[Civil Affairs] - AAR AP4S2 18/07/2016
The sun hit him in the eyes, and nearly caused him to sneeze. He realised the impulse, and immediately hindered anything that could startle the enemy's attention. He realised he had gotten that irritating tingly sort of feeling in your eyes that happens when you hinder a sneeze.
"Aleksandr. Are you ready?"
Shaken a little from his earlier dreams, he realised where he was. Private Aleksandr Petrovich, once a young man from Leningrad who studied the natural sciences but now a man grown with stubble on his face and a place in an elite commando unit, comprised entirely of young men from the war with exceptional talent for killing people. Asking the question was Junior Sergeant Seämärvenen, from the deep forests of Karelia. All in all they were a group of four young boys who had been taken from their families, homes, and lives to take part in the great struggle against the foreign invaders. Yet somehow Pvt. Petrovich could feel a sympathy for them. For Pvt. Petrovich, leaving to fight the war had meant not knowing if he could help his father with the farm this year. It had meant he would not talk with Alyona again for quite a while, or possibly never again. Whatever the war had meant for Pvt. Petrovich, it didn't mean any less for the fascists. For them, just as him, it meant leaving a place of safety and comfort for somewhere far far away, that they probably had never heard of or cared about, only to bleed, freeze, and starve to death there. Pvt. Petrovich had shot more fascists than he could count, but he never knew why. As he leaned over the hill, with his view over the camp his mind simply could not find a good reason for why. Why? Why had so many young men been thrown at him to die? The first time, his finger hadn't willed it. He simply could not. The fascist ran right up to him, ready to stab, and Petrovich just stood there. Staring. It took his friend to die for him, with the German bayonet still stuck deep in the chest, for Pvt. Petrovich to react almost instinctively, with a pull of the trigger and a small array of bullets being sent into the stomach of this German lad.
Despite the sympathy he could feel for the common fascist invaders, the ones he was going to meet now he knew he had none for. They had heard of these camps. From far away, people told stories of POW camps that were suited for torture and death rather than interrogation. Then came the people telling stories of other camps, with far worse purposes. What Pvt. Petrovich had heard he imagined as no more than a rumor, until he had gotten the briefing. A major general of aviation, by the name of Bolshinsky, had reportedly been captured by a German raid on a nearby airfield. If his secret knowledge was spilled, it could be highly detrimental to the war effort. Thus, the order had come straight from Marshal Zhukov to the commander of their small, secret special-forces unit. They were to send their best men into the camp to find the officer in question, which was to be followed by burning the entire camp to the ground, leaving nothing but ashes.
The smell of a few nearby flowers floated softly into Petrovich's nose. They gave a lovely scent on this hot summer day. The uniform had gotten sticky, and Petrovich knew his PPSH could use a good wash before they started. They had no more time to waste though, as they had about thirty five minutes to move inside and complete their mission before a large enemy patrol was scheduled to arrive.
"Ready, Junior Sergeant!"
Junior Sergeant gave them their orders. Petrovich was going with his friend to the south side, to cover the dining hall and bunker. They expected no more than a five-man guard, as they had planned the time for the attack.
He moved. He ran for a while, and then hit his back against one of the buildings, which he remembered being a prisoners barracks. He could hear voices from inside, discussing what the footsteps might be. For now, the prisoners were locked inside their buildings until the evening meal, as to avoid a revolt while the main guard force was out on patrol. Petrovich peaked his head around the wooden edge. A bolt-action rifle's bullet flew past his head, making that signature whining bullet sound. Another shot came from the rifle of his friend, and a German shout of pain could be heard from across the sandy yard of the camp. Right in front of him, Petrovich could see a window leading into what he realised was the guards' barracks. He ran up across the little gap between the houses, and quickly tossed a small grenade inside. He could hear shouts of frustration, but something was wrong. The fuse was bad. The grenade had been bad. It had gone 6 seconds now, he'd counted, and the bloody thing had still not gone off. He could hear a German soldier picking it up. It was coming back at him any second now, he knew it, and he had no time to run. Then it happened. The grenade exploded and a burst of dust and loose wooden particles flew out past the window next to Pvt. Petrovich. He jumped in, gun facing straight towards the ground where he knew the fascists would lie, either writhing in pain or with their head as open as a soup kettle. He saw one. An older man, with a short, dark beard grasping and filling his older face. It was a full and respectable beard, and one that was very unusual to see among armed troops since they were all forced to shave. The beard was not as neat as it had once was, it seemed, with bits of blood and wood in the thick forest of hair. His face was interesting to Petrovich. He had never seen something so beautifully destroyed before, something so absolutely awfully wonderful. His nose was long gone, and his right cheek exposed the bone at his chin. His left arm had been blown off, with scraps of it painting the western wall. His eyes fluttered, looking half-opened and desperate at Pvt. Petrovich.
"Ich kann nicht das Gefühl.... Ich kann nicht das Gefühl..."
His desperate, painful and sobbing attempts at language were sad for Pvt. Petrovich. Petrovich raised his PPSH and let off a single bullet into the man's skull, passing on and into what remained of the wooden floor underneath him.
He opened the door to the outside.
"Soldier's barracks are clear, three fascists are accounted for." He shouted, hoping Junior Sergeant Seämärvenen would hear him from across the yard.
"Understood, Pvt. What about the fifth guard, did you see him?"
"I believe Pvt. Liovorski took him down earlier, he should lay somewhere on your end?"
Pvt. Liovorski piped up from the east of Petrovich.
"I took him. All fascists accounted for."
"Understood, Pvt. Petrovich, you are closest to the target. Do your duty."
Pvt. Petrovich saw the wooden building in the centre of the yard. He approached the door, with his heavy new army boots crunching at the sand underneath him that covered the entire ground of the camp. Stalag Luft Ost 13, nicknamed "Die Schneckenhaus" (The snail shell). This was the centre for all higher tier officers of the air captured on the Russian front. From what had been reported, the Germans had engaged themselves in interviewing the POWs, their methods being completely unknown.
He opened the wooden door, painted in green. On it was a wooden sign reading "Luxury Home". Apparently, this had been reserved only for the finest guests.
"Ah. Russians. I suppose you have come to save me?"
The voice, familiar both in it's urban Leningrad accent and it's risped use of the Russian language, came from what Petrovich already had identified as a very pleased source. He could see the officer now, sitting on the other side of a table, with his face looking straight at the door and Pvt. Petrovich as a result. He took a deep breath from the cigar and blew out the smoke into the room. Pvt. Petrovich reached in his pocket, taking out his revolver. His proud revolver, that he had gotten as a reward from his squadron leader during his last engagement.
"Would you let me finish this?" The officer looked as cold as a winter's night. He received no response, and sighed deeply. He smouldered the ash from the cigar in the ashtray, and took to his feet, to stand upright. Before he could rise properly, two shots rang out from the revolver, making a smattering sound as they went through one of the medals on his chest. They were too far behind enemy lines to waste the fuel necessary to extract him safely. Pvt. Petrovich had followed his orders, and stepped back out through the wooden doorway into the shining sun.
Written by: PFC Streamhill
Edited by: WO1 Brewer and PFC Plumbley
Approved by: CoCA and Bn. S3