Escape From Stalag VIIIB

Lodd Wakes Up
21st September 1943

Another air pocket jolted the Ju88, rousing Lodd from his well earned slumber. The fat Italian they had kidnapped was piloting the craft, being watched alternately by Terry and Taffy. The jolt caused a sharp pain in his wounded shoulder, and he grunted.

The drive to L’Aquila airfield had been without incident, and before the bemused airfield crew had known what was happening, Terry was driving through two lines of parked aircraft towards a pair of Ju88s that were being prepped, clipping a few wings as he did so. Lodd and the others had disembarked near the fighters, and had wreaked what havoc they could.

As the Garrison had struggled to life it had been just too late, and Terry had overseen Il Duce while the plane was readied. Lodd dimly remembered Taffy shouting at him.

“It’s not a fucking sniper rifle its an LMG!”" he yelled, grabbing hold of the MG 42. “Give it here and get back to the plane with the others.” Taffy grunted with satisfaction as he took a line of four germans down like ninepins.

Lodd shook his head, his animal brain dimly remembering his Russian officer’s admonition not to waste precious bullets. He lumbered back to the plane, ignoring the pain from his wound.

As the Ju88 had started to taxi the padre had shouted to Taffy, who sprinted for the door and was hauled aboard. With fires raging on the airfield behind them, they staggered into the air.

Lodd considered the import of their mission.

“Lodd sleep now. Lodd eat much food when we get home”. He started to snore.

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One by Bloody One...
September 24, 1943

England

“Pyotr, we need to talk.” said Admiral Barrington as the Kvalen Island mission briefing broke up.

“Is it something the whole team needs to hear?” responded the Pole in his flawless English, glancing towards his comrades in arms, as they began to file out of the meeting room.

“No. They know about the need to investigate the S.S. presence on the island, but you alone will understand the importance of this information.” pausing, “Perhaps he would as well,” the senior officer added, looking at the broad back of Lodd as the giant Slav exited, probably in search of Vodka. “But then he wouldn’t process the information in the same way as you or I, would he?”

“Better to keep this between us, my friend, as your Baltoslavic heritage allows you to understand what I am about to tell you better than the North Americans, or even Taffy.”

“Yes?” asked Pyotr.

“We have information that the S.S. activities on Kvalen Island involve a Finnish priest named Kustaa. His history, as nearly as we can tell, relates to Runic Summoning magic.” Barrington drew a deep breath, “Pyotr, we think the S.S. are working with him to raise one or more Norse gods.”

Letting that sink in, the Admiral went on, “Tell Bob, if he gets Kustaa in his sights, to aim right between the eyes.”

The Polish officer nodded.

“And tell him to hit this time.” Barrington finished, dismissing Kowalcyzk with a stern look.

Pyotr saluted crisply and left.

Back at their quarters, Pyotr and the others went over the briefing materiel they’d been given.

“We’re to be dropped off at the Northwestern tip of the island, where patrols are least likely to spot us.” said Taffy, “Then we’re to make our way to the Southern part, where the U-Boat base is, and destroy that. We’ll be given cover identities as German Abwehr, and we’re to rendezvous with our O.S.S. liaison, an Norwegian named Anders Trygstad, who is undercover as a Kriegsmarine officer. After we hit the base, we’re to investigate an S.S. camp at the Southern end of Kvalen, then destroy the Radar installation in the center of the island before making our way back to the original insertion point to await extraction.”

“In keeping with our cover identities, we’ll be issued German weapons, uniforms, and I.D. papers. Pyotr will be Major Wilhelm Stransky, I’ll be Leutnant Karl Heffernan, the rest of you will be our escort, and Lodd, you’ll be mute.” Taffy finisihed.

“What about opposition, Sarge? How many mooks are we facin’?” aked Terry.

“Fifty to one hundred veteran Wehrmacht infantry, a few armoured cars, some ack ack batteries, and a couple hundred sailors from the U-Boats.” Bob said before Taffy could respond, reading from the briefing notes.

“The Kriegsmariners shouldn’t be a problem, but that’s a lot of infantry, mates.” added Bruce.

