Raid on the Island of the Dead

Chapter 2

By Dwayne MacInnes



August 17, 1942. 23:06 hours

The men began to grumble lowly before a stern look from Captain Jennings quieted every man. He could see that the high-charged soldiers who just a few minutes before were looking for action now began to dread their mission on an island with an ominous name.

"Relax mates; the island received its name over two hundred years ago because this is where the Portuguese had established a leper colony. It had long since stopped housing lepers and should be just like any other island in the South Pacific," Chaplain Brodin quickly offered.

"Alright, now that everyone has an idea of what needs to be done, let's get this show on the road," Jennings ordered. "As the corporal pointed out we should not rely too heavily on the intel report. So, we are going to do this by the books. Vanders, Pike, you guys have the point. Everyone else, follow me and keep your traps shut."

Thomson Sub-Machine Gun

Corporal Vanders and Private Pike each carried the standard M-1 Garand as they took the lead. Captain Jennings looked down on his Thompson "Tommy" submachine gun. He slapped the 20 round box magazine home and primed the cocking handle. He carried another four magazines on his belt alongside his M1911A1 .45 automatic pistol.

Sergeant Reynolds carried the squad's M1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifle or BAR. This light machinegun could fire between 300 to 650 rounds per minute. However, its 20 round magazine box would quickly expend its .30-06 rounds long before that time was up. The sergeant also carried some spare magazines on his person.

The rest of the squad carried the M-1 Garand with its eight round internal clip and everyone carried at least two hand grenades and a bayonet. Jennings would have preferred to have his men carry the marine's KA-BAR knife but the army would have none of it. The captain remembered a Marine 2nd Lieutenant showing him the formidable knife and had to admit it was a weapon to be reckoned with.

M1 Garand

Jennings could not see why a knife used by those self-propelled sandbags called Marines was insufficient for the army. After all this was a highly unusual squad formation. First of all, an NCO usually operated a squad and not an officer. This squad not only had a captain by also a lieutenant who not only belong to another country, but also was a chaplain to boot.

It made sense when the brass pointed out that Jennings had done some work with British Commandos against the Nazis, so his experience was invaluable for this mission. Lieutenant Brodin with his experience with the locals and the knowledge of the islands in this part of the world was also in great demand.

* * * * *

A slight breeze rustled through the palm trees refreshing the stalking soldiers with its cooling touch. Other than a few buzzing insects, no other animal noises greeted the raiders in the still night.

As the raiders cautiously crept down a well-worn dirt road, the breeze for a slight moment changed direction. In that instant, the over-powering smell of decay overcame the party. Men started to gag. Most were able to maintain control over their stomachs; however, a few heaved the contents of their innards into the surrounding foliage.

Fortunately, the wind quickly changed back and the fresh air rapidly erased the foul odor. Jennings started pulling his men back up off the ground mildly cursing them for their weakness.

"What the hell was that?" Reynolds asked near the captain's ear.

"Probably some dead animal in the woods," Jennings replied.

"Cap, I've grown up on a farm, and I know dead animals. That was like an entire heard of cattle rotting out there," the sergeant continued.

"It's not important to the mission. So forget about it. Help me get the men moving."

The squad was barely moving again when Private Pike came jogging down the road toward the party. Jennings motioned for the men to stay where they were while he approached the private.

"Captain, we found something strange up ahead," the boy panted.

"What did you find?" Jennings asked the winded private.

"We found an abandoned kubelwagen..." Pike said before swallowing. Jennings noticed that even in the low moonlight the private's face became noticeably whiter. Something had definitely shaken the lad.

"Okay take me to it," Jennings finally said motioning for the rest of the squad to follow.

Kubelwagen

Within a few minutes, the raiding party came upon the vehicle that Pike was referring. Corporal Vanders stood in front of the German light transport with his M-1 readied. On seeing Pike returning with the rest of the squad, Vanders relaxed.

The kubelwagen appeared to have veered off the road and entangled itself in the dense undergrowth of the surrounding jungle. The MG 34 machinegun mounted on the passenger side of the vehicle hung at an angle on its mount. The doors of the car were all flung open as if the occupants vacated the vehicle in a hurry.

"What do we have here Corporal?" Jennings enquired from Vanders.

"Sir, this is damned strange," the corporal began. "The MG 34 had been fired until it was empty."

Jennings noticed the spent 7.92 mm ammunition shells littering the floor of the kubelwagen. The captain still did not see anything particularly strange about this.

"Yes," Jennings prodded.

"Well, sir look at this," Jennings said as he slammed the rear door shut. The entire door and part of the vehicle's body revealed thick splotches of dried blood splattering painting its side.

Jennings was about to let the corporal know what he thought of his overactive imagination when one of the soldiers shouted out.

"OH MY GOD!!!"

Captain Jennings started cursing at the soldier for breaking silence when he noticed the man sitting beside the road with his helmet in one hand and he wiping the remnants of vomit off his face with the other.

In the underbrush not far from the kubelwagen lay the remains of a German soldier. The uniform was mere tatters upon a torn, ravaged and mangled body. Most of the muscle and organs were missing from the broken and scattered bones.

"What could have done that?" Sergeant Reynolds asked.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Douglas Gogerty published on August 20, 2008 10:15 PM.

"Iapetus Saves Albuquerque" - Chapter Five was the previous entry in this blog.

"Iapetus Saves Albuquerque" - Chapter Six is the next entry in this blog.

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