The star transporter performed a perfect, infinite jump, which brought the huge vessel into a stationary orbit on the side of the planet that was in darkness. A special envoy and a two-man crew boarded a scouting disc for the flight to the planet’s surface. The vessel detached from its cradle and dropped down from its berth. The incoming signal was increasing in strength becoming very strong, as the vehicle got closer to the surface. Through the array of screens that displayed a complete all around panoramic vision, the crew could see that the area they were making for was enclosed in dark, angry looking thunderheads. The circular machine dropped through the storm clouds and hovered for a few seconds whilst the direction of the signal was calculated and recorded. The round machine took off at high speed heading north, then the onboard calculators made an adjustment and in an instant the ship changed direction to the east.
At the exact instant the disc made the manoeuvre a brilliant light blinded the crew and the artificial gravity generator failed. Control of the disc was lost and it started to tumble end over end like a coin tossed in the air for a bet. Powerful pressure caused eyes to be nearly forced from their sockets. Veins and arteries rupturing just under the skin traced the circulatory system in blood, which was also pouring from every crewman’s bodily orifice. Without the protection of the gravity generator, the inertia caused by such a manoeuvre compressed then expanded internal organs. The violence of the movement forced blood out of the crew’s mouths, noses, and ears, which was thrown in crimson splashes across the inside of the ship. The two crewmen were killed instantly. The envoy clung to life by the barest of threads. His mind spun in confusion.
He was sure his two companions were dead. He tried to verbally command the disc to return to the transporter, but no sound escaped from his blood-choked throat. He tried to move forward in an attempt to reach the manual flight panel but the pain was too great. Onboard sensors realized that something was very wrong and assumed control. First counteracting the disc’s tumbling motion and reducing its speed The space vehicle was now heading uncontrolled at a shallow angle toward the planet’s surface. The envoy paralyzed with pain watched in horror as the craft descended the sensors beginning to slow the machine down. A dark forest came into view the treetops looming out of the darkness.
Although the vehicle was slowing down the envoy knew his machine would still impact the surface hard. He closed his eyes and waited for the inevitable. Just before the disc crashed the fleeting vision of two beautiful women radiating auras of light and love whispered something to him in his native tongue that strangely calmed him. The disc was now cutting its way through the trees and suddenly all became dark.
Two pretty women sat in an isolated cottage five kilometres outside Munich and two hundred and seventy-five kilometres to the east of Freiburg. They were human transmitters and receivers of telepathic communications and members of the secret and mysterious Vril Society. The two young women were tuned into the drama being played out in the stormy, night sky above Freiburg. They saw what was happening clearly in their minds eye, just as if they were watching a movie at the Kino. These were the first two Earth born women that had been educated whilst they slept, taught about the immense inner power they possessed and how to use it.
The power was inherited from ancient extraterrestrials, which had not manifested in this part of the universe for many thousands of years. The mystic couple had summoned the disc from its home planet telepathically earlier that night. They had been in constant contact with the disc relaying their signal as a beacon for the ship to home in on. Something had gone seriously wrong and the terrified envoy was hurtling toward the Earth in his out of control vehicle.
Quickly they held hands and relaxed, heads tilted back, staring upward, staring though the ceiling of the house as though it were transparent, made of glass. Eyes rolled back into heads, all white making it impossible to see what colours their irises were. Minds were concentrated, focused, and a new message transmitted. You will survive, they reassured the frightened envoy. One of the women was Maria Orsic, a longhaired blonde beauty, the other was known simply as Traute her brown locks were long enough to touch the floor when she was standing.
Gustav Preen sat in an old, rickety, rocking chair on the back porch of his house. He was a craggy faced old codger with a short, sparse, grey beard, and as bald as a billiard ball. Most of his front teeth were a distant memory. His lips flapped about over the gaps in his gums when he spoke. His lively dark eyes were set in slits created by drooping eyelids. In his lap lay an ancient double-barrelled shotgun. It was dark the sun having vanished behind the trees some hours before bequeathing a soft, warm night. Crickets and other nocturnal insects chirped in approval.
On the previous night one of Gustav’s chickens had been killed and another gone missing. He found what remained of one of his chickens strewn around the henhouse. When he counted the remaining birds he discovered one more was missing. The culprit he was sure was a red fox. Now he sat silently awaiting its arrival, its return for a chicken dinner. He was certain that it was a fox although there had been some talk in the nearby village of Freiberg of a wolf. It had been many a long year since any wolves had been seen in the vicinity, but one of the locals was adamant he had seen one.
There had been a prolonged period of hot weather and the night was becoming uncomfortably muggy. The elements were looking to collect payment for the fine spell and a storm was gathering over the Black Forest. The hot night took Gustav into its yielding arms and soon the old man was nodding off. A clock in the house quietly chimed the arrival of midnight.
Gustav was rudely awakened by a brilliant flash of lightning followed by the loud sound of rolling thunder. A chilled wind pushed random drops of rain into his face. The threatening storm was about to arrived. Gustav got out of his chair and stood up. Something wasn’t right; there was complete and total silence. Had the clap of thunder frightened the singing insects into silence he wondered? It felt as if the whole forest was holding its breath in anticipation.
Suddenly a large black circular object passed across the sky losing height. Gustav stood rooted to the spot, he felt sure the thing was going to crash into the house. Instinctively he ducked as the circular shape passed silently over his house missing the roof by centimetres. A second or so later came the sound of trees being broken and smashed as the object ploughed into a deep stand of trees opposite the old man’s house. A plane must have come down he thought as he quickly rushed around to the front of his property. He could see the path the aeroplane had created as it sliced its way into the forest. The tops of some trees were neatly cut off. Other trees were cut at their centres and yet others at their bases. It looked to Gustav as if a giant, spinning buzz saw blade had come down cutting its way neatly through the trees.
Gustav pulled an old army torch out of his pocket and switched it on; cautiously he walked into the wood. He could see a feint glow and flicker of flames. Hurriedly he made his way toward the source of the light. When he arrived at the crash-site he couldn’t believe his eyes. Brightly illuminated by a brief flash of lightning, he saw in front of him was the strangest machine he had ever seen in all his seventy-seven years. The object looked like a giant frosted glass plate about twenty metres in diameter. Although the old man thought it was glass it wasn’t completely transparent. In the torchlight he could see a centimetre or so into it, but then his vision was obscured by what looked like a barrier of frosted glass.
The circular machine radiated a lot of heat, which forced Gustav to keep his distance. He wondered how such a large glass object could crash without breaking. He walked around it looking for a door or a window but could find nothing. The circle of glass stood at a slight angle part of it driven into the ground by the force of the impact. It created a pile of earth and leaf litter that looked like a black snowdrift. A circle of small flames burned their way steadily outward from the strange craft. It had to be some new Luftwaffe machine that had developed a fault. Gustav thought. Where was the pilot?
After a few minutes examining the machine it occurred to him that maybe there were injured people inside, more worrying was the notion that there could be fuel or even bombs on board that could explode at any second. Gustav backed gingerly away from the disc then turned and quickly made his way out of the wood. He hurriedly went inside his house and unloaded and stowed his shotgun, then he rushed down the lane toward a hunting lodge owned by his good friend Arthur Golsch. Arthur had a phone and he could contact the police and report the crash.
By the time Gustav had arrived at the big house he was out of breath, puffing and wheezing, many years of smoking an ornate wooden pipe had taken their toll. Arthur was hurriedly coming out of his front door pulling on an embroidered red and green hunting jacket.
