Shoot-out in a potato field

Continuous flashes from the forest were swiftly followed by machine gun fire and we knew that our comrades were in real trouble. A few grenade explosions and two more star shells lighting up the scene told me that this was probably it. I was rather sorry it had to end, as I felt very comfortable lying on top of the warm muck heap. With the aid of field glasses we could see over a hundred soldiers advancing from the forest. After a quick discussion we decided to set up as many booby traps as possible with grenades and withdraw across the potato fields.

As there were deep valleys between the potato crops, I felt this was our best chance. As I knew I could hit a playing card every time from 300 metres with a sniper's rifle, I decided to wait to try and recognise the commissar. Sure enough, within a minute I could see him waving his charges forward with a revolver in his hand. I felt my heart beating against the cow dung while I took a very careful aim and squeezed the trigger.

There was a hefty kick from the rifle butt and two seconds later, the commissar fell as if he’d been pole-axed. At the same moment, a threeton lorry on the edge of the forest opened up towards us with machine gun fire. I knew the type of lorry very well. Crude steel plates slung on the sides meant they were usually used by NKVD troops. I decided to have a go at them, so I took off among the potatoes dragging the rifle behind me. With a pocket full of ammunition and a machine pistol around my neck, dragging the rifle behind me, it was real hard going. I crawled some 50 metres and felt my position was good enough to have a go at the Robins. One of them was sitting next to the driver of the lorry and moments after firing I saw him falling out of the cab onto the frozen ground. I examined the lorry through my telescopic sights and I saw the red-banded cap of another Robin observing the field through glasses. After firing my last shot I saw his cap leaping into the air. That
was my last shot for a very long time....

The gunfire had exposed our position and all hell broke loose. At least four heavy machine guns opened up blindly on the field. Ricocheting bullets were whining and passing like a swarm of mad bees. The tops of the potatoes and bits of earth were flying everywhere. It was almost impossible to crawl or even to move. I dumped my rifle and weapons and managed to crawl very carefully some 50 or so metres away before