"Haunted Tank: "Hostages in Hell"": In the North African desert, the Haunted Tank is engaged in a desperate fight pinned down by a German Panzer tank with the high ground. Headquarters has been trying to call the Haunted Tank back to base, but its commander Lt. Jeb Stuart and his crew are fighti
- So... we're gonna rendezvous in the desert with some rangers an' a plane to rescue General Doyle an' his bunch? It's crazy!
- -- Rick Rawlins
Appearing in Haunted Tank: "Hostages in Hell"
- German Panzer commander (Dies)
- General Ahmed (Dies)
- Arab terrorists
- American Artillery Captain "Skipper"
- American Infantry lieutenant
- American Infantry soldiers
- General Doyle
- General Doyle's staff
- Djelba Oasis, Africa
- German Stick grenades
- The Haunted Tank
- German Panzerkampfwagen II tank
- American GMC CCKW utility truck
- American Willys MB Jeep
- American transport plane
Synopsis for Haunted Tank: "Hostages in Hell"
In the North African desert, the Haunted Tank is engaged in a desperate fight pinned down by a German Panzer tank with the high ground. Headquarters has been trying to call the Haunted Tank back to base, but its commander Lt. Jeb Stuart and his crew are fighting for their life among the desert dunes. The Germans believe they have the little tank pinned down, but Jeb spots an oasis in the distance. He orders Slim to head straight towards it and ram through the palm trees and into the water. The Germans believe that the Americans have panicked and drowned themselves in the water. The enter the oasis, only to find that two of the crew have circled around to attack from the rear. Gus and Slim fire their rifles, killing the Panzer's commander. Then, with a carefully aimed shot, Rick destroys the Panzer with one blast from the turret cannon. With a sigh of relief, Jeb radios back their kill and return to base.
Back at headquarters, Jeb attends an urgent briefing with Skipper where he learns that General Doyle, the architect of the upcoming Allied invasion of Sicily, has been captured along with his staff by Arab terrorists of the Crimson Crescent Army. They listen as the terrorists broadcast their demands, a ransom of weapons and stockpiled poison gas to be delivered to them in 72 hours or the hostages will be executed. Skipper gives Jeb top-secret orders to rescue General Doyle. As they embark on their mission, the ghost of General J.E.B. Stuart appears and asks Jeb if he is going to tell his crew the whole story about their mission. Jeb confides in him, but he has his orders to keep silent, even to his crew. As far as they know, the Haunted Tank is to rendezvous with some Rangers and a plane to help with the rescue. Some time later, as the Haunted Tank approaches the rendezvous coordinates they watch as the plane carrying the Rangers crashes to the ground, slamming into the truck waiting for their landing and killing everyone on board. They reach the tragic scene, but a rescue is hopeless. As headquarters radios for the Haunted Tank to abort the mission, they are surprised and surrounded by the Arab terrorists. They fight back with hand weapons, destroying one of the terrorists' jeeps. But the enemy is too strong, and the four are taken prisoner. The leader of the terrorists, General Ahmed, informs them that their presence in the desert had been reported and their radio messages picked up. Their naivety will make America the laughing stock of the world.
Later, as they arrive at the terrorists' base, the captives are jeered at as they are brought in through the gates. Jeb and his men are lined up against the wall and placed in front of a firing squad. The terrorists then bring out General Doyle and his staff so they can watch the execution. Ahmed is certain that when they deliver the bodies of the four rescuers the Americans will be willing to pay the ransom without question. An Arab offers each of the crew a blindfold. Gus, Rick, and Slim refuse, but to their shock Jeb says that he'll take it. Just as the Arab hands it to him, Jeb twists the man around and strangles the Arab with the blindfold. Slim grabs the man's rifle and fires into the squad, killing them all. As the others arm themselves with the dead men's weapons, Jeb orders General Doyle and his men to get into the Haunted Tank. General Ahmed is taken prisoner by Jeb and forced into the tank as well. When the last of the prisoners are in the tank, Slim slams on the gas and drives the Haunted Tank straight through the barbed wire fence. The male Arab terrorists have all run in fear, leaving only their women and children to fight against the Americans. Rick can't dare take a shot with children around, so Slim turns the tank away and they speed out into the desert and safety. Jeb notices that Gus has been shot in the shoulder. He orders Gus below to be bandaged up with help from Doyle's secretary, while Rick keeps Ahmed at gunpoint.
