How did they fit a WWI radio set into a tank? I bet that the gun is a dummy, because there is no hope of fitting radio, gun, recoil clearance and ammo into one, with some spare space for the crew. Unless somebody worked on superheterodyne radio behind the lines and got a sudden genious idea of aligning diodes in-line.

Great question, I had considered what was available in the time frame in question 1916-17 and discovered that the radios that Telefunken made for the German Imperial Air Service were about the size of a large shoe box. The problem was that powering the things in the field was nearly impossible mostly because batteries as we know them hadn't been invented yet. They were able to be used in aircraft because the radio could be run off of power from the alternator. The tanks in question are using MB D.II engines, the same ones used by Albatros recon planes. One other thing, the radio is only found in the command tank. It was placed under the ammo rack at the expense of the capacity of said ammo rack.

959.jpg
Telefunken radios 1916-18

Another consideration is that the main gun is a short barreled 57 mm Cockerill-Nordenfelt "Sockel" gun. It's more like a modern grenade launcher than a cannon.
 
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How do those German tanks look?

They are a cannon armed casemate tank with riveted armor very similar in appearance to what would happen if the British Mark 1 Whippet was crossed with the much later StuG. Unfortunately my talents do not extend to drawing or else I'd have more to show.
 

plenka

Banned
They are a cannon armed casemate tank with riveted armor very similar in appearance to what would happen if the British Mark 1 Whippet was crossed with the much later StuG. Unfortunately my talents do not extend to drawing or else I'd have more to show.

Is it maybe similar to Italian WW2 semovente tank destroyer/assault gun?
 
Part 4 Chapter 24
Chapter Twenty-Four


23rd June, 1917

Reims, France

Emil was sorting through the latest progress reports. The 2nd Army was advancing again, the quick movements and sharp actions masking what was in reality the usual plodding advance. Take land, hold it, advance again course of action that had marked the entire Marne battle as it seesawed back and forth. It would almost be boring if there weren’t people getting hurt or killed. He was trying to make these reports into a single easily digestible whole for a public statement that the General was going to make. And inserting his own personal opinions on the maker would not be welcome.

The High Command and the Press was completely enthralled with this cavalry Oberst who ran these armored tractors. According to Horst, who’d gotten roped into working with this Oberst Wolvogle, he was completely insane. It had been a near run thing in Azy-sur-Marne and all the subsequent operations had gone much the same. Horst said that it always felt like they were on the verge of disaster.

“You’ve got to help me” said Bauer distracting Emil from his work.

“With what” Emil asked.

“You’ve dealt with Stoltz before, gotten out from under his thumb.”

Emil had been a mere Soldat at the time and it was gambling debt, but Bauer didn’t need to know that.

“Just pay back whatever you owe him” Emil said “And if it’s more serious than that threaten to report it. Stoltz isn’t stupid, if he thinks official heat might come down on him he’ll back off.”

“It’s a bit more serious than that” Bauer said “I might have done some things I ought not have done and Stoltz may have found out about them.”

“How bad are we talking here?”

“I could lose my commission, bad.”

“I’d say you’re screwed” Emil said “Request a transfer to a different Army Corps in Russia or Austria, you’ve got enough pull for that.”

“But what do I do in the meantime? Stoltz is demanding things.”

Emil knew that once Stoltz got dirt on someone he just got them to dig themselves deeper. Among his other talents was that Stoltz was an excellent blackmailer. And a staff officer like Bauer was someone that Stoltz would never let go of.

“Request the transfer then stall him” Emil said “And hope the transfer comes through before Stoltz runs out of patience.”

“Thank you for that advice” Bauer said walking off.

Later, that conversation would come back to haunt Emil. It turned out that Bauer had not followed his advice and tried to deal with Stoltz on his own. By then Bauer had not only failed to make things better for himself but had managed to make things catastrophically worse with tragic consequences.


1st July, 1917

Frankfurt, Germany

After a few weeks in the hospital surrounded by men who were a lot worse off than him they had cut Sjostedt loose. The bullet that had hit him had driven fibers from his tunic and the shirt he’d been wearing deep into his chest. It had taken a while for most of that to work its way out. That was the most annoying thing about medicine, most of what the doctors did was keep you alive long enough to heal on your own and most of what they did seemed of fall under the category of “Wait and see”. Once they were sure the infection wouldn’t kill him they decided that they needed the bed.

While he wasn’t ready to go back to the front he couldn’t stay. They were expecting a new wave of casualties any day from when the latest round of offensives started.

This left him at loose ends. Unsure of where to go until he could be cleared to go back. It was not as if he could go home. That was so distant that as soon as he got there he’d probably have to turn around and come right back.

When he walked into the lobby that was when he got at least some answers as to what he might do. A young woman who he’d not seen in almost two years was standing there. “What do you mean discharged?” She was saying to one of the harried orderlies “You wouldn’t let me see him this morning and now he’s gone?”

