You dig it for protection. It gets over you and invades every crevice of your body. It spoils the lubrication of every round of ammo you previously cleaned.
If you are lucky enough, you will see it as a telltale of a tank round falling short and lifting in front of you in prodigious quantities. It will stay put as if defying gravity. One wishes that defiance would last long enough, like ours against the enemy.
There is a macabre calculus that applies to the combat between tanks and guns. If one gun takes two to three tanks, they say, its job is done. We rarely keep tabs of our battle deeds. We are just too busy shoveling in rounds, looking through the sights and staying alive.
We work our guns in pairs for protection and rate of fire. Those pairs of guns are paired again to provide interlocking fields of fire. Emphasis is made in depth and not on holding a line of guns. Of all things, we want the enemy tanks to enter our sector, sucked in like water into a sponge. Today we hastily assembled near a creek and we were ordered to stop a German platoon of tanks from reaching the water.
|Two more AT guns in the right flank of the Soviet sector.|
|First rounds fired from the Soviet guns. The start of the engagement is auspicious.|
|A German tank fires back at the Soviet AT guns.|
|One Soviet AT gun is destroyed.|
|Less successful than his other brothers in arms, the two Soviet AT guns get destroyed while moving and trying to acquire a better field of fire.|
|A Soviet AT rifle at work.|
|A German tank hit by a Soviet AT rifle. Arrow indicates the impact point.|
We stopped the enemy tanks today and our job is done. We look up to our leaders for what to do with all the expensive ammunition we still have in boxes along the destroyed guns.
Bury it! We will recover some at nightfall ...
Our communion with dirt continues.