“Did you see what happened?” Arthur asked excitedly. “I heard the thunder then a crashing sound.”
“A big round thing came in really low; it came right over the house!” Gustav replied describing an ark in the air with his right hand. “I was outside waiting for the fox that’s been raiding my chicken house. It came so low I thought it was going to hit me! Gave me the scare of my life I can tell you! We’d better report it to the police or something. It looks just like a huge glass dinner plate.”
Arthur looked puzzled. “A huge glass dinner plate?” he exclaimed in disbelief.
“Yes just like frosted glass. It must be some sort of new secret invention. Maybe a secret aeroplane made by the Luftwaffe, I think we should call somebody,” Gustav insisted as he followed the aged Arthur back into his house.
“Who do you think we should phone? The police?” Arthur enquired.
“I don’t know! The Luftwaffe maybe,” Gustav said hesitantly.
“We can phone that fat old copper Florian at the police station. He’ll be able to tell us who to call,” Arthur suggested.
It was obvious that Florian had been asleep when Arthur’s call came in.
“Yes!” the overweight policeman said yawning.
“Florian, its Arthur Golsch. Something has crash in the woods in front of Gustav’s house. He says it is like a big dinner plate made of glass.”
There was a long silence.
“A big glass plate eh? Have you two old buggers been at the schnapps again?”
“No seriously Florian, we haven’t been drinking, not one single drop honestly. Should we call the Luftwaffe? Gustav thinks it may be something to do with them.”
“Yes, yes that’s a good idea” Florian was happy to pass the responsibility on to the old boys and get back to sleep. “Hang on and I’ll get you a number.”
“He’s getting a number for us to call,” Arthur informed Gustav. “Pass me that pad and pencil.”
Arthur was very skinny and stooped over when he stood. His face was thin and gaunt looking, but his lively blue eyes gave a lie to his fragile appearance. Gustav handed the pad and pencil over.
“Yes! Yes!” Arthur said as he wrote down the number. “Thank you Florian.”
Arthur dialled the number and was connected to Luftwaffe air traffic control.
“Hello! Yes? My name’s Corporal Amberg what can I do for you?” A very business like voice asked.
Arthur told his story.
The chap at the other end said, “Hang on and I will check to see if we have any activity in your area.”
The corporal turned to his controller and putting his hand over the receiver said quietly, “I’ve got some crazy old boy on the line recons a big glass dinner plate has crashed into a wood near Freiburg.”
The controller pulled a face of mock surprise then started to laugh quietly. “Ask him if we can have some of what he’s been drinking… Just get rid of him.”
“We don’t have any traffic in that area?” the corporal asked.
“Come on at this time of night, I don’t think so!” the controller replied.
“Thank you for reporting the incident sir, we’ll look into it,” the corporal said.
“Aren’t you going to send an ambulance or something?” Arthur enquired. “There could be people inside that might be hurt and needing help!”
“Don’t worry sir we will take care of it. Good night,” the corporal said politely as he hung up the phone. “I hope we aren’t going to have one of those nights?” He remarked.
“Just a sec! Didn’t we get a memo about this kind of thing?” The controller said a concerned look on his face. With a great effort he got up out of his chair and wandered over and retrieved a clipboard hanging on the wall. Slowly he turned over the pages…. “Yup here it is! Oh Christ! It’s from the SS.”
“What does it say?”
The controller scanned the document.
“Any reports of strange objects or lights in the sky are to be reported immediately to SS Headquarters, Berlin. God in heaven, where was that old boy calling from?”
“The Black Forest…. Freiburg wasn’t it?” The corporal replied.
“We should’ve got an address; we could be in the shit over this!” The controller said in a worried voice. “What the hell are we going to do?” the corporal was thoughtful for a few moments…. “Aw just forget about it!… You could try phoning the local copper, see if he has heard anything.”
Florian wasn’t very happy at being disturbed a second time by the phone, “YES!” He barked angrily into the receiver.
“This is Luftwaffe air traffic control. Have you received any reports of an aircraft coming down in the Freiburg area?”
The question instantly snapped Florian awake. “Yes! A couple of old boy’s recon something came down a short distance from here. I didn’t see anything myself. Quite honestly I thought they had been drinking and were having a laugh. These two old boys behave more like a couple of troublesome teenagers than mature men.”
“Let me have the address of those fellows we need to follow it up.”
The controller made a note of the address, thanked the policeman and hung up.
The corporal had an expectant look on his face. “So?”
“Freiburger Spur! Apparently it’s just a small country road running through a wooded area and fields,” the controller sighed. “We don’t need this crap!” He said as he picked up the phone and started to dial the number of the SS department on the memo.
The two old men sat on the forest floor intently keeping watch over the strange craft. The small fires that had been started around the disc’s base had burned themselves out leaving a black, charred perimeter around the circular craft.
“What time do you think it is?” Arthur enquired.”
“Must be around two,” Gustav replied puffing on his long ornate pipe.
They became aware of the sound of a car coming down the lane. The two men got up and hurried to the roadside. A large black Mercedes staff car pulled up with four soldiers and a smartly dressed SS officer inside.
“Good evening or rather I think I should say Good morning!” The officer said pleasantly. “I am SS-Storm Command leader Christian Albrecht. Was it you fellows that reported an aeroplane crash?”
“Yes it was!” Gustav answered excitedly. “It’s over here we can show you.”
The officer took a torch from the jeep and instructed his men to accompany them to the crash site. The group of soldiers followed the two old men into the wood. On being confronted by the sight of the strange machine the officer wore a look of total disbelief on his face. Suddenly he turned and walked quickly back to the car.
“Contact Berlin!” he instructed one of his men. “Tell them I don’t know what we have here but it looks like some sort of experimental aircraft. Tell them I will set up as secure a perimeter as I can. They had better hurry before it gets light and we are up to our arses in curious locals. Pull the car as far as you can into the trees and keep the lights on. I want to have a good look at this machine.”
“I wouldn’t get to close to it,” Gustav said nervously. “It might blow up!”
The officer gave Gustav a nod then he ordered two soldiers to take up positions at the other side of the craft.
“I don’t suppose there are many people wandering around in these woods at this time of night especially in this weather, but just in case keep a sharp look out. Nobody must be allowed to get near this area,” the officer ordered.
The Storm Command leader walked slowly around the craft shining his torch on areas of interest. When he had completed his circuit he joined the two old men, “I can’t see any markings of any sort that could indicate where this thing came from.”
“Perhaps it’s foreign!” Gustav remarked.
The whole scene suddenly lit up as a bolt of lightning streaked across the dark sky. For an instant they could see the whole of the machine.
“Something’s moving on the top,” the officer said as he walked back and shone his torch toward the top of the disc. “There look!” He exclaimed pointing to the top of the machine.
Gustav and Arthur beat a hasty retreat and hid behind a tree close to the road. In the light of the officer’s torch they could see what looked like a glass dome about a metre and a half in diameter slide up from inside the ship’s hull. The two old men looked at each other.
“Now that’s very scary,” Gustav said.
“What do you think it is?” Arthur asked
“I don’t know, but I don’t like the look of it!” Gustav replied.
The two old men crept gingerly forward until they were alongside the officer and his two men. The officer had drawn his pistol and was tapping the barrel against the machine and then listening intently.
“That dome didn’t just pop out, there has be someone inside who is operating it,” he said as he tapped on the ships hull hard with the butt of his pistol.