Halfway back to headquarters, the Haunted Tank runs out of gas. Jeb orders everyone out, setting fire to the tank so the enemy can't get their hands on it. They then begin to walk the rest of the way. Unfortunately, shortly after they start off, they spot a pursuing Arab force heading in their direction attracted by the smoke from the fire. Ahmed laughs at the Americans' stupidity and knows that they are too soft to sacrifice lives for a cause like an Arab would. Jeb orders Doyle and his men to run towards the mountains in the distance for safety while he and his men give them covering fire. General Ahmed takes the advantage of the confusion and runs off towards his own men, shouting orders to run them over. Rick wishes he'd shot the creep when he had the chance. They take cover on the dune, firing at the approaching Arab army, that greatly outnumbers them. Then, just as it looks like they'll be overpowered, mortar fire from the right take out the terrorists and their jeeps. The Rangers have arrived, exactly according to plan! Jeb apologizes for keeping his men out of the picture, but he was under orders to keep secret that the Rangers were dropped in the mountains to wait until the Haunted Tank's arrival. The crash of the Army plane and truck were a diversion, and the radio signals open to convince the terrorists that only the Haunted Tank was left. General Doyle reveals that he had created the plan, but he really didn't think it would work!
Appearing in O.S.S.: "The Final Game"
- Agent "Edwin" (Dies)
- SS Colonel Steinung (Dies)
- German Infantry soldiers
- French Resistance fighters
- Chess pieces
- Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B
Synopsis for O.S.S.: "The Final Game"
Near a bridge in occupied France, two "fishermen" sit on the banks as German Panzer tanks rumble across. One of the fishermen, undercover O.S.S. agent code-named Edwin, watch as the bridge explodes before them. This is the opening move, a plan to bring German SS Colonel Steinung out into the open to act in retaliation. Colonel Steinung is a renowned chess player and sees the war as one big chess board. Edwin hopes that the loss of his "pawns" will force Steinung to make a move against him. Edwin continues his plan across the country, destroying different German targets in strategic areas on land, sea, and in the air. But Colonel Steinung also moves like lightning with an unpredictable response... giving an order to execute a dozen innocent hostages selected at random until those who are committing the sabotage on his forces surrender to him. The Colonel realizes that his secret opponent is playing a game of chess with him, and to force his enemy out into the open he gives the order to execute the first round of hostages.
Each night at the colonel's headquarters, Steinung sits down to a game of chess with his second-in-command. The colonel is an expert player, and each game is over just as soon as it begins. He explains that chess is like war, opposing commanders on a battlefield attaching and defending, trying to anticipate each other's moves. The officer is amazed at the colonel's skill. Steinung explains that there is only one person who has ever matched him in chess. During a championship in Havana, he was competing against a chess master named Goldstein, an American Jew, that had lasted fourteen matches. They were tied, with the next day's match to decide the winner. However, that night Steinung was ordered back to Germany to report for duty in the war, leaving the match tied and the winner undecided. Steinung has since dreamed of nothing else but to beat Goldstein in the final match, but as an American he is out of his reach while the war rages.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen of a French restaurant, Edwin contacts Control back at the London headquarters. Edwin tells Control that he can't continue with the mission, knowing that the blood of the hostages in on his hands. Control explains to him that they can not allow Steinung to win and that Edwin must stop him by any means possible. The transmission is intercepted by an SS radio truck patrolling the area, giving away the location of the French Underground's base. Two nights later, the restaurant is stormed by SS troops who round up the Resistance members. Edwin is captured, and Colonel Steinung immediately recognizes him as the man who equals his skill in chess - Goldstein! Steinung orders him men to take Edwin to his office at headquarters. He also finds a chess set at the restaurant, and wanting to beat the Jew using his own chess pieces orders his men to collect it and bring it along. At SS Headquarters, after hours of intense concentrated chess playing against the two foes, Steinung makes his winning move and declares checkmate and match. The Colonel gloats, telling Edwin that he had made the same moves as he did in Havana. Edwin did this on purpose, anticipating that Steinung would win using the same move as he did before as well. The Colonel then realizes that it was all a trap and he fell for it. The pieces had been booby-trapped! They explode, killing everyone in the room. Sometimes in chess as in war, you have to sacrifice your pawns to win the match.
Appearing in "Ghost Infantryman"
- Private Conrad (Dies)
- Private Tony Ward
- Private Skelly
- Japanese Infantry soldiers
- American Infantry soldiers
- Private Conrad's mom
- Philippine Islands, South Pacific
- United States of America
- * American GMC CCKW utility trucks
Synopsis for "Ghost Infantryman"
As dawn begins in the Philippine Islands, an American truck carrying a load of ammunition through the Japanese lines drives through the dense jungle. On the back of the truck, a squad of Infantrymen stand guarding the ammo in case of attack. One of the soldiers, Private Conrad, passes the time by writing a letter home to his mother. He explains to the others that his mom looks forward to reading his letters, and that nothing would stop him from finishing it because it means so much to her. Then, the truck is attacked by Japanese snipers in the trees. Conrad is hit. While the others chase the Japanese off into the jungle, one man - Private Tony Ward - leaps out to help the mortally wounded Conrad. Before he dies, Conrad makes Ward promise to continue to write home to his mom so she'll never know that he was killed.
