In this week's letter home Cletus talks about the first battle he's been involved in since he and the Prof joined up with the Russian tank unit. The report on the battle can be found here.
Hope y'all are well. I ain't heard from you in a while on account of us moving around so much. I'm still looking after the Prof and it doesn't look like I'll be going back to my unit anytime soon.
I git that keepin' the Prof safe is important and tell the truth I'm kinda fond of the old guy. It's just that I feel like I'm getting an easy ride when everyone else is fighting real hard. So I asked the Prof if I could be like that Irish fella the Russkies keep talkin about. He said what Irish fella and I said the one that rides into battle on the tanks, name's Tank O'Deshanky or sumtin. He just burst out laughin agin and then he explained what he was laughing about to the Russkie officers we was with and then they started laughing too. Then the Prof explained that it wern't no Irish fella and that the word was Tankodesantniki (I had to git him to spell it for me) and it means tank rider and how back in Russia they had specially trained troops who rode on the tanks to protect them from enemy infantry. Boy I sure felt dumb. I guess the Russkie officers felt bad about laughing at me cos they were saying how I was very brave to want to go into battle on the back of a tank. Leastways that's what the Prof said they was saying when he translated for me.
Even though I ain't getting to fight no more we've still seen our share of action. About a week ago we was movin' to a new bivouac area when we run into some Nazi recon troops. Me and the Prof stayed back from the action on this little wooded hill where we could guide in the air support. The Russkies split up into two groups and sat and waited on the Nazis to come to them. We called in some air support but the poor fella got shot down as he made his attack run. Then things got worse. These three big Tigers (tanks not the animals) come rollin over this hill guns ablazin' and knocked out three of the Russkie tanks and made another one bail out in case it exploded. Things looked real bad for us as the rest of them Nazis was closing in real fast in these little armoured cars. Then the Prof managed to contact some more air support and guided it in right on to the Tigers. Well them Nazis lit up the sky like it were the Fourth of July but the planes (the Prof says they was called Sturmoviks) just kept right on a'comin and dropped their bombs right on top of them Tigers. When the smoke cleared two of them was knocked out and the third was runnin for home like his tail was on fire. The tanks that was hit real bad hung on in there with shells bouncin' off their armour like hail off a tin roof. The other tanks moved forward to push back the Nazis. Then I spotted some more of these armoured cars comin round the Russkie's flank and the Prof called in some more of them Sturmis who made short work of them. I couldn't see much more of the battle but turns out the Russkies smashed them Nazis real good and made 'em hightail it outa there.
I got some sad news though. You remember me telling you 'bout my Russkie friend Vassili? Well, his tank was one of those that got destroyed by them Tigers. So I guess he won't be able to avenge his wife and daughter after all. At least he's with them in heaven now. I know he wern't no Baptist like we are but can you ask the Pastor to say a prayer for him and his family.
I have to go now cuz the Prof wants to go eat. I'll write you agin next Friday.
Your lovin' Son,