v2c12: Devil’s Breath

Volume 2, Chapter 12
All war is but deception.
                                  -Sun Tzu


British Expeditionary Force, 1st Army Tank Brigade, 1st group, Battalion Commander Major Frank. He was in his own Matilda II, looking angrily at the scene before him.

He was speechless at how his invincible tank unit, that he had been so proud of. How they would fall into this embarrassing situation.

After the six Matilda tanks were blown up by the Germans, the high morale of the assault plummeted. Furthermore, he got a loud scolding by Colonel Glenn for ruining the plan. Leaving their troops to become the laughingstock of all the infantry.

So, in order to wash away the shame and re-inspire morale. During the next assault, the Matilda II were placed near the front while the rest of the tanks at the very back.

He did not expect that the infantry would charge forward and leave the tanks behind. Making him feel a burst of shame and anger at being completely ignored. He quickly ordered the other tanks to move forward and catch up with the main infantry force.

But the speed of the Matilda II’s was moving at a snail’s pace. This was partially due to the wear and tear from the unit’s quick march. And, the soft field, causing the tracks to sink in, resulting in a speed of 6 km/h. The result was that not only did they not catch up, the distance between actually increased. By the time the Matilda II’s caught up to the infantry, the Matilda I’s were still 200 meters behind.

The infantry charge was stopped in their tracks. Not even able to lift their hands to face the Germans. Major Frank was about to order the tanks to charge but tanks surrounded by enemy infantry were at their most vulnerable. With their infantry not able to cover them, he could not move. Only stopping in place and shooting at the German lines. Major Frank really wanted to open the top hatch and tell the cowards to get up. But the ricocheting German machine gun fire forced him to give up that idea.

Xu Jun looked sympathetically at the struggling British soldiers. Those idiotic commanders really threw their troops into anarchy. He sighed and turned to Muller who was nearly drooling from excitement.

“Let’s begin.”

“Yes, General!” Then Muller shot a bullet into the air, leaving behind a scarlet trail.

The British infantry in the forefront of the action suddenly heard the sound of artillery. They screamed to loosen the formation, but this also went to increase the confusion.

Lying on the soft dirt, the British soldiers watched as the shells hit before them. But to their surprise, the ever so familiar scene of flesh and blood did not appear. The shells did not explode after they plunged into the soil. But rather issued a white smoke. The soldiers and the tanks, they all were shrouded in a white fog.

The second round of shelling left mournful cries in its wake.

“Mortar! Down!” An officer shouted.

But few soldiers noticed his words. Surrounded by the white smoke, their senses were all confused. While the Germans are still constantly sending flurries of bullets downfield. The fatal bullets whizzing like flies through the smoke, destroying the morale of the troops.

Finally, the mortar round hit the ground. But this round issued a strange yellow mist. The soldiers in the vicinity started to cough violently, and some clutched their eyes in pain. Suddenly, the British assault group was all either coughing, crying or both.

“My eyes!”

“cough, help ah, I can’t breathe. cough, cough.”

The British officers were horrified to see the soldiers fall, clutching their eyes and nose. Gazing at the approaching yellow mist.

The word “dangerous” appeared in their mind. Suddenly the German gunfire stopped. Then the officers saw a German soldier appear out of the smoke with a gas mask rushed with his bayonet. Further cementing the idea that the gas was poisonous.

“Retreat!” An officer screamed.

The officer fled, and as his soldiers heard the order, also immediately rose and retreated.

The retreat of the small unit caused a cascade and a mass rout ensued. All the British soldiers began to turn to escape. Those who were caught in the yellow mist struggled to run back. Wanting to quickly leave this hell and find a doctor.

Major Frank was scared as he sat in his tank. As the smoke had drifted into the tank from the vents and other various crevices. The pungent smell and the pain began to bring back some frightening memories, of the 2 brothers who died in the previous Great War. At this time, his headset was already filled with the wailing of the unit.

“Retreat, quick. Order the retreat!” Major Frank shouted into the radio and to the driver of the tank.

“No, it’s impossible! There is not enough visibility and we are surrounded by the infantry.”

The other tanks also started to report the same situation. Major Frank felt his breathing grow ragged and his mind overburdened with decisions.

“Abandoning the tank then! We must leave immediately! All those who cannot move their tank, abandon them! Quickly leave the smoke! Retreat! Retreat!” Major Franks roared. And then opened the top cover and climbed out. The tank had been smoked enough to where the crew had to crawl and roll out.

The scene outside of the Matilda we like a tide of men, all fleeing and withdrawing.

Colonel Glenn was very depressed even before the engagement began. How did the infantry get in front of the tanks?

“Ugh, it’s troublesome but not a big matter. The glory of the British Empire will not be tarnished by this.” Colonel Glenn thought. He looked at the brave young men rushing toward the enemy’s position. He could not help but think of the Great War.

But in the end, the German positions still had no movement. “What kind of trick is this? Is it those Germans and foolish tactics? Anyhow, the troops should not have too much trouble.” Colonel Glenn happily thought.

Then the Germans finally opened fire. But Colonel Glenn was not the least bit worried. They were already only 100 meters from the entrenchments. The Germans opened fire too late, as long as the tanks reached the front they could breach a hole in the defenses.

But later the situation made him shocked. Why were the tanks stopped?

“Hell, what is this mess? What is the field commander doing?” Colonel Glenn shouted out in anger.

When the German smoke bombs hit the infantry group, Colonel Glenn was still puzzled, what kind of tactic was this? But then he saw the chaos of the smoke through his telescope. The horrors of 1917 flashed back in his mind.

“It’s gas! Damn the Germans are poisoning us! Quick! Give me a gas mask! Fortunately, there is no wind today. God, God! Damn those Germans!” Colonel Glenn quickly said he trembled slightly.

Finally, there some of the staff reminded him, “Colonel, what about the troops? Should they retreat?”

“Yes! Retreat, retreat with haste! Quick! Let them retreat!” Colonel Glenn calmed down slightly and said. But the troops had long since fled the field.

“Artillery! Order the artillery positions to flatten the German positions! Blow those shameless Germans to smithereens!” Colonel Glenn said loudly with a fierce gaze.

“Colonel! The artillery battalions have reported. They have been hit by the Germans, large-caliber shelling. Reporting heavy losses.”

The news caused Colonel Glenn to collapse back into his chair.

9 thoughts on “v2c12: Devil’s Breath

  1. Oh god not the mustard gas, that is savage. Didn´t think Xu Jun had it in him to be so ruthless, thanks for the chapter

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  2. What choice did he have? I mean, The big guns were at least 10-15 mins away if the lead officer was telling the truth. Also since a lot of them would be vets from the first war. A single round would be more then enough to scare them shitless. I mean at that point no one but the Germans had gas mask as standard kit. I am surprised this officer even had one available to command given to him.

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  3. i dont think it are mustard gas and yes lacrimogen gas. because chemical weapons are being very prohibited because of use of this in World War 1. i think he use a feint to make all off the damn tommys think it are mustard gas. anyway. tnx for the awesome chapter.

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  4. Gas mask were the standard in the mid-late of the WW1 and in tge early years of WW2, the UK especially was very afraid of gases.
    That said the artillery company of the Wehrmacht didn’t have chemicals shells, they were proibited and after Varsailles the German Army was strictly controlled by the allies about the gases.

    Liked by 2 people

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