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Posted on Feb 9, 2007 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features

Interactive Combat Story: The Calm Before The Storm

By Brandon Neff

The icy, hard earth presses against your back as you huddle to stay warm – can you battle the elements and the advancing German Army in our latest ICS?

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Pictures by Seimon Pugh Jones, ACG Staff Photograper.


1

The snow falls around you like a hazy dream. The wind blows gently, lifting the snow from the boughs above and drifting it all around. The icy, hard earth presses against your back as you huddle to stay warm. Your swollen feet, hours past feeling, seem to take root into the ground and the mere act of shifting your weight to aid in circulation takes a Herculean effort.

The dawn has not yet broken and the brisk night air stings your lungs with each breath as you gaze upwards at the cloud-filled sky, offering you a fleeting glimpse at the starry heavens above. An involuntary shudder wracks your body and you bury your nose in the crook of your elbow to stifle a sneeze. Your moist, warm breath feels good on your face and you remain in that position for a moment to relish the sensation.

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For the past four days you have been victim to this cold weather, ill-prepared for the enduring chill. Word had reached command that the Germans still had some fight left in them and had attempted one last push against the Allied line in Belgium. As a direct result of those actions, you are now lying in a cold foxhole, which you had dug a few hours ago, desperately trying to keep warm. It is no small consolation to you that your comrades are nearby, suffering right along with you, ready to bring a swift end to this war.

Besides, it could be worse. The enemy seems to be pressing the line further to the north and you have been, for the most part, unmolested during your time here near the Sure river, just west of Merzig. When you first arrived with the rest of 2nd Batallion, 319th Infantry Regiment, there were a few skirmishes with German Volksgrenadiers who appeared just as ill-prepared for a winter assault as the Allies, but nothing more. You are at the front of the line, but the only reminder that you are in danger is the ominous rumble of distant artillery fire that echoes through the forest and the tell-tale signs of shelling in the area: trees ripped from their roots or shorn off the trunk several feet in the air.

A shadow to your left draws near and you recognize your buddy, Sam Luker. He reaches down and taps you on the helmet and you smile at him. He blows into his hands and asks if you have had a warm drink in the last few hours. You shake your head and he informs you that he and Pvt. Bernson will soon have some coffee ready in a trench several dozen yards away and that you should come and warm up for a few minutes.

If you join Pvt. Luker for coffee, Go to 12.

If you stay put in your foxhole, Go to 7.

[continued on next page]

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