“Still going about your endearing ways Nina” He said to her.

“God Piers, you look like shit” She said.

“Is that the way they teach you to talk at University?”

“It’s the truth” Nina said “And these morons here wouldn’t take my word for it that I was your sister.”

“These are people used to dealing with soldiers” Sjostedt said “They thought that you were someone’s girlfriend or something trying to sneak in.” He didn’t want to upset her by saying that “or something” was a prostitute.

The two of them were what was called Catholic twins, even though neither of them were Catholic. Their age was almost exactly nine months apart. They had spent their whole lives unseparated until Piers Sjostedt had gone to war and Nina had gotten accepted into a women’s university with the ambition of becoming a primary school teacher.

“Still though, I’ve seen better looking corpses than you, big brother” Nina said as they walked out.

“As if you’ve seen many corpses?” Sjostedt asked.

Nina almost said “And you have” back to him but realized before she said it that he probably had.

“There’s something that I need your help to put in perspective” Sjostedt said as they walked towards the train station. Nina shared their mother’s idiosyncratic version of religion that blended Diné and Christian beliefs. “When I was on the train coming from the front this is what happened…”

He told the story of the dream, hallucination or whatever that could have been.

Before he’d been at loose ends as to what to do. Now he had the prospect of spending time with his sister on her Summer holiday. There just had to have been an easier way to go about getting to do it.
 
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Part 4 Chapter 25
Chapter Twenty-Five


5th July, 1917

Chamigny, France

Horst was reading a French newspaper, it was the usual claptrap of extolling the virtues of their American friends. He knew damn well that if the Americans were still playing neutral while selling the Limeys and Frogs everything they needed at a premium then these same journalists would be singing a very different tune. It was the lack of contact with American forces that was starting to bother him, they were up to something, he could smell it. Part of the problem was that he couldn’t get these newspapers as easily as he used to. Stoltz was putting the screws to everyone and calling in every marker. Something was going on with the Black Marketeer, something that didn’t bode well for the future.

“You can read that?” Wolvogle asked.

“Yeah” Horst said “It’s useful in knowing what the Frogs are thinking and then afterwards it’s useful in other ways.”

“The many uses of a spare piece of paper in the field” The Oberst said with a knowing gleam in his eye.

They were riding the Raupe through the yet another wrecked French village. All while keeping an eye out for French soldiers in ambush and listening for the buzz of aircraft. With that thought Horst scanned sky. It had come as a surprise when the French had used a Spad S.XII as a ground attack aircraft for the first time on them. The 37mm cannon shell had sliced right through the thin top armor of a Raupe killing the entire crew inside. It wasn’t until the airplane came out of its dive and flew off that they had realized what had happened. After that they’d been down to eight Raupes from the original twenty. It was something that they had Georges Guynemer to thank for. At the moment, the French didn’t seem to have very many of those but that was sure to change.

A few days later they got a new shipment bringing them back up to strength but it was noticeable that they were burning through the vehicles at an alarming rate. Horst himself had gotten good at jumping for the ditch at the slightest hint of trouble. He’d discovered that as an infantryman the armored vehicles were both an asset and a liability, they made assaulting enemy positions easier but they also drew the biggest response when they were in the field.

He’d also started to understand the particular genius of Oberst Wolvogle. Wolvogle didn’t care if someone told him that something wouldn’t work, he’d try to figure out a way that it did or if that didn’t work he’d come back at it a different way at some later time.

It was with his deep knowledge of cavalry tactics that he really shined. Horst had found out that dragoons were cavalry that fought as infantry. It was an insight as to how Wolvogle thought. He could grasp anything if he could put it into the context of how cavalry operated in the last century.

It didn’t make the Oberst’s headlong charges into danger any less infuriating. It was frequently Horst who got to lead the holding actions while Wolvogle scrambled for a means of extricating them from the latest mess. The Brass, the Press and the men all loved Wolvogle, the more eccentric he was the more they loved him.

The lead Raupe came to a halt as they saw a barricade between two buildings, blocking the road ahead. Either it was a move to slow them down or it was an ambush either way it was bad news.

“Oberfeld, if you could take a look at that, please.” Wolvogle said as if he was asking Horst to hand him a wrench from the tool chest. If this was a trap, then it had just become his job to spring it.

Horst walked forward cautiously past the Raupes stopped in the road, watching the road for tell-tails like fuse wires. Two of his men were following but he motioned them back. If this was an ambush he only wanted to worry about himself if it came to that.

He reached the barricade and peered over, no one there. He had just turned around when there was a loud explosion and one of the building’s front collapsed into the street. Whoever had set that charge had miscalculated the distance to the road. Instead of blowing up under the lead vehicle it’s blown up under the wall.