“Is not too many. After I am done, only leaves one or two for each of you.” laughed Lodd in his broken English.

“Provided you use your Machine Gun as an automatic weapon, rather than as a sniper rifle, or worse yet, a club.” snapped Taffy. “Otherwise we’ll be at this mission for the rest of the bloody war, while you kill every German one by bloody one…”

“Is so, yes?” chuckled Lodd.

“If that’s all, let’s head for the Submarine. _Hermes_’ captain wants to put out to sea as soon as possible.” said Pyotr.

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All Ashore That's Going Ashore...
September 28, 1943

Barents Sea

4:00 AM, Local Time

“UGhhhGGHA” The splattering noise of vomit was enough to tell the rest of the crew of the little submarine that Lodd had thrown up on the back of the soldier in front of him.

Everyone knew it was coming…Lodd’s glassy eyes, pale clammy face and groans of gastric upset all hailed the advent of claustrophobia induced sea-sickness. Unfortunately ‘mini’ was the most descriptive term of the small insertion submarine that was to land the team on to the shores of Kvalen Island. In the tight quarters, once a soldier sat down and strapped in movement was very restricted.

YOU BASTARD!!!” Screamed Taffy from the front seat, as the Slav’s previous, half digested meal leaked under the Welshman’s thin tee-shirt back.

“I will bloody kill you!!” Sergeant Williams tried to turn around in his seat to deliver the hulking Lodd a death blow with his combat knife, but was unable to do so due to the cramped space.

He then unsuccessfully tried to avoid Lodd’s next load of wet guts.

“Bloody wanker!”

“Don’t be so hard on him Taffy,” said Tanker First Class Mallory in his signature harsh Brooklyn accent “We was at the Captain’s Mess table on the Hermes last night clinkin’ glasses and suckin’ down the borsht for his masticating pleasure: he must ‘a got his self three sheets to an ill wind and the Barents Sea is now doin’ a tap dance on the big lugs gastronomy system.”

“M’ sorry, Taf—-UGhhhGGHA” says Lodd.

Neither Lodd nor Taffy felt any better about the situation even after the team swam the short distance to Kvalen Islands shore through the ice encrusted surf.

In the dim light of the moon the commandos stripped out of their swimming gear, dressed in Nazi uniforms, and equipped themselves with Wehrmacht weaponry.

Suddenly the hair on the back of Grumpy Bob’s neck rose and he had his rifle out and aimed at a spot in the darkness. He waited, the barrel of his Gewehr ’43 steady as a rock.

Eventually a German Kriegsmarine Officer stepped out from behind a tree, his hands in the air.

“I am Anders Trygstad, I am your contact here.” His English had a thick Norwegian accent.

Looking at Bob he said, “Don’t shoot.”

Pyotr said, " You are our O.S.S. Liaison?"

Trygstad replied in flawless German, “Yes. I look forward to working with your team. Your reputation precedes you. Tell me Herr Count, how was it to work with the ace fighter pilot Franco Bordoni-Bisleri?”

“He’s dead.”

“Oh…well I heard you worked with one of my good acquaintances, Father Andrezej Cerny on the Karlstien Castle mission, how is he doing?”

“He’s dead, too”

“Dear me…should I even ask about a lady friend of mine, Lorelei Holdst…”

“Oh yeah…tall blonde girl. World class fencer before the war broke out. Yes I know her.”

“Good.” says Trygstad with a sigh “How is she doing?”

“She’s dead. Now lets get a move on.”

4:30 PM, Local Time

“Enemy patrols: eliminated.”

“Submarine Base: disabled.”

“S.S. Paranormal activities: investigated, and stopped.”

“Radar Station: destroyed.”

“Good work, chaps.” Said Taffy, as he finished checking off the mission goals with grease pencil on the plastic sheet he was using to take notes for the eventual debriefing at HQ when they returned to England.

Standing close to the shore, suited up once again in his swim gear, Terry quipped, “Now alls thats left is for us to convince Lodd to get back into the mini sub…”

Putting away the note sheet, Taffy smiled, “I don’t care if he gets on or stays here, but I call the back seat.”

