Escape From Stalag VIIIB

Meeting Katherine Simeto
October 14, 1943

The party members are woken up by the Midshipman at 03.00, telling them that the ETA for the sub surfacing should be 04.30, giving them just enough time to get their gear together and grab some breakfast. Jorge will also be joining them on this mission.

At 04.30, the party members are fully kitted out and waiting as the sub surfaces. Once again the coast seems clear, although all can hear the sound of intermittent artillery fire far in the distance. The group get into the two dinghies once again. Paula pilots the first again while Jorge, who has some skill with boats, takes control of the second. With all of the party members now having some experience with the inflatables, they make faster progress than they did on their first mission and it takes them just 15 minutes before they make landfall on the right beach. Once again, they drag the boats off the sand and hide them in some undergrowth and then head inland, with Paula leading the way once again.

They move cautiously after having been warned by Paula of the dangers of being in what could be enemy-controlled territory, keeping low and moving through trees close to the road wherever possible. Dawn breaks while they are on the road and it is completely light by the time they get to the shrine. While the others keep watch, Paula cautiously advances to the shrine.

A few moments later, a slim and very attractive blonde emerges from the undergrowth a few yards from the shrine. She is also carrying a sten. The others watch as the two women exchange a few words and then they advance to the remainder of the group.

“Well that was nice and easy this time,” Paula beams. “Everyone, please meet Katherine.”

Everyone shakes hands with her.

“I think that we should head straight for the boats and lay low until it is dark again,” Katherine suggests. “Corsica is not a very safe place to be at the moment. The SS Sturmbrigade Reichsfuhrer and the recently arrived 90th Panzergrenadiers are all heading northwards together with the Italian Parachute Division which has decided to continue with the access. They are heading from the south, aiming for the port of Brazia where they hope to evacuate to the Italian mainland. The two other Italian divisions have decided to join the Allies and are harassing the Germans as much as they can, being supported by The Maquis and a unit of Free French from Morocco who landed here a few days ago. So the sooner we get off the island and onto the sub, the safer we’ll be.”

“We can hole up where we left the boats so that we are ready to leave as soon as dusk falls,” agrees Paula.

And so the party members retrace their steps as they return to the beach, staying well off the track and keeping to cover as much as possible. All can definitely hear the sounds of battle not too far away now. The artillery fire in the distance seems to be getting closer, while there are occasional sounds of small arms fire, which can’t be more than a mile or so away. They also see planes bombing in the distance – fortunately they appear to be American planes.

It takes them a couple of hours of cautious movement before they are back at the beach., having not encountered anyone – friend or foe – along the way They hunt out the inflatables, but struggle to find them. After half an hour, they realize that they are simply not where they left them any more. They can see tracks from the position from the boats leading back to the see.

“Oh bugger,” Paula says. “Someone seems to have taken them.”

“Does anyone have any suggestions as to what we should do now?” she asks, hopefully.

“That’s it man! It’s over!” moans Bob, in his usual grumpy manner.

“Damn.” mutters Terry, “Maybe the Canuck is right this time. We never should have left the boats unguarded. My grand-mère, she was from Languedoc, and she always said Corsicans were nuthin’ but thieves…”

Both Jorge and Katherine nod in agreement. It seems like everyone hates Corsicans.

“You weren’t to know,” Katherine says sympathetically. “The Germans are grabbing anything that floats such is their haste to evacuate from the island. My guess was that it was some Germans who took it. Although it could be a local fisherman replacing a boat that was already taken by the Nazis.”

She shrugs. “Not that it makes much different to our situation who took it. All that matters is that we need to find an alternative way of getting out to the sub this evening.”

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Briefing Re: Corsica
October 13, 1943

The following three days are quiet and uneventful, allowing the party members to recover from the wounds that many of them suffered during the assault upon Quiepo’s Villa. Although the rest of the group are quite used to such missions, Paula took it quite badly and spent the entire period in the med bay.

After three days aboard the submarine, it’s getting to feel a little claustrophobic inside, especially now that Jorge is taking up another bunk.

Eventually, Paula has recovered enough so that she is able to brief the others while they are eating dinner in the Mess Hall.

“Well that was quite an adventure, chaps,” she says putting a brave face on the matter. “Let’s hope that the next pick-up is a little less eventful.”

“Unfortunately though, if any of the three pick ups are going to be dangerous, we thought that it would be the next one as we’ll be going into enemy-controlled territory for the next one.”