Again and all five men strained their ears listening for some sort of response from within. Suddenly the hull moved. Like two frightened rabbits Arthur and Gustav were off again only this time they didn’t stop until they were on the road. The officer and his two men backed away from the disc. Dirt and leaf litter fell off as the machine levelled itself off, but it didn’t stop moving upward. There was another bolt of lightning that lit up the machine. It was rising up on four thin legs. The two SS soldiers un-slung and cocked their weapons, looks of foreboding on their faces. The disc finally stopped moving. Now the hull stood high enough off the ground for a man to walk around comfortably underneath it.
The trio of SS men stood in silence, in anticipation of something else happening. A deep rumble of thunder rolled through the forest followed by a heavy downpour of rain. Steam began to billow upward as the rain came into contact with the still hot hull of the disc. The officer ordered his two men to guard the front of the disc after giving permission for one of the soldiers to retrieve the wet weather gear for all of the men from the car.
“Is everyone all right?” Arthur asked the officer.
“Yes they’re fine just getting a little wet. I’m going to sit this rain out in my car,” the officer replied.
“You are welcome to wait at my house until it stops,” Gustav offered.
“That is very kind of you but I have to wait for reinforcements to arrive,” the officer said with a pleasant smile.
“Would you and your men like a hot drink?” Gustav enquired.
“That would be very nice!” the officer replied, he then noticed the look of concerned on Gustav’s face said. “Don’t worry; I will have one of my men deliver the drinks if you don’t want to go back into the wood. Well you will certainly have a story to tell your friends at the local tavern.”
“They will never believe us!” Gustav said with a toothless grin.
Constantine Schlinz was born in 1905. Privileged children born of wealthy families were reputed to arrive in this world clutching silver spoons in their mouths. Constantine’s spoon was gold, the purest twenty-four carat gold. He was the sole heir to the prestigious Schlinz Chocolate Company of Lucerne, Switzerland.
In 1865 his Grandfather, George Schlinz, along with a very close Italian friend, Guido DeMarco opened the business. Guido was a very imaginative Italian confectioner. He had spent a good deal of time researching and working with old confectionary recipes. This work along with his natural, inventive flair resulted in some very unique tastes. These flavours were perfect for chocolates and their centres. Some of the chocolates were so delicious that they were almost addictive.
Flavours created in heaven as the advertising slogan declared. They were formulated from fruits, nuts, wines, and spices obtained from the four corners of the globe. The wonderfully rich tastes of the hand made chocolates soon became firm favourites of the very rich, and famous, especially the ladies. The candy also had the distinction of being the most expensive confectionary money could buy. Schlinz was the Rolex of confectionary! The Rolls Royce of chocolate! The recipes for the sweets were closely guarded secrets.
Competing companies had often tried to imitate the candies. They never even got close to reproducing the exquisite Schlinz flavours. The company’s domination of the high-class end of the market always remained unassailable. Soon the small shop where the seeds of the business were sown grew and blossomed into a large confectionary. The handmade tradition was retained. George insisted that the company must not give in to modern high production machinery and methods. Making each chocolate by hand took time and the company’s delivery schedule was measured in months.
This didn’t seem to affect business in the slightest. The regular retail customers ordered months in advance to be sure of getting their orders filled.
Constantine’s Father Victor took over the running of the business after George’s death. He threw himself into the work whole-heartedly. He was convinced that without his father’s guidance the company would soon go out of business. All of the years of hard work would end in bankruptcy. His concerns that the company would fail under his management soon became an obsession. It drove him to work long hours. The result was that Victor actually increased the companies business and the confectionary was considerably increased in size.
After five years of none stop work and worry Victor was run down, very close to complete mental exhaustion. Victor’s doctor had sternly told him that if he valued his health he must take a long vacation. Get away from the stresses and strains of the business. Acting on his doctor’s advice Victor took three months off. It was his intention to do something he had always dreamed off, to travel around the world. Besides seeing the sights it would give him the opportunity of personally visiting some of the far-flung outlets that handled his products.
As a child Constantine had been given an 1873 first edition of Jules Verne’s book ‘Around the World in Eighty Days.’ It was sumptuously volume bound in rich, red leather. The title and cover decoration blocked in gold and written in French. The young lad spent many happy hours in the company of Phileas Fogg and Monsuer Jean Passepartout on their adventures. A lady journalist, Elizabeth Jane Cochran, better known as Nellie Bly made the same journey in 1889 but she managed to do it in 72 days. Nellie had put the idea of her turning the fictitious journey into reality to Joseph Pulitzer.
He liked the idea and would use Nellie’s adventures to promote his newspaper the New York World. Victor reckoned that if a girl could do it then so could he although he wasn’t looking to make the journey in record time just follow the same route taken by Fogg and Passepartout.
The grand tour began in London, but before he got down seriously to the business of seeing the sights and organizing the first leg of his journey, he made a visit to an old friend and long time customer Mrs Maureen Fairfax. She owned a cute little Dickensian style Shoppe called, ‘The Tzars Delight’ situated in the Burlington Arcade, close to London’s Piccadilly Circus. This would be it as far as the global saga was concerned; it would start and finish in ‘The Tzars’ Delight.’
Victor was the wide-eyed and naive victim of love at first sight. Victor may have been more than a little confused by the situation but Mrs Fairfax wasn’t. The object of his adoration was one of her customers. Mrs Fairfax effected an introduction. A few months later after a whirlwind romance Victor proposed to her and to his amazement she accepted, with a cheeky smile she said.
“Dear Victor I am hopelessly addicted to your wonderful chocolate. I must hang on to you to ensure a regular supply!”
Victor returned to Switzerland with a very pretty woman on his arm. He announced to his startled family and relieved mother that this was the woman he intended to marry.
Her name was Helen Jarndyce. At twenty-two years of age a very elegant, and slender lady. She was a very unique and striking beauty. A long neck perfectly carried a head of shining, black hair, cut in a classic Dutch Bob style. Her eyes were an unusual light china blue colour, complimented by a very full pair of lips, and cheekbones smoothly modelled from glowing skin. Helen Jarndyce was a lady of substance. She had inherited a small family business that manufactured very high-class accessories for smokers. The products included lighters, cigarette cases, cigar cutters, and a line of beautifully hand carved brier pipes.
Fishermen, historical soldiers, and beautiful art nouveau girls were amongst the many subjects for the fine miniature works of art on the pipe bowls. The craftsmanship rivalled Meerschaum or any of the work that came out of Germany or Austria. In nineteen-o-four the couple were married, and so too were the companies, each complimenting the other in quality and exclusiveness.
The following year Constantine was born. Because of the slender frame of his mother and the healthy size of her son the birth was difficult.
The outcome was that she would never be able to have any more children. At his father’s insistence Constantine was born in Switzerland. Although Constantine’s father may have had his way over the geography of his son’s birth, it was Helen who had her way when it came to his education. He was brought up as a multi lingual child. English was all his mother ever spoke to him while his father spoke only in German.
Tutors were commissioned in both Switzerland and England to teach him French. The boy grew up speaking English, German, and French like a native. He could fluently speak any of the three languages without the slightest trace of any accents. Young Constantine spent three quarters of the year in England and the remainder of his time in Switzerland. He attended Harrow and Oxford. Oxford had been his first choice of universities as it allowed him to study the one subject that fascinated him the most, ancient history.
