DC Database
Advertisement

"The Saints Go Riding On": At a country church in war-ravaged Italy, where the priceless statues of St. Anthony, St. Francis, St. Sebastian, and St. Paul are kept in safety, the Mother Superior and her disciple Sister Angela kneel and pray for a swift end to the war. But the war has come to them

Quote1.png Hurry, Jeb... or you will be too late to save those trapped inside the church... who will later be the instruments of saving you! Quote2.png
General J.E.B. Stuart

G.I. Combat #180 is an issue of the series G.I. Combat (Volume 1) with a cover date of July, 1975.

Synopsis for "The Saints Go Riding On"

At a country church in war-ravaged Italy, where the priceless statues of St. Anthony, St. Francis, St. Sebastian, and St. Paul are kept in safety, the Mother Superior and her disciple Sister Angela kneel and pray for a swift end to the war. But the war has come to them, and the town is attacked from above by a German Stuka plane. The church is hit, sending flaming debris raining down onto the two. Sister Angela is crushed beneath the weight. She clings to life, and the Mother Superior desperately tries to free her from underneath the burning rubble.

At that moment, the Haunted Tank enters the town. Lt. Jeb Stuart spots the smoke rising from the burning church, just as the ghost of his ancestor, General J.E.B. Stuart appears before them. The ghost pleads with him to save those who are trapped inside, as they will be the instruments of his salvation later. The German Stuka loops around to make another attack, but the Haunted Tank open fires on the approaching plane, destroying it before it can destroy them. Jeb and the others hop out and rush into the burning church, finding the Mother Superior still trying to free the Sister. Gus kneels down, cradling the deceased Sister Angela in his arms. Jeb tries to force the Mother Superior out of the church, but she refuses and pleads with them to help her save the statues of the Saints. He relents, if just to get her out of there faster. Once out of the church and safe, Slim informs Jeb that HQ had radioed them to say that a Panzer squadron has been spotted heading their way. The guys decide it’s best to get out of town, but the Mother Superior won’t leave until Sister Angela has a proper burial. Jeb and Gus quickly dig a grave, and the Mother gives a small prayer as the Sister is laid to rest. Once they have finished, Jeb offers to take the Mother Superior and her statues out of the German’s way and to safety. She agrees, but only if she can ride outside the tank, as her faith in St. Anthony will protect her.

The Haunted tank high tails it out of the village with the Mother and her statues on board. As they clank into the woods outside of town, they are greeted by a German roadblock armed with bazookas. Jeb is hit by a bullet, and the tank is pounded by shells from the bazooka. With no choice left to her, the Mother Superior prays to God then takes hold of the tank’s machine gun and fires. Her shots do not kill, but the lashing bursts are enough to drive the Germans into retreat. The Mother explains to Jeb that all life is sacred, and she will not kill. She then tends to Jeb’s wound.

An hour later, the Haunted tank becomes mired in marshy ground. Jeb orders Slim to cut the motor. There’s no way they’re going to get out without help. A near miss alerts the group that the Germans have caught up with them, and Jeb orders everyone to abandon the tank and leave everything behind. The Mother Superior refuses to leave without the Saints, and against his better judgement the four grab the statues and begin to traipse through the deep sludge of the marsh. Behind them, a Panzer tank enters the wetlands in pursuit. The German tank commander, spotting the American’s shadows in the underbrush ahead, orders his tank to fire on them. The shadows are hit, and fall. Satisfied with his kill, the Germans then turn back towards the Haunted Tank only to be surprised when it open fires. The Panzer and its crew are destroyed. Jeb, atop the Haunted Tank, tells Slim to try and gun it out of the marsh, while he goes back into the woods to look for the Mother Superior, where they had left her in safety. He fids her crouched behind a tree, and she thanks God for their safety. The Mother Superior’s plan worked. The statues were left in the underbrush, and fooled the Germans into thinking they were the tank crew. Unfortunately, they were smashed in the deception. Jeb shows his regrets, but the Mother Superior tells him that the Saints protected them and saved them from doom, as they do for all who have faith.

Later, after returning to the helplessly mired Haunted Tank, the ghost of General Stuart appears and gives them a tow out of the thick mud. Jeb tries to explain his ghostly protector to the Mother Superior, but she understands. She does see him, as faith gives all vision to see things which cannot be explained.

