TITLE: The Minesweeper
GENRE: Middle Grade Historical Fiction
July, 1944 Italy
Nineteen-year-old Charlie Wissmeyer didn’t have time to dig a foxhole or even a slit trench. The Germans, hidden high in the hills, rained mortar, rocket, and artillery shells down on the 88th Infantry as they approached the ancient city of Volterra. Charlie needed shelter now. He dove into a shallow depression left by the enemy, who had occupied the hill the day before.
As he lay in his hole in the ground, Charlie smelled something awful. He looked at the front of his shirt. It was covered in human excrement. Angry, Charlie knew a German had relieved himself there on purpose. The stench was bad, but the incoming fire was worse. Shells exploded all around him.
Careful to keep his head down, the young American shifted his eyes upward at the two castles which stood prominently within the city’s gates. Charlie knew there must be German watchdogs concealed in the tower windows, relaying information to their gunners. How else would the enemy be able to target the Americans so precisely?
Charlie tried to shrink into the earth around him as ‘Screaming Meemies’ whizzed by. This was the first time his company had faced these German rocket shells. Flying like tormented demons through the air, the rockets made an intermittent ‘whuufing’ sound, which grew farther and farther apart as the ‘Meemies’ came closer to their target. Charlie knew the longer the time between ‘whuufs,’ the more likely he was to be hit.
Whuuf, whuuf, whuuf, …….. whuuf…...…..….. whuuf .….………..…..BOOOMM!!!