AKA, the second fight in Operation Nachshon
It is 0330 on 7 April 1948, and Avi is leading Danny Tzur's 2nd Platoon into the attack on an old Roman fort on the outskirts of the village of Al-Qastal. The village lies along the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Road, which is the lifeline for the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem. But the Arabs cut the road in late March, and now the Haganah has launched an operation (Operation Nachshon) to re-open the road in order to bring supplies and reinforcements to the Jewish Quarter.
Yesterday the Etzioni Brigade made an attack on Al-Qastal that was stalled by an enemy machine gun position, so Avi led Baruch Eitan's 1st Platoon in to eliminate the enemy MG. This allowed the Etzioni Brigade to take the village, but the Arab Liberation Army subsequently counterattacked and kicked the Jews out of Al-Qastal. This morning the Etzioni Brigade is again scheduled to attack the village, and in order to help clear the way for the assault, the company has been ordered to assault an old Roman fort on the southern outskirts of the village. Which is where Avi, Danny, and the men of 2nd Platoon come in.
It's 0330 and the Jews are creeping east along a sunken riverbed. As they get near their objective they will split into two elements: Danny will lead a machine gun team over to serve as a base of fire as Avi leads the assault element.
Danny Tzur, age 29, former US Army paratrooper, M-1 Garand
Chaim Sharon, age 28, former Corporal in the British Army, MG-34
Aram Mofaz, age 18, a village youngster, MP-40
Eli Yadin, age 18, a village youngster, Sten
Davi Yaklef, age 27, refugee from the Soviet Union, Sten (bullet went through both cheeks in battle for Mar Gush)
Hiram Laskov, age 50, refugee from Poland, MP-40
Hanan Elazar, age 25, former British Army clerk, Mauser
Asaf Horowitz, age 19, a village youngster, Mauser
*Well, I've never had terrible dice like this before! I decided to play with landmines, rolling 1D6 each time someone moved in the base of fire element or outside the channel in the assault element, with a 1 or 6 meaning a mine was stepped on. Well, three out of four guys in the base of fire element stepped on land mines!!! Well, I figured the surprise night attack was in jeopardy, so every time the assault element moved, I rolled a dice to see if Asaf would blow it by opening fire with the machine gun. Well...
Well, I won, but I swear I've never had such bad die rolls in all my life, even in the games I lost. First I had three of four men (very improbably) step on land mines, and then it seemed like every time the Arabs fired one of my men went down. The only thing that saved me was the audacity to keep pushing forward (I was either going to make Eli a hero or get him killed), and the fact that when I fired I got some decent rolls that at least kept the enemy suppressed so I could move up unmolested. I'm sure during these fights you've noticed that the Jews have pushed on with the mission despite some atrocious casualties: I'm trying to display the sheer desperation of a force fighting for its nation's very existence, the sense that failure is not an option and would only be acceptable if there were no survivors (the old Spartan "...come home with your shields or on them."), and I intend on carrying that forward through 1956, 1967, and 1973.
In any case, 2nd Platoon accomplished its mission, clearing the way for the Etzioni Brigade to carry its assault back into Al-Qastal, but it was decimated. The Arab Liberation Army suffered four dead and three captured, and the Jews suffered:
-Chaim Sharon, the former British Corporal, stepped on a land mine which blew both feet off, and then he bled to death as the battle transpired around him.
-Danny Tzur, the platoon commander, also stepped on a landmine, but he was only slightly injured (shrapnel in the back of both thighs and his buttocks) and should return to duty in about ten days.
-Hanan Elazar, the former British Army clerk, stepped on a landmine that cost him his foot. He survived by tying his belt around his leg as a tourniquet and was evacuated to the hospital in Tel Aviv, but he was no longer able to serve.
-Avi Peled, the company commander, took a .303-caliber rifle slug to the shoulder. He went down hard but will be okay, and should return to duty in about ten days.
-Davi Yaklef, the Soviet refugee, was shot in the throat and surely would have died if not for the calm first aid work by his comrade, the youngster, Aram Mofaz. Davi is expected to make a fully recovery and should return to the company in approximately three weeks. With wound scars in both cheeks and his neck, he is now one of the uglier members of the company ;)
-Hiram Laskov, the old Polish refugee, had a round hit his hop but ricochet off the bone. He'll be okay, having a hard time walking, but should return to action in five days or so.
3rd Platoon was called up to help evacuate the casualties as 1st and 2nd Platoons combined to occupy defenses in and around the old Roman Fort. They weren't there long though before news arrived that the Etzioni Brigade was having a tough time in Al-Qastal. They had penetrated the western end of the village, but were held up. High Command was calling for the company to attack from the south, targeting the Arab Liberation Army's headquarters in the east end of Al-Qastal. Dor Peleg, the 3rd Platoon commander and senior ranking officer of the company at this point, began prepping 3rd Platoon for the attack.