The result was that the lead Raupe was partially buried but otherwise unaffected. Horst himself engulfed in a cloud of choking dust. He used it as an opportunity to climb over the barricade which seemed to be made up of whatever could easily be found in a farming community. There would be some angry farmers and home owners when they got back and found the furniture had the requisitioned for the war effort, he thought as he saw what looked like an antique chair. He found a wall and worked his way along it.

As the dust cleared Horst saw a machine gun muzzle sticking out of the window to his left. He pulled the stick grenade from his belt, any second they would notice them. He intended to make it loud when they did. He pulled the porcelain bead and heard the fuse ignite, waited three nerve wracking seconds before throwing the grenade through the open window. He briefly heard a scramble in the room in the two seconds before the exploded, Horst fell flat and crawled away there.

That was when shots started coming from the upstairs windows. At where the spot he’d just vacated. That was when the upper floors were riddled with machine gun fire from the Raupes who’d driven through the barricade while Horst had been crawling down the street.

As the Raupes and lorries passed Wolvogle got out and was talking to Horst “By God, it took a pair to…” The Oberst paused and with surprising ease drew his revolver, thumbed off the safety, cocked, fired and put a bullet through a French soldier who’d been aiming at them from one of the building’s windows about 25 meters away. “The French Prime Minister seems to want to create fanatics doesn’t he” Wolvogle said “I was going to say that it took balls to do what you just did. The next time I talk to the press you’re getting mention.”

“Sure thing, Sir” Horst said trying not to let his skepticism reach his face.

With that the Oberst walked back to his waiting Raupes “And one more thing Oberfeld it would be good if you and your men could help dig out that Raupe.” He was referring to the vehicle that was stuck in the fallen masonry.

“Did the Oberst just shoot that Frog with his pistol?” One of the men asked Horst. Even Horst had to admit that it was a Hell of a shot, those old cavalry revolvers packed a punch but weren’t particularly accurate. But by the time this story reached the press it would be a half dozen French soldiers and they would be 100 meters away. “What do you think” Horst said. He wasn’t going to participate in that.
 
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Well Emil seems to be in a would of crap down the road. Just how much and what may he be accused of will have to be seen.

Horst and his buddies are getting into the rhythm of their new boss and unit. Still working as trip wire for the Raupes but getting some recognition by the Oberst.

Sjostedt has healed, but quite enough. Just how much will his sister be able to help him interpreting his dream?
 
Part 4 Chapter 26
Chapter Twenty-Six


5th July, 1917

Wilhelm (North-to-Baltic Sea) Canal, Germany

Jacob left the radio room of the SMS Bayern and walked to the rail. His watch had just ended and the next had taken over. They weren’t yet familiar with his habits so him hanging around the radio room listening to random transmissions when he should have been sleeping had earned him quizzical looks the first few days. But they had no idea, a word kept repeating, Albion, and it was big. There were hundreds of related radio transmissions happening in Kiel, which they would reach sometime that night.

But until they got to Kiel there wasn’t much to do but watch the farmland slowly roll by. From a battleship, he thought to himself amusedly.

A small group of civilians stood on the bank watching the massive Super-Dreadnaught roll by. Jacob waved and the people waved back though he was quite sure it wasn’t for him. There had to be dozens of sailors on the Bayern pausing from their work like he was to wave to those people.


Château-Thierry, France

“Wait” von Hofstadter said over the phone “He said what?”

Horst had a feeling that he knew what was being said on the other side of that phone conversation and for once was happy that the Oberlieutenant was having to take lead. Horst frequently had to pull Oberst Wolvogle’s fat out of the fire when they were in the field. Hofstadter on the other hand got the thankless task of cleaning up the mess from whatever the latest thing that Wolvogle had said to the press or something “colorful” he’d done reached the public. There were rumors that the Emperor himself wanted to meet Wolvogle the next time he toured the front. That had resulted in a storm of whispers about how that would result in there being two loose cannons on the deck.

They’d gotten pulled from the front lines the other day for rest and refit. That evening Wolvogle had taken it upon himself to entertain a group of journalists with an off-color joke about Douglas Haig, Phillippe Petain and John Pershing discussing with each other best way to have sex with sheep. Horst presumed that this was the subject of the current phone call. Mercifully Wolvogle had totally forgotten about his promise to mention Horst when he talked about the latest action. What that meant in practical terms was that for once the war and the Oberst were someone else’s problem. Horst intended to sleep blissfully forgotten over the next few days.

As he got up to leave Horst was stopped by Hofstadter. “The Oberst wants you to help him with formalizing the tactics used by infantry in co-ordination with his armor” He said.

As always, no plan survives first contact with the enemy, or insane commanders.


Paris, France

Stoltz was staring at his own blood on the floor with his left eye, the other having swollen shut. This wasn’t the first time that he’d found himself chained to a chair in a jail cell. It also wasn’t the first time he’d been worked over by the guards in such a place. What he could potentially be charged with however was a first. A spy. What a laugh.

