Volume 3, Chapter 18
“Many intelligence reports in war are contradictory; even more are false, and most are uncertain.”
-Carl von Clausewitz
Großdeutschland Mechanized Infantry Regiment followed behind the 7th Infantry Regiment. Then they, in turn, were followed by the 42nd Anti-Tank Battalion. The 42nd Battalion suffered moderate losses in Arras, however, they were now rebuilt with transferred veterans of other forces. Making them an even more potent force than before. In addition to the 37mm anti-tank guns, they also received new 50mm anti-tank artillery pieces. These new guns would fire new high-explosive rounds that could penetrate the main armor of the British and French tanks with much more certainty. Currently, these guns were being pulled by the British trucks seized during the battle.
Xu Jun turned around and said to the lieutenant colonel behind him.
“Lieutenant Colonel Harron, your tanks can proceed.”
Harron then climbed to the side of the third command tank. He then nodded to Xu Jun, issuing the command for the 25th Panzer Regiment to depart. Then the 217 tanks issued forth a loud roar and followed behind the 42nd Battalion on that dirt road. Looking at those majestic tanks, Xu Jun gave a satisfied smile.
Although headquarters did add a large number of trucks and transport vehicles, it was still slightly lacking. This was mainly due to the fact that the ammunition and supplies also had to be transported. The result was that at least one infantry battalion had to march on foot.
To maintain the required speed, Xu Jun opted to take some strategies from the US and Soviet tank forces. These soldiers were specially selected from the various infantry regiments for their combat ability. Their duty is to cooperate with the tanks during an assault and protect them from close-range infantry attacks. (e.g. grenades) They are to also follow the tanks and be the first batch of soldiers sent out. Xu Jun made them into a battalion and placed them under the command of the 25th Panzer Regiment.
Finally, behind them were the 6th Infantry Battalion, 78th Artillery Regiment, and the engineering and logistics group.
Now Xu Jun’s army now looked like a ten-kilometer-long steel dragon as it swept its way across the land. Xu Jun however, was busy thinking over the latest reports. It seems that most of the other commanders have arrived at their locations.
“General.” Hans, who sat by him, asked out of the blue.
“I have a question but I’m not sure how to ask.”
“Oh, is there a problem?”
“I’ve seen your plans and I think that your plan is really wonderful. The embodiment of the fundamentals of strategy and war, perhaps only Schlieffen’s plan of 14 could compare. However, I think that some of the details are out of the way. For example, you asked that the tanks and trucks bring empty oil drums, but why?”
Xu Jun smiled and answered.
“My dear Hans, there is no need for me to tell you why I issued that order. I’m sure you will understand soon enough. Remember, all of the small details contribute to the final goal. If you don’t have the ability to see through these questions, how can I rely on your help when I need it?”
“I understand, General. I go will think of the answer.” Hans said lowly, hearing Xu Jun’s words he had greater expectations about the plan. Xu Jun just simply smiled, thinking to himself. “Perhaps, he doesn’t want to stay an adjutant. He may have the opportunity to command his own troops someday.”
The line finally left the dirt road, and come to the road leading towards Cambrai. Perhaps because the officers decided against riding behind the dust cloud. Xu Jun pushed open the hatch on the vehicle. Standing up and exposing his face to the early summer winds. Beside him were the oil transport vehicles lined up like an endless stream. Seeing this, Xu Jun exposed a faint smile.
Then at the next moment, he looked up towards the heavens.
“Are they not coming?”
He seemingly waiting for something, his face full of hope and desire.
Then a light buzzing sound came from the skies. Xu Jun who had been waiting for quite a while gave a satisfied laugh.
“Haha, finally. Hans, quickly bring me the telescope.” Xu Jun eagerly shouting.
“For you, General.”
“Thank you.” Xu Jun took the telescope and pointed it at the horizon.
“It’s a plane, General. I cannot tell yet which side. It seems to be flying very slow, it should be a reconnaissance aircraft.” Hans held his hands over his eyes and peered towards the sky.
“It is a British Blenheim light bomber, but from the fact that it’s alone. It’s probably a reconnaissance plane. Haha, I am afraid she had already seen us.”
Xu Jun crouched back into the compartment and grabbed a microphone. Then stood up back up and shouted some commands.
“Muller, did you hear it?”
“Yes, it’s clearly a British bomber approaching us.” Muller’s voice was loud and crisp in the headphones.
“Yes, I’ve determined that it should be a reconnaissance plane. She has sight of us now. Proceed in accordance with our original plan.”
Xu Jun then ordered the driver to slow down, and he continued to observe the plane.
The whole division began to slow down. The 25th Panzer division reduced to half speed. Their roar of the engines became suppressed.
The logistics teams were tasked with creating chaos in the line. Some of the trucks even tipping over on the roadbed, causing the empty old drums to roll loose.
The infantry stood on the trucks and pointed their rifles towards the sky. Some even set up a Mg34 on top of a half-track. However, the gunmen’s aim was off and caused a string of machine gun fire to veer off target.
From the Blenheim’s perspective, it saw a German army moving slowly on a French country road. Fulfilling her duty of being a reconnaissance plane, she adjusted her course and flew over. Resulting her seeing a lively mess unfold. However, naturally, it was still hesitant of German deception, so it carefully flew over at high-altitude. But, because of the chaos, the line seemed unable to organize an effective air defense.
After some high-altitude flyovers, she slowly started to descend. Reaching the relative maximum range of the machine gun fire. Although the German gunner filled the sky with tracer fire, it only grazed the area around the plane.
Two minutes later, the German line was still in chaos and continued to arbitrarily shoot into the skies. However, never really hitting the plane. Xu Jun looked at the time and it seemed that several photos should have been taken. So, He finally took up the microphone and called to Muller.
“Muller, I think it’s time to send them off.”
Then German gunner finally seemed to regain their wits, their tracer fire finally easing its way towards the plane. Some four or five bullet holes appeared on the fuselage. Although the plane was rocked, it was still determined. Only pulling up to a higher altitude, and continued to take photos.
Suddenly, two strings of coarse tracer fire whipped by her side. Causing the pilot to break out into a cold sweat, as the Germans had dragged out the 20mm machine guns from the truck. However, what made him really frightened was that they were preparing their 88mm anti-aircraft gun.
[The 88mm gun takes about 2-3min to set up]
The plane finally felt that it was in a bad situation and quickly turned around. However, then a 20mm shell hit the wing of the plane. Dragging a white smoke as it flew out of Xu Jun’s vision.
“It was only a wound, shouldn’t be enough to bring it down. If it died then we would be in big trouble. However, the effect should even better than I anticipated.” Xu Jun happily said to Hans.
Hans also said with a smile: “General, Colonel Muller’s soldiers have perfectly executed this step.”
Xu Jun nodded to Hans, then started to issue commands on the channel.
“Now, have the troops immediately pack up their equipment. After five minutes, the army will depart. We will use the fastest possible speed to reach Cambrai and to the Belgian border. There the other two forces will be waiting. We have four hours; the march will have to be at least 30 kilometers per hour. This cannot be delayed, do you understand?”
Xu Jun was very satisfied with the commander’s firm answers. Looking at the distant clouds on the horizon he felt a burst of excitement. Now that the most important step had been reached, the battle will start tonight.
“Wait for me, Dunkirk”.