🪖🔥💦 Where would you prefer to sleep: in a cowshed that has only recently survived shelling, or in a forest, where in a few hours the whole body freezes from the dampness of the soil? 🪖🔥💦
What is a fear of an ordinary person who is not afraid to express their emotions?
It’s when you want to be taken home. “Even in those terrible yellow buses. Even without food at all. Even standing up. If only we would stop constantly being afraid of it hitting right now the place where I’m standing, sitting, lying down, working, eating.”
This time, the “funny” stories end, and the first real enemy attacks begin… real fears…
Enjoy your reading (if you can)
DREAM 13. THE FIRST DAYS AT WAR
After two nights in the forest, our company was moved to an object that we were supposed to guard in the trenches. We still had to dig trenches, helping the tractor with our bare hands.
This object turned out to be a dam on the lake, where the command was waiting for the breakthrough of enemy vehicles. The dam was supposed to be mined, and we, inexperienced shooters with machine guns and mortarmen without mortars, had to hold off the offensive of enemy equipment and soldiers.
The driver, who was driving us to the dam in a small truck with low sides, was afraid of the shelling of our artillery and stopped, half a kilometer to the destination. He threw us into a landing on the edge of the road.
“Run out of the car, because it can f*cking blast any moment now!”
And then we carried all our things on foot in several walks.
Our platoon is at the top of the hill above the dam. In a small landing, we built a hut out of dry branches, reeds, and an oilcloth, where we hid from the wind and rain.
On the first day in the new position, we started to get an even better understanding of what the second line of defense actually is. It’s like standing in the middle of a volleyball field where other people are playing volleyball and don’t notice you, but they can dig you out with soil or trample you. Our artillery is working behind us, and the enemy’s is working in front of us. Projectiles, rockets, and jets are flying overhead. Between us and the enemy, of course, there is our real army. And I do want to believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. As well as in the fact that they were trained and equipped better than us.
One day, two missiles were shot down over our position, and the wreckage fell not far from us. When you see with your own eyes how a four-meter pipe falls spinning to the ground after an explosion in the sky, you throw out the tea in your hand and rush face down into the nearest hollow.
One of the rockets that fell a little further away contained explosive clusters that did not detonate. We were very lucky. Then our sappers also tried to detonate them, but it didn’t work.
All night it thunders on the hill from all sides. It seems that we have never heard any hits, only launches. But they make the ground shake, the clothes on your body tremble, and every time you open your eyes wide the thought: is this already a developing PTSD?
Our platoon, in fact, did not perform any work for several days, because we were supposed to be transferred to another position, but we do not know which one. We spent the whole day boiling water over the campfire, drinking tea and coffee, and finishing our food supplies so that we could carry them less with us. This idleness of ours infuriated other platoons, because they dug trenches next to us, and at night guarded hidden ammunition.
In the end, we were transported from the dam. We took half the things down the hill. We took the other half of our belongings from the cache on a water pump and drove away in a car that delivers food to the company. I was on duty again in the kitchen that day. We left after breakfast. We unloaded our platoon into the courtyard of an abandoned house in the village.
Fuckicer said that we would live here and dig trenches nearby. The prospect isn’t so bad. Inside there’s like a real shelter for the homeless. But there are several rooms, the house is supplied with electricity, and a basement with two entrances. I found a Grundig videotape on the windowsill with an artistically printed sticker “On patriarch’s ponds. Super thriller. Russia. 1995. 4 episodes.”
My platoon with all our stuff stayed at the house, and we went on duty in the kitchen. At that lunchtime, I even took a quick shower. And during the day, we were charging several platoon power banks in the headquarters building.
When I and the others who were on duty returned to my platoon with lunch, both people and our stuff were still lying in the yard. A food truck driver commented:
“Well, are they idiots or what? Why aren’t they hiding?”
It turned out that soon after landing in the yard, the battalion commander Nah-Nah (aka Fuck-Fuck) came and was genuinely surprised:
“Are you f*cking idiots? You want to stay inside, huh? Into the trenches! Go back.”
So my platoon loaded their belongings back into the cramped truck and returned to our hill, where they had carefully dismantled the hut to take the priceless oilcloth to a new position. And now the platoon was fixing us up again for the night.
I went out for dinner. But there was no quiet delivery. On the same truck we carry food, we stopped by for ammunition mines to mine the dam and then went with that allowance of ammunition to pull out another truck that got stuck somewhere on the highway in the region. We arrived at the first platoon with dinner at 21:30 instead of 19:00.
Me and one-armed Hosha, who asks not to ask him how he was taken to this service without an arm, was dropped off in the dark with two cans of food for 60 people, and I was forced to carry it in my hands to the starving soldiers.
