He clutched at his stomach in a vain attempt to hold back the wrenching feeling inside of him. Quickly he turned his head away, hurling green sludge across the deck of the landing craft. Others around him did the same, only one of the effects of the tossing and bucking of the small boat. Rain pelted them from dark, menacing clouds above. A sailor shouted something at him from the front of the boat, but he lost what was said on the wind. Shaking his head, he closed his eyes, and tried to lose himself in sleep.
The reports were all bad. The weather front continued to toss the hundreds of landing craft situated off of the English coast. The longer they were there, the greater chance there was of them being discovered. Rommel leaned back in his chair, staring at the report lying on his desk. He knew that there was much pressure from above to carry out the operation as soon as possible. For a brief moment, he closed his eyes. His decision was made.
"Hans!" There was a shuffling from behind the great oaken doors that led out of the office. The man was of medium build, and wore large glasses. Hans Speidel was Rommel's chief of staff. Rommel had come to trust the man, and they had formed a sort of friendship.
"Yes Field Marshal?"
"I want orders sent out to every commander. Initiate operation Eisen Uberschwemmung."
"At once Field Marshal." Clacking his heels together, Hans Speidel turned and exited though the oak doors. Rommel stood, stretched his cramped leg muscles, and started to pace the room. The decision had been made, and there was nothing he could do to stop it.G Day
He felt himself being shaken, gently at first, then harder and harder. He lifted his head, and found himself looking into the eyes of Oberleutnant Reimund.
"Get up dunkoff! Check your rifle, we're landing in ten minutes!" Mountains of spray fell upon the already cold and wet men. Hans put one hand to his stomach again. Damn. The rest had felt so good, away from the cold, the pain, the noise, even the smell of kotzen. A chorus of snaps and clicks wafted though the landing craft, as men all around him checked their rifles, making sure they had not been dampened by the rain and spray. The rain had stopped, thankfully, but the dark clouds still loomed overhead. Hans looked at his surroundings. There was not much else to do besides sit and be miserable for the next ten minutes. He estimated that there were at least sixty men in the boat, excluding the sailors, of whom there were roughly ten. The sailors navigating the boat were in the back, protected by a sheet of metal with a small cutout in the center, to observe the men in front of them. There were to other sailors standing by the crank that lowered the ramp, and one more working though the rows of men, seeing if anybody wanted a drink of fresh water. He glanced down at his rifle, tugging at the protective plastic bag to make sure it was tight. The straps to his pack had been adjusted before he had boarded, and was confident that they were still correct. Hans was inspecting his ammunition belt when the first shell hit. A plume of water several dozen feet high shot up some forty yards in front of the boat. He looked at it in shocked dumbness for a second, then regained his composure. That meant that they were getting close. Now more shells were hitting all around them. A voice that was used to shouting over the loud noise of wind and shells came from the back of the boat. "Five minutes, thirty sec!" A great crash cut off the last half of the word, and a ball of fire jumped ten feet into the air only thirty yards off the port bow. Hans Jorg saw small bits and pieces flying out of the boat. He knew what they were. Once again, he bent over and hurled.
He gripped his rifle tightly to his chest. He was in the middle of the boat, about six rows back in from the ramp. All sorts of pinging sounds came from the outside, along with growls as artillery from the massive German battleships barraged the enemy positions farther back in from the beach. Once again the loud voice from the back.
