"The slaughter now ensues, bodies fall like rain. They valiantly pursue, yet are doomed to remain" –High Watermark, Iced Earth.
The siege of Oosterbeek
June 14, 1926. 20 miles outside of York, England.
James sat looking out over the lush green field that lay below him as he stood upon a high hill overlooking his family's farm. After a few minutes of just staring, the eight year old boy spread his arms with his hands facing palms to the ground before taking off at a run down the hill. As he gained speed, he began making zigzag motions back and forth across the face of the hill as he careened down it as fast as he could.
The young boy made a buzzing noise with his mouth to simulate the sound of an airplane propeller while occasionally making machine gun noises. He continued this until he reached the bottom of the hill, and stopped to catch his breath, grinning slightly.
"How many did you get this time, James?" a deep, but kind voice inquired.
The young James Doyle turned to see his father, a fairly tall man with brown hair and wearing a pair of overalls and a matching jean cap. Mr. Doyle was looking down at his young son with an expression of amusement.
"Ten" James stated proudly.
"Ten?! Oh, c'mon now, you can do better than that me boy" the latter said with a wide grin, "You twenty of those bastards next time for your old man, eh?"
"Yes sir" the young boy said briskly, clapping his feet together and saluting.
At this, Mr. Doyle laughed and knelt down on one knee so he was almost face-to-face with his son.
"You want to be a pilot and shoot down the Huns like your dad, James?" he asked.
"Yes sir, more than anything sir" was the eight-year-olds reply.
"What about the farming, wouldn't you rather do that instead?"
"I want to fly and shoot down those dirty Gerrys, like you did dad" the enthusiasm in James's voice was clear as a bell.
Mr. Doyle let out a sigh and only shook his head.
"I told you too many stories of the Great War" observed and, to James's surprise, a look of sadness came over his father's face.
However, after a few seconds, the look disappeared from the man's face and he only grinned slightly at his son before giving him a soft rub on the top of his head. The farmer then headed back toward the house while his son, after watching his father go, ran back up the hill to go on another plane ride. This time, he would be sure to get twenty Germans.
Mr. Doyle watched his son run back down the hill, continuing his imaginary dogfights with the enemy. He was filled with a sort of pride at the sight, but also a sense of sadness. As he was watching from the deck of the house, Mrs. Doyle came outside.
"'E's a soldier that boy. Just like his father" she observed with a smile.
Mr. Doyle only frowned.
"That's what I'm afraid of" he whispered.
September 21, 1944. Oosterbeek, Holland.
The small hamlet of Oosterbeek lay a few miles west of Arnhem. It was upon arriving in this small village that Doyle and the rest of the SAS learned the true seriousness of their situation. The second lift had been hit hard by German attacks at the LZs and what was left of the reinforcements had pulled back into the town after heavy fighting.
After learning this, Urquhart had ordered a general retreat, his intention being that, if they could not hold the bridge, at the very least the paratroopers would hold a bridgehead across the Rhine for when the XXX Corps arrived. But the hope that the Corps would reach Arnhem was fast dwindling from Doyle's mind. According to plan, the armored brigade should have been in Arnhem days ago, but they were nowhere to be found.
It was also upon reaching the city that Doyle found Lieutenant Bray and what remained of the 100 SAS men he had been sent to flank the enemy line with two days ago.
"Good God man, what happened?" Doyle had gasped in shock upon seeing that only 34 of the original 100 remained in fighting condition.
"We tried to hit the line, sir, but the Gerrys were ready for us, and we got slaughtered. We were trapped on this hill for two nights until we finally rushed the enemy line and managed to break through to Oosterbeek" the lieutenant had explained somberly.
Combining what was left of his men with Bray's, Doyle had a force of only about 74 SAS men remaining. Nonetheless, the major had volunteered his men to be on the defensive perimeter that was being hastily set up around the village to thwart the impending counterattacks.
"You and your men have been through a great deal Major. I would much rather place them in reserve than on the front line" General Urquhart had suggested upon hearing Doyle's request.
"Sir, please, one SAS man can fight as hard as three regular troops. We are more useful to you in combat" the latter had argued fervently.
After a bit more convincing, Urquhart relented, and the SAS regiment was set up with what remained of the 1st Battalion as well as others in the defending of the southeast section of the perimeter. Now, Doyle sat in a small building on the outskirts of the village that overlooked the trenches and foxholes that the men had dug in the woods just outside Oosterbeek.
It didn't feel right to Doyle somehow, sitting in this building while his men waited out on the line for the enemy to arrive. Keith was out in the defenses somewhere, while Starkey had volunteered to stay in the building with Doyle in order to act as the major's runner.
"They'll probably hit out section first, since they will be intent on cutting us off from the Rhine" observed one of the buildings other occupants.
