford finds himself once again occupying the rank of Staff Sergeant.  BC has a neutral opinion of Ford.

-Due to increases in experience and performance in battle, the following progressions were made:
Lt Shepherd becomes a Level III leader
SSgt Ford becomes a Level III leader
Sgt Carlyle becomes a Level I leader
Sgt Hume becomes a Level II leader
Cpl Locke becomes a Level I leader
Sgt Hurley becomes a Level II leader
Cpl Keepers becomes a Level I leader
Sgt Glenn becomes a Level II leader
Cpl Pace becomes a Level I leader

The next phase of the battle sees the 82nd Airborne moving west along the coastal road towards Marsala, largely against inferior opposition, while the German frontline units pull back towards Messina at the northeast tip of the island.  1st Platoon is being brought back into the line to face off against flagging German and Italian opposition.  Up next for the platoon: Card H, "Screen."  Engineers will be off-board checking a substantial portion of road to determine if it can support an armored column.  The platoon will have battalion 81mm mortars in support, an M-3 Stuart in support, and Sgt Lapidus' MMG in support, covering Sgt Austen's engineers.  Also, the Lt has put it off a couple fights already, but his college chum, 1Lt Nickelson, has been begging to accompany Shepherd on a mission, and this seems to be as good as any.


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