Escape From Stalag VIIIB

Presenting the Evidence
October 18, 1943

Lieutenant Clutterbuck looks silently at the disabled explosive device sat in the middle of the desk, the six party members all sat around him. A look of bewilderment and confusion writ large upon his face.

At least the rest of the Libyan mission had all gone to plan. Finding the farm proved to be no problem and a sleepy-looking Haddad answered the door a short while after they knocked upon it, giving the right codephrase in response. The boat journey back to the sub was without incident too.

None of the S.I.S. agents were around when they returned. All were sleeping, or supposedly sleeping at least.

Lieutenant Clutterbuck finally releases a long, deep sigh.

“I don’t really know what to say,” he admits. “All of this cloak and dagger business is not my business at all. I’m just here to get the sub to where you chaps tell me to take it. I don’t even know why I am taking you wherever it is that you’re going and that suits me just fine.”

“This is Fleming’s mess to clear up, not mine,” he continues. “But only the S.I.S. agents have the right cyphers to communicate with him.”

“All I know is that the overall mission is of the utmost importance – a matter of extreme national importance and urgency and that my orders are to get you safely to your destination, even if it means risking the sub and crew.”

“I’m sorry, chaps,” he finishes. “But it looks like you are on your own with regards to resolving this mess somehow.”

“Your sub may be at risk here” says Taffy. “So you need to take all precautions. None of the agents are coming with us this time, and for all we know they may ALL be guilty.”

“I’d suggest you have armed men on standby, and that their access is restricted due to Important Repairs or something. I’d also be wary of their access to weapons when on board, and Sweep the ship for explosives when they’re off.”

“In fact it seems suspicious to me that they’re not coming with us. It may be that this mission is a wild goose chase with us supposedly ending up at the bottom of the sea in an exploding boat.”

“It may be we’ve just rescued a trio of double agents and what they really want is your sub. or something on it. We don’t really even know if they are communicating with Fleming so if I were you I’d contact the Admiralty independently to confirm that they actually are.”

“I’d disarm their weapons too, or load them with blanks.”

“In fact, if this is the final mission, and they’re not involved – is there any harm in confining them all anyway. Just to be safe?”

Lieutenant Clutterbuck is silent once again as he ponders the situation deeply. Finally he replies:

“Well I will certainly do whatever I can to secure the sub. I’ll restrict access to all of the important areas and issue all officers with sidearms. I don’t want to make things too obvious that we’re on to him or her though. I know that no explosives are totally reliable and so there may be a good chance that they think that the device simply malfunctioned rather than you’re finding it and disabling it before it could do any damage.”

“Unfortunately, I don’t have any authority over any of you. I am only a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, after all. I will try and see if I can get through to Fleming via the Admiralty.”

“All I know is that our next destination is going to be off Thessalonika, Greece according to Katherine. That’s where are are heading now and it will take us around four days to get there. I don’t know whether this is going to be the final part of the mission or not.”

“Paula is the one leading the S.I.S. mission while Katherine is the only one who knows the details of the next – or final – rendezvous. As for Jorge, I have no idea what his part in the whole affair is as he doesn’t seem to have much in the way of input.”

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Traitor in the Midst
October 17, 1943

Terry has no problem maneuvering the dinghy and it takes less than an hour before the boat pulls up on the Libyan coastline and everyone splashes onshore.

After losing the last two boats, they take great care to hide it well this time. As they turn the boat over to reduce its profile, Piotr notices a patch on the bottom. A lumpy patch.

“What’s this?” he says. "I’m sure that it wasn’t there when we used this boat in Spain.

Taffy investigates the patch carefully and then peels it away. Beneath the patch, stuffed into the insides of the rubber dinghy is a timer, connected by wires to a detonating cap and a small amount of explosive."

“Well, well, well,” Taffy tuts. “it looks like someone wants us sunk. It’s only a small amount, but more than enough to take the bottom of the boat out. The timer is set for 0430 – exactly when we should be halfway between the shore and the sub.”

“It would appear that one of the S.I.S. agents is not on our side.”

This revelation sets the party members excitedly pointing the finger of blame at different agents, particularly Jorge.

“Well there’s nothing that we can do about it here, cobbers” says the Padre. “Let’s just finish the mission and get back safely on the sub. Then we can decide what to do about it.”

Taffy neatly snips the wire from the explosive before tucking it under the camouflaged boat.

“Evidence,” Taffy says to the others. “In case Lieutenant Clutterbuck thinks we were making it up.”

With that, the party members begin to make their in the direction of the farmhouse.

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The Libyan Briefing
October 17, 1943

The party members assembled in Lieutenant Clutterbuck’s boardroom at noon, as requested. Paula is there already.

“Tonight is the next pick up, chaps,” Paula says. “Hopefully this one should be a lot easier than the others, what with Libya now being in our hands, so no problems with Jerry are anticipated this time.”

“And no hanging around at roadside shrines either this time.”

“The agent we are picking up this time is Ibrahim Haddad,” she continues. “There’s no longer any need for him to be here now that we control the country, so we are picking him up to reassign him.”

She produces a map of the Libyan coastline.

“Haddad is staying on a farm on the outskirts of Az-Zawiyah, exactly here,” she says, pointing at the map. We will drop you off just a mile from this beach here – just a mile from Haddad’s farm. So, as you can see, you only have to go a mile inland to the farm and a mile back."

“Here’s a recent picture of him. You just need to knock on the door of the farmhouse. He will be expecting you. The code phrase is ‘How many humps does a dromedary camel have?’, to which he will reply. “I’m an archaeologist, not a zoologist.”

“We can’t afford to lose any more time after our misadventures in Spain and Corsica, so please arrange to be back at the launch point no later than 0500.”

