Volume 2, Chapter 18
Glenn gave a passionate speech almost subconsciously. But by the time he took note of what he said, the minds of the officers were already filled with one word: Attack. They flew to their units. The command staff also lost their usual calm and reason, instead quickly issuing orders to the trenches.
The troops were gathered up quickly. The officers roared wildly in front of their various troop and told their men about the shame that had been committed against them. The soldiers were initially shocked then overcome with fury. Their blood boiling, vowing to make those despicable Germans pay the price.
The troops entered their positions, the tanks entered the edge of the woods. Everything waiting on the final order from Colonel Glenn.
Now that Glenn awoke from his rage, he felt a bit hesitant. He began to regret hastily issuing that command. But to withdraw now would be impossible. He was truly caught between a rock and a hard place. What the Germans did made it clear that it was a trap. A trick intended to irritate and force a British attack. But if the order for attack was revoked, then the morale would plummet into a valley. The enraged soldiers would perhaps not understand the reason and doubt the commander. The officers would hate him too, because they prevented them from wiping away their shame. Glenn looked at the German positions and began thinking about countermeasures.
“Colonel, the men have entered the offensive positions, please issue the order.” An officer came forward to urge.
Glenn finally made up his mind. In any case, he could not cancel the order. He would simply let the soldiers fight with their increased courage and vigor. Maybe he could reap some unexpected results. Perhaps the Germans were just bluffing. They wanted to let him think that they laid a trap, but in fact it is was only a paper tiger. If in the end the assault doesn’t work then all the more reason to retreat. So, Glenn finally nodded his head, issuing the command. Then Glenn turned his body, closed eyes as he walked away from the battlefield. Quietly praying for success, waiting for the report of the outcome.
Suddenly, the British trenches let forth a loud cry, leaping out and towards the German positions. Issuing an overwhelming murderous pressure.
Xu Jun took the telescope and peered at the British soldiers. He could not help but feel a bit of anger and agitation. “The commander was not simply an idiot, but a madman! What kind of maniac, bullshit commander would let 3,000 troops simultaneously assault enemy trenches that are only 700 meters wide? With so many troops, a dense formation is the only option. A machine-gunner’s dream. He also didn’t seem to learn from that last beating. There was no coordination between the tanks and infantry. You could say that they were all jumbled up into a group. Like a poorly made salad. But at least they learned something. Quite a few of the soldiers were wearing gas masks…”
“The smoke bombs won’t be effective again it seems. However, there will be something even more exciting. Do not blame me, this is war!” Xu Jun muttered, and nodded to Muller who was beside him.
“Yes, General!” Muller answered loudly, then picked up the phone and said, “General has issued the command. Go!”
With a harsh scream, the first wave of the shells fell into the British crowd. Suddenly flesh and blood went flying, corpses everywhere. However, the British soldiers didn’t seem to notice. Only spreading out into a wider formation. Issued a wild roar and began sprinting towards the Germans. The tanks with their 12.7mm machine guns swept the German trenches with gunfire. While also increase their speed, they sped towards the enemy lines.
Then a group of soldiers climbed up from the German trenches. Braving the hail of incoming bullets, ran to the wreckage of various armored vehicles that were parked on the hillside. Began to struggle to push the wreckage. The soldier fell down, but soon several other soldiers rushed up. After those vehicles were removed, the concealed 88mm anti-aircraft guns were exposed. The artillery commander waved his hand, the 88mm guns began to aim and shoot at the British tanks. With the six Flak 18’s successive fire a dull sound could be heard. The Matilda I’s 60mm front armor was torn and penetrated like paper. Within the wilderness, a dozen of tanks laid strewn across the field.
The rest of the tanks began to hesitate and wanted to retreat. However, once again the infantry blocked their withdrawal.
[MD: Rommel was quite fond of using anti-aircraft guns as anti-tanks guns]
The second round of the heavy artillery shells smashed into the infantry. Shrapnel, rags, guns, equipment, and a variety of limbs were sent flying. Each shell took British lives by the double-digits. A crazy rate of death, rather it was simply a massacre. However, even this did not change the British infantry’s determination. Regardless of the screaming from the shells or the corpses blown across the sky. They continued to charge at the Germans. Until finally another sound entered the battlefield. The screams of planes and dive-bombers.
The British soldiers could not help but look up. They saw a scene they would never forget. The sky was filled with a group of the dark German planes. The large, Ju88 bomber. And also, the faint scream of the “Stuka”. Circling about in the skies before they began their dive. The screams of the dive bombers overshadowed the explosions that shook the ground. The shadows of the planes passed overhead, dropping 250-500kg bombs like rain in their wake.
The explosions and fireballs littered the battlefield. The soldiers were finally awoken from their frenzied blood-lust. Taking into account the horrible destruction and death around them. Many of the soldier’s minds broke from despair and some veterans began to flee. The spirit of battle collapsed, they cried and knelt on the ground. One stretched out his hands toward the sky to in prayer but was torn into pieces by the next bomb.
British officers were also dismayed at the German dive bombers. They soon realized that victory was hopeless and that if they were to stay on the battlefield, they and their soldiers would be killed. Between honor and survival, they would firmly choose the latter.
But the Germans did not want to let them off so quickly. The bombing runs continued to pound the British positions. With a cry, the German soldiers jumped out of their trenches, carrying a bayoneted rifle, rushed up towards the surviving soldiers. Seeing this, the British finally gave up their fighting spirit. Ditching their backpacks and rifles. They desperately ran away from the battlefield. The wounded knelt and surrendered to the Germans who had rushed to their side.
The German soldiers rushed to the center of the battlefield. Cautiously making their way towards the group of tanks that stood motionless. Of the Matilda tank that were not disabled had long since chosen to play dead to avoid being blown to smithereens in front of the 88mm artillery and dive-bombers that roamed the skies. Now seeing the approaching Germans, the survivors quickly climbed out of the tanks and raised their hands to surrender. This included their battalion leader, Major Frank. He was ordered to wash away yesterday’s shame, so he specifically led the tanks himself. However, he did not expect that the result this time would be that the tanks and the crew would all be captured.
As the British troops up in the front were being crushed, the command center was also in disarray. Logistics staff and wounded soldiers were competing for a seat on the truck. The staff were rushing collect various sensitive documents and went on to destroying the radio equipment. Glenn sat in his car with a frightened expression, looking at all the chaos in front of him. However, he still could not figure out what went wrong in the end. The troops were even defeated in a direct confrontation.
The moment he noticed the German aircraft he ordered the logistics and command center to prepare for withdrawal. However, he was astonished at how quickly the infantry collapsed. It had barely been twenty minutes since the battle commenced. There was not even enough time to sort his belongings. Colonel Glenn heaved a long sigh, let the driver start the car, retreated to Arras. Followed by only his guards and a few escort vehicles.