Constantine matured into a tall, stocky, adult who carried himself with an almost regal air. His face was round, topped off with hair that was a mixture of black, blue, blue grey and silver that gave him a look of distinction. His nose was slightly flattened particularly around the nostrils. His mouth was wide enclosed by thin lips. The most striking feature was his eyes. Inherited from his mother, they were the same china blue colour with a crystal like quality to them. These were complimented and accentuated by his eyelashes that were very dark in colour.
The one thing Constantine had going for him was his smile. The wide mouth and sparkling eyes were disarming. He seemed completely unaware of the fact that his chemistry made him a magnet for nearly all of the ladies that he came into contact with. He never considered himself to be a handsome man, never ever thought he had the looks of a matinee idol like Clark Gabble or Tyrone Power.
The name of Constantine became clipped to just Con, a nickname that stuck with his lecturers and fellow undergraduates His relaxed, easy-going, character made him very popular. His magnetic personality attracted many of his fellow students some of whom became firm friends. It was one of these close university friendships in particular that would set him on a future path that he could never have imagined.
France was hosting the Summer Olympics. Lenin dies from a massive stroke. In the United States Charlie Chaplin marries Lita Grey and forest fires were burning, seemingly out of control for the whole of that long, hot, summer of nineteen twenty-four. Two years earlier great excitement was generated by the discovery of the young Pharaoh, Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt by Howard Carter, an event that fascinated Con.
Constantine’s closest friend at Oxford was a chap called Thomas Barrett. Tom was a very athletic type with a passion for rowing and cricket. He had been on the Oxford boat crew the previous year when Oxford beat Cambridge by two lengths in the University Boat Race. He was always smiling and more than ready to help any of his fellow undergraduates in any way he could. His pleasant face sported a pair of bright green eyes and dark brown hair that always had a carefree, unkempt, look about it. The pair had decided to spend a month or so together after they came down from university. Their time was to be divided between Tom’s home at Barton-on-the-heath, just outside Chipping Norton, and Con’s home in Switzerland.
Tom’s mother, Lady Evelyn and his father Sir Rufus drove down to attend the graduation ceremony and after brought the boys back to Barton-on-the-heath.
The Barrett’s were an old, titled, and extremely wealthy family. They owned very large local landholdings. These included farms, and some industrial properties further to the north. Tom’s family home was a large, rambling, old red brick, Victorian house set in an estate of several hundred acres of very pretty countryside and farmland. Tom’s father Sir Rufus was a very impressive man. Tall and rigidly upright, he sported a full nautical beard.
Beneath two very bushy eyebrows lurked a pair of piercing blue eyes. These eyes seemed to have the power to unhinge anybody who gained his disapproval. Sir Rufus had been highly decorated for his bravery during the Great War whilst he was the commander of a Royal Navy destroyer. During his years at Oxford, Constantine spent many happy vacations at the estate. His easy-going nature and sense of fun endured him to the Barrett family who treated him as one of their own. Sir Rufus would be the catalyst that would change the direction of Con’s future dramatically.
It had all come about on one glorious, late summer’s day at Barton-on-the-heath. Con along with Tom and his parents were enjoying a drink at a local pub, the Red Lion. Lady Evelyn and Tom were engaged in conversation with a group of locals, leaving Sir Rufus and Con sitting alone. They sat at a rustic old table in the garden under a huge, spreading, horse chestnut tree. A warm breeze pushed colossal, fluffy, cumulous clouds lazily across the sky.
The air was thick with pollen and thistle seeds floating on a gentle wind. Pretty sounding birdsong and the buzzing of bees on their quest for nectar was accompanied by the zipping sounds of hundreds of grasshoppers. Sir Rufus took a healthy gulp of his gin and tonic. “So Con what are your plans now that you’ve finished with your education? Will you follow in your father’s footsteps and join the family chocolate business?”
“That’s a question I’m often asked. I have a decent income from the business and there really isn’t anything constructive for me to do there except be a salesman, which quite honestly isn’t my cup of tea. I’m not too good at dealing with the public. No! I’m going to travel and try some practical historical research, the real thing. No more imaginary classroom digs,”
“Where do you intend to go on these travels of yours?” Sir Rufus enquired.
“The Middle East, I thought I’d start in Egypt; that’s the country where exciting things are happening at the moment. I find ancient Egyptian history fascinating,” Con replied.
“Ah Tutankhamen eh? Do you see yourself as the next Howard Carter?”
“That would be wonderful! To make a discovery of that importance! I thought that perhaps I could assist on any of the digs that will have me. I would like to increase my knowledge of the subject. Persia is also on the must visit list.”
Sir Rufus was silent for a moment seeming lost in thought. “Mesopotamia can be very unsettled at times. You will have to be very careful!” Again Sir Rufus paused… “Con I don’t know if you realize it but you are eminently qualified for something a little more exciting than possibly selling chocolate. Especially given your language skills. Even your knowledge of history could be an asset. Tell me Con how do you see yourself? I’m not expressing myself very clearly, what I’m trying to say is don’t you feel a little perplexed about your nationality? I mean with all the back and forth from Switzerland and here?”
“Well as you know I am a Swiss national. I have to admit I do feel more British than Swiss, that’s because of my mother’s influence. Between you and I, she has brought me up as though I were solely British. Living over here and my time at Harrow and Oxford tends to give me a feeling of being British, mind you none of my friends have ever mentioned my origins; they just accept me for who I am. The question of my nationality never comes up…. All the traditions and the way of life here seem to have rubbed off…. Doe’s that make sense Sir Rufus?”
“Perfect sense old chap and quite honestly to hear you speak and seeing the way you carry yourself, one wouldn’t think you were anything else but British! Look I have to meet an old friend in London next week. I would like you to have a chat with him. He may be able to have you work for his department on a freelance basis.”
“I‘m intrigued,” Con replied with a wry smile. “What sort of department is it? Cloak and dagger stuff?”
Sir Rufus laughed heartily…. “Could just be old chap, could just be!”
The conversation came to an end with the return of Lady Evelyn and Tom. Con was curious about the proposed meeting and tried to wheedle some information out of Tom who didn’t have a clue what was afoot. He did say though that his father had an almost magical knack of putting the right people, in the right place, at the right time.
The day of the meeting arrived and Con travelled down to London with Tom and his parents on the train. Lady Helen excused herself, she was meeting friends for lunch and she wanted to call in at Fortnum’s. The men travelled on to Wiltons, in Jermyn Street. Here they met up with Sir Rufus’s colleague who revelled in the name of Sir Hugh Francis Paget Sinclair. He cut quite a figure in the uniform of a Royal Naval Admiral. They enjoyed an excellent meal after, which Sir Hugh offered them all cigars from a crocodile skin case. After the meal they moved on to the Reform Club.
It was three-o-clock by the time they arrived at the Club. Sir Hugh had arranged for a small private room to be put at his disposal. Leaving Tom and his father to enjoy drinks and a cigar, Sir Hugh requested Con accompany him to the private room. They arrived at a small sunlit room where they sat down at an ancient, oak table. A waiter arrived and Sir Hugh ordered large brandies for them both. Once the drinks had arrived, Sir Hugh instructed the waiter to see that they were not disturbed.
“I’m not going to beat about the bush young man! Sir Rufus has told me all about you. He says that you are a thoroughly good, all around sort of a fella. What I am going to impart to you is of the utmost secrecy. You must never mention it on your honour. If you feel uncomfortable with this then you must say so now. If this is the case we can discontinue this conversation right now. Just forget this little get together ever took place and rejoin the others.”
