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GUNS Magazine January 2013 Digital Edition - Page 54
Of A The STurmTruppen’S Companion, The Kar 98 ogether!… Wait… Now! franz, dieter and karl jerked the cords in unison, the friction fuses ignited, smoke streamed from the wooden handles as they let fly with the barrage of stick grenades. In slow motion, the end over end summersault of explosives scribed an arch over the intervening section of ground and into the firebay on the other side of the traverse. hans, with bayonet fixed, waited for the blasts, his hands gripping the stock of his carbine so tight he left impressions in the wood with his dirt-filled fingernails. “T JOHN SHEEHAN The blasts reverberated in their ear drums, the sudden overpressure intensifying their rapidly developing headaches. With parched mouth, adrenaline pumping, Hans raced around the intervening stretch of trench, bent on catching any of the surviving Frenchmen in a blastinduced stupor before they could regain their wits and put up any resistance. He rounded the corner into a scene of carnage. Two men were down, lifeless in the bottom of the trench below the fire-step, another staggered forward just in time to catch the blade of the S98/05 square in the sternum. The man groaned, his eyes bulging out of their sockets, the sucking sound of the withdrawal of the blade followed quickly by a scream. This display from John’s collection (right) depicts a German stormtrooper circa 1918. Sewn together with a strap and hung over the neck and shoulders, are two burlap sandbags slung under each armpit. The bags are full of stick grenades, the primary offensive weapon of the infantry by late 1916. The Kar 98 was carried slung over the shoulder during the assault to keep both hands free for rapid employment of the stick grenades. To help consolidate captured enemy positions against counterattacks, the Kar 98 provided defensive firepower alongside the light machineguns employed in large number by Sturmtruppen formations. A pioneer’s shovel, encased in a special carrier, was employed to rapidly improve defensive positions during any lull in the action. 5 54 4 W WW WW W. .G GU UN NS SM MA AG GA AZ ZI IN NE E. .C CO OM M • • J JA AN NU UA AR RY Y 2 20 01 13 3