Captain Dogwood ends up away down in Lower Bavaria (Niederbayern), in a rather unfortunate wandering, this time not caused by 2nd Lieutenant Bridgewater Smythe's bad map reading, but rather from SACEUR's orders for reserve forces to help with the push back in the lower territories.
The battle was Dust Up, and once again my beleaguered opponent begs for infantry (He was hoping to get the new plastic ones, but they've been delayed.) So instead, the T-64s make another appearance, and he learns a lesson about reserves, facings, and the shock of bringing your Formation Commander on with a platoon.
Captain Dogwood, and The King's Own Scottish Borderers have found themselves in the quaint little town of Plattling in Southern Germany, not far from Munich. The Company had the usual attachment from the Queen's Dragoon Guards, and were accompanied by the Armoured Squadron from the Welsh Guards, commanded by Captain Hughes.
Captain Dogwood was seated in the front room of a house near the front line along with his other officers. Tea was the order of the day this time, not whisky, gin, or homebrewed schnapps. Around the table was Dogwood, First Lieutenant Horseham, Second-Lieutenant Bridgewater-Smythe, Pipe Major Moray, Captain Hughes, and his second in command Lieutenant Baxter.
Dogwood had a newspaper spread open on the table with the headline on show for the other men;
SOVIET HIGH COMMANDERS RECALLED TO MOSCOW
"Something's going on, lads. Something big. Could be the end of this mess, could be the beginning of something new. Whatever they're up to back home, we're no goin' anywhere just yet." He informs them all, the other men nodding to each other with a mix of determination, resignation and basic understanding.
"But sir, why are we all the way down here in Bavaria? Shouldn't we be helping out with the breakout in Hanover? Command are pushing hard for this one." Horseham speaks up first, pulling out his map and holding his fingers and thumb between where they were and where they were supposed to be; the town of Münster, about 500km north west.
Dogwood grinned and leaned back in his chair.
"Because, Tommy, we're here to give a wee bit of reinforcement to the south, just in case some devious wankers get the idea to follow the Yanks up intae Leipzig." He tells him, amused by the idea. In honesty, he had no idea why they were all the way out of the battle line, but BAOR command had small sections of troops distributed amongst every NATO sector, mainly to hold lines, rather than make pushes, and this just happened to be one of them.
At that moment, a radio call came through:
"Whisky Command, this is McLellan. We're to deploy, sir. Orders are coming in about an armoured push through a nearby town, sir. Over."
Dogwood got to his feet and rubbed his hands together.
"And here's one such wanker tryin' his luck..."
Dogwood and his men were loaded into the FV432s of the company, roaring along the road into town, following the Scimitars bouncing over the grass ahead of them. Once or twice he had to radio Bridgewater Smythe to remind him they were leading, not galloping off into the horizon. Eventually, they pulled up behind the petrol station on the edge of town and dismounted. Dogwood grabbing his binoculars and waving the transports to retire to the rear.
"Right, Bridgewatter; get yersel' back wi' the transports. We're gonnae set up an ambush here, an' we'll probably no be needin' ye." He patted the front of the Scimitar. The tall cavalry officer looked devastated.
"But sah! We've learned our lessons, we'll support without advancing, an-..."
"See yer mouth? Shut it." Dogwood interrupted him and pointed back towards some vineyards and a hill, where McLellan and the Milan troop had deployed. A few miles back were the Welsh Troop, taking their time as one of their vehicles had experienced a few problems with their engine. There was no proper reply from the officer, just the hatch closing over and the troop falling back to behind the line.
At that moment there was a rumble of engines, as some Soviet tanks lumbered into view beyond a nearby car repair lot. Dogwood wordlessly got his men moving, taking up positions in the petrol station as he saw the lead tank break off and park up behind a hedge. The commander of which popped his top and looked out, scanning the fields for enemy troop movements, using the hedge and the shadow of the nearby pylon to hide his tank.
Dogwood pushed his men forward a little, taking up positions. But just as he was about to give the order, the command tank exploded in a conflagration of fire from the west. Dogwood turned his attentions to the source of the fire; Hughes and the Welsh troop had arrived on the field, their gunners finding the thin sides of the command tank.
"Good work lads, we'll get stuck in once we're set here." Dogwood made sure his men were set out, ready to take the retributive fire of the remaining Soviet tanks.