Con felt a little uneasy wondered what he might be letting himself in for. He looked the imposing man straight in the eye and nervously said, “You have my word sir! I will never breathe a word to anyone.”
“Excellent my boy! You struck me as a chap that could be trusted… I am heavily involved with a department known as S.I.S. Well actually truth be told I’m the boss. Those initials stand for the Special Intelligence Service or MI6. We spy on people don’t you know! Gather information and break codes!”
“It sounds a bit like That Secret Agent novel,” Con remarked casually.
“The Joseph Conrad one! Have you read it?” Sir Hugh enquired enthusiastically.
“Yes sir just a few weeks ago!”
“What about John Buchan’s The Thirty-nine Steps, that’s a cracking good read.”
“Yes I have read that one too, the chase through Scotland was very exciting I couldn’t put that book down until I had finished it!”
“Well that is exactly what I mean lots of excitement only our job isn’t make believe. There are times when we have to keep tabs on some very unsavoury types. It can be dangerous in the extreme.
Are you a courageous lad?” “I think so sir.”
“Our world isn’t always as secure as it seems. The bloody Communists are stirring up trouble wherever they can. Don’t be fooled Constantine the damn Bolsheviks pose a very real threat to our way of life here in Britain, in fact not only ours, but many other countries as well. Look at the damn mess in Russia where it all started.
The bloody Communists ferment trouble and unrest wherever they go! Some years ago In America that damn Anarchist Emma Goldman and her boyfriend Alexander Berkman stirred up a lot of trouble and were behind some very nasty bomb outrages and labour disputes, in fact there are some who sincerely believe they were responsible for the assassination of President McKinley. Attorney General Palmer and that young Edger J Hoover fella put all those troublesome types on a boat and sent them off packing back to Russia.
Damn good for them I say! We should be following their example. The Bolsheviks aren’t the only dangers we face. There are other fanatical groups who need to be watched very carefully. With your credentials you can go to any country in the world with the cover story of being a salesman for your father’s company.”
“My family’s company doesn’t sell its products in every country sir.”
“Maybe not Constantine but in those countries you can pass yourself off as a historian who is on a research trip.”
“Well yes sir I suppose I could,” Con agreed a little apprehensively. “I think I should point out that I am a Swiss National.”
“Yes I am aware of that but we do use foreign agents, although in your case I think we will list you as a British National. I will arrange to get you a British passport to go with your Swiss one. Would you have a problem with that?”
“No I don’t think so sir in fact It will be quite a novelty to have dual citizenship,” Con replied.
“Quite honestly old chap I think these passports are a damn nuisance. I find them a bit dehumanizing. Still they are supposed to keep any damn foreigners out that shouldn’t be here. It will make life a lot easier for all concerned if I cut through some red tape. Your file will indicate that I recruited you personally. This will carry a hell of a lot of weight with the department after all as I told you I am the boss. Sir Rufus tells me you speak three languages fluently. Is that correct?”
“Yes sir French, German, and obviously English.”
“German huh? That could be damn useful. That country needs a weather eye keeping on it. So what do you say old chap do you fancy joining us?”
“Where will I be sent?”
“Nowhere at first! We’ll give you some training and a reasonable freelance fee plus expenses. You will be able to go wherever suits you. Just keep your ear to the ground. If there is any reason for concern see what you can find out. Pass any information of interest back to your contacts from our department.
Look I have made it all seem a little simplistic. There is far more to this work than meets the eye. There is certainly no reason for you to be concerned; you will be well trained to do the job. So what do you think? Is it a job you might help us with? Don’t make your mind up right away. Give it some thought for a few days then let me know via Sir Rufus. If your answer is in the positive then we will get you started. You really could be of great help to us. It is my dearest wish that you will become involved.”
“Yes sir,” Con replied as the doubts started to crowd into his mind.
Two days later Con spoke to Sir Rufus. He asked him to pass on a message to Sir Hugh Sinclair saying that he would like to work with his department. Sir Rufus gave Con a knowing smile.
”I was convinced that the prospect might be of some interest,” Sir Rufus commented.
It was two weeks before Con received a response. Instructions arrived telling him to report to station 20 located in a large, rambling, old house in the wilds of Berkshire. Here for three weeks Con was taught the basics of spying. Other skills were passed on such as how to blend into the background and how not to attract attention. He was taught some simple techniques of disguise and instructed on the use of radio transmitters. The breaking and writing of codes Con found particularly fascinating. There was however one aspect of his training that he thoroughly enjoyed.
This was weapons training. He had never fired anything more exciting than a shotgun before. He was taught to use and strip all types of handguns, plus manual, and automatic weapons. To his surprise he developed into a fairly decent marksman consistently scoring reasonably high marks on the target range.
After leaving Station 20 he hung around in London awaiting the call from SIS. Christmas came and went and Con was still waiting for instructions. He imagined himself being despatched to assassinate some evil despot. Saving the world and being decorated by the King. The seeming lack of interest made him think that maybe the department didn’t require him after all. Perhaps he hadn’t come up to scratch on the training course. He decided he would wait until the following week and contact Sir Hugh, then, out of the blue he received a hand delivered letter from Sir Hugh Sinclair that simply said.
I was surprised to hear that you haven’t left on your research trip to Egypt yet. Are there problems?
One week later Con was on a rusty old steamer bound for Cairo. Once he was settled in Egypt he made himself known to the various men of antiquities, who he hoped he could help in their search for ancient artefacts. It wasn’t long before Con found himself being invited to assist with digs. He also took an active part in the social scene associated with the Archaeologists.
After receiving endless written messages Con finally met up with a very large Arab gentleman who worked for SIS. He was wearing an off white suite and a bright red fez. The meeting lasted just a few seconds. In that brief moment of time a note damp with sweat was discreetly passed to him, pressed into his hand by firm, plump, fingers then his contact was gone. On the soggy note was scrawled. Abdullah, I am your contact if you need any assistance and the address of a small bar. Con knew the place, he had visited the bar but on only one occasion.
He had found it a dirty, fly blown little place inhabited by local criminals and some very large prostitutes. That was it! Con never needed to contact Abdullah and he never heard from him again.
Con continued to pursued his Archaeological interests. When he arrived at a new location a local agent would arrange a discreet meeting. Local events would be discussed and maybe areas of concern highlighted. The chances were that he probably wouldn’t ever hear from the agent again.
Occasionally he would have messages past to him. He in turn would pass them on to another agent. This was very much how his time as a secret agent in the Middle East passed. Things started to heat up the previous year, in the final months of nineteen thirty-eight. German and Italian spies seemed to be showing up in ever increasing numbers.
There had been some nasty incidents after a British agent was stabbed to death in a seedy Alexandrian bar. Several German and Italian agents later turned up dead under very suspicious circumstances. Con was hurriedly recalled to England. On his return he met up with Sir Hugh Sinclair at the Reform Club.
“Well young man,” Sir Hugh said as he passed Con a large Brandy. “I suppose you are wondering why you were pulled out of Egypt so quickly?”
“Well not really Sir Hugh. I’m guessing it’s because of what’s going on in Europe and my language skills.”
“Spot on old chap! Now we are at war with Germany we will need agents over there to gather intelligence and generally make a bloody nuisance of themselves.”