In the weeks ahead, Tony Ward fulfills his promise by writing Conrad's mother. He even works on making his handwriting like Conrad's so that she doesn't suspect. He posts the first letter, and when the first V-mail arrives he gets a reply from Conrad's mother who doesn't suspect a thing. He continues to write her during his tour of duty, never once letting the war interrupt the flow of mail back home. Then one day, it's announced that the Japanese have surrendered and they can finally all go home. Ward realizes that with the war over, Conrad's mother will finally learn that her son had actually died in battle and that he has been impersonating him in the letters. Several weeks later, as the troops begin to return, Ward realizes that after all this time he has begun to see her as his own mother and decides to tell her the truth face to face. He makes arrangements to meet her, but once there can see no sign of her. Walking up to an older woman who is waiting, he asks her if she has seen "his" mother. The woman explains that Conrad's mother had died over a year ago, and that she has been writing the letters back to him in her place. Through their letters, she has come to regard him as her own son. Ward smiles, deciding to explain the truth after they catch up.
Appearing in "Surgeon in the Sky"
- Captain Morris Levy
- Lieutenant Conners
- Japanese Infantry troops
- Japanese pilot
- American Army nurse
- American Infantry lieutenant
- Darwin, Australia
- Blood Pressure cuff
- Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress" heavy bomber plane
- Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" fighter aircraft
Synopsis for "Surgeon in the Sky"
Returning from a bombing run against the Japanese, one of the squadron of B-17 bombers flies unevenly. Inside the cockpit, its erratic behavior is observed by Flight Surgeon Captain Morris Levy who is observing the condition of their pilots during long missions. Levy tells the pilot, Lieutenant Conners, that he wants to see him at the field hospital as soon as they land for a routine examination. Shortly after the doctor gives Conners his exam, he discovers the lieutenant has elevated blood pressure, tachycardia, and severe pressure in his middle eardrum. His condition explains the erratic piloting in the air earlier. Doctor Levy decides to ground Conners and check him into the hospital for treatment until his condition clears up. Conners argues, but Levy orders his nurse to see the man admitted.
Two days later, at the airfield adjacent to the field hospital, Conners is upset about him and his crew being grounded. He asks his nurse on a date, but she declines citing his already high blood pressure. Then, the airbase is attacked by a Zero plane. Conners pushes the nurse to the ground away from the enemy fire. The Zero drops a bomb, which lands near the field hospital. Inside, the base's commanding officer orders Dr. Levy and his men to evacuate the hospital. The doctor and his nurse refuse, wishing to stay and help with the wounded. Not long after, Conners and his nurse return to see if there is anything they can do to help. Dr. Levy declares Conners to be fit to fly again, and he has a special mission he needs the lieutenant to do for him. His staff quickly load their critical patients onto Conner's B-17, and as soon as the last is on board Conners begins the take-off down the runway. However, at that moment the Japanese Infantry burst out of the jungle at the far end of the runway and attack. They fire directly into the oncoming plane, their bullets smashing into the cockpit. Conners is blinded by the concussion from a ricochet, but Dr. Levy reads off the ground speed and they are able to take off without incident. With the temporary blindness caused by the concussion, along with the previous inner ear damage, there is no way that Conners can properly fly and land the plane. Then, a Zero appears out of the clouds and fires at them. Because of Conners' erratic flying due to his injuries, the Zero is confused and stops firing to pass them on the left. As the Zero spins around for another pass, Dr. Levy realizes that the enemy fighter must have realized that they have no gunners and is coming around for the kill. They Zero approaches from the rear and open fires. Then, the Zero is lashed by withering fire from the tail gun and explodes into a fireball in the sky! Dr. Levy had manned the tail gun, giving them the chance they needed to escape and reach the emergency landing field. Conners sets the controls for automatic pilot, and tells Dr. Levy that he'll have to be his eyes when they reach the runway to land. Dr. Levy agrees, reminding Conners that once they land, he's grounded for good!
Appearing in Haunted Tank: "The Battle Within"
- German Luftwaffe pilots
- German Infantry soldiers
- American Artillery Captain "Skipper"
- General George S. Patton
- Ghent, Belgium
- Weather Observation balloon
- The Haunted Tank
- German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter plane
- German Sd.Kfz. 251 Armored halftrack
Synopsis for Haunted Tank: "The Battle Within"
In the countryside southeast of Ghent in Belgium, a key German weather station sends up a balloon to check atmospheric conditions. It's data gives the Luftwaffe the info they have been waiting for - clear visibility once the fog lifts within an hour. Meanwhile, twenty miles to the north, the Haunted Tank sits quietly while Jeb as a one-on-one talk with his ancestor, the ghost of General J.E.B. Stuart. Jeb is thankful for the cover the fog is giving them, but the General warns his descendant that the weather can quickly turn against him without warning. Inside the tank, the others worry about their commander, and Slim swears that one of these days he's going to turn Jeb into the medics for talking to himself.
