"to hell and
back" war scenarios
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many of the books written about wwii are written by generals and officers, so the actions they write about cover battalions and regiments and divisions. fortunately, one soldier who spent most of the war as an nco also wrote about his experiences. because audie murphy wrote "to hell and back" from the perspective of a corporal and a sergeant, almost all of the actions he describes in his book and subsequent movie are at the squad or platoon level.
some of the battles murphy fought in were when murphy's unit was frequently not up to strength, and usually faced german units that varied considerably in size and armament. this article includes a series of scenarios based on some of those more unusual encounters. they they are all true.
as part of the advance up the east coast of sicily, murphy's unit is ordered to break through the german defensive line along the river. german resistance was fierce, and the attack failed. the river defense line was broken only after an amphibious assault was launched further north, in the german's rear.
members of murphy's squad (in the book
"to hell and back"):
murphy's squad was on patrol as the allies advanced out of salerno. approaching an orchard, they noticed that one of the tree branches was tilting down towards them. a group of germans tore off camouflage netting to reveal a tank in the orchard. the g.i.s dove for cover as the first shell went screaming by. the american infantry men were showered with dirt, but after a few rounds, the tank commander could not spot anyone, so the tank drove away. murphy's squad had no at weapons.
members of murphy's squad
during the previous day the germans had attacked with tanks across an open field. one tank had been knocked out by artillery and the rest had withdrawn. a group of men from murphy's squad was sent out that night to make sure that the germans did not recover the tank. while most of his squad engaged the germans, murphy advanced up a ditch close to the tank and used rifle-launched grenades to blow off the tank treads.
victory conditions: the germans win if they can man the tank and drive it back to rr0. the us wins if they can break the german squad or immobilize the tank.
american intelligence was concerned that the germans were preparing a new attack on the anzio bridgehead, so murphy and his pals were ordered out on a night raid to capture a prisoner for intelligence to interrogate. murphy's patrol attacked a group of germans in a building with a grenade. they captured one alive. set upon by the rest of the german squad, the americans stopped shooting so that the germans could not find them. one group whisked the prisoner back to american lines while another group acted as rear guard.
scouts were attached to murphy's squad and assigned to advance through the early morning mist to scout ahead of an allied advance to expand the anzio bridgehead. unfortunately, the germans called down artillery. worse yet, the mists rose and the americans were raked by a quadruple 20mm mobile flak gun. the advanced patrol was devastated, but eventually two sherman tanks came up in support and began routing the germans. unfortunately, a near miss caused the tanks to hide behind the shelter of a farmhouse, so the infantry had to withdraw.
members of murphy's squad - anzio:
murphy's division participated in the landing in southern france, advancing up the rhone river valley. most of the advance was quick, but every now and then the americans would hit some serious resistance. in this case, murphy's squad came upon some wooded hills with three machine gun nests. the advance was supported by a machine-gun section, but the mg crew came under fire and froze. murphy took the mg away from its paralyzed crew and placed it out in a field where he shot up the first enemy lmg nest. he then advanced into that position, captured the german lmg, and proceeded to wipe out the other two lmg nests.
members of murphy's squad:
in the forested hills near the french-german border, murphy's platoon participated in an offensive to cut off a salient in the german lines. when the germans counterattacked with artillery, 20 tanks, and a full company of infantry, murphy's platoon was defending a wooded hillside with the support of two tank destroyers, a machine-gun, and artillery support. as the german artillery and tank guns began to hit the american position, the mg was knocked out by a tree burst. one american tank-destroyer drove nose down into a gully and was abandoned, while the other was knocked out. murphy called for artillery and ordered his men to leave the area.
murphy stayed on the radio, calling in artillery fire, and adjusting it to follow the german advance. he moved behind the burning tank-destroyer for cover. when the german tanks went off to the flanks, and murphy came under fire from the german infantry, he jumped up onto the td and used the turret-top machine-gun to mow down the advancing infantry. he alternated firing the td mg with calling in new adjustments to the artillery fire, eventually calling it down on his own position.
audie murphy: home movie bio top
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