“Why are you telling us all this?” asks Taffy. “Are you not coming with us.”

“Not this time,” Paula replies. “I’m still debriefing Katherine on the Corsican situation and Jorge has got a cold. You six can handle it on your own, I’m sure. You’ve already proven that you are more than capable.”

“OK,” agrees Terry. “I’m sure that I can handle the boat.”

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Back on HMS Torbay
October 14, 1943

“I think it would be better if we all got out and swam back to the sub,” moaned Bob.

“Please feel free to do so,” Katherine replied irritably. “I’m going as fast as I can.”

With Lodd below decks being tended to by the Padre, Taffy had borrowed the Slav’s MG42 and Bazooka and set them up on the stern.

“I don’t see nada,” says Jorge, scanning the coast with the Padre’s binoculars.

“Well keep looking, boyo” says Taffy. “There are three other boats there and the remnants of the squad at the other breakwater saw where we went.”

Fortunately, however, the party’s fears are unfounded. Presumably Sturmbrigade SS Reichsfuhrer’s need to evacuate to the Italian mainland was a higher priority than reaping revenge on the party members, and so the fishing boat is left to slowly steam its way south. keeping just in sight of the coastline.

Two hours after the firefight, Paula takes the binoculars from Jorge and scans the coastline for reference points. Finding her bearings, she asks Katherine to alter course slightly.

“This should be about the right place,” Paula says confidently.

Katherine kills the engine and all around is silent. The party members continue to watch the coastline as the sun begins to set, the skyline occasionally lit up by distant artillery shells exploding. Paula gets a flashlight and starts to signal every couple of minutes

Two hours later and many of the party members are sleeping when the boat is rocked by a large wave. They are all instantly back on deck again just in time to see the conning tower of the HMS Torbay rising from the deep a couple of hundred yards from them.

Katherine fires up the engine once again maneuvers the fishing boat next to the sub.

“I see you’ve had a change of boat,” the crewman says as he helps everyone aboard. “Are our dinghies not good enough for you, then?”

“Don’t ask,” mutters Bob as he tramps across the deck towards the conning tower and then to his bunk.

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Stealing Himmler's Boats
October 14, 1943

“All we can do is to try and make our way to Brazia, the nearest port, to see if there are any other boats there that we can take,” says Katherine.

With no other obvious options available, the party members can just nod in resignation.

The three S.I.S. agents scout ahead while the remainder of the group follow behind at a safe distance from where their loud and clumsy movements aren’t going to get them into any trouble.

The trek northwards is slow going as the group needs to keep to cover the entire way, yet still keep an eye on the coastline in case there are any abandoned boats that they may be able to take. The further north they head, the more activity they can see and the louder the sounds of gunfire become. On several occasions one of the S.I.S. agents comes back to tell them to get into cover, or to tell them that they need to head further inland in order to avoid trouble. Several times they can see German vehicles advancing up the coast road through gaps in the cover – all of them heading north.

it is early afternoon when the main group sees Katherine heading back to them.

“Well the good news is that we have found some boats,” she informs them. “The not so good news is that the Germans found them first.”

“There are four fishing boats in total, a pair on each side of a couple of breakwaters. Each pair is being guarded by a squad of SS Sturmbrigade Reichsfuhrer. They are well dug in and have a SdKfz. 251 for support.”

“Can we wait until nightfall to take them?” Piotr asks.

“I don’t think so,” Katherine replies. “Chances are that they will leave as soon as they have filled all of the boats as the entire battalion is trying to evacuate. We need to take them soon.”

Taking advantage of the fact that there is good cover on the opposite side of the road, the group decides to take a look at the Germans’ positions first before deciding upon their strategy. They decide to take the northern of the two breakwaters.

Everyone gets into position and those with grenades get them ready. On Taffy’s mark, they toss their grenades. A couple of smoke grenades from Lodd and Piotr obscures most of the SS on the breakwater, while a well-aimed frag grenade in the back of the half-track takes out the crew at the MG42. Another grenade takes out the embedded MG42 on the breakwater.

The guards at the other breakwater hear the commotion and leap into their Hanomag and start to put t in reverse in order to reinforce the other squad, but it will take a while for them to become a threat. With just six guards to contend with now, all with limited fields of fire due to the smoke, it should be a simple enough task to take the breakwater and so the group starts heading towards the rocky beachfront.

That is, however, until, the third squad in the platoon arrive in another SdKfz. Lodd has his trusty bazooka ready to take out the first approaching half-track, but wheels around and stops the newly arrived SdKfz in its (half-) tracks. The SS reap terrible revenge for this though as they bring Lodd down with a well-aimed burst from their MG42.

The remainder of the squad are piling out of the back of the half-track now, with half heading straight for the beach, while the NCO leads the remainder through the undergrowth.

Piotr drags the unconscious Slav into relative safety behind the first half-track and the Padre heads over to give him some necessary immediate attention. With four SS dropping down onto the beach close to their position, Bob and Paula wisely head for the cover of the now rapidly dissipating smoke grenades.

The party members slowly manage to take out the remaining Germans on the breakwater, although both Piotr and the Padre get hit in the process.

As Jorge and Katherine get onto the boat, the remainder of the party bring up the rear to take care of the last remaining SS, including the members of the other squad who have now arrived from the southern breakwater. One of them manages to get a well-aimed shot on Lodd at the rear of the party, forcing Bruce to get off the gangplank and head back in order to patch him up again.

Katherine manages to get the boat going quickly, but she needs to wait while the remainder of the party finishes off the last of the SS before getting onboard. Jorge cuts the ropes free and, to everyone’s great relief, the fishing boat starts to steam away from the jetty.

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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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