All watched over by virgins of loving grace

“The Guards’ command post occupied the crypt beneath a Catholic church, entered only on hands and knees through a hole scratched in the rubble. A decomposing German soldier lay near the entrance and those passing in and out would subsequently bow to him for luck, whispering, ‘Good evening, Hans.’ Shell fire and bombs had sliced open the burial vaults in the upper walls, scattering skeletons about the nave, and Tommies hung flypaper in a losing battle against insects. Pickets occupied three forward outposts, known as Jan, Helen, and Mary, in wrecked buildings barely a hundred yards from the German line. Sentries cradled their Bren guns beneath cockeyed wall prints of the Virgin, whose eyes remained fixed on heaven.” – Rick Atkinson, The Day of Battle

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