As the sun rises in the morning sky, it begins to burn off the remaining fog hiding the Haunted Tank. Then, Jeb spots two Luftwaffe fighters approaching in the sky. They attack, but Jeb quickly fires back and destroys the first plane. He then orders Slim to take the tank into the woods for cover full speed. Jeb realizes that the fighters didn't just come upon them and must have been tipped off that the fog would clear. Under the cover of the trees and out of view, Slim, Rick and Gus enjoy the down time by having chow, while Jeb dismounts and heads towards a nearby stream to refill their canteens. But while he's away, the Luftwaffe fighter takes sight of the tank and begins dropping bombs on their location. One explosion hits right alongside the Haunted Tank, slamming it and the others inside sideways. Jeb runs back to the tank and looks inside to see if everyone is all right. He finds the three suffering from shell-shock and out of their minds. Rick attacks Slim and Gus, believing them to be the enemy. Jeb jumps in to stop him before he can hurt himself or the others, and finally decides to just tie all three of them up until they can recover their senses. Taking the controls, Jeb turns the tank around and heads back to headquarters where he can get his crew the medical treatment they need.
As the Haunted Tank arrives back at headquarters, Jeb is met by the Skipper. Skipper tells him that soon the fog will close in again, allowing General Patton's tanks slip through undetected to attack Namur. He is informed that everyone else is out on the line, but that they have discovered an enemy weather station that must be destroyed before the move otherwise it will allow the Luftwaffe to catch Patton out in the open. Jeb decides not to tell the Skipper about his crew, after all the times that they've though that he was out of his mind talking to the General and had never reported him. Jeb takes the assignment and climbs back down into the tank to take the driver's seat. Skipper watches as the Haunted Tank pulls away, realizing that this was the first time he had ever seen Jeb take off inside his tank. Once they're away, Jeb checks on his crew, but there appears to be no change in their condition. He hopes that they snap out of it soon before they reach the weather station or he'll be in real trouble. Meanwhile, the fog begins to close in again.
The Haunted Tank reaches the coordinates of the weather station, hidden by the thick low hanging fog. Jeb checks on his crew, but there is still no change. Jeb can't just give up. Taking of the rifles and a sack of explosives, he climbs out of the tank to deal with the station alone. Using the fog as cover, he quietly approaches the main gate and knocks out the guard. Now inside, he quickly tries to locate the instrument shack. He is spotted running in the fog, and a German machine gun nest open fires on him. They are unable to hit their target because of the fog, and by firing have given away their position and the position of the station. Jeb lobs a grenade at them, destroying the machine gun nest. With his presence now announced, Jeb rushes to find a way out. he spots a weather balloon ready to be launched and, grabbing the tethering rope releases it into the air while holding tight. Jeb is lifted up into the air, but his weight keeps the balloon from rising too high. From the ground, German soldiers fire into the sky in hopes of hitting him. The balloon is riddled with bullet holes and begins to plummet to the ground. It drifts down over the weather station's main building, and Jeb primes his explosives and tosses them onto the building. It explodes into a huge fireball, putting a stop to the Luftwaffe's weather updates. Jeb hits the ground hard, but quickly recovers just as a German half-track moves in on his position with guns blazing. Jeb runs, trying to avoid the half-track while leading them away from the Haunted Tank. Then, to his surprise, the half-track explodes. Jeb stops and turns around just in time to see the Haunted Tank roll out from the fog, commanded by Gus. His crew had recovered, just in time to save Jeb's neck! Taking is place atop the turret, Jeb gets a radio message that Patton's tanks had taken Namur without opposition. The ghost of General Stuart appears, and the others below listen as Jeb talks to his ancestor again. Slim turns to Rick, telling him that maybe they better tie Jeb up and hand him over to the medics if they want to keep their dog tags!
- Page 23 contains Part 3 of the "Famous Fighting Outfits" profile on the 3rd Infantry Division, the "Blue and White Devils", the only division of the U.S. Army during World War II that fought the Axis on all European fronts, and was among the first American combat units to engage in offensive ground combat operations. Written by Murray Boltinoff.
- The back cover contains an "All About Small Arms" Combat Album profile for the Guns of the Gestapo, including the Walther PP, Mauser HSc, and the Mauser 1910, with art by Sam Glanzman.
- For story four, "Surgeon in the Sky", writer Robert Kanigher acknowledges the help of Captain Morris R. Rapoport, a flight surgeon for the 15th Air Force, for his medical advice in the writing of the story.
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- Discuss G.I. Combat Vol 1 236 on the forums
- Cover gallery for the G.I. Combat series
Links and References
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