When the 4th Division had been transferred to the 2nd Army it had disrupted his carefully constructed web of bribery and blackmail. He’d avoided Military inspectors for years with that system. Suddenly he’d needed to reconstruct that system, he’d found himself with a set of new rivals and he still had a set of dependents who happened to have razor sharp teeth.

Then like a bolt from the heavens he’d had an idea that would solve all his problems in one fell swoop. It would be the perfect crime. Snatch a French Division’s payroll and launder the money through Switzerland. When the Frogs investigation led across the lines they could get machine gun fire for their troubles.

What he hadn’t anticipated was that he could get caught. Their contact on the French side had sold them out almost immediately. Who knew that a convicted perjurer, thief and murderer would turn out to be a Goddamned patriot?

So, Stoltz had gotten the privilege of getting beaten to a pulp and the prospect of getting executed for possibly the only crime that he’d not committed in his life. Back in the olden days the pagan religions believed that the goddess of fate was blind. Stoltz knew the truth she was a fickle bitch who laughed as she witnessed the futile efforts of men and dreamed up new ways to thwart their ambitions. But he had one last card to play. He just needed to wait for the right moment to play it.

The iron door of the cell opened, the hinges squealing in protest. Two men in the uniform of the Gendarmes walked in followed by a man wearing a suit and tie. Stoltz knew that this was who he’d been waiting for.

“I am Inspector César Sauvageot and you Monsieur Stoltz are in a World of shit” He said in German.

It was about as Stoltz had figured, one of his crew must have blabbed to save their own skin. There was no honor among thieves.

“It was quite a surprise that what we thought were Boche infiltrators turned out to be no more than a bunch of common criminals” Sauvageot said “I have to admit that your plan was probably a good one except you neglected the human element.”

Yeah, you just can’t trust people, Stoltz thought to himself and cursed his own stupidity.

“Do you have anything to say for yourself?” Sauvageot asked.

Stoltz chuckled “It sounds like you already know everything” He said “Now let me rot in peace.”

“I’m afraid that’s not possible Monsieur Stoltz, I have to look like I’m doing my job. You have a date with Madam Guillotine in a few hours unless you give me something that I can give to my superiors that would warrant sparing your life, for now.”

That was it Stoltz thought to himself, every Copper in the world was the same. Always looking to shake the tree to see what fell out. And few things shook the trees like an impending execution.

“I might know a thing or two” Stoltz said, time to play that last card.
 
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Part 4 Chapter 27
Chapter Twenty-Seven


12th July, 1917

Reims, France

César Sauvageot had lied when he’d told the Stoltz that he was an Inspector with the Gendarmes. But the German criminal didn’t need to know that. Ironically, he was exactly what Stoltz had been accused of being, a spy and his survival meant that he was very good at his job.

When it had become obvious the year before that the Germans had become aware that their messages were being intercepted the French military had been forced to go back to what they should have been doing all along, in Sauvageot’s opinion. After all the French had practically invented espionage.

Suborning the criminal gangs that smuggled across the front lines had turned out to be easy, most of them were only interested in protecting their own networks. After that it was only a matter of finding the right people and getting them in the right places. The German criminal had turned out to be a treasure trove of useful information. One of the things that he’d mentioned was that there was Captain on the General staff of the German 2nd Army Corps who had issues with keeping it in his pants and sticking it where it didn’t belong. Stoltz had been blackmailing that particular Captain. The perfect in.

That was how Sauvageot had found himself on the streets of Reims watching a street café where the subject in question was eating lunch. He was planning his approach when a different officer, a 1st Lieutenant walked up and spoke to the subject. He was boyish looking but the way he walked was like an actual soldier, those medals he wore had obviously been won in combat. He was the sort that Sauvageot avoided. The odds were too good that the pistol on his belt was in perfect working order.

Sauvageot watched their interaction. It was obvious from the body language that the 1st Lieutenant didn’t particularly like the subject, he held himself in a guarded stance. The subject seemed oblivious to that fact. Sauvageot filed that away as potentially useful information.

Eventually the 1st Lieutenant walked off with a purposeful stride. Sauvageot waited for a moment then began his approach. Looking around he made sure that their conversation would not be overheard. It was noticeable that the street was empty, the sad reality of military occupation.

“It’s a shame that because of you Boche a city street like this is empty on such a beautiful Summer afternoon” Sauvageot said to Bauer sitting down in the chair opposite of him.

“I’m sorry I don’t have time for you or your opinions” Bauer said curtly.

“That’s where you are dead wrong, Monsieur Conrad Bauer” Sauvageot said “You’ve all the time in the world.”

“I don’t know where you got my name from but if you don’t leave I’ll have you arrested.”

“You’ll do nothing of the sort.”

“What make you so sure of that?” Bauer asked.