"Then retreat is not an option" Doyle replied coolly.
Just then, there was a whistling noise, announcing an artillery shell that struck somewhere along the line. This was followed by another, then another: it was a full on barrage. However, most of the shells focused on the line, sot the building in which the officers were holding up was not in any danger. For some reason, this bothered Doyle even more.
"Here they come!" one officer pointed out and, sure enough, the green camouflaged figures could be seen making their way toward the line through the trees ahead of it.
The gunfire started almost immediately after the enemy was spotted. The trench line consisted of several MG positions (most of them being American lent Brownings) as well as AT guns. Despite this, the Germans made effective use of the cover the trees offered them, and very little casualties were inflicted.
Soon, another artillery barrage struck the trench line, except this time the enemy was clearly transmitting the locations of key things like MGs and AT guns, since the artillery fire was more focused than the previous. After the barrage subsided, the Germans who had been hiding in the forest rushed the trench line.
MG fire poured onto the attacker, but the barrage had taken its toll, and the volume of fire was not as great. Taking advantage of this, the Germans managed to reach a section of the trench line, and began to enter, and soon other groups of attackers were reaching sections of the line. Seeing this, Doyle picked up his Sten from the table and began striding toward the front door of the building.
However, Starkey moved to block his way. "Sir, with all due respect, you should stay here where it is safe" the lieutenant suggested.
"If this is overwhelmed, they will cut us off from the Rhine, we need every man in that trench" was the major's reply as he attempted to sidestep Starkey, but the young officer continued to block him.
"Sir, those men are doing their duty and dying for their country. We cannot afford to lose you".
"I WILL NOT SIT 'ERE AND WATCH MY MEN DIE! IF I DIE, THEN I WILL DIE AS ONE OF THEM!" Doyle screamed at Starkey, causing the lieutenant to freeze in shock.
Doyle maneuvered around Starkey and headed outside toward the trench line. Fortunately, the enemy had only broken through on the far side, so the beginning if the line closest to him was still firmly in British hands. Doyle, as soon as he reached the decent sized trench, began running as fast as he could, bumping into soldiers as he jogged down the line to where the majority of the fighting was happening.
It was a hand-to-hand combat nightmare. German and British soldier were struggling over rifles and such as the enemy attempted to clear the trench out and move on. Seeing several Germans moving down the trench toward him, Doyle took cover in a small pocket that had been dug off to the side. Once they were within range, he sprang from his cover, spraying bullets. The three Wehrmacht troops all fell dead. Beyond this was a small section where an MG had been set up.
The area had already been cleared by the Germans, and several were already in the area when Doyle approached. As soon as they caught sight of him, the other four Germans (two of them armed with Kar98s, one with an MP40, and one with a Gewehr 43) began firing on the major as he took cover behind a pile of dirt and rubble that had formed as a result of the artillery barrages. Pinned by the overwhelming fire, Doyle tossed a grenade over the cover, and heard the screams that accompanied the blast. The SAS man risked a peek over his cover, and saw that the grenade had killed two of the enemy soldiers, and wounded the other two.
The major leapt out from behind cover and moved into the cleared out section. Suddenly, one of the wounded Germans grabbed his leg and pulled him down onto the ground, causing him to let go of his Sten which flew across the area and smacked into the far wall of the trench before hitting the ground. The man who had grabbed Doyle's leg attempted to shit his grip to the major's neck.
Now began a battle to the finish as the wounded man and the British SAS man rolled around on the muddy ground, each searching for an advantage. At first, Doyle focused on the shrapnel wound in the German's leg, slamming his fist into it as hard as he could. But while the latter winced in pain with each hit, he did not cease his fighting. Doyle realized that this tactic was pointless, since they were not standing.
However, before he could try another, the German went on the offensive. With surprising strength, the young man punched the British major in the ribs. Doyle let out a grunt of pain, and loosened his grip on the man's hands, which immediately wrapped around the allied soldier's neck. Desperate to keep his attacker from choking him, Doyle grasped the strong pair of hands and pulled on them. While it was not enough to pry the hands away from his neck, it was enough to keep them from tightening enough to cut off his wind pipe.
The grapplers settled once more into a stalemate until, using every bit of momentum he could, Doyle managed to do a roll and position himself on top of the young German soldier. From this new angle, Doyle managed to pry the hands away from his neck, and then squeeze his own around the Kraut on the ground's neck.
But the Gerry still has some fight left in him, and he threw a vicious punch at Doyle's face, which connected with his jaw. This caused James to fall back, clutching his mouth in pain. The German managed to stand in spite of the wound in his leg, and pulled a knife from its sheath. Doyle saw this, and attempted to stand himself, but he was still disorientated by the blow. The German knew this, and delivered a vicious kick to Doyle's diaphragm, causing the major to stumble back some more and fall flat on his backside.
