Close to the house where I sheltered, there were a few trees on a piece of scrub land. That was where some of the other men, an anti-tank unit, set up camp. It was where they set up their single 3.7 anti-tank gun.
Concerned for their own safety, those men set up trip wires, along with anti-personnel traps, between the trees which would go off if disturbed. I had to be careful when coming or going, I made sure to identify myself as I approached. Among their armoury were two 5 cm tube mortars, three 8.8 cm FLAK guns plus a big old tractor. Flak is a contraction of the German Flugzeugabwehrkanone, aircraft-defense cannon. As a fighting unit they were not very well equipped at all but everyone had to do their best with what they had. To be honest, due to a lack of training, those men couldn’t really shoot anything anyway. With only one day’s training on the guns, men were sent off to strategic position and left to their own devices. When a gun jammed or broke in some way, no one knew how to fix it. Having more equipment, better equipment, bigger equipment would not have enabled those men to hit more targets.
One of our men, a new man who had only been with us for three days, was killed as he stood next to me. The anti-tank unit decided to do some fire practise, it was a nice day and so they sent a shot up into the sky. Having nothing better to do, several of us stood around to watch but no one had thought about the round coming back down again.
A shell fragment sliced down into the new man’s head, lodging in his brain. The shrapnel chopped through his skull, killing him where he stood. I made sure to keep my distance the next time those men practised.
I thought it was okay working with the kitchen. There were regular meals plus a stove to warm myself near. Combine that with sleeping indoors, it was probably the best any soldier could ask during war time on the front line.