“Sorry.” muttered Lodd, then he added, “Is too bad about Anders. He was good man.”

“He’s dead. Now let’s get a move on.” said Pyotr, as the small group began wading into the surf…

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Yum, Lamb Pie...
October 4, 1943

O.S.I. HQ, England

“Sargent, I know you and the boys have only been back from Kvalen Island for a few days,” Major Hendry began.

“A ‘few’ days? Sir, if I may, it’s barely been two days since we returned. That giant oaf Lodd’s only just gotten over being seasick. We haven’t even gotten a proper leave yet.” replied Taffy, before the officer could finish.

“Nevertheless Sargent, we’ve received intel from our contacts in the French underground that the Germans are almost ready to activate a new type of shore battery on the Normandy coast. Admiral Barrington has decided we need an immediate recon mission to determine how it works, and, if possible, to render it inoperable.”

“Render it bloody inoperable?” snapped Taffy, before he could catch himself, “Pardon, sir, but won’t they just build another?”

“They might, but Goering was very much against this project, and the other German high muckety mucks only got Hitler to ok it on the premise that it showed immediate results. As this is both an experimental unit designed to further test the science involved, and a functional prototype that could bolster the Normandy defenses in case we decide to land there in the coming year, knocking it out would serve a dual purpose…and might cause Hitler to focus his attention on another project at the same time, throwing away the time and research they’ve sunk into this one…”

“But sir, why us? Certainly there must be another team more rested than we are?”

“No, Roland and his Special Air Service group are on assignment in Italy. Vigo and the lads are doing something for us in Russia, and, to top it all off, Nimitz has requested OSI assistance in the Solomon Islands. Apparently the Japs are in league with a particularly powerful local witch doctor and the Marines are requesting help locating the source of his juju, so they can put him down. So OSI Europe had to detail three teams to OSI Pacific for the immediate future. Long and the short of it is: tag, you’re it.”

“Well then, Sir, when do we leave?” said Taffy, buckling down to duty in that most English way.

“Tomorrow night.”

“Bloody hell. Tomorrow night? I’ve got supper at me mum’s…” stopping himself once again, Taffy went on, “Mission details, Sir?”

Unrolling a tactical map on the briefing table, Hendry pointed to various spots as he droned on, but it was all Taffy could do to keep from thinking of his mum’s Lamb pies he’d be missing on the morrow…

“…dropping you in at night, in bad weather, to provide cover…increased underground sabotage activity in the area scheduled to coincide with the mission, to provide a distraction…resistance members will liaise with you, to provide direction…”

…Taffy’s mouth watered…

“…Admiral is allowing you to choose your option for dress and weapons: SS Men with false papers, local farmers with false papers, or straight in, as Commandos…extraction point will be down the beach a few klicks from the battery…any questions?”

…with a seasoned soldier’s ability to process a tactical briefing and simultaneously imagine eating hot food, Taffy snapped to attention. “None, Sir. Shall I brief the men?”

“Just one more thing, Sargent.”

“Sir?”

“When I heard your group drew this mission, after such a short R & R, I took the leave of ringing up your mum to apologize on behalf of HQ. Her response was, ‘My boy fights for his country, when his country needs him.’ Then she sent enough meat pies to feed the whole group before the plane ride over tomorrow night. " Hendry said. “I’ll have the boys in the commissary get ’em ready when you leave. Nothing like good home cooked food to get a man ready for a dangerous mission, right Sargent?”

Without waiting for a reply, the US Army Major rolled up his map, nodded, and left the room.

For the first time during that day, maybe even that whole week, hell, maybe since the bloody war began, Taffy smiled a genuine smile…

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So Loud Lodd
October 6, 1943

Normandy, 3:35 AM, a few kilometers from the beach near Battery AR-35

“…got some blue sky action, king for a day…” Terry sang softly to himself as he passed a roll of bandages to Bruce.

