After the late night due to the night-time drop and celebration afterwards, the party members are allowed to sleep in until 0800 the next morning. At 0900, Lieutenant Baker comes to their quarters.
“Right-o, chaps, we’re off for a little drive in an hour,” he says in his clipped tones. “Everyone needs to look smart for the occasion.”
They dress in their best uniforms and are waiting outside when a ‘deuce and a half’ truck turns up. All are pleased to see that there are no MP’s in it this time. Baker helps everyone up into the back of the truck and then gets in the front with the driver.
This time they leave the canvas up and so they can see where they are going. Thirty minutes into the drive, Taffy spots a familiar landmark of Twickenham Rugby Stadium which he visited several times in happier times.
Half an hour later and the truck pulls up outside a location that is familiar to all of them – the Baker Street offices of the S.O.E. The Lieutenant leads the party members from the back of the track into the offices.
“Lieutenant Baker, O.S.I.,” he reports to the receptionist. “We have an 1100 meeting with General Moravec.”
They wait in the lobby area for ten minutes and are then led through to the same board room where they had their initial interview with Major-General Gubbins.
Sitting in the room is an unassuming man in his late-forties dressed in the uniform of the Free Czechoslovak Army. He salutes them as they enter:
“General František Moravec, head of Intelligence for the Czechoslovak Government in Exile,” he says in perfect English.
Lieutenant Baker introduces all of the party members. They notice that he introduces each of them by rank and name, but does not make any mention of their unit.
Once everyone has sat down, Moravec starts the briefing:
“We have a situation that needs resolving and Major-General Gubbins tells me that you are the best team for the job.”
“Unfortunately we don’t have a great deal of information to go on. Naturally there is a resistance movement in Bohemia and Moravia as in the other occupied territories. Whereas they may have not accomplished as much as the resistance movements in other countries, one section of the resistance whom we only know as ‘The Three Kings’ have provided the Allies with more useful information than any other field agents working for the S.I.S., S.O.E. or O.S.S. We have no idea who the hell they are as they are probably the three most wanted agents in all of Europe, so it’s hardly surprising that they keep their identities secret. They must have a mole very high up in the Nazi organization due to the quality of the information they pass back. They told us about Operation Barbarossa – the invasion of Russia – over six months before it happened.”
“Anyway, through the ‘Three Kings’ channel, we have recently learned that a resistance member, Father Andrej Cerny, who operates under the codename of ‘Angel’, the former priest of the village of Krupna close to the German-occupied Castle Karlstein, has information concerning atrocities committed by German forces in the local area.”
Lieutenant Baker interjects at this point:
“Although the information we have is terribly vague in case radio traffic is being intercepted by the Jerries, we’re putting two and two together and are getting the idea that the Hun is up to the same sort of tricks as you found them up to on the Polish/Slovak border. It all sounds suspiciously like they are up to some more experimental medical and scientific research conducted on captive test subject.”
“So the mission we would like you to undertake is this,” General Moravec continues. “You must first make contact with the local resistance and get them to lead you to Agent Angel to find out exactly what he knows, then infiltrate Castle Karlstein to find out what the Nazis are up to. If it’s something as sinister as we think it is, then you are to do all you can to try and put a stop to it.”
“You will be dropped into the area tonight. Once you have completed the mission, the local resistance will arrange your exfiltration back to England.”
He pauses for a moment.
“This is all we know at the moment, but if you have any questions, now is the time to ask them.”
“What opposition can we expect?" asks Bob. "What German units are in the area? Can we have SS uniforms to take – that worked well last time? Who’s our Resistance contact that’ll take us to Cerny and where do we meet him/her?”
“I’m afraid we don’t know how many units of Germans are in the area,” Moravec replies. “It seems as if there is a platoon in most of the villages and more in the towns. As for for what they have in the castle itself, your guess is as good as mine.”
“There is no set contact with any of the resistance members set up,” he continues. “To have set something up over the W/T would run too much risk of compromising the mission. Every time we have agreed on new codes, Jerry manages to snatch another operator and our security is compromised, so we are not going to be broadcasting your arrival.”
“This is why I specified that I needed a fluent Czech speaker as part of the team. You’ll need to track down the resistance while you’re in the field and think on your feet in order to work out some way of getting in contact with them.”
“Ever since Reinhard Heydrich took over as Protector, he has shown immense cruelty to everyone in the resistance – even those who are just assisting them. As a result, everyone you meet is likely to be very guarded about what they say. Fortunately Czech are strong-willed and so few are actively collaborating with the Germans.”
