Escape From Stalag VIIIB

The Recce

14 September 1943

The party members are up just before 07.00 and Auntie Marie cooks them breakfast before they head off, with Piotr leading them back to the tram station.

The journey to the stop that the mysterious King circled takes them a little over 45 minutes and requires them changing a couple of times as the location is towards the northern outskirts of the city. They alight from the tram and wait at the benches opposite. Right on time, the mystery man comes and sits next to them.

He sits and says nothing for ten minutes, which Piotr finds frustrating.

“So why are we here?” he asks.

“We are here to wait and watch,” he says. “Keep looking to the road to the north.”

They wait and watch for half an hour, but there is nothing unusual – just a few commuters, but not too many as the area is so far from the centre.

Then they see why they have been brought here.

The first thing they see is an eight-wheeled Sd. Kfz. 234/1 armoured scout car driving towards them, going at a rapid pace. They see that the commander is stood up above the hatch. They watch the pace of the vehicle slow as the scout car has to negotiate a tricky hairpin turn.

Next they see their prey – the arrogant looks, the blonde hair, the steely blue eyes and immaculate uniform of the passenger in the open-top Mercedes saloon tells that this is Heydrich. Next to him, driving the saloon is a huge bear of a man. Following Heydrich’s staff car is a Horch staff car – containing four SS officers by the look of their uniforms and, bringing up the rear, an Opel Blitz. They peer in the back as it passes and see that it contains what appears to be a squad of SS troopers. Once the vehicles have negotiated the tight hairpin, the convoy speeds up again as it hurtles towards Prague Castle.

Once it has disappeared out of sight, the King speaks:

“It is the same plan every day,” he explains. “We have been watching the convoy for weeks now and it is always the same. Only the timing differs – it can be as early as 9.00am or as late as 10.00am, but it is always the same convoy taking the same route.”

“This hairpin is the only time when the convoy has to slow down to under 10 km/h. Along the rest of the route they are travelling too fast to get a good shot at him.”

There is a pause before he continues.

“You see the bushes in front of the dead conifer in the scrubland on the bank opposite?” he asks.

They all nod in the affirmative.

“Your weapons will be dropped there just before dawn. Everything else is up to you. Return to the safehouse after it is done.”

With that, he gets up once more and leaves.

The party members get up off the bench and start to wander around the neighbourhood, working out where the best shooting angles will be. They spend the best part of the morning muttering possibilities to one another until finally they have all chosen their spots. With nothing else to do for the rest of the day, they take the trams back to Auntie Marie’s safehouse and then spend the remainder of the day fine-tuning the plan before getting an early night.

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NickPendrell

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