Now he is lying in the mud, uniform smoldering. He is stunned, shaking his head, not able to comprehend what has happened. His hearing is muffled, something shrill in his ears…no wait, that is screams. He gathers his wits and rolls to his hands and knees. His halftrack…yes, they must have been hit. How did he get here? He…must have…been….thrown clear.
It all comes to him now, and the screams are terrible. He is up in an instant, rushing towards the flaming halftrack. His crew, he must get his crew. The heat is terrible as he runs up to his blazing vehicle. He rushes in from the rear, seeing the driver and co-driver pinned in the wreckage. The engine is flaming away, greedily licking at his men.
The driver is pinned in crushed wreckage but his co-driver is not. The co-driver has lost an arm and is unconscious. The driver is burning and Diemer sees he cannot free the man.
The driver is out of his mind from fear and pain, screaming in agony, flames charring his flesh as he tries desperately to beat them away. Dear Gott, there is nothing to be done for him, thinks Diemer in horror and desperation.
A pistol shot rings out and the flaming wreck of a once-human being jerks and is silent, still flaming but mercifully quiet. Diemer wonders who just shot his driver, then leadenly looks down and sees the pistol in his own hand and knows he just did what he instinctively knew had to be done.
Holstering quickly, he drags his co-driver from the flaming vehicle. They are close to the woods so he keeps on dragging his crewman through the mud and towards the comparative safety of the trees, hoping the man doesn’t bleed out before he can try to stem the injury. He notices that the Russians aren’t shooting at them anymore and thanks Heaven for that.
Moments later Diemer’s section commander, Untersturmführer Poe, takes fire from relocated Soviet armor. In less than 25 seconds the Russians knock out his halftrack. Poe is more fortunate than his other section members. He and his crew all manage to bail out of their stricken halftrack and seek cover in the house they thought they were concealed behind. The SS infantry Sanitäter immediately begins working on their wounds.