Volume 3, Chapter 24
At 9:30 pm. May 26, 1940.
British Expeditionary Force, 3rd Infantry Division commander. Major General Bernard Montgomery was standing in front of his command car. Watching as the columns of soldiers marched past.
The troops have been marching for a day already. Now they were only a bit more than ten kilometers away from the determined offensive positions. He could see that although the soldiers still maintained a strong morale, their bodies were incredibly tired. If the order for an attack is sounded this evening, judging from their current state, it may be difficult to achieve the desired results.
Montgomery is the commander of the 3rd Division but Gort had also placed the remnants of two other divisions under his wing.
Their former commanders were sent to London for questioning regarding their abandonment of Arras without permission. Thinking about this Montgomery pitied their terrible luck. Their unit beaten beyond recognition, they gave up Arras due to Gort’s orders, now they became scapegoats for the military.
Montgomery turned and looked at the map again. His mind was thinking about the same question all throughout the day. Did the Germans really leave a gap for the British to exploit?
The existing information stated that there were two German infantry regiments stationed in the region around Arras. South of the French defensive perimeter, the Germans had only placed a single mechanized infantry division. Now, assuming that division was comprised of two brigades, it should be easy enough to break through. But Montgomery always felt that something was wrong in some places. He smelled some traces of conspiracy from the Germans.
If the Germans had really set a trap, then they must have hidden a considerable number of troops in the vicinity. Montgomery looked back at the map and thought for a while. If he was the German commander, where would he leave his troops in ambush?
It would require an infantry division at least one day to travel from Cambrai to Arras. It was a mechanized division it would still need half a day. If the Germans indeed set a trap, the best time would be as the British were assaulting the strategically important Arras. Then the Germans would have the opportunity to spring in and attack the open flanks. Perhaps even completely surrounding them. But if this was the case, then the troops must be within a ten kilometer vicinity of Arras. Any further than that, then Arras would be overrun and the British gone by the time they arrived.
If the British engaged Arras, then without armored support, the German would struggle to hold their positions. With the combined might of thousands of troops, it would only take a short period of time until they could rip a hole to the south.
But this was only his own speculation. At least he has not received any information to prove his own assumptions yet. Perhaps it was just too much overthinking. Even the latest Royal Air Force reconnaissance report, which was made available noon today, stated no signs of any other German units in a area of fifty kilometers of Arras. Meanwhile, the enemy Panzer units were still stationed at Cambrai. Interestingly enough, the two German infantry regiments in Arras where hurrying to build basic entrenchments. This in itself was not anything too suspicious as the Germans were bound to notice something. Furthermore, this also showed that the two regiments didn’t have much backup.
He was still very cautious. A trait that he was well-known for. Making up his mind, he finally decided that they would not initiate the attack on Arras if an enemy ambush was found beforehand. Although the 3rd Division could be considered an elite force, it still could not take any risks.
Montgomery shouted to his adjutant.
“Immediately order the 5th Infantry Division and the 50th Infantry Division to spread their wings and form into reconnaissance formation. The two divisions should have a scouting range of five kilometers, however, make sure they stay concealed. Report any change in situation to Division Command immediately.”
“Yes, General. It will be done.”
Montgomery then jumped back into his command vehicle and rode past the rows of marching soldiers
Night of May 26, 1940. Eleven o’clock, Belgium
Xu Jun and his commanders were sitting in the briefing room waiting for the latest piece of intelligence.These last two days, his main focus has been to form a cohesive unit. He ordered two combat exercises every day. However, the troops in the exercises were all from different divisions. This was simply the fastest way to create a single force from three previously autonomous divisions.
After running the exercise several times, the 7th Panzer division became quite familiar with the 1st and 3rd Infantry Divisions. Even the cohesion between the infantry, artillery, and tanks had become top-notch. After a day of combat exercises, an additional benefit was the morale boost the soldiers felt.
The most pleased were probably the senior officers and Xu Jun. After all, they found some promising talent within the 1st and 3rd Division officers. Such as Colonel Ravi, the commander of the 1st Division’s 22nd Infantry Regiment. Within the 3rd Divison was Colonel Ludwig of the 8th Infantry Regiment. Now he essentially became Muller’s right hand.
Although these people were only starting in their respective positions, one day they could become as dazzling as the sun.
“General, a telegraph from Arras.” Hans took a telegram and ran into the briefing room in a hurry.
“Oh, finally. Let me see it.” Xu Jun excitedly took the telegram from Han’s hands. Giving a quick look he took a deep breath.
He looked up at the anxious gazes from his officers. Then he nodded his head and said.
“Yes, gentlemen. This telegram is the last thing we were waiting for. ” He picked up the telegram and began to read it.
“It says: ‘Arras to the headquarters! The enemy has started attacking!'”
“That means that the intelligence is true, haha. They really walked into this trap.”
“Can we act?”
“Don’t argue! Listen to the general.”
After hearing the contents of the telegram, the officers grew all excited and murmured among themselves. Xu Jun stood up and the officers quickly shut their mouths. Their eyes full of hope as he stared at their commander.
“Gentlemen, order all the troops and officers to gather on the open field beside the barracks.”
“Yes, General!” Officers all gave an excited answer.
Half an hour later, Xu Jun and his senior officers were standing on a raised platform overlooking the neatly arranged troops.
Countless lights lit up the surroundings, showing a incredible view. A total of fifty thousand German officers and soldiers were arranged into a dozen large squares. The tanks were all neatly parked at the rear. Everyone present was holding their breaths waiting for the signal of attack from their commander.
Xu Jun went to the microphone and from the podium, looked at the more than fifty thousand proud soldiers. Filling his heart with pride, emboldening him, this was truly his own army.
He shouted into the microphone.
On the platform was another microphone, Muller walked up and responded.
“Are these my soldiers?”
“Where are they from!”
“Great German, General!”
“They are very strong.”
“Yes, very strong, General!”
“They are brave.”
“Yes, very brave, General!”
“They are very loyal!”
“Yes, very loyal! General!”
“What are they afraid of?”
“Besides failure, they know no fear, General!”
“What will they do with the enemy?”
“Send them straight to Hell, General!”
“They are very cruel.”
“Only for our enemies, General!”
“What is their name?”
“The Cerberus Corps, General!”
“A noble name.”
“Yes, a very noble name, General!”
“What does this name mean?”
“Besides the dead and the noble, no enemy can live before us. General!”
“Muller! Can you lead my brave army to defeat all of our enemies?”
“We are ready at any time, General!”
At this time Xu Jun paused for a moment, then roared in excitement.
“Then let us go! I, now give this order. Operation Noose will begin!”
Then Xu Jun turned and faced Muller, giving him a salute.
“As you wish, General!” Muller turned and respectfully returned the salute.
Then he roared at the fifty thousand soldiers gathered here, who’s blood was churning from the previous conversation.
“I order! Cerberus Corps, depart!”
The fifty thousand officers and soldiers burst into an excited roar.
After the order was issued, the senior officers individually saluted towards the platform then departed towards their command vehicles.
The long queues of the tanks roared wildly into the unknown darkness.