She opens a map of Corsica to show them.

“At least we think that we’ll be going into enemy-controlled territory. Unfortunately the situation in Corsica at the moment is very fluid and our Intel is not 100% up-to-date.”

“The island has been garrisoned for the past few months by the SS Sturmbrigade Reichsfuhrer. They were formed from Himmler’s personal bodyguard and have seen action both on the Eastern Front and in North Africa. So we are really hoping that we don’t run into any of them.”

“We believe that they have also recently been joined by the 90th Panzergrenadiers Division who evacuated from Sardinia. There are also three Italian divisions there, but we don’t know whose side they are on right now.”

“Probably the Italians don’t know themselves whose side they’re on,” Jorge snorts derisively.

“To complicate matters further,” Paula continues, The Maquis have now become very active there, and there was talk of the Free French invading."

“So, in summary, the situation there is very messy, to say the least. But hopefully we will get in and out without getting involved in any of the fighting at all.”

“The mission itself should be a re-run of the last mission – at least how the missions should have gone. The submarine is going flat out at the moment in order to get us to the drop off point at least an hour before dawn. Then, as before, we head for the shore and hide the boats.”

“We are being dropped off just north of the village and San Pelligrano,” she continues, while pointing at the map. “We then head inland for a little over two miles to another roadside shrine – S.I.S. doesn’t seem to have much variety when it comes to meeting locations – where we will hopefully meet with Katherine Simeto from S.I.S.’s Italian branch. Then it should just be a case of staying out of trouble during the remaining hours of daylight and then getting back to the sub as soon as it is dark once again.”

“Any questions?” she asks.

“What could possibly go wrong this time?” Bob grumbles, rhetorically.

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What To Do With Quiepo?
October 10, 1943

The badly wounded Paula unties Jorge and the pair of them babble away in Spanish while the remainder of the party decides what they will do with Quiepo. Bob wants to take the bastard out immediately, but Bruce is having none of it saying that it would contravene the Geneva Convention. The party members squabble over it for several minutes before Paula calls a halt to it, saying that they need Quiepo alive to make sure that they get out of the building without any more fighting – specifically with regards to the machine gun nest on the roof.

Begrudgingly in some cases, the groups heads to the doorway, with both of Terry’s pistols pointing at the back of Quiepo’s head. They wait until Quiepo tells his men to throw down their weapons and then the group disappears into the night.

It takes an hour and a half to walk back to the beach where they came ashore the previous evening. They recover their inflatables and paddle out into the still calm waters of the Med once again. Paula seems to know where she is going, so Terry just navigates the second boat right behind her. After twenty minutes of paddling, they see the HMS Torbay surfacing a few hundred yards away from them, and paddle towards it.

Ten minutes later and they are back aboard the sub. Immediately that they are onboard and their inflatables are stowed away, the sub submerges once again and resumes the trip further into the Mediterranean.

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Assault on Quiepo's Villa
October 10, 1943

Bob moaned all the way to stake out Quiepo’s villa where Jorge Segovia was being held to ransom. Paula had stopped trying to explain to them that they had no real alternative. They had no ransom money to pay and no time for any lengthy negotiations. They were just going to have to get Jorge the hard way.

As Carlos had informed them, the villa was less than an hour’s walk from the shrine. They edged towards it and stopped as soon as it was in sight so that each of them could take a better look at it. There didn’t seem to be many guards around, but they were positioned in such a way that there were no obvious blind spots. And the villa was so massive that it could easily accommodate an entire company.

They spent the next few hours trying to approach the villa from different angles, but still no blind spots because evident.

“The sub can’t afford to surface during daylight anyway,” Paula explained. “So we may as well just wait until it gets dark and go in using the cover of night.”

So they did.

It was 20.00 by the time that it was completely dark and they headed towards the back door of the villa. They managed to get fairly close before the one of the guards spotted Terry heading for the garage and let out a shot, which set the alarm off.

The guards outside were quickly dispatched as they made their way inside the villa. Terry, Lodd and the Padre went in through the garage, while Paul, Piotr and Bob went through the backdoor.

Guards armed with MP40’s were waiting for them, but they were no crack troops and the first wave lurking behind doorways were taken out quite quickly. Piotr decided that it would be a lot easier to take out the guards hiding behind tables and pillars using his grenades. However,the guards each had a grenade too and one of them managed to damage Paula badly as a result. Fortunately the Padre was on hand to get her back on her feet quite quickly.