Taffy groaned, still only partly aware of his surroundings, as he lay on his back in the muddy road that snaked through the marshy dunes of the Normandy coast.

“What’s that, mate?” the padre asked.

“Nuthin’ Bruce. Will he live?”

“I’ve done as much as I can with modern medical methods. Time to call on the Almighty.” And, with that, the Aussie Chaplain muttered a short prayer.

Terry hated this part.

Bruce abruptly stopped praying, his head tilting up towards the night sky until the angle looked like it would snap his neck. He stayed like that for a second or two, then his head came back down, until it seemed he was looking directly at Terry.

“Deus , dona mihi, misero peccatori hac vita , etiam si sit Walensium…” droned the Priest, his staring eyes completely white, his skin glowing softly, as he ran his hands over Taffy’s wounds.

Terry shivered and crossed himself. Then he almost broke out laughing as he realized who he was calling on to protect him from whom. He crossed himself again anyway.

Suddenly Bruce exhaled mightily, his eyes resuming their normal color. Seeing the worried look on Terry’s face, he mumbled, “Don’t worry Mate, he’ll be right as rain in ten minutes. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got to close my eyes a few tics…”

As the Padre moved off to rest a moment, the other members of the team crowded round the still groggy but slowly recovering Welshman.

“We thought you were going to die.” said Pyotr, himself recently saved from capture at the hands of a Wehrmacht patrol after he’d landed far off the mark when they parachuted into the drop zone near Nimes.

“I thought you were surrendering, the way you went to your knees in front of that German trooper and stayed there for a few seconds.” laughed Bob, uncharacteristically jovial, “Then you toppled face forward into the mud and I knew you were gone to blood loss, eh?”

“Kept the damn Nazi occupied for a few seconds while he tried to figure out what to do, so you immobilized one even when you were out of action yourself, Seargent.” said Pyotr.

“While you sleep, you miss my machinegun, Taffy.” came a rumble from Lodd, “I use it like you tell me. I shoot many bullets at German swine.”

“About that,” interjected Taffy, now mostly awake, mostly, “I was in the fight long enough to scream at you to stop firing indiscriminately into the darkness in front of you. Bloody oaf, I was in front of you in the darkness!”

Holding up his hands in supplication, the Beast of Belgrade chuckled, “Could not hear you shouting at me over noise of machinegun. Maybe another reason not to fire so many bullets all at once…?”

Taffy groaned, secretly wishing he was still unconscious…

“Let’s get going, Taffy, if you feel up to it?” asked Pyotr. “We still have to infiltrate and destroy the AR-35 Battery before dawn…”

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Reached the Beach
October 6, 1943

11:00 am, a kilometer off the beach in a small boat

“What I wouldn’t give to see the look on Jerry’s face when he figures out we demolished his fancy new shore battery…” laughed Bruce as the salt spray from the waves broke over the heaving bow, and momentarily drenched them all.

“Won’t be long before survivors get radio working and tell him…” rumbled Lodd.

“I keep tellin’ you, buddy, ‘Jerry’ is slang for the Germans, not a real guy…” said Terry patiently to Lodd.

The big Slav grunted in response.

“Well, I’ve got snaps of the inner workings of the battery, as well as a few of those ’ Maschinenmensch’ that we had to fight in the bunker." said Taffy, “Should make HQ happy…”

“Those things gave me the creeps.” muttered Terry.

“Well, they’re all dead…” Taffy went on.

“That we know of…” interrupted the Yank.

“…and, we accomplished the mission.”

“Maybe we’ll get a promotion.” Bob added hopefully, “I’m one of the best shots in the Army, and I’m tired of being a Corporal.”

“Best shot in the Canadian Army, you mean.” snickered Terry, “That’s like being the hundredth best shot in the good ’ol USA Army, ya know, bud?”

“None of you have what it takes to be a noncommissioned Officer anyway, so shut it.” snapped Taffy.

“What makes you so special, Sarge?” asked Terry mockingly.

“Well, for starters, to be a good NCO, you have to give up your sense of humor.” answered the British Sapper.

The two men, American Boxer and Welsh Demo Man, stared at each other a moment.