"Alright boys, Drop it!" The two sailors crouching next to the crank began to pull on the lever that jutted out to the side. With a sudden squealing rush, the ramp in front of them dropped, ending with a splash as it hit the water. Everyone was on their feet, and the mass started to move forward. That was when all hell broke loose. There were rattles as Vickers machine gun 12.7 mm bullets ricochet off of the metal sides of the craft. Some men screamed, while others simply dropped to the floor. Hans glimpsed men jumping over the sides, while others were still trying to push though the mass of bodies to the ramp. Crawling over a heap of men, he ran down the ramp. Bits of metal flew up all around him, some even slicing his uniform. Suddenly, without warning, the man directly in front of him flopped into the water, his head suddenly vaporized into a red mist. Closing his eyes from the awful scene, Hans tripped over the mans body, and fell into the water. For a brief moment he panicked. He knew that with the wait of his pack, he could never swim. Reaching out with his hands, he felt the bottom. All was quiet under the water, except for the sound of bullet zipping past him and thudding into the sandy bottom. He pushed himself up, and was affronted by noise and terrible sights. Mangled bodies floated everywhere, the water a sick shade of pink. Artillery blasts send numb shock waves though his ears. Up ahead, he could see the beach, not twenty yards away. As quickly as his numb mind would allow, he trudged his way to the beach. There was a small dip at the edge of the water, giving just enough cover to get out of the line of rifle and machine gun fire. Hans sank down on his back, carefully ripping the protective plastic away from his Kar98 rifle. Others did the same on all sides of him. He glanced around, tried to see somebody from his squad. No one. The highest-ranking person he could see was a cowering Feldwebel, who looked like he had no intention of leading them on. Hans turned over on his belly, and, as slowly as he could, crawled to the top of the dip. Peeking over the edge, he observed the ground in front of them. The beach was a mixture of rock patches and sand. There was a fence that stretched across the length of the beach as far as he could see, about thirty yards ahead, with barbed wire entangled throughout the mesh. The bombardment of the beach had seemed to do little damage. Another thirty yards after the fence, there were six different groups of low dunes, with sandbag fortresses atop each one of them, and what looked like trenches at the base. Behind the dunes there was a steep incline, with rough shrubs growing along it. Here he saw what he believed to be bunkers. Atop the incline was a row of buildings, some small fishing village that had been forgotten about probably, and was being used for housing men and ammunition. Slowly, he slid back down. Something had to be done fast, the small depression filling up quick with men from the boats behind. Suddenly, there was a roar, making Hans flip over to look at what had caused the sound. A Tiger tank rolled out of the bloody surf. It ploughed over the depression, and started firing at the fence. Without thinking about what he was doing, Hans Jorg was up, and running to take cover behind the tank. He took a quick glance back, and was surprised to see a wave of men rising from the depression to follow him. Bullets crashed into the sand around him, once even sending it into his eyes. But then he was behind the tank, safe from the deadly Vickers. More men were crowding in next to him, advancing with the tank. It was not long before he realized that they were walking though debris of fence and wire. He turned and smiled at the man next to him. The man nodded, then looked ahead again. Without warning, the tank stopped, and the engine quit. A hatch opened, and the crew made a vain attempt to jump to the ground before being caught by the gunners. Hans watched in horror as, one by one, they were cut to ribbons. Edging to one side of the tank, he looked ahead. Now it was apparent why the tank crew had tried to abandon their machine. The front end of the machine was hanging over an opening that dipped down and came to a steep wall with several ladders going up it. It was a tank trap. Hans suddenly realized just how exposed they were. They were positioned just right for crossfire from either side. Quickly, he motioned to the men behind him to take cover in the tank trap. As he dropped down into the trap, there was a massive explosion, almost right above his head. He glanced up, just in time to see pieces of the tank fly in every direction. Turning away, he noticed scores of more men pouring though the gap the tank had created. Once again he witnessed horror as men fell, screamed, and died. Finally he tore himself away from the gruesome sight. Men crouched all around him, some panting from the exhausting effort, other from the adrenaline rush. Setting his rifle against the side of the trap, he pulled himself up one of the ladders, and gaped at what he saw. They were no more than five yards away from the base trench of one of the dune patches. He glanced back at the men in the trench. He saw a man coming towards him.
"Well, what do you see?" The man was a Hauptmann. Hans sighed with relief. Finally somebody who could lead them.
"There is a trench not more than five yards in front of us sir. It is one of the ones at the base of the dunes." He could see the man nod, could see he was thinking.
"Should we use hand grenades sir?" With a sharp nod of his head, he turned, and started whispering to the men in the trap. Once again Hans found himself looking at the men who had survived the chaos at the opening in the fence. Some had filtered down into the trap, while others were trying to find cover behind the remnants of the tank. He turned away and lowered himself down the ladder. Slinging his rifle over his shoulder, he walked back out to the edge of the trap. There a man lay, a hole clean though his helmet, blood matting the right half of his face. Hans closed his eyes as he leaned down and pried the mans MP40 out of his hands. Still with his eyes closed, he unhooked the mans magazine belt, and slung it over his neck. He turned and walked towards the front of the trap. Suddenly there was a cheer from behind. Hans turned to see what it was, and saw wave upon wave upon wave of men charging the dune. Many in the trap clambered out and started towards the trench. And they cheered.
He watched from the safety of his bunker, dug deep into the hillside. The scene before him was one of hopelessness, of failure. Already there were German troops swarming across the dunes below. The fence had failed, the tank traps too. He could see three Tigers making their way for the road that led to the village. The sandbag fortresses, all the time they had spent preparing, had failed. Mines had not yet been layed on this stretch of beach. And there was nothing he could do. Then the telephone rang. It was Colonel Andy, ordering all troops to withdraw. He grabbed his bag, the Bren LMG resting on its bipod, and retreated out.
The news had come in his last report. The shoreline from Dover to Portsmith had been occupied by German troops. The Luftwaffe was adequately dealing with the RAF, and the Royal Navy was desperately short on supplies. Rommel shook his head. Germany had a firm foothold on English soil.