There was a pause in the action as all of the guards on the ground floor were taken out and so the group headed for the stairs. Bob led the way up the back staircase, stunning a guard who was waiting to throw a grenade down at anyone coming up. Paula and Carlos rushed up after him and started brawling with the two guards at the top of the staircase. Unfortunately, neither of them were that skilled at hand-to-hand fighting and so the brawl with the two guards seemed to be a stalemate, causing a logjam on the stairs up.

Meanwhile, Lodd, Taffy and Terry were heading for the main staircase. As Lodd got close, he briefly heard a metallic clang close to his feet before he was thrown back from the explosion of a hand grenade. Taffy tried approaching from a different angle, but ended up with the same result as he got hit by another grenade.

Back at the brawl on the other staircase, Paula tried to disengage, getting an MP40 butt to the head in the process. Furious, she sprayed the combat with her sten, fortunately missing hitting Carlos, and the guard she was aiming for, but taking down the other one. Bob quickly finished off the last of the stair guards and their way to the top floor was finally open.

Piotr charged up, but was hit badly by more guards lurking in doorways, resulting in a major firefight.

By now Lodd and Taffy had both recovered from the grenades and were making their way up the main staircase along with Terry. One other guard tried lobbing a grenade at Terry, but his aim was off. With all their grenades now gone, the three party members made light work of them and reached the stop of the staircase.

Back at the north staircase, Bob took down one of the guards and Carlos advanced. Much to everyone’s alarm, the dead guard slowly got to his feet. Although the party members had grown used to such abominations, Carlos wasn’t, and ran away from the zombie screaming in terror. He ran from the zombie, unfortunately, away from the party. A burst of MP40 fire from inside the room he ran into signaled to the others that things were probably not looking that great for Carlos any more.

The group managed to take out the guards in the corridor and Piotr was the first through the door into the room, which he discovered contained Jorge, who was tied to a chair, Count Quiepo, one last remaining guard and a wild-eyed man in a white coat. Carlos was also standing, but the bullet holes in his chest and glazed look in his eyes showed that he too had been reanimated.

Piotr paid a high price for his charge into the room as he was nearly taken down by the MP40’s of Quiepo and the last guard. The man in the white coat sent a burst of energy towards the group approaching the room. Fortunately, everyone managed to leap out of the way – with the exception of Paula, who got badly burnt up yet again.

If there’s one thing that The Padre hates, it’s necromancers. He raised his pistol and shot the necromancer clean through his chest. The mad scientist let out a mighty scream and beat a hasty retreat into a cupboard.

When Zombie Carlos and the last remaining guard were taken out, Quiepo realized that he was done for, so threw down his weapon and raised his hands in the air. Lodd went into the cupboard to finish off the necromancer, but there was no sign of him. He seemed to have vanished into thin air.

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Waiting at the Shrine
October 10, 1943

The night passes without incident and, despite sleeping all afternoon, it’s a struggle to stay awake.

Dawn breaks and they see the surrounding terrain properly for the first time. It’s quite beautiful, with many orange groves in the area.

Just a little before 0700, they see a figure approaching. The figure appears to be unarmed. He also appears to be quite young and nothing at all like the photo of Jorge Segovia. They all wait to see what he does.

As they watch, the man walks up to the shrine, scans the area, then sits down next to it. Helights a cigarette and takes out a book which he starts to read.

Everyone looks at Paula. She indicates for the others to cover her. Cautiously, she emerges from her cover with her sten gun slung at her back and cautiously advances from her position.

As he sees her approaching, the man rises to his feet slowly. He doesn’t seem too surprised to see an armed female in military fatigues coming towards him.

The other see the pair of them exchanging a few words and then she beckons for the others to join her. They wait until she has finished speaking with the man in Spanish and then she translates.

“His name is Carlos Martin and he is a member of Segovia’s network. Unfortunately we have a problem. He came here because Segovia has been taken captive.”

“He is being held by the Count of Queipo de Llano, who was one of Franco’s leading generals in the Civil War. He must have had a mole in Segovia’s network for a while, but was waiting for the right moment to reel him in. Upon learning that Segovia was soon to be extracted, he took him a couple of days ago and the Count is holding him in his villa not far from here.”

“What does he want from him or us?” Taffy asks.

“He’s holding him for ransom,” Paul replies. “The Count is going to hand him over to the highest bidder. He already has the bid in from the Germans. He released Carlos to make contact with us to get us to make a counter offer. Otherwise he will give him to the Germans.”

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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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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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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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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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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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