Con felt a sick feeling rise in the pit of his stomach. It was one thing to sneak around the Middle East where he didn’t have to keep looking over his shoulder. It was a different kettle of fish operating in an occupied or enemy country.
“Things are a bit confusing at the moment. Everybody is running around in ever decreasing circles. I think they are all hoping to disappear up their own fundamentals.
The thing is you are now on a team called SOE. That’s Special Operations Executive. Couple of months ago ole Winston insisted we set Europe ablaze. Sounds like a lot of fun! So my dear Con it looks as if we are going to give you a big box of matches and send you on your way. How does that strike you? AH strike! strike! Very appropriate don’t you think?”
A weak smile made a brief appearance on Con’s face: “When will I be going?”
“Christ knows! Listen old chap, keep this under your hat but I don’t think they will be able to do much with you at the moment. After all we’ve only just declared war. Quite honestly I don’t see much happening this year. I think things will start to get very serious next year. It’s damn awkward for you. The department will want you handy in case they need you for anything special. Could be very boring, still time spent on the shooting range is time well spent.”
Outside the day that had started out as grey and colourless was now bright with sunlight. A stiff breeze chased off the wet and grey gloom. Con helped Sir Hugh into a cab. The old man had drunk a little more than he was probably used to and was pleasantly plastered. Sir Hugh had wanted to continue socializing but Con made an excuse to get away. He would always regret passing up the chance of spending more time with Sir Hugh.
He waved at the departing cab as it disappeared into the London hubbub. He had to squint against the pure, brilliant colours above him when he looked skyward. Con had no way of knowing it but that would be the last time he would see the crusty old naval officer, two months later Sir Hugh died.
It was a blustery day at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airfield. A stiff breeze blew across the Baltic Sea from Scandinavia. It carried with it a chill that announced the arrival of autumn. A man dressed in a fawn coloured gabardine mackintosh and an old, battered, black hat emerged from a large Mercedes saloon. He pulled the collar of his coat up and the brim of his hat down. Briskly he walked out to a waiting Junkers 52 transport plane that stood with its three engines running.
Sunken eyes surrounded by dark rings attested to the mans exhausted state; it hadn’t been a good night as far as sleep was concerned. Over stimulation and stress were responsible for a deluge of thoughts that nagged relentlessly at him. Unable to close down his over active mind he was kept wakeful all night. Bleary eyes and a fuzzy brain were the hard won prizes for his disturbed night. The chilled, damp, wind did little to relieve the dazed state he was in.
“Good morning Hans how’re you feeling today?” the passenger enquired as he climbed into the plane.
“I’m fine, just fine,” Hans replied as he assisted his passenger into the cabin.
“How’s Maria?” the passenger enquired.
“She’s just got over a nasty cough, but she’s all right now. At the moment she’s out and about in Berlin shopping for a new dress,” Hans replied
“Spending your hard earned cash uh?” the passenger remarked with a smile.
“I bought some new cine equipment so a new dress is my reparations payment,” Hans commented.
The passenger responded with a tired grin, “Quite right too! We must look after our ladies…. So we’re not using the Condor uh?”
“One of her port engines was running a bit rough so we’ve substituted this trusted old Iron Annie.”
“Well this won’t be much of a flight, just a quick hop, skip, and jump eh?”
“It shouldn’t take more than half an hour,” Hans continued, “just as long as this wind doesn’t pick up too much. Mind you it will still be a lot quicker than driving or taking the train. I was sorry to hear you’re not coming back with me?”
“No! Nothing-personal Hans. It’s just a perfect opportunity for me to play truant and relax for a few hours. I just want to be alone for a while, be away from all the excitement and just gather my thoughts. As you might have noticed things have been a little bit hectic just lately.”
Hans gave his companion a knowing smile; “I did think life was getting very serious all of a sudden.”
“Yes once people start dying things do tend to take on a more sombre mood, it will be nice to have a little break, just enjoy the ride. Please keep that to your-self we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings,” the passenger said putting a finger up to his lips in a gesture of silence.
“I understand completely, but aren’t you taking a bit of a chance? You could be recognised,” Hans said.
“I’ll be travelling in an unmarked car. It shouldn’t attract too much attention. Eric Kempka my chauffeur will be dressed in civilian clothes not his usual SS uniform; nobody will pay us any mind.”
A huge grin appeared on Han’s face, “Did you consider a disguise, maybe wearing a false beard?”
“As a matter of fact I did think about disguising myself!” The passenger remarked with a beaming smile, “but in a false beard maybe I might have been mistaken for a Rabbi!”
Hans roared with laughter.
“You would’ve needed a wig with the ringlets,” Hans blurted out as he wiped tears of laughter from his face.
“Could you imagine it?” The passenger laughed. “It would be a wonderful subject for you to film! I could get a long black kaftan and do a little dance.” The passenger joked as he removed his hat and coat. He took his usual seat with his back to the plane’s engines.
Hans was still laughing as he disappeared into the cockpit. A few seconds later the power to the engines began to increase and the plane moved slowly forward gradually picking up speed. It accelerated down the runway and climbed into the light grey sky. The Passenger looked out of the window and saw the graveyard pass beneath the plane as it climbed through gaps in the apartment blocks that stood at the edge of the airfield. The planes destination was the Rechlin-Larz Airfield in Western Pomerania. Far off to the north the passenger could see a long front of dark grey cloud, which held the threat of heavy rain. The menacing cloudbank gave him cause for concern.
A heavy downpour could wash out the morning’s program. It would be damned annoying to have come all that way if the demonstration were to be cancelled. The passenger relaxed and closed his tired, burning eyes; the hypnotic rhythm of the plane’s engines eased him into a troubled sleep.
The night sky was deep ultramarine and embraced an unseen horror. Light from a huge full moon accompanied by thousands of stars shone bright enough to cast shadows. The jet-black silhouette of a small boy could be seen sitting on a stone cemetery wall. Beyond the wall as far as the eye could see stretched a forest of identical, elongated, gravestones. The crucifixes rose from a thin layer of ground mist. The granite edges of the endless lines of crosses gave off a dim silver glow in the moonlight. Tears ran down the little boys face as he gazed out over the surreal scene. Beneath one of the gravestones lay the cold body of his five-year-old brother Edmund, under another his mother.
None of the stones carried any names so the little boy had no idea where his brother or his mother had been laid to rest. The grief the little boy felt was infinite. He yearned for the company of his little brother and the love of his mother. He knew well that the little boy on the wall was himself, the dreaming passenger. He had been here many, many times before. A shaft of fine mist rose slowly from the cold ground. It spiralled and coiled like tobacco smoke caught in a bright sunbeam. It began to take on form and shape and looked to the passenger like a translucent ghost in the form of his little dead brother. It materialized very slowly far out amongst the gravestones, the scene terrified the dreamer.
Although he knew well what the outcome of this nightmare would be, it still retained an immense power to terrify him. Bravely he eased himself off the wall and walked cautiously toward the apparition. The little boys back was to the dreamer. As he approached the figure slowly turned around. The dreamer was stopped dead in his tracks. It wasn’t his brother Edmund’s face it was a deaths head, the skull symbol of the SS, a snarling grin on its face. Panic suddenly took hold and the dreamer tried to scream. Desperately he tried to somehow release the horror.