Then both broke out laughing.

“Well done, lads, well done..” said Piotr, as he turned to look across the Channel, towards England, and their next mission…

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Back to the Med
October 8, 1943

General Thomason is sat behind with his boots resting on his huge, cluttered desk, a tumbler of whisky in one hand and a dossier resting in his lap.

“At ease, guys,” the General says, not looking up from the folder. “Grab yourselves a seat.”

He puffs on a large cigar and seemingly ignores everyone for the best part of five minutes as he continues to read the dossier.

He slaps it shut over-dramatically and tosses it on his desk.

“Good work, guys,” he says as a rare smile crosses his face momentarily.

“After all that, I’m sure that you’re ready for a little vacation,” he says.

Taffy nods vigorously. "Yes, that we are, Sir. “Me Mum’s dead angry at me for missing supper the last time – after she cooked me favourite rarebit, she did. It’s hard to get all the ingredients, what with the rationing and all.”

The General doesn’t seem to be listening.

“Yeah, a nice little vacation is what you all need,” he continues. “I’ve heard that the Med is nice at this time of year. The weather’s a lot nicer than it is here in Limey-land – not to mention up north in Kvalen-land.”

“Where about in the Med, exactly?” asks the Padre suspiciously?

“Gibraltar. That nice, safe little rock well away from all of the troubles.”

“And what are we going to do when we get there?” Piotr asks, even more suspiciously.

“Commander Ian Fleming will meet you and fill you in on the details,” he says. “You must have made a really good impression on it from the Mussolini snatch. He requested you guys in particular for his latest little job.”

Shoulders shrug in resignation all round.

“Have all your kit ready for you to leave at 1930 hours. If you need any Kraut ammo for your weapons, request them from the QM. Full load-out. You may be gone for quite a while.”

“Thank you, gentlemen. That will be all. Gloria will see you out.”

And with that, he picks up another dossier and starts to read.

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Gibraltar Again
October 9, 1943

The Liberator wasn’t built for comfort. But the party members have all learned to grab some shut-eye whenever and however possible. So all sleep soundly throughout the nightflight until they are jolted back to consciousness as the plane touches down on the Gibraltar airstrip.

As they exit the aircraft and stretch their legs, they see that dawn is just breaking over the large, jagged rock at the centre of the island. A few minutes pass before a Bedford pulls up next to them.

“Sling your gear in the back, mates and I’ll take you to the NAAFI. You’re just in time for breakfast.”

The party member have also learned to grab a good hot meal whenever the opportunity arises, and so all take advantage of the airfield canteen. Especially Lodd.

They are allowed to enjoy their meal and relax for another half hour before the driver returns.

“All finished?” he asks. " I need to take you to the Naval HQ."

With Gibraltar being such a tiny speck on the map, it takes less than ten minutes before the truck pulls up outside the imposing white building that is the RN’s main centre of operations for the Mediterranean.

“I’l look after your gear,” says the driver. “Just introduce yourself at reception. Commander Fleming is expecting you.”

“Good to see you all again, chaps,” says Commander Fleming. “Please all take a chair.”

“So I hear that you’ve been operating in Northern Europe for a while. Well I’m sure you’re all glad to return to the lovely weather down here and to be where the action is.”

“Anyway, I am sure that you are all very curious as to what we have in store for you. Well I am glad to say that we are sending you on a nice little cruise around the Med.”

“In submarine or big ship?” asks Lodd nervously.

“A submarine, actually,” Fleming replies. “But it is a big submarine.”

“Јебена курво!” Lodd curses at the memory of his last submarine journey. Taffy doesn’t seem too impressed with the idea either.

“To do what, exactly?” Grumpy Bob asks. Grumpily.

“The first part of the mission will be quite routine,” Fleming explains. “You’ll be sailing through the Med on HMS Torbay, stopping off at four different places to pick up four different S.O.E. agents. The first three stops should be fairly routine: Go ashore to a prearranged rendezvous point, contact the agent and transport him back to the sub. These pickups are secondary to the main mission and extraordinary risks are not to be taken in carrying them out. Under no circumstances is anything to be done that will jeopardize the completion of the main mission.”