Barely crawled to our hut. I felt cold again. I slept again in the draft under the unpleasant raindrops that oozed through the already torn oilcloth.
The next day, we were moved to a new position. Again, we loaded into the truck and hated our stuff. And our relatives and volunteers sent us even more things that we will have to leave or carry with us again.
The new position is on an old, abandoned farm with four large cowsheds. Trenches, dugouts, and combat positions should be built nearby. And here, too, we hear the artillery.
Finally, a clear task and a visible goal. We must prepare the infrastructure to deter the enemy, who is likely to advance along a certain line.
At first, we were told that soldiers of the AFU who may have to retreat should sit in these trenches. And we will retreat under their cover. However, over time, we were asked more and more often:
“Where will you hide? Where will you shoot from?”
We settled in one of the cowsheds. Quite cozy, and clean. There is an outlet and a boiler. Lots of space for people and things. Hay that we laid under the ground pads. And the first night in the cowshed we slept pretty well.
During the day, I worked happily in the trenches. We cleaned up after the tractor. We cleaned the walls and threw the soft stuff off the floor. Physical labor and clear tasks are very good at helping to distract yourself.
And on the second night in the cowshed, we experienced enemy shelling for the first time. We were used to our volleys nearby, but that night the ground shook harder. The first arrival woke us up. It was a few hundred meters away. The second arrival was closer, but we kept lying down and waiting.
The third arrival hit the ground near our cowshed. The explosion punched a hole in the wall several meters in diameter and burned the whitewashed edges. From this impact, a lot of light went into the room, the whole building was moved and plaster fell on our heads. Then we all flew out into the rain. And we squeezed into the gutter with each arrival somewhere nearby. Subsequently, someone brought an oilcloth, and we stood under it in a ravine. I even took a nap standing up.
Despite all the instructions before, I can’t imagine how you can escape from a rocket hit nearby. You can hear a launch, a whistle in a second, and a powerful blow in half a second. We were just lucky that it didn’t fly directly into us, but a little from a distance. And it was something not very powerful and without significant debris.
We panicked the next day. We were abandoned, we were betrayed, and we were brought to the slaughter. The command insisted that we dig dugouts and hide in them. There are no other options. However, tractors are not enough, building materials are not enough, get out of it as you want.
We were indignant and demanded to be taken away from here. Because we don’t know how to build dugouts, and we are the Territorial Defence. Our purpose is to protect objects and roadblocks. But we were reassured because our platoons of riflemen were reinforced with mortarmen. Which, I remind you, do not have mortars.
In the end, we calmed down, and some people went to build shelters in a ravine in the forest near the farm. We repacked our things so that we could easily throw out the excess, take only what we needed and quickly retreat through the forest.
During my repackaging, I managed to get rid of a few kilos of the stuff. I threw away all my civilian clothes, ski pants, and a lamp with a tripod for shooting videos. I put the books and the Switch aside separately. I really didn’t want to throw them away. Therefore, the Switch and one book were moved to different bags several more times during the day. In the end, I reached a compromise with myself. Everything that is no longer valuable has been thrown away, and everything that is still valuable, but that can be disposed of, is put in one bag. And what is necessary is to put in a smaller one. As long as I can, I’ll carry everything I can carry at a time.
On the third night, the cowshed was generally calmer. Half risked sleeping inside. The other half hid in the woods. Around midnight, a rocket was launched from the aircraft to a nearby cowshed. The explosion caused a piece of the wall and roof of the building to collapse, and our cowshed was also shaken.
I woke up because I was thrown up from the floor, and a bright flash lit up everything. The window in our room, along with the frame and splinters of glass, flew out into the street. Sasha A Psychologist’s sleeping bag, which was sleeping under this window, also flew into the hole. He spent the whole day complaining that one ear was blocked. Plaster fell, and thick lime dust rose. I started to put on my shoes quickly, but out of spite, my left calf cramped. Because of the pain, I gathered myself in my armor and ran into the forest with a machine gun from other attacks.
I saw a small fire in a shelled cowshed. I heard people rushing around. But after 20 minutes, everyone sleeping in the cowshed went back to sleep there. And even some came from the forest came because they were frozen by the dampness of the soil.
The rest of the night passed in the sound of distant shots from our artillery. It’s like we’ve pushed back the enemy. But how it really is, I do not know. We don’t have the internet, we can’t read the news, and the command doesn’t tell us anything.
Immediately after the shelling, we reported the situation to the center on the radio. But no one asked if we had any wounded or dead. That’s how we live.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Did you like what you’ve just read? Share these stories with your friends and leave a comment or thank the author with a transfer via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org
His wife will spend the transferred funds on parcels to his place of service. Thank you!
Ukrainian Text by Oleksa Melnyk, a volunteer fighter, translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team — Oct 8, 2022