English Sir, after drinking brandy, surrenders.
"On that hot day on May 23, 1940, I was sitting under a chestnut in front of the mayor's office. Could people create this nightmarish mess or did a corner of real hell open before our eyes?
The shot from the mortar was almost fatal. Mina exploded on the roof of the city hall, and pieces of tile and chestnut chips fell under my feet. Several more shots followed, and the mines exploded in a crowd of refugees.
Piles of people who had burnt down were huddled against the walls, trying to hide from the fire, and a light "Story" floated in the sky with a happy lark. I opened at him indiscriminate fire from a rifle, but he calmly flew away and disappeared from view behind the hospital train that had fallen into the trap, which the enemy mortar men had already engaged in.
Next to me on the sidewalk lay the body of my contact, who was blown away from the car on the other side of the road. I took his documents and looked at him again. He was a fun person. Even the explosion of a mine could not wipe the smile off his face.
Later in the evening we received an order to leave the village. Over the narrow streets were fragments of telegraph wires. And while we were in a hurry in Calais, only a church spire could be seen above the cloud of smoke that hid our retreat.
The rifle brigade, the 60th rifle brigade and the shooters of Queen Victoria began to disembark, but as soon as they set foot on French soil, the enemy began to fire on the port. Positions were hastily equipped. Newcomers and so poured information.
According to them, the enemy forces were entirely composed of motorcyclists. When I said that these same motorcyclists smashed Coulomb into pieces, some major glanced at me with a look no less fierce than the brigadier had on that long summer day.
We were ordered to wait for the enemy in the sand dunes on the western outskirts of the city. Shells were whistling over my head. There was silence in Calais, it was dark, and only from the port came the sound of breaks. And then in the oppressive silence there was the sound of a guitar. The baby cried ...
The attack began the next morning and was at first indecisive, and only towards noon on the 24th of May did the tanks go for a breakthrough. I was sent to the eastern outskirts of the city.The red-hot sidewalk burned the soles of the feet, and the rifle became a burden rather than a weapon.
Inexperienced soldiers, some frightened, others tired and waiting for evacuation, moved along Gambetta Boulevard. Bullets pounded on the pavement and bounced off the walls, with a sound like a click of a whip.
Here and there, pale faces peeking out of the barred basement windows. The departed team, bending down from bullets, was dragging the corpse of an old woman across the boulevard. On this hot afternoon, when Keitel, in quiet Berlin, telephoned his führer’s orders to the west, the old Kruseyr fired a pair of shells along the boulevard. When he began to carefully move away, I felt a strong blow to the side. I crawled a few meters away. I felt blood seeping through my clothes and flowing down my stomach.
“Are you all right, sir?” - came a hoarse voice.
- Bring me quick cognac from the cafe ...
I rose to my feet and leaned on the wall. Like a glass case, a bespectacled orderly appeared in front of me. He squinted at the wound and grinned: - You are lucky, sir. Half an inch from the heart. Just a scratch.
Tied up, I got to the hospital near the port in a half-drowning state.All the next day, “Stucky” flew in and out, whenever it pleased them. But there was no question of surrender. The wounded lay close to each other in the dark basement of the hospital, and through the roar of the bombing from above, strange scraps of conversations could be heard.
We could go with a corporal. Perhaps we would be able to organize the evacuation of the lightly wounded. We climbed out through the broken doors of the hospital, which in no way wished to open, onto the street covered with smoke and flames. A hand appeared from the crowded basement, which handed us a bottle of wine, and then the corporal disappeared in a dazzling flash and a cloud of dust.
It was too late. On the platforms of the Maritime Station, from where only a few months ago, happy travelers went to Paris, among the rescue cars and sand dunes, the last line of defense was organized.
In the arch, under which the regimental dressing station was located, someone shot himself. A young soldier was crying next to me. A gray figure appeared, shouting and waving a pistol.
Then a huge man in German uniform and with a bandage of a red cross on his sleeve carefully laid me on a stretcher.I was captured ... "- from the memories of Lieutenant Artillery British Rifle Brigade Airy Niva.