“You slept with the wife of a Generalmajor and to keep that from coming to light you stopped several investigations into black market activity” Sauvageot said “That is why I’m sure that you will not have me arrested.”

“But Stoltz said…” Bauer started to say.

“Monsieur Stoltz is out of the business but before he retired he sold you to me.” That was only true in a very technical sense, the last Sauvageot had seen of Stoltz he was enjoying the darkness of a windowless cell somewhere under the streets of Paris. A continued existence purchased by selling Bauer out, among other things, to save his own hide. Bauer didn’t need to know that.

“That piece of shit” Bauer muttered.

“Now that we’ve got the preliminaries out of the way” Sauvageot said “We’ve got business to…”

“I don’t agree to do business with you, whoever the Hell you are” Bauer said angrily “Just who are you anyway?”

“I’m the man who holds your fate in the palm of my hands” Sauvageot said “As far as you’re concerned I might as well be God.”

Most of what Sauvageot was doing was bluff. If Captain Bauer had been smart, he’d have called over that 1st Lieutenant and Sauvageot would be looking down the barrel of a 9mm pistol and forward to the prospect of a noose in the near future. Instead Bauer was exactly as Stoltz had described him, a popinjay who aped his betters, thought with the wrong head and was nowhere near as clever as he thought he was.

“You are obviously not God” Bauer said glumly.

“No I am not, but you can call me Monsieur Ombré” Sauvageot said. When the day came that his superiors questioned Bauer about this he wished that he could be there to see their faces when he tells them that they would be looking for a Mr. Shadow. “You clearly wish to be clear of this business and I think that there is a way that it will work out to both our benefit.”

That was the bait, Sauvageot just offered Bauer a chance that there might be a way out for him. The truth was that no such chance existed but it was good give them something to strive for, Sauvageot thought.

“You can’t be serious.”

“Yes, I am” Sauvageot said “I am not like Monsieur Stoltz. What need have I for a German Officer in the long term?” Plenty, actually.

“I give you what you want and you go away forever?” Bauer asked.

“That is exactly what I’m saying.” Though in this case if Sauvageot got what he wanted he fully expected Bauer to end up in front of a wall wearing a blindfold and having a last cigarette while he heard the sound of rifle safeties clicking off.

“That’s good” Bauer said looking relieved. Well, you shouldn’t be, Sauvageot thought.

Later Emil heard Bauer whistling as he walked into headquarters.

“What are you so happy about?” Emil asked.

“Things are looking up” Bauer said “It turns out that Stoltz is out of business.”

Emil had heard that Stoltz had disappeared and that his lieutenants were holding their breath waiting to see if either Stoltz would be back or which one of them finally made the power grab themselves. The wrong move for them would be painful for someone.

“I’ll believe it when I see it” Emil said.
 
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Part 4 Chapter 28
Chapter Twenty-Eight

20th July, 1917

Moon Sound, Baltic Sea

When the Bayern had reached Kiel, they had found themselves as part of a special task force and a flotilla of 350 ships that was to support the 42nd Division as it landed in the West Estonian Archipelago at Tagga Bay. The other goal was to trap a portion of the Russian Baltic Fleet in the Gulf of Riga. Operation Albion.

Jacob had felt totally redundant for the duration of the mission. That was actually a nice change, it was the simple task of running the radio room and passing deciphered messages to the Captain. Something he could do in his sleep. He was also listening to the confused transmissions out of Russia.

What he was hearing reminded him of a fun fair he’d once gone to as a child. They had this thing called the Hall of Mirrors. It had been the simple matter of following your feet rather than your eyes, the attendants had been less than diligent with their sweeping so they’d left a well-trod trail through the dust. But there had been a moment of panic when he had realized that he couldn’t trust the information that his eyes were telling him.

That’s what Russia was reminding him of. Different factions fighting each other, others continuing the war with Germany and Austria-Hungry, No one really sure who was supposed to be in charge or with which side from moment to moment.

The mission itself had been fairly straight forward. They were to silence the battery at Toffre and support the landings at Pomerort. That was when the Grosser Kurfürst nearly had her bow almost completely blown off by a mine. This had set the tone for the rest of the campaign. It had been at the Battle of Moon Sound that the Russians had fought by deploying more mines and firing on mine sweepers. Eventually they’d managed to sink the two old pre-dreadnaught battleships that the Russians had deployed but what no one had any idea about then was that this was the shape of things to come.


30th July

In Transit, North-Eastern France

Sjostedt was returning to the Western Front. Was he ready? He didn’t care. Nina had been delighted to have him around and discuss his “vision”. But after a time, hanging out with her friends, debating the issues of the day and listening to music. He’d realized that these were the things that he was supposed to be doing. Instead he’d been left feeling out of place.

Nina had suggested that it was Coyote himself that had appeared in his vision to explain that he was forced to live as many different people, German vs. American vs. Diné and that Sjostedt himself no longer knew who he was. Not a comforting thought. Nina had also said that he had been called out for bullshitting himself. Quite something for an allegory within his own head. Again, that wasn’t a comfortable thought.

