Volume 3, Chapter 19
Night came slowly upon the vast expanse of land that is Europe. Xu Jun and his army finally stumbled to the camp near Tournai.
At about five o’clock in the afternoon, everything was going very smoothly. They refueled and gathered some supplies at Cambrai then rushed nonstop to the Belgian border. They took a very wide curvature, keeping a good distance between them and the British and French lines.
But once the army made it to the Belgian border, trouble started to arise. The German vehicles and half-tracks fared better but the seized vehicles started to wear down. Due to the heavy load coupled with the continuous operation, the captured trucks started to issue groans and some stopped altogether.
Muller was so angry that he had exhausted all the vocabulary he had to curse the enemy’s shitty equipment maintenance. Xu Jun gave a short chuckle before returning to his serious expression. This issue was certainly a problem that needed to be addressed now.
He quickly ordered all troops to halt.
It would be impossible for the trucks to be tossed aside as they carried the soldiers, and was loaded with ammunition and supplies.
“Then drag them!” Xu Jun ordered. The only solution is for their half-tracks and trucks to drag those broken-down trucks. He was hesitant at first but was pleasantly surprised when then the advance returned to 30 kilometers per hour.
So, the whole team pushed through its hardships and made it to the destination. Although it was a bit strange.
The infantry was left to march the rest of the distance on foot. The artillery and engineers lucked out and got a ride. However, there were always downsides. Sitting on such a bumpy road for an extended amount of time would cause some inevitable back pain.
The tanks crews were the most miserable. Riding in their tanks, the shock from the trip was just too rough. Especially the drivers. After driving more than 140 kilometers, they could hardly climb up out of the hatch. Requiring the fellow crew members to drag them out.
Xu Jun was fairly well, besides a little pain from the waist everything was still normal. Looking at those struggling to exit the tanks he felt a bit sorry for them.
A continuous long march has always been a tiring endeavor throughout the entirety of history. Although they passed the test perfectly this time, Xu Jun was still determined to never attempt that again.
Seeing the current state of the Panzer division, he was made perfectly clear that after such a long journey the entire division would temporarily lose combat effectiveness. If those tanks were needed immediately, even mustering one-tenth of its strength would impressive. If unfortunately, they were ambushed or encountered an enemy force, they could easily be decimated. This is something that Xu Jun would never allow.
Xu Jun turned to observe the camp laid up in front of him.
The camp was indeed built to his specifications. Probably requiring all the engineering battalions to have this completed in one day. Its size seems even bigger than Tournai. But that’s mainly because it will now serve as the command center for the operation and the rendezvous point for the divisions. Simple barracks and warehouses were arranged in countless rows, some parts of the camp in the rear have not yet been completely finished. The Army engineers were still working on that at the moment.
The other divisions had arrived earlier as the camp was sprawling with soldiers. Right in front of them, was an open field where a variety of military vehicles were parked. Although the light of the sun was waning, the barracks were still brightly lit. With steam rising out of the ventilation pipes. Probably some of the soldiers were anxious to enjoy the camp’s luxury facilities.
The camp had already set up an air-defense system before Xu Jun arrived. A ring of anti-aircraft guns surrounded the area, and searchlights shot beams into the dark sky.
A large group of German soldiers were clustered at the main entrance of the camp. Looking curiously at the arrival of the Panzer division.
Seeing the troops pull in with a seemingly endless number of tanks, they felt a sense of awe. But seeing the broken trucks that were being towed at the rear, they burst into laughter.
Hans then took two briefcases as exited the command car. Then quickly went and stood beside Xu Jun.
“General, it seems that we’re the last to arrive.”
Xu Jun nodded his head and looked down at his watch.
“Not bad, though we are the last one to arrive we’re still not late. Right on time.”
Then Randolph and Dorgen climbed down from their vehicles and rushed to Xu Jun’s side.
“Vice-Head, these soldiers are too rude, there is no discipline. Do you wish to reprimand them?”
Dorgen frowned at the soldiers who were still laughing.
“Yeah, it’s ridiculous. Maybe if they knew the troubles that we had it would tell them to shut their mouths. I suggest we have the entire group run laps around the entire camp.” Randolph angrily stated.
“No, no need to blame them, we indeed looked really strange.”
Xu Jun gave a wry smile as he shook his head.
“If I saw this scene I would also have a good chuckle. They’re resting, something like this can be forgiven. I don’t want my own soldiers to as rigid as a machine.”
“You are too tolerant of the soldiers. This may cause the veterans to underestimate you.” Hans smiled and looked at Xu Jun.
“Oh is that so? Haha they will do no such thing. I assure you.”
“Stand at attention!”
The order coming from inside the camp. The group of soldiers quickly formed a neat formation, flanking both sides of the entrance. Then a group of officers walked out of the camp.
Xu Jun also led his adjutants to greet them.
These people were all senior officers. The leaders were two generals. The older one had a look of being about fifty years old and had a serious face. His refined temperament reminded Xu Jun of a harsh university professor. The other was a bit younger, probably in the early fifties. His face sculpted with a sharp jawline.
Xu Jun stopped his pace. Waiting for the group’s arrival. Then the two generals stopped before him and gave a spirited salute. The officers behind them, also stood in attention.
Xu Jun then returned the salute.
“Heer Lieutenant General Reinhardt von Straud.”
“Heer 1st Infantry Division Commander, Major General Philipp Kleffel.”
“Heer 3rd Infantry Division Commander, Major General Walter Lichel.”
“Haha, I’ve heard of both your names, but unfortunately I never had the chance to know you two. Now that two generals are under my command, I honestly feel somewhat ashamed to issue orders. However, it is for the good of the Reich correct?
Kleffel quickly replied, “The duty of the military is to obey orders. Any order that you issue, the 1st Infantry will carry out resolutely. My soldiers find it their pride to serve the Fuhrer.”
Lichel also added, “Yes, this is indeed the case. We admired your meritorious service in Arras. To become the army of such a military genius, it is the glory of the 3rd Infantry Division.”
“Haha, that is enough. It is embarrassing to hear such things from my elders. Well, no need to stand here, we should proceed to the conference room.”
“Yes, please come with us.”
Xu Jun turned back to Hans.
“You and Muller will be responsible for setting up the command center and organizing the troops.”
Then Xu Jun gave a look at the two SS adjutants.
“You two are to help Hans. They should be quite busy.”
“Yes, Deputy Fuhrer.”
The two generals also quickly dispatched their respective adjutants to assist the 7th Panzer Division’s settlement into the camp.
Then Xu Jun and the two generals were led towards one of the buildings in the center of camp.