Seeing their commander knocked out from flanking fire, the remaining Soviet tanks slipped out of sight of the infantry and returned fire towards the advancing Chieftains. One finding the tank of Hughes. Dogwood hopped up to get a better look, the tank's turret skewed to the side, a glowing patch on the front the telltale sign of a glancing hit.
But it seemed to have been in vain as the turret veered back into position and the tank began moving again, the tank disappearing behind the wood beyond, as the troop itself pulled into position and opened up to extract some vengeance. Dogwood letting out a sigh of relief.
"Hughes, ye're a lucky bastard." He chuckled and dropped back down to command his men.
The T-64s were less fortunate as the boom of large calibre guns echoed over the fields. Though he couldn't see them, he did see a plume of flames erupt from beyond the shed as one of them went up. Followed shortly by two of the tanks reversing as fast as their tracks could carry them, off out of danger.
His men were almost set into a good defensive position, but one of the Milan teams reported a problem with the tripod, one of the legs stuck in the closed position, making it difficult for the weapon to deploy.
"Dae whit ye can for it. An-..." He stopped dead as the mechanics shed almost collapsed, a troop of T-64s rolling out of it, their guns levelled in Dogwood's direction.
"Where the fu-..."
A deafening crash sounded out as the guns barraged the petrol station, a good hit taking a few of his men by surprise and leaving his squad dazed and a little confused. He felt a hand pull him up, and looked up to find the Pipe-major pulling him forward.
"Intae the field! Move it!" Dogwood commanded, finally finding his voice and his feet. A glance back saw that the two Milan teams who had been set up were now either dead, or tending to their team-mate out of sight of further Soviet fire.
Dogwood and his men slipped into the field, hunkering down and breathing a little heavily. A quick headcount confirmed that only the Milans had taken the hits, and the other fire teams were still good to go. They hugged cover and waited, but no return fire sounded from the Welsh Troop; only the distant growl of engines, which was soon followed by a different sound, still engines, but of a different sort.
"What noo? Oh bloody hell..."
"DOON! EVERYWAN DOON!" Dogwood roared as from the road north emerged a full platoon of Shilka self-propelled anti-aircraft guns. Their weapons levelled at the British infantry huddled in the fields. There was a whining noise, before crop and dirt started shredding and splattering around them. A few of the boys were a little slow in dropping and a small red spray indicated their last moments, as the guns poured out hot lead in their direction. Dogwood kept low, hands over his ears as the noise threatened to deafen them, until it subsided. The team in the Shilkas must have been reloading.
"Right lads! Gie them whit's fir'! Pipe-Major, gies a tune!" Dogwood roared, grabbing a nearby Carl Gustav launcher that must have been dropped in the chaos of the fire and launching himself out of the field, firing the weapon as he charged with the pipes blaring behind him. The remaining men of the squad following his lead, some shouting threats and obscenities, whilst others threw grenades or fired their weapons.
The lead Shilka erupted in fire, while another's gun took a hit, twisting it out of shape. The crew of the remaining gun hastily threw open hatches, hands in the air at the sudden ferocity of the charge.
"Aye... comrade... yer war is over..." Dogwood nodded to the man with the most official looking uniform as a crackled report from the Welsh Troop confirmed the encounter was over again.
The ambulances and trucks had come and gone. Casualties and prisoners were now heading back behind the lines as Dogwood sat atop a bailed out Shilka, taking a shot from a procured bottle of whisky. He didn't ask the man where he had been hiding it, only that he was in need of it.
"Well, that was a stroke of luck, sah! They almost got you that time." Bridgewater-Smythe had strolled up, Dogwood smirking that he for once didn't complain about being left out of the battle.
"Aye. They came f'r me that time. Looks like someone up there's no happy wi' me. Hear that, wee man?" Dogwood shook a fist at the grey, cloudy sky, before taking another swig of the bottle.
"Well sir, we're being recalled to Headquarters. It's been a pleasure, sir." Bridgewater-Smythe snapped off a salute. Dogwood hopped down and returned it before extending a hand.
"An absolute pleasure. Yer no bad for an English Wanker." He grinned.
"I'll take that as a compliment sir." Bridgewater-Smythe laughed, shaking his hand before nodding to the others and jogging back to his track.
"Aye lads. This one might be over soon... very soon."