What he did know was that over the last year the only times that things had made the least bit of sense had been discussing French newspapers and the sorry state of the world with Horst. So, he’d told Nina his goodbyes and boarded a train heading west. Nina wouldn’t have said anything about it but as he boarded the train she’d hugged him in a manner that suggested she feared she’d never see him again. He’d been torn and could hear that same mocking laughter from his dream.

Now west of Reims he was riding on a lorry headed towards the front having his sleep interrupted by bumps in the rutted road. Surrounded by a group of fresh fish who were amazed by his ability to do that.


Ussy-sur-Marne, France

Horst was staring at the remains of the radio that had been in Wolvogle’s Raupe. It had broken down once too often and took up too much space so in his frustration the Oberst had it ripped out of the vehicle and then had it backed over by the Raupe. Wolvogle said he much preferred to use the airhorn to send messages anyway. Horst had to admit that it was more in keeping with Wolvogle’s personality. The wood, metal and glass components were ground into the road dust.

That was when a lorry passed by and a familiar figure jumped out. “What happened here?” Sjostedt asked.

“This is how the new Oberst solves problems” Horst said.

“How does he solve actual discipline problems?”

“I don’t know” Horst said “Everyone’s been afraid to find out. They finally clear you to come back?”

“I didn’t stick around to find out” Sjostedt said shrugging “I got bored and had to come back before I did something to liven it up.”

Horst smiled at that “You do understand that means that you are technically absent without leave right now?”

“I’m not too worried about that” Sjostedt said “This is the last place that the MPs would think of looking.” As he walked up to the smashed-up radio and the tracks left by the Raupes tread. “What did this?” He asked.

“You remember that thing you blew up right before…” Horst trailed off pausing for a few seconds “We got some of our own.”

“Really” Sjostedt said, he’d been unaware how his getting hit must have affected Horst until now “How have they been working out?”

“We only have 20 of them and we are here as opposed to being back in Château-Thierry” Horst said “That tells you everything you need to know. Come on I’ll show one to you.”

They walked off the road into the bivouac. Every work area had camouflage netting over it. “What’s up with this?” Sjostedt asked.

“The Frogs have been strafing us with aircraft every chance they get and a Raupe that isn’t moving is a target for attack bombers.”

“I go out for a couple of months and everything changes” Sjostedt said as they entered a large tent. The Raupe was parked inside with the bonnet open and a team of mechanics were working on the engine.

Sjostedt peered through the small hatch on the front of the Raupe that the driver looked through when the vehicle was not under fire. “You go into battle in this thing?” He asked.

“No" Horst said “But I’ve ridden on the back of them lots of times, you jump off when the shooting starts.”

“Who is this?” A voice asked.

Sjostedt looked over and there was an Oberst in the full uniform of the Cavalry.

“Oberst Wolvogle, this is Unteroffizer Sjostedt” Horst said “He was decorated for bravery and was wounded shortly before you arrived to the Front, he is now rejoining the Company.”

“Oh good, it's an honor to serve with you” Wolvogle said “I’ll let you familiarize him with the vehicles Oberfeld, welcome to the team Unteroffizer.”

With that the Oberst stalked off.

“I hope you enjoyed your time off” Horst said as soon as he was sure that Wolvogle was out of earshot “Because he’s crazier than a shithouse rat.”
 
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Catching up on the newest updates. It looks like Emil is going to get swept up in the investigations of the spying and thievery that began from Stoltz. Horst and friends are still getting by, but the next campaign might cost them. Jacob is ok for now, but Russian mines and subs might just sink his ship.

As always thanks for the numerous chapters and keeping things flowing. Though I like an good Entente win, this story has my interest and wanting more. :)
 
Part 4 Chapter 29
Chapter Twenty-Nine


14th August, 1917

Wilhelmshaven, Jade Bight, Germany

After weeks spent in the Baltic dodging Russian mines and British submarines the Bayern was back in port. Jacob was sitting in the radio room with his eyes closed listening to the latest transmissions. The one he was currently listening to was not well encrypted but something about it bothered him. The source was somewhere in the Paris region but not French. American? The word, Windlass, was recurring the same way that Albion had with the recently completed operation in the Baltic.

Then there was a message that started, From FI, French Intelligence? As far as the French Intelligence was concerned, they used radio signals sparingly preferring to do business in person. It might have been slow but it reduced the chance of interception. The message continued, Information to be provided from Subject St C to confirm timing for Windlass. Jacob wrote this out and handed this to Gunther who read it.

“What is this?” Gunther asked.

“Something the French and Americans are up to” Jacob said “Real cloak and dagger.”

“Give me a straight fight on the ocean” Gunther said “The Frogs might live for that spy stuff but not me.”

