v3c36: The Harbor

Volume 3, Chapter 36

“It’s not right.” Henderson looked out from the window. “How can the Germans have so many bombs?”

The soldiers had calmed down from the excitement of their escape and were busy attending to the wounded. After listening to Henderson, they all went to the window and looked out. What they saw made them such a breath of cold air. Everything was covered with those small bombs, on the roads, open spaces, everywhere one looked was one of those black bombs. Furthermore, they were too numerous, even some were dropped on top of the trucks parked outside.

“Sergeant, why is it that they haven’t exploded?” A soldier asked.

“I do not know, but it’s definitely not so simple.” Henderson looked at the small bombs outside the window.

“Then should we go out there and check?” Henderson’s men asked.

“You are crazy? What if it explodes?”

Another soldier said: “Go if you really want to. But remember to give me my money first.”

“This isn’t a time for joking. Do you want to die?” As the soldiers all expressed their opposition.

“Hey, shut up. Who knows those guys?” Henderson interrupted the bickering and pointed out the window. The soldiers quickly stopped and looked out.

A few officers climbed out of the anti-aircraft trenches on the other end of the road. Carefully running towards their house. At first, they were careful to bypass the little bombs and other fragments. But as no explosion came they waved back to the trenches. Then, from the trenches climbed out a large group of soldiers. Carefully proceeding towards the house.

“It seems like the company commander Belt, and even the vice and platoon leader. Haha, they are still alive.” A soldier was pleased to call out.

Henderson was not so elated. He always felt a bad feeling as he stared at the little bombs. More and more soldiers climbed out from their trenches. Hundreds of British soldiers were crossing the bombed area, reaching the edge of the port.

Then the explosions came. Without warning, the bombed in the middle of the crowd started to explode in twos and threes. The shrapnel whizzing by the air, the blasts knocking the soldiers down. The crowd was stunned by the sudden explosions, and then it became a stampede of chaos. Within the confusion, more bombs were set off one by one. However, the men were hardly attentive to the explosions around them; their only thought was to escape this piece of hell. In the face of this onslaught, soldiers were blown to bits while those who could still run where bolting away. Leaving the ground filled with smoke, blood, and the cries of the wounded.

As the bombs started to blow, it caused a chain reaction. The bombs near Henderson’s began to explode, and the shock waves shattered the glass windows. Sending the shards into the faces of the men. But they never left the window. A series of shouting came from them towards the surviving soldiers.

But when the nearest bomb exploded ten meters from the house, they finally stopped and silently left the window. Henderson took his bayonet and stabbed it into the concrete wall. Cursing all of those damn Germans with all of the vicious words he knew. Only those with hearts of devils would use such despicable weapons. The soldiers all took up positions against the wall. Either leaning against the wall or simply sat on the wooden floor. Some had their heads bowed down, clutching their heads sobbing, or continued to look out the window.

“Boom!” With that violent explosion, the whole room trembled. Large pieces of debris fell from the ceiling, filling the room with white dust. Everyone started to cough from the dust.

“Cough, cough. It’s the roof, there are bombs on our roof!” A soldier cried out. “We’ll be buried here.”

Henderson was also stunned by the sudden situation. Although the walls were reinforced concrete, the roof was just prefabricated panels held together by cement. It shouldn’t be able to take a couple more of those explosions. He wasn’t sure how many of those things fell on the roof. But judging from the distribution from the ground outside, it shouldn’t be only one or two. Now that they were surrounded by that blockade of bombs, running out of the house would be suicide.

But there should be an underground repair tunnel… Henderson clutched his nose and searched the room. Then he found an iron plate on the floor. He ran over and pulled up the lid. “Men, come with me.” Then he took the lead and climbed into the black tunnel.

“Phaa~” Henderson pushed open the metal cover over his hands and stuck his head out of the outlet.

He took a deep breath of fresh air. The air in the tunnel was thick enough to almost choke you. Then as he stood up, he began to look around. His soldiers climbing out of the hold one by one.

Henderson, himself, was not too sure where the tunnel would lead to. He could see a tall water tower nearby and could guess his location. They were at about the edge of the harbor. But, this should be outside of the bombed zone. Finally, he needed to quickly report the situation at the port to the commanders. The port should be marked as a restricted zone.

Suddenly the sound of air raid sirens once again ripped across the sky. Like half an hour ago, the anti-aircraft guns began to fire once more.

“Sergeant! What should we do? There’s no anti-air trenches and houses, only the water tower. Should we climb back into the hole?” A soldier cried out.

“No, we go to the water tower! The top of that thing is round, and those bombs can’t attach!” Henderson felt it was the safest decision. Then he led the soldiers to climb to the top of the water tower. Once the group made it to the top of the platform, they could see the entire scene below.

From the high platform, they could see the entire port area. It looked like a pot of boiling water. Occasionally there would be an explosion that blew debris up into the air. Sending up plumes of smoke and lighting the ground with red embers. In the air, countless German planes were spinning back and forth. Still dropping those small bombs onto the ground. The flak fire almost blackened the whole sky and the barrage of tracer rounds looked like a string of stars. The German planes roaring above the smoldering ruins. A horribly bloody yet strangely magnificent picture was displayed in front of Henderson.

