Heroes: the Canadian Army
"...The Panther crept forward, engine roaring, invulnerable, crushing stone and timber in its way. Gray and brown and green, dented and scarred and horrifyingly majestic, the tank lumbered down the street, a wall of doom, bullets pouring from it..."
- Branch of Service: Canadian Army
- Unit: 3rd Infantry Division
- Dates: 1941 - 1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: Enlisted
- Birth Year: 1921
- Entered Service: 1941
"After fighting in World War II as an American member of a Highland regiment in the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division, Robert Rogge became a military historian for the U.S. Air Force. Under the pen name, Robert Elliot, he is the author of "The Eagle's Height," a novel of air combat in World War I. Mr. Rogge lives with his wife in Smethport, Pennsylvania, where he is at work on another book about the early years of combat aviation."
"Fearsome Battle tells the story of a young American who enlisted in the Canadian Army before America went to war. The writing of Mr. Robert Rogge unceremoniously grabs the reader from the onset. An unusual aspect of Fearsome Battle is that this account has been written in the third person. Mr. Rogge had considerable difficulty writing of the horrors of war he had experienced first hand, from the first person or as seen through his eyes. However, he manages to capture the mind and attention of the reader by describing each account in the short memoir as if from a disinterested bystander reporting the chilling events as they unfolded.
This World War II personal account narrates small snippets of horrific battlefield action as witnessed firsthand by Mr. Rogge. It delivers a masterful portrayal of a young man's innocent entry into combat and the fulfillment of his coming to age as a seasoned veteran. The war finally ends with his felling a German soldier just prior to hearing that the war has finally ended. The soldier was but a boy, maybe fourteen years of age, but one who would have killed his adversary had he been given the chance.
Fearsome Battle keeps the reader on the edge of anticipation from the first page to the last.
I highly recommend this book for any person interested in reading what is in the mind of a combat soldier who fully expects that the next moment in time will be his last.
Mr. Rogge, Thank You, for an excellent observer's narrative of the brutality of war."
Joe Richard, web master, World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words.
Below is a segment of Fearsome Battle for you, our reader to form your own opinion.
By Robert Rogge
It was a nondescript village with low, solidly built houses, yards stinking of manure, and a few alleys and bypaths. There was a small church, and a cross honoring the other war's dead stood in the wide place in the street.
The regiment went in at mid-morning under the shelling of the big 25-pounder artillery pieces and an hour later it was done. The stretcher bearers took away the wounded; the dead remained.
One body lay rudely draped over the stepped base of the cross, and the padre did what he was supposed to do and covered the dead man with a groundsheet.
The rifle companies moved beyond the village and began to dig. They were exhausted after the attack. They dug slowly, waiting for the support regiment to move through. Sometimes they just leaned on their tools and stared at nothing.
Field guns thudded in the distance and the sun burned through the smoke skeins. The fields shimmered, looking oddly wet in the distance.
A pair of 17-pounder anti-tank guns bounced into the village behind their curious hump-backed "potato bug" tractors. The crews manhandled the long-barreled guns into place and the tractors rumbled away.
A couple of rifles cracked nearby and a Bren stuttered. A confusion of voices came across the fields and the shooting became urgent. Bullets keened among them and they grabbed their weapons. Grenades crashed, and a Schmeisser erupted from behind a house. Jerry was back and he had brought a tank with him.
A savage swirl of men and noise racketed in the streets and across the manured yards. A Very pistol flare arched up and hung, bright red. The field guns laid down a quick barrage, smothering the second wave.
But the tank was in the village. It nosed ponderously around the rubble heaps, long gun searching back and forth, hull machine gun raving.
A 17-pounder fired and the armor-piercing round screamed off the tank, cartwheeling into the fields, glowing red and evil.
The Panther rocked from the blow and its gun leveled at the 17-pounder, exploding it in a tearing flash that blew parts of bodies and pieces of the gun wildly about.
The second gun began to turn toward the tank as men frantically lifted its tail and heaved. They went down under machine gun fire before they could bring it around for a shot.
The Panther crept forward, engine roaring, invulnerable, crushing stone and timber in its way. Gray and brown and green, dented and scarred and horrifyingly majestic, the tank lumbered down the street, a wall of doom, bullets pouring from it.
The lance corporal came out of the alley, howling at the machine, Ian and five others with him. They closed on the monster, hugging its sides, safe from its guns. A Bren fired point blank at the driver's glazed vision block, starring it opaque.
The tank lurched to a stop and the periscope on the turret swiveled back and across, searching for the maggots who dared attack the behemoth.
Hobnails rang on the sloping frontal armor and a rifle butt smashed the periscope.
The motor roared and the machine began to move, hoping to scrape off its tormentors. It stopped, blinded, and yelling men went at the hatches.
Inside, the crew knew that death had come and they screamed against it. Their dark, stifling world came apart.
A grenade burst on the engine louvers and there was sudden fire inside.
The hatch slammed open. The first man died as a Sten sawed at him and his body blocked the hatch, then lurched and fell back into the tank. The fire raged inside, flames licking at the edges of the hatch, almost invisible in the sunlight.
Something that made dreadful animal noises came out, flesh tearing off its clawing hands on the red-hot metal.
The soldiers leapt back, horrified at the floundering, yelling thing that got loose and rolled down the front plating to the ground.
Now, well alight and insanely vocal, the burning man lurched to his feet and rushed from the seething Panther. He fell in the dust, rolled in a smoking puddle of fire, came to his knees, and staggered off in a crouch, blinded to everything but his agony. He collapsed across the body at the foot of the cross, and lay kicking and gurgling as he died.
The Panther exploded and heaved upward on its suspension.
The turret slid sideways, greasy black smoke pouring out.
The men ran back from the blazing heat and stared at what they had done. The lance jack shoved a fresh magazine into his Sten.
The dead man burned at the foot of the cross.
----- From Fearsome Battle by Robert Rogge
The above book exerpt, "Panther", written in the third person, by Robert Rogge was published by Camroc Press, LLC | PO Box 801 | Llano TX 78643.
The story is re-printed here on World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words with the kind permission of the publisher.
For more detailed information about this book and the author, please click on the link below.
Cover image is courtesy of Camroc Press.
This book is also available through: Amazon.com
Original Story submitted on 13 November 2004.
Story added to website on 18 November 2004.
September 5, 2002.
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