“Perhaps but this is important” Jacob said. He was sorting through his memories of everything he’d gotten from that source. The first mention of Subjects St A, B, C and D had been a month ago, and they were mentioned in relation to something that had happened with whoever or whatever St was. This had same feel as when he’d started tracking the Texas.

Jacob spent his entire watch single mindedly pursuing that thread. He could trust that Gunther could cover most of the everyday radio traffic, they were in port, so not much was expected to be received or sent.

He finally got something from an Army contact in Reims. There were rumors swirling about a man who’d run the local black market had disappeared. At about the time that Subject St had started being mentioned. Someone vanishing on the Western Front was hardly unique but this one had a comfortable logistics posting in the rear and had left a power vacuum of sorts. The man’s name happened to be Stoltz and he was infamous for his ability to bribe and blackmail his way out of trouble. Had the French somehow gotten to this man and taken over his network?

That left where the people mentioned under Subject St and what was Windlass?


Reims, France

“You got what you wanted” Bauer said “Now I never see you again, right?”

Stupid twit, Sauvageot thought to himself about Bauer. What he’d asked for wasn’t what might be considered secret. It was something so mundane that it would fall under official notice, cabbage and potatoes. How much of both and where they were going. This information was exactly the sort of thing the black marketeer that Bauer thought he was would want. But Bauer was too arrogant to see the full implications of the information he’d just handed to Sauvageot. Soldiers have to eat and food needs to be sent to them. For reasons of morale commanders in the field liked to give their men hot food. Bauer had just given him the locations of most of the frontline units and the likely timetable of operations.

“Have a good day, Monsieur Bauer” Sauvageot said not really answering the question as he got up to walk away. The next time he saw Bauer he’d have the man’s balls in a vice.


Orsay, France

Major George S. Patton watched the Renault FT17 tank crawl by. A major build up was taking place and it was exciting to be a part of it. The French had been trading space for time so they would be able to do this.

To the west of Paris, the entire US Army was encamped and as soon as they got the go-ahead Operation Windlass was due to start. If they timed it right, then the lead elements of the German army would be cut off and overrun.

While the French tanks weren’t as fast as their German counterparts they were more advanced and they had a whole lot more of them. There was mix the machine gun armed females and cannon armed males. It was exactly as Forrest said about being “Firstest with the mostest” you could question the other things that he had said and done but not that. The Krauts might get there first but they are not going have the most, not by a long shot.

Meaux, France


Almost a full year late, they’d finally taken Meaux. When they’d reached the eastern edge of the French town back then French had fought with frenzied rage until they had been forced to retreat. That retreat had taken them almost all the way back to Reims when the weather had finally turned.

“I don’t like this” Horst said to Sjostedt who was walking just a few paces away “Where are the French and their American allies?”

“Not here” Sjostedt said.

“I can see that and it’s the problem.”

“You think they’re up to something?” Sjostedt asked “It could be like the Oberst said, that we finally got them beat.”

“You’ve been at this a long time” Horst said “Have you ever known that to be true?”

“There for a while after Verdun.”

“Even then, every step we got closer to Paris caused them to fight us harder.”

“You think that they got a surprise for us?”

“Yes” Horst said “And I think that whatever it is we are not going to like it when they decide to give it to us.”

“It’s like what Emil said on Belleville Hill” Sjostedt said “Prepare to get fucked.”

“Funny about how that never made it into the official record” Horst said with a chuckle.

“You think that we about to get fucked?”

“Yes” Horst said “And I don’t think they’ll be kind enough to take us to dinner first.”

The Raupes started rolling by, Oberst Wolvogle was standing in the commander’s hatch in the lead. There were now 40 of the Raupes with the promise of more to come. “He thinks that he’ll have the war won by next week” Sjostedt said.

“Then for all our sakes, let’s hope he’s right” Horst said.
 
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Well the boom is about to get lowered. Just how much will Patton and his cohorts be able to gain and how badly might the Germans be set back? Will Jacob be able to guess in time to help Horst and friends?
 
Part 4 Chapter 30
For those out there who think that this is a CP victory TL. Let's just say that something strange happened on the way to the Brandenburg Gate.

Chapter Thirty


18th August, 1917

Over Coupvray, France

Jon Erdmann was flying his Halberstadt on the sort of attack mission that had become routine. This was in fact the third such mission that he’d flown today. The tempo of operations had been increasing. It was the Army’s way, reward hard work by giving you more of it.

They were flying in west in close formation with Hans at 2000 meters through the hazy light of late afternoon. Jon felt Hagen grab his shoulder to get his attention. He turned and looked over his shoulder and saw that Hagen had a grin on his face. Then Hagen pointed off to something to the north-west, off in the distance was the skyline of Paris.

