Just a Thought

Heck did not know any French, and he listened to these people talking with some awe, some distrust — a part of him had trouble believing people could communicate by sounds so alien.

And all around lay the detritus of war, scattered along the beaches and across the field and into odd corners of the countryside: discarded gas masks, tires, gasoline cans, empty food tins and cartons, fallen telephone cables, parachute containers, deserted gun emplacements, overturned and exploded transports and boats and tanks, rolls of concertina wire, stacks of life belts, mildewed underwear.  Homes reduced to door frames.  Burned and abandoned bulldozers.  The skeletons of goats, cows, dogs, horses.  Plastic sheets and bags in all sizes.  Paper handbills and flyers strewn amid smashed furniture, fragments of shattered glass.  In town the treads of passing tanks were rapidly destroying the cobble streets.  The fallen shop buildings and churches and hotels and houses had the appearance of sand castles bludgeoned by a wrathful child.

In one hedgerow, an American Sherman tank hung precariously in a gap it had created only to meet there its demise.  Looking at the disabled German panzer tanks lying about, Heck though unhappily that they appeared considerably larger and more fearsome than the American Shermans.  In training he had been assured that the American tanks were faster and more agile, but when it came down to it, he thought, wouldn’t anyone rather have more steel and a bigger gun?

—Nick Arvin/Articles of War

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