“The fourth landing, however, is part of your primary mission: Operation Prometheus.”

“So what’s Operation Prometheus?” asks Terry.

“You will be landed in Greece, near Thessalonika.”

“Near my home!” Lodd says, cheering up quickly.

“Yes,” Fleming replies patiently. “Not too far from Yugoslavia.”

“Here you will contact a chap called Paul Gorich. He’s an SIS agent who was based in Moscow in the late Thirties, in the years when the Soviet Union was as much of a threat to us as the Nazis. There he was part of a network which had just managed to convince two important Soviet scientists to defect when Stalin started on his purges and contact was lost with them.”

“For a long while it was assumed that they had died in the purges – and Gorich along with them, as nothing was heard from him either. But recently, Gorich managed to contact us – from Romania, where he has been working with partisans. He says that he has been able to track down the Popoviches through a member of the Romanian resistance. His contact wants to make a deal – we supply him with arms and ammunition and he gives us the Popoviches.”

Fleming shrugs.

“Naturally we are more than happy to oblige. The more trouble that the partisans can cause to Hitler’s allies, the sooner they are likely to sue for peace or come over to our side – like the Italians did.”

“Lieutenant Clutterbuck, commander of the HMS Torbay, is in overall charge of the mission, but the six of you will have full authority over all operations on land. You will be accompanied on the mission by agent Paula MacDonald from the S.S.I.”

Lodd’s eyes go wide and he smiles broadly.

“Please all keep your paws off her now, chaps. The relations between S.O.E., S.S.I, and O.S.I. are messy and fragile enough already without any of you making things even worse.”

“So, to summarize, the primary goal of Operation Prometheus is to locate Drs. Alexei and Tanya Popovich and to bring them back under Allied control, along with whatever technical information that they possess, at all costs.”

“Seems simple enough,” says Piotr, confidently.

“There is just one minor little complication,” Fleming says a little sheepishly. “We don’t actually know where Gorich is. All we know is where to find somebody who we think knows where he is.”

Fleming looks at his watch.

“Any quick questions from anyone at this stage?” he asks. “All of the crew and the weapons and ammunition for the partisans are already onboard the Torbay. They are just waiting for you before they get underway.”

Terry smacks his left fist into his right palm, and smiles, “Good. A chance to do the Heinies some harm in their soft bits. And, speaking of heinies, are Greek women really as beautiful as I’ve heard, sir?” he pauses, then laughs outright, “I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough anyways…”

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Aboard HMS Torbay
October 9, 1943

Lodd let out another Slavic curse as the Bedford pulled up alongside the dark submarine.

“Well, it’s bigger than the last one at least, mate,” comments the Padre, trying to put a positive spin on the mission.

Everyone grabs their gear and lugs it up the gangplank onboard the HMS Torbay. A Midshipman salutes them all crisply and then ushers them down the hatch.

“This will be your quarters for the next week or so,” the Midshipman says.

It is certainly a lot roomier than the Hermes was.

“Lieutenant Clutterbuck is ready to meet you as soon as you are ready.”

The fact that the Midshipman is still standing at attention leads them to believe that they had better meet the Commander sooner rather than later and so they decide to settle into their quarters.

They are led into the Commander’s quarters. Lieutenant Clutterbuck is there together with a woman in her late-twenties, dressed in submariner’s fatigues.

“So you chaps must be Fleming’s finest,” the Lieutenant says warmly. “Please, make yourselves at home.”

“Let me introduce you to Paula MacDonald from the S.O.E.,” he adds.

Paul smiles and shakes everyone by the hand.

“Fleming has said a lot of good things about you,” Clutterbuck continues, settling back into his chair. “No details of course. I know that everything with you chaps is on a need to know basis. If you’ve impressed Fleming, then I am sure that you are the right men for the mission.”

“So Fleming has told you what you’re here for, I presume?”

“Only the very basics,” Taffy replies. “He didn’t go into any details.”