Struggle as hard as he could not the slightest sound escaped from his lips. Just as the panic reached its awful crescendo the dreamer sensed another unseen presence. He didn’t know why, but he knew for certain that the auras weren’t in any way malevolent. The dreamer sensed rather than saw a very powerful, benevolent, presence. It was there to keep watch over him and to protect him. It would blunt the feeling of shear horror, but not enough keep the fear from sometimes haunting his waking hours.
The action of the plane banking gently as it lined up for the landing at Rechlin-Larz Airfield jarred the dreamer gently into consciousness. He was perspiring profusely, his hands shook, and a hollow feeling rose from the pit of his stomach. Sometimes the frightening dream manifested itself with the graveyard at the centre of a rolling, ground shaking thunderstorm. Great jagged streaks of lightening tore the sky apart. There were laurel wreaths on top of the crosses that became magically burnished gold. The swastikas inside the wreaths reflected no light, just matt black shapes.
A particularly bright blue bolt of lightning suddenly started to transform the thousands of crosses into tall black, cubist like human forms that had a chunky look to them. The huge figures looked like they were carved from ebony. They reflected very little light until the lightening illuminated them. The forms were vaguely human looking in a huge, terrifying way. Their eyes burned with all the fires in hell. The ebony figures started to march relentlessly forward.
Row upon row moving forward, it struck the dreamer that nothing could stop the terrifying march onward as file after file of the huge figures strode past him. It was as though the vast marching army stretched to infinity. Was this some dark premonition forewarning of some terrifying future event? Once again he would feel the warmth of the protecting powers.
The dreams weren’t recent phenomena. The first one had come to him four or five years previously. If time was the great healer, then in the case of the dreaming passenger it hadn’t worked. The pain of losing the two most important people in his life hurt as much after forty years as it did on the day they died. Why did his loss manifest itself in such a frightening way? He wondered if this was the possible onset of some awful mental problem.
A result of the stress he had to deal with? He had in recent years been seeing things on the very edge of his peripheral vision. At times the episodes made him physically jump. It was as though a large running spider or mouse had just appeared. Startled he would look but there was never anything there, but the incidents took their toll and at times when in company the occurrences caused him some embarrassment.
In the cockpit Hans skilfully manipulated the controls bringing the plane in for a perfect touch down at Rechlin-Larz. He left his co-pilot to taxi the plane onto the apron and went aft where he assisted his passenger into his coat, “It looks like the rain will hold off for a while,” he remarked. Then he noticed his companion was looking pale and shaken.
“You look a little off colour sir, are you feeling all right?”
“I’m a bit vague at the minute. I fell to sleep and had a bad dream that woke me with quite a start; I’ll be ok in a moment once I wake up properly…. I didn’t sleep at all last night.”
“I’m sorry to hear that sir,” Hans sympathised a look of concern on his face.
“I’m here to see Hermann’s latest project, very hush, hush. I was up early this morning, not something I would like to make a regular habit of.”
“Me neither!” Hans agreed with a smile.
The plane came to a gentle stop. The passenger glanced out of one of the side windows. Hermann Goering looking resplendent in a white uniform and full regalia was hurrying out to the plane. He held his peaked hat in place preventing it from being blown off in the brisk wind.
Adolf Hitler stepped out of the plane. He noticed that the dark grey clouds were much closer now. The wind had picked up a pace and was accompanied by a few random drops of icy rain.
“Welcome Adi welcome!” Hermann exclaimed excitedly wondering why Adi wasn’t in one of his uniforms.
Adi leant to his left looking over Hermann’s shoulder in an attempt to see who was standing by a small honour guard lined up just outside the control tower. Hermann also leaned to his left looking over Adi’s shoulder wondering if there were any other passengers exiting the plane.
“You’re alone?” Hermann enquired sounding a little surprised. He was secretly delighted to see that neither that nasty bastard Himmler, nor the club-footed idiot, Goebbels had accompanied him.
“Yes! You did say that this demonstration of yours was top secret,” Adi said jokingly.
“So it is! Of the utmost secrecy.”
“So I came alone! I certainly didn’t want to compromise your security,” Adi replied with a wry smile.
Hermann looked puzzled.
The honour guard snapped instantly to attention presenting arms as Adi and Hermann approached. A small group of men were standing just beyond the guard.
“Let me introduce you to our special guests,” Hermann said. “This is Walter Horten and his brother Reimar, both extremely talented aircraft designers. They are responsible for the machine you have come to see.”
The brothers immaculately dressed in Luftwaffe officer’s uniforms came smartly to attention and saluted.
“I think you know Willy Messerschmitt and Kurt Tank,” Hermann remarked.
“Of course,” Adi replied shaking each man firmly by the hand.
Just then a small woman’s face suddenly appeared from behind the group.
“Surprise, surprise!” Hanna Reitsch cried out excitedly.
“HANNA! My little air captain!” Adi exclaimed with delight. He held out his hands to her. “How’s my favourite lady pilot?”
“All the better for seeing you Adi,” she replied taking his hands. Adi pulled her to him and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. With his arm around her slim waist they entered the control tower. As soon as they entered the building Adi stopped and breathed in deeply through his nose and smiled.
“Ah fresh paint,” He exclaimed as he moved the index finger of his right hand in slow little circles. “I inhabit a world that is freshly waxed and painted. Everywhere I go I smell fresh paint and furniture wax.”
“That’s because everyone loves you and they want your surroundings to be nice,” Hanna replied.
“I think I should buy shares in the paint and furniture wax companies,” he joked.
“Yes! And make lots of visits,” Hanna said giggling.
The party climbed two long flights of iron stairs and entered the air traffic control room. The controllers stood to heel clicking attention right arms extended in salute. Adi returned their salutation in his usual half hearted way.
“Is there anything you want?” Hermann fussed, “something to eat or perhaps a drink?”
“A glass of mineral water would be good,” Adi, replied. “Did my driver arrive?”
“Yes about an hour ago. He is having a late breakfast with some of my boys, I thought it best to keep him out of the way,” Hermann replied as he poured the glass of mineral water.
“He can be trusted you know!” Adi said a little annoyed. “As you well know Eric’s been with me for a long time and he’s also a high ranking SS officer.”
“I am sorry Adi! I never meant to suggest that he was untrustworthy. Shall I send for him?” Hermann said looking hurt.
“No leave him to eat in piece!”
Adi felt a small tinge of pleasurable guilt. Adi couldn’t resist making Hermann feel awkward if he had half a chance. He never quite understood what it was about poor old Hermann that prompted him to behave in such a way, but as his second in command he felt he should be kept on his toes.
“So Hermann! What do you have that is so important for me to see?”
“Something very special,” Hermann took Adi’s empty glass and handed him a pair of binoculars as he snapped an order to one of the controllers.
“You’ll get a better view if we go out onto the balcony. I’m afraid it isn’t very pleasant out there.”
The sky looked angry. Dark grey clouds threatened an imminent downpour. Adi shivered; the temperature had fallen. Off to the east they could hear the faint sound of an approaching aeroplane. In front of them some distance off was a line of old planes, and various types of ancient vehicles that had all seen better days. The approaching plane came into view. Just a spec at first, growing larger as Adi watched it through the glasses.
It was unlike any aircraft he had ever seen. Suddenly the air was concussed with a deafening roar of concentrated cannon fire that startled Adi. The row of old planes and vehicles suddenly twisted and erupted under the violent salvo. Towering fountains of sloppy mud leapt high into the air. Tires, chunks of metal, and other debris were thrown spinning in all directions. Having completed its run the plane climbed almost vertically into the sky.