“Damn, they’re still throwing the bombs.” A soldier shouted in anger.

“Look, Stukas!” Someone screamed as they pointed into the air.

“Where?” Henderson shouted back in horror.

“There! They’re diving!”

Henderson finally saw the scene he would never forget. Four Stukas dove down onto the port at almost vertical angles. As they accelerated, their infamous siren blazed into Henderson’s ears. When he saw the target, he could not help but become frightened.

“They’re going for the mole! They want to blow the bridge!”

Henderson shouted with fear. By now, he could even clearly see iron crosses on the tail of the planes. Then, four black bombs fell straight for the trestle and the planes pulled back up. Henderson and the soldiers were holding their breath. Their vision entranced and followed the bombs as they plummeted down.

“It’s a miss! Haha!”

Henderson and the soldiers nearly jumped in joy. The bridge itself was really too narrow. The result was that the bombs either veered to the left or right sides. Blowing columns of water thirty meters high. Causing some damage to the wooden structure, but nothing critical.

“I dare not make fun of French structures ever again, haha.”

“Sergeant, boats!… It’s ours! They’re entering the port!” Another soldier pointed at the entrance of the harbor to Henderson. Henderson quickly turned to look at the entrance of the port.

“Good God!” Henderson also exclaimed. “Don’t they know that we’re being bombed right now?”

At the entrance to the port of Dunkirk, four large transport ships were rushing toward the harbor.

“Will they make it, Sergeant?” A soldier asked.

“I do not know, maybe. If the German bombers use those small bombs, they might be able to arrive safely. After all, such little bombs could not sink such a big boat. It should even be able to endure a hit from a Stuka. May God help them dock.”

Henderson looked nervously at the fleet of ships as it entered the harbor. Several anti-aircraft guns had been placed on the shore for an event such as this. Now all their fire was focused on protecting these several transport ships. The guns onboard the ships were also firing into the skies. The tracer fire twisting around in the skies.

“Look, the Germans began to attack!” Someone yelled out.

Then, more than a dozen Stuka roared as they rolled in from all angles to the transport ships. Anti-aircraft guns began firing continuously as the gunners were desperately shooting, struggling to stop the upcoming attack.

“Hit!” Henderson’s soldiers screamed.

A Stuka rushed too low, leaving it to be struck by the dense formation of anti-aircraft fire. Then this was followed by two more planes. The rest of the Stuka quickly disengaged their bombs early. As a result, only one bomb hit. Striking the middle of a ship’s deck, while the other bombs only futilely exploded in the water.

“Well done, haha! Those anti-aircraft guns are really good!” The soldiers were cheering up and hugging each other to celebrate this little victory.

“Look, the German planes fled.” A soldier was pleased to shout as he pointed at the sky. The bombers and Stukas flew in a tight formation as they flew to the direction of Belgium in the east.

“…. They’re not running away. It’s only that they finished their work.” Henderson said grimly as he looked at the port and its intermittent explosions. “You see what they are doing?”

“Don’t be so downcast, Sergeant. Look at the boats that just entered the port. We don’t even know what they brought us yet, haha. I hope it’s fresh beef.” One of Henderson’s men said as he rubbed his hands together.

“But what can we do now? Even though they’re here, it’s not like we can go to the beach and unload them.”

“There is always a way, Sergeant. This problem is not something for us soldiers to solve.”

“That’s it, let’s go down. Maybe the higher-ups have received reports about these bombs.” Henderson gave a long sigh and walked towards the ladder of the water tower.


Henderson heard a dull whistling noise. His heart trembling with that ever so familiar sound.

“Heavy artillery!”

Henderson quickly ran back to the railings, looking toward those transport ships.

“Boom!” A huge pillar of water rose up beside one of the ships. Its height was even greater than that of the ship’s mast.

“It’s the German 210mm heavy howitzer! God, it must be what sank those ships this morning.” Henderson roared. “In the port there is no way to avoid being hit. Quickly leave!”

Then more and more of these dull whistling sounds reverberated through the air. A few seconds later, dozens of huge columns of water surrounded the transport ships. Some of them cause large fireballs to erupt, turning the deck into a sea of flames.

One of the largest ships lost her bridge in the second round of shelling. Losing all control, she leaned and collided with its companion. Her bow piercing to the other ship’s hull.


Then, a massive fireball exploded hundreds of meters into the air as the ammunition finally ignited onboard the first ship. The shock wave was so strong its path through the air could be seen with the naked eye.

[MD: Kinda Like This]

The boat was almost torn completely in half and its deck was collapsing in on itself. The hull became a twisted shape and the smoke has risen to several hundred meters tall. Ten seconds later, all that can be seen are the barnacle-covered rudder protruding out of the water. Its heavy hull fell into the deep mud at the bottom of the harbor.

[MD: Since it’s not a warship, we can assume that the transport ship was carrying a whole lot of ammunition. Probably ignited by a direct artillery strike.]

The German heavy artillery was still constantly bombarding the remaining two seriously wounded ships. Henderson sighed and looked at the horrific sight. “God, please save us.”


Additional Ship Explosions
USS John Burke
WWII Barge Explosion


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