Appearing in "The Saints Go Riding On"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

  • German pilot (Dies)
  • German Infantry soldiers

Other Characters:

  • Mother Superior (First appearance)
  • Sister Angela (First appearance) (Dies)

Locations:

Items:

  • Priceless Statues of the Saints
    • Saint Anthony
    • Saint Francis
    • Saint Sebastian
    • Saint Paul

Vehicles:

  • The Haunted Tank
  • German Junkers Ju 87 ground-attack plane
  • German Panzerkampfwagen IV tank


Synopsis for "Baptism of Fire"

The army is preparing for a big push into Cologne, and the company that Sgt. Phil "Red" Donegan is in charge of is in much need of replacements. However, all they get is a young Private named Denny Forbes, a kid barely out of school. The Sarge is furious with his new recruit, and lays into him harder than anyone, but his commanding officers order him to lay off. The kid stays, whether he like sit or not. So the Sarge has to accept it, but tells the kid to stay out of his way, and stay way back out of sight.

Five miles west of Cologne, the company hits the hardest of the fighting. The men are pinned down by enemy snipers, and Private Logan is killed. The men keep under cover, until the kid steps out and tries to take a shot at one of the snipers hiding atop a church steeple. The Sarge jumps out and knocks the kid back to the safety of cover. He takes the shot himself, killing the sniper. He then orders the kid to fall to the rear and tell the medics to pick up the dead, and then don't come back. The other men question the Sarge's motives, thinking that maybe there's another reason the kid can't be on the line, but the Sarge tells them to all shut up and follow his orders. A few minutes later, Lt. Haddon arrives by jeep and tells the Sarge that the company will move at 1400 hours and push on to Cologne tomorrow. Haddon also tells the Sarge to quit leaning on the Private, and that he stays out front with the others.

Upon the approach to Cologne, they could see the beating the town has been given by Allied bombers. There seemed like little left to take, but the enemy defended it with all their might. Sgt. Donegan has his own hands full keeping his own men in line without having to worry about the young private's hide as well. The Germans pull back into the city as the American Division pushed on. Sarge's platoon takes a lot of prisoners before they finally stop to regroup. Despite the kid's heroism fighting right along side the others in the front line, the Sarge continues to yell at him and lean on him hard. Throughout the night, the Germans continue to keep up the constant firing onto their position. the Sarge knew that the shelling was just the enemy's prelude to a counterattack that would come at dawn. The Germans attack, and Sarge and the kid are caught in the middle of the German advance. The kid sees a German soldier charging behind the Sarge, and leaps to help, only to get bayoneted in the back instead. The Sarge acts fast, killing the German and catching the kid before he hits the ground. The German's desperate attack would be in vain, and the American Infantry marched into Cologne the next day.

Later, Sgt. Donegan visits the kid private at the hospital. He is recovering from his wound, but he will be okay. Now alone, they can have a heart to heart talk... father to son. Red Donegan had divorced Danny's mother when he was young, and the kid had taken his stepfather's last name to avoid questions. Donegan explains that he had thought his son was too young to go to war, but that he was a fool for thinking a son of his could be kept out of the fighting. Later, as the Colonel pins a medal for courage to Denny's chest, a tear falls down Sgt. Phil Donegan's cheek.

Appearing in "Baptism of Fire"

Featured Characters:

  • Sgt. Phil "Red" Donegan

Supporting Characters:

  • Private Denny Forbes

Antagonists:

  • German Infantry soldiers

Other Characters:

  • Lieutenant Haddon
  • Private Logan (Dies)
  • American Infantry Colonel
  • American Infantry soldiers

Locations:

Items:

  • German Karabiner 98 kurz "Mauser" rifle
  • American Bronze Star medal

Vehicles:

  • American Willys MB Jeep

Trivia

  • In this months "Let's Make Tracks" letter column, editor Murray Boltinoff reveals an interesting item about West Point. During the graduating exercises, the last rank cadet in the class receives not only a 2nd Lieutenant commission, but also $1.00 from each fellow member in the class, the traditional tribute from the other cadets for the dubious honor. The most recent winner netted $821 cash.


See Also

Recommended Reading

Links and References

Advertisement