The Heer man advanced swiftly with his knife, and was about to plunge it into Doyle's chest when several shots rang out. In falling backward from the kick he had received, Doyle had landed right in top of his Sten! In one swift motion, the commando had grabbed the SMG and fired three shots into his assaulter's chest. The man fell dead instantly.
Doyle sat staring at the dead body before him, struggling to catch his breath. Despite the sounds of battle reverberating all around him, the major could not find the strength to stand. He simply stared down at the muddy ground, and occasionally up at the body of the young German he had killed (the boy looked about 17 years old). Suddenly, somebody offered Doyle a hand, and he looked up to see Lieutenant Starkey looking down at him.
"If we die, we die together, sir" he said quietly.
Doyle smiled up at him, and took his comrade's hand. Starkey helped his CO to his feet, and then handed him his Sten.
"Let's take these damned trenches back" Doyle growled and Starkey simply nodded.
The two men made their way down the trench line until they came to another hard point. Unlike the last point however, this one was being contested. British paratroopers hiding behind whatever covers fire they could, were firing on five Germans who had moved into the hard point. Doyle and Starkey took cover behind a series of wooden boxes with a sergeant.
"Who's in charge here?" Doyle demanded.
"I am, sir" the sergeant responded (for while Doyle still did not sport the stripes of a Major, he still had his stripes as a lieutenant).
"Do we know the situation in the trench line from here?" the major inquired anxiously.
"The enemy broke through at a few points, but it sounds like most of them were mopped up by the secondary trench line. We're just trying to secure the forward trench line at this point" the NCO reported as he fired at the enemy with his Lee-Enfield Rifle.
The men continued to fight, but it seemed fruitless as they had no flanking route to use against the enemy. Suddenly, the enemy was attacked from behind their positions, and was dead in seconds. A group of paratroopers led by none other than Keith appeared in the hard point.
"Bloody good timing, corporal" Doyle greeted Keith with a nod.
Keith grinned, "Figured you could use some help, major" he replied.
"What about the rest of the forward trench?"
"We're just cleaning the rest of the section back there up, it's back in our hands for the most part" Keith replied confidently.
"Don't count on it" Starkey muttered, and no sooner had the words left his mouth, when a cry arose from the woods.
"Here they come again!" a voice shouted from somewhere down the trench line.
Doyle got up into the MG nest connected to their hard point and saw another wave of Germans rushing the trenches.
"Get some ammunition up here, NOW!" Doyle screamed to his men before taking up positions on the Browning M1919 that had been set up.
He immediately began firing on the advancing German line. He was not the only one. MG fire erupted from several MG positions along the trench line. Several enemy soldiers targeted Doyle's area, and began firing at him. The major turned his MG on the men and began hosing the area until his belt ran out.
"GET ME MORE ROUNDS!" the officer ordered, and Keith immediately handed him another belt of MG rounds.
Doyle lifted up the top of the Machine gun and slipped in the first round on the belt before closing the top and yanking back on the bolt, and firing. At first things seemed to be going well. After taking heavy losses, the Germans began to retreat toward the woods. A loud cry of victory went off up and down the trench line.
The paratroopers did not get much time to celebrate however. There was a faint whistling noise that reached Doyle's ears, and he looked upward just in time to barely see a shell strike the ground directly in front of him, throwing him back from the MG position. More shells fallowed as the trenches were hit with another artillery barrage.
Doyle heard none of it though. His ears were ringing too much, and he could not stand as he lay in the bottom of the trench completely disorientated. Keith's face appeared over him, yelling something that Doyle could not understand. Doyle could see the explosions erupting in and around the trenches as he attempted to sit up.
His hearing was started to return, but a wave of lightheadedness suddenly swept over him, and blackness began to close in.
"Doyle, look at me! You're gonna be alright! Doyle!?" Keith's voice was barely audible as the major slipped into unconsciousness.
The last comprehendible thing Doyle heard was someone shouting: "here they come again!"
"We have to stop them" James whispered in a raspy voice, "We have to…" and then, there was nothing but darkness.
Darkness and silence.
Attention! This is an important message! Read it! Well, we are almost at the end of out story (a few more chapters). I have two ideas for my next CoD fanfic, but I will only write one (sorry). The first is called Justified, which follows Nichols's son during his service in the Vietnam War. It focuses, once again, mainly on the psychological and emotional wonds of war. The second is called Above and Beyond which is an alternate history story where the Germans win WWII and occupy the U.S. The story will focus on Nichols and others as they fight to resist the Nazi occupiers. One again, I will only write one of these, so I have established a poll to see which one my readers want to see. So please, take the time to go to my profile and vote for which story you want to see next. Happy reading. Cheers.