“You’ll need to think carefully as to how you want to go in dressed and armed. Go in your battledress and with Allied weapons and you shouldn’t have too much difficulty in convincing any resistance you meet that you truly are Allied commandos sent to help them, but obviously you’ll be in big trouble if you run into any Krauts. Walk around in SS uniform and you’ll certainly struggle to convince the resistance.”
“I recommend that you go in dressed as civilians. We can also arrange false documents, although the game will still be up if they try and talk to any of you other than Rotmistrz Kowlaczyk.”
“I suppose that it doesn’t really matter whether we take Allied or German weapon,” Piotr says. “If the Nazis catch us with anything on our person we’ll be in deep shit anyway.”
Taffy nods in agreement:
“Can we take some extra ammo to be cached? Or to lug around with us over short distances?
If we’re going in civvies, we might all want pistols (and silencers) even if we don’t carry these in ‘battle mode’.”
“I’m good going in a a civvy.” says Terry to the others.
“Can we get good maps of the area, in case these mooks have me driving all over creation again?”
The General nods at all the suggestions:
He walks over and takes a large map of the area which he lays out before them.
“It was hard to find a drop zone as far from inhabited areas as we would like, so the best we can do is this place here,” he says pointing to a spot four miles south of the castle. The nearest villages are a mile away in each direction, but they are both little more than tiny hamlets which we doubt have permanent garrisons, although it is likely that patrols pass through each night."
“As long as the RAF do their job properly, then you should drop with a couple of hundred yards of this heavily wooded area to the south. This will enable you to regroup under cover in case you are spotted by a patrol and also hide any extra gear you would like to take with you.”
“You can take a standard G-1 container with you,” the Lieutenant says. “That will take up to 300 lb of additional question. You’re not going to be able to lug the bloody thing very far though.”
“We can also supply you with good maps of the area,” the General continues. “As you can see from the map, the area is lightly populated with plenty of rugged and wooded areas that make good places to hide out. As a result, you’re probably going to be better off moving on foot most of the time, as vehicles are going to attract attention to yourselves.”
“As for the castle itself, it’s obviously a well-known landmark to every Czech – most of us went there for a visit before the war and we have recent reconnaissance photos as well. From these, the backroom boys have created a scale model which you will find when you return to your quarters.”
“Now is that all, gentlemen?” the General finishes. “In this case, I will allow you to return to your quarters in order to ready your equipment and study the maps and model in detail.”
“Good luck to all of you.”
He rises and salutes each of you and then the Lieutenant escorts you back to the waiting truck outside.
You return to your quarter at 1430.
Sure enough, as the General promised, there is an excellent model of the castle waiting for you in your lounge. All can see that it is a highly impregnable fortress with only one route up to the main tower.
“No wonder no one managed to take it in 600 years,” Piotr sighs. “I can’t see any way of getting over or through those walls. Our only hope lies with bluffing our way through. Maybe we better takes our SS uniforms with us – at least in the canister.”
“Well if we have 300 lb at our disposal, we might as well use them all,” Bruce says. “Better to have more kit than we need. We can take a radio transmitter in there as well just in case everything goes wrong and we are not able to contact the resistance and need to be taken out of there.”
“If I can have your wishlist within the next hour, I will have the Quartermaster arrange everything for you,” the Lieutenant says.
Piotr studies the model intently:
“If they are doing whatever they are doing in the main tower – and they would be fools not to, then it’s a horrible journey to get there,” he says with trepidation. “It basically means we have to get from one end of the complex to the other and back again to reach the building, constantly surrounded by battlements.”
He thinks carefully:
“How about if we took a 2” mortar with us?" he suggests. “It would have enough range so that whoever fired it could stay well away from the castle, so hopefully we can get some of the resistance members we find to fire it once we have set it up. We can give them instructions to only fire if the shit hits the fan and they hear shooting breaking out. The chances of them hitting anything without an observer is remote, but it should confuse the Jerries and keep their heads down so they don’t know exactly where we are.”
“It would be a low risk exercise for whoever is manning it. They just fire off 20 rounds and then run off into the hills – they’d be long gone before the Krauts got anywhere close to them.”
The Padre is scribbling down numbers on a piece of paper:
“I imagine that you’ll be wanting to take your box of tricks with you too, Taffy? That’s another 25 lb. All of a sudden, that 300lb weight limit is not looking quite so generous as it first appeared.”