Clutterbuck sighs. “That’s probably because it’s all rather vague at the moment. Let me hand you over to Miss MacDonald to fill you in on the first job that we have for you.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant,” Paul starts. “The first part of the missions should not cause us too many difficulties, hopefully. We just need to pick up three other agents who will help us put together the pieces of the jigsaw that will hopefully lead us to the Popoviches. The first pickup is less than 100 miles from here in Spain, the next in Corsica and the third in Libya. And then we head to Greece.”

“The first pickup is going to be just outside the city of Malaga in Spain. it is only a few hours away from Gibraltar and so we should arrive early. As soon as it is completely dark, we will set out in inflatables and reach the coast. From there we will head inland for just under a mile where we should wait until we are met by an S.I.S. agent called Jorge Segovia.”

“Here is his photo, although it’s a fair few years out of date now. We will recognize each other by codewords, however. His is ‘Flaming Torch’ and ours is ‘Glow worm’. All we need to do then is to escort him back to the submarine.”

“What do we know about him?” Piotr asks.

“Not a great deal,” Paula admits. “He was a junior officer in the Republican Army during the Spanish Civil War. he started working for us immediately after the Civil War ended in the hope that the British would assist in overthrowing the Fascist government. Obviously the British government has rather more pressing matters at the moment though than to get involved in stirring up trouble in a neutral country.”

“What is the situation in Spain at the moment?” asks Bob.

“It’s fairly stable,” Paula replies. “Being Fascist, they may favour the Nazis a little over us, but they have seen enough of war already and Franco has successfully managed to avoid Spain getting too involved with it. So we are not expecting any trouble on this leg of the exercise.”

“Well it’s time to get this boat on it’s way now, gentlemen,” the Lieutenant says, rising to his feet. “As this will be a night exercise, I suggest that you all catch 40 winks while we are underway. Speed is of the essence throughout this mission. The longer that it drags on for, the less chance we have of finding the Popoviches.”

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En Route to Malaga
October 9, 1943

The party members take the Lieutenant up on his suggestion and head for their bunks. They feel the submarine being pulled from its berth and then heading out for open waters. Thankfully the waters of the Mediterranean are a lot calmer than the choppy North Sea and Lodd is the first of them to fall asleep.

It’s late in the afternoon when they all come to and they head off to the mess hall to get something to eat. They find Paul in there, stripping a sten gun. She looks at her watch.

“Only a few more hours now,” she says. “We’re not far from the drop-off point already. We just need to wait until 2100 until it’s fully dark so that the sub can surface without being seen.”

The party member eat heartily and then they too start checking their weapons and loading themselves out.

At 2055, the Midshipman comes to collect them. “The Lieutenant says that the coast is clear. We are surfacing now.”

He leads them all to the conning tower where they join the Lieutenant, who is studying the coastline through binoculars. They can see the lights of Malaga just to the north-east.

“All seems to be in order,” he says. “Good luck, chaps, and remember that speed is of the essence.”

Several seamen are in the process of inflating a couple of dinghies, which they push into the water.

“Can any of you chaps steer a boat?” Paul asks.

They all look at one another.

“Well I can drive and I can swim,” Terry says. “I’m guessin’ that it must be pretty much a combination of the two.”

“Maybe I had better take the first boat in that case,” Paula replies. “You take the second.”

She makes sure that the two dinghies are tied together with a long length of rope, then she takes the first boat together with Taffy, the Padre and Piotr, while Terry, Bob and Lodd take the second. Once all are inside, they all start paddling for the shore.

Fortunately, the sea is calm and so it takes them only 15 minutes before they hear the crunch of the boats hitting the beach. They drag the boats up off the beach and hide them among the undergrowth and then set off into the interior.

After half an hour, Paula stops them.

“This is the place,” she says pointing to a roadside shrine. Unsurprisingly considering the late hour, there is no one there.

“All we can do is to wait and hope that he turns up.”

Everyone surveys the area and then Taffy allocates covered positions for everyone where they can surround the shrine and keep a look out for anyone approaching it.

And then they wait.

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