That was when Hans wagged the wings of his plane. They still had a mission to perform. Jon followed Hans as he banked sharply and went into a steep dive on the road below he saw a long line of men and lorries, thousands of them. He could also see the sort of attack that Hans had planned. This wasn’t an isolated column that they could pick apart at their leisure. It would be fast in, fast out and hope that the surprise would be enough that they’d get away from here before it got too hot.

Jon saw the bombs being released from under the wings and fuselage of Hans plane a couple of hundred meters ahead of him. With the road being the aiming point, it was hard to miss. Jon released his own bombs seconds later and followed Hans as they banked hard for the east. A black burst of ground fire exploded of to the side, rocking the plane. Hans plane suffered a direct hit and exploded in a ball of flame. Jon rolled left into a hard bank and watched another half dozen shells burst on the course he’d been on. That was when… BOOM!

Jon was shocked for a second by the sudden explosion just to the right of his Halberstadt. His ears ringing, he struggled to regain control. The lower right wing began to peel away as the bracing cables let go. Alarming noises were coming from the upper wing. He yanked the throttle back, idling the engine. He put the plane into a shallow dive trying to put as little stress on the wings as he could. If the spars in the upper wing went… He didn’t finish the thought.

As the ground rose up and he aimed for a fallow farm field where it looked like he might have enough room to land. The plane hit the field and bounced, the spar in the upper wing held, this time. The undercarriage hit something unseen and the prop struck the ground destroying the engine in a spray of castor oil. That was when the tip of the left lower wing hit ground and dug in. The Halberstadt spun around and the wing spars let go…

Next thing Jon knew was that the fuselage was laying on its side with him still strapped in. Using his scarf, he tried to clean the worst of the oil off his face. Hagen was laying half out of the back cockpit, moaning.

Jon unbuckled the straps holding him in the cockpit. Hagen’s nose was bleeding and he’d been knocked out but he seemed to be otherwise unhurt.

“Come on, wake up” Jon said to Hagen gently slapping his face “We need to get out of here before…”

Jon glanced up and saw that he was looking down the barrels of a dozen Springfield rifles. Before this happens, he thought to himself.


Vignely, France

It was the most intense artillery barrage on the Western Front since the aborted Somme offensive a year earlier but unlike then, the 2nd Army had been caught in the open. Horst was sitting in a hastily dug foxhole with Sjostedt as the whole world exploded around them. He recalled what Emil had said back in Verdun about how he hated it when Horst was right. This was one of those times when he wished he’d been wrong.

The French had obviously been planning this for some time. Somewhere nearby there must be hundreds French 155s from the sound of it. There was an explosion extremely close and the ground shook. He heard a loud “CLANK!” and everything went black.


Reims, France

2nd Army Headquarters was a scene of anarchy. The day before there had been talk of moving to Meaux. Now it looked like the situation was disintegrating. Intelligence had just said that the French 5th Army Corps had hit the 2nd Army from the north while the 2nd and 5th Armies had been hit from the south by French 9th and at least 30 Divisions of the American Expeditionary Force. The worst part was that it looked like the units along the Marne River who’d been advancing towards Paris were in danger of getting encircled. Emil saw dishearteningly that the 4th Division was one of the units in question.

That was when Emil noticed that the General von Gallwitz was shouting into the telephone. Was there something else going on here?

“Sir?” He asked when the General hung up the phone.

“You’ve friends out there, right?” The General asked.

“Yes, Sir” Emil answered, trying not to let the worry show on his face.

“You’d never dream of betraying them” the General said “But someone here has.”

Emil felt his jaw drop “Why would someone do that?”

“I don’t know” the General said “But a few days ago, a radio operator with the High Seas Fleet who must have had some extra time on his hands discovered that someone here had given the French the locations of our units and the timings of our operations.”

“Is there anything I can do, Sir…?” Emil asked, his words sounding lame in his ears.

“There’s not a whole lot you can do Oberlieutenant” the General said suddenly looking very old “We wait and watch as people sent from Berlin conduct an official investigation.”

That didn’t sound like it was going to be a fun experience.
 
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Well shall Horst and friends be allowed to survive the shelling? Will the capture of ground attack plane and its crew allow tbe Entente to give the Germans taste of their own weapons? Can Emil survive the investigations of the spy ring?
 
Well shall Horst and friends be allowed to survive the shelling? Will the capture of ground attack plane and its crew allow tbe Entente to give the Germans taste of their own weapons? Can Emil survive the investigations of the spy ring?

What happens to Horst falls into one of those insane "Since we were already dead anyway, we became legends" stories starting in the next post.

There was nothing particularly special about the Halberstadt CL.II, it was derived from the Albatros D.II. The Entente is as aware of this and they have attack planes of their own. It also doesn't help that what's left of Jon Erdmann's plane will probably be used as kindling.

What's going to happen at the 2nd Army Corps would best be described as a colonoscopy and no one is getting out of that unscathed. César Sauvageot is just getting started so things are going to get very uncomfortable in Reims.
 
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