The ease with which it ascended suggested that it was totally unaffected by the force of gravity A truck pulling a long trailer came into view. Mounted on the trailer was a large sheet of plywood. A full sized image of an approaching fighter plane was painted on it. The trailer was dropped some metres in front of the row of burning, and smoking vehicles. Quickly the truck accelerated away. Hermann pulled a partially ajar window open and barked an order to instruct the pilot to make his second run, a few seconds later the plane’s engine could be heard again, Adi searched the sky looking for the aircraft.
“There it is Adi,” Hermann said pointing straight ahead.
“God in heaven if that plane opens fire again we might get hit,” Adi exclaimed apprehensively.
“Please Adi don’t be alarmed we are perfectly safe.” Hermann reassured him.
The plane came on but it didn’t fire its cannons. As it flew low over the control tower and Adi wondered why it hadn’t opened fire. Had the pilot misjudged his angle of attack? The air suddenly shuddered as the plane’s machine gun opened fire, causing Adi to be startled again. Large pieces of the wooden target splintered and tumbled through the air. The image of the fighter plane was shredded. The pilot had scored a perfect hit on the nose of the plane image.
Adi stood looking, mouth agape in totally amazement.
“What do you think Adi?” Hanna asked excitedly.
“That fighter has a backward firing gun?” Adi questioned in disbelief.
“Yes!” Exclaimed Hermann, “a real sting in its’ tail! I call it my Hornet.”
“Can we fit that rear firing gun onto our existing fighters?” Adi enquired.
“Not really,” Reimar Horten replied, “this plane was designed with that armament in mind. The gun sight works with mirrors and lenses. A lot like a U-Boat periscope.
The plane touched down in front of them and taxied off toward one of the hangers.
“Come Adi I want you to have a good look at this machine,” Hermann Invited. “This plane has some more wonderful surprises!”
“Dolfo was piloting the plane,” Hanna remarked as they made their way across to the hanger.
“Dolfo?” Adi looked puzzled.
“Adolf Galland, you must remember him?”
“Oh Galland of course I’ve just never heard him called Dolfo before!”
“That’s because you don’t spend enough time moving around in Luftwaffe circles,” Hanna teased.
“I move in plenty of circles Hanna! Ever decreasing circles!” Adi replied with a grin.
The whole group were still chuckling as they entered the hanger. Dolfo was chatting with one of the engineers who nodded toward the group before coming to attention. Dolfo turned around, stood to attention, and gave a smart salute.
“Please gentlemen relax,” Adi insisted. “Good to see you again Galland… or perhaps should I call you Dolfo? So what do you think of this new plane?”
Dolfo smiled as he ran his hand lovingly along the leading edge of the plan’s wing, “Its’ a very clever piece of design. The engine is a rotary type. A revolutionary new design of engine that delivers a lot of power.”
“Rotary engine?” Adi asked an enquiring look on his face.
“Basically it only has one large piston that rotates rather than several that go up and down. It cuts down on a lot of moving parts. Much less to go wrong,” Dolfo replied.
Adi didn’t understand, but he nodded as though he did. He wasn’t in the mood to become involved in a long conversation of convoluted engineers jargon.
“What’s its top speed?’ Adi enquired.
“605 kilometres per hour, that’s fully loaded. It’s a little slower than the best British fighters,” Dolfo replied.
“We have mounted four cannons in the nose. Two thirty millimetre cannons, one on each side of the fuselage. Two twenty millimetre on the top. The guns are synchronized to fire through the propeller,” Willy Messerschmitt said.
“The wings and airframe are made of hard wood, which makes it very light. With the reduction in the weight of the airframe it can carry heavier loads,” Hermann added. “The undercarriage is fixed so no need for complicated hydraulics to pull the wheels up and down.”
Adi walked to the front of the plane and ran his hand down the smooth propeller blade.
“How does she handle?” Adi asked.
“Like a dream!” Hanna answered.
Adi looked surprised, “Hanna you naughty girl! Have you been flying this plane?”
“So many times Adi! If I am going to train our young pilots to fly it, then I have to be familiar with absolutely everything there is to know about her. She’s so easy to fly. Not as temperamental as some of our other fighters and they are very forgiving. The British Hurricane fighter has a lot of wood in its construction. Those planes can sustain tremendous damage and still bring their pilots home safely. If a Hornet is damaged any repairs are quicker to carry out using carpenters instead of panel beaters.”
Adolf was examining the rear firing machine gun.
Reimar Horten joined him and started to explain its workings.
“Through an ingenious set of mirrors, prisms, and lenses the pilot can see behind him although there is a suggestion from our friends to possibly install miniature television cameras as an aid to aiming the weapon. A gun sight is projected into a small screen set in the control panel. Electronically powered gimbals allow for an all around movement of the gun. It’s a little tricky to operate at first, but with practice it can soon be mastered. This machine gun is a very devastating defensive measure. It is a specially adapted version of our MG 42 machine gun.
It fires the same 7.9 mm calibre shell at a rate of 1,500 rounds a minute. One good burst from this weapon will usually bring down a pursuing fighter. Attacking from behind is the main tactic of fighter pilots. Any Tommy or Ivan stupid enough to get on the tail of this aircraft will be in for a very nasty surprise. She can comfortably deliver two, one hundred and fifty kilo bombs, or a four hundred kilo high explosive device. She has the option of carrying two fuel tanks, one under each wing. These can be dropped when they are empty or if the plane is engaged in combat. These tanks greatly increased her range to nearly seventeen hundred kilometres, twice the range of a Spitfire. She can carry enough ammunition for ninety seconds firing time. The Spitfire has only about sixteen seconds of gun time.”
Adi was running his hand over the smooth wing of the plane, “I thought this was metal when I saw it flying.”
“It’s the finest linen painted with a plasticised dope, a type of paint that makes the linen shrink resulting in very tight fit over the airframe,” Dolfo explained.
“There is one other very special thing about this machine,” Hermann added. “You can have three of these planes for the cost of one of our present fighters. They can also be produced in less than one sixth of the time that it takes to construct our current combat planes. If we can have what we need in the way of production facilities, we should be able to produce around four hundred and fifty Hornets a month.”
Adi gave Hermann an unconvinced look.
Hermann became defensive, “We don’t need huge factories to build these planes. The wings and most of the body of the plane are made of wooden sections. A network of small workshops can turn out the wooden parts. Strong, lightweight brackets brace and strengthen the fuselage and wings. We had a problem with these brackets initially but our friends solved it for us. The only things that we need to address are weaponry, instruments, tyres, and of course the engines.
As long as we can get these pieces of equipment in sufficient quantities, manufacturing the numbers I have mentioned won’t be difficult in fact there is a very real probability we could even exceed the four hundred and fifty figure. The aircraft will be like giant construction kits that can be quickly assembled by teams of workers. We will need several airfields where the aircraft can be assembled. Once constructed, the planes can be flown out to squadrons that require them.”
Adi was lost in thought, “Four hundred and fifty a month? Are you sure?” he questioned still sounding unconvinced
“Yes!” Hermann replied firmly.
“This is unbelievable! Do you realise that in five months you could double the size of our air force.”
“Adi! Hermann has given you a wonderful aeroplane! A miracle of a machine that you can have by the thousand!” Hanna assured him.
“You said that it doesn’t have the speed of the British fighters. Won’t that put it at a great disadvantage?” Adi asked.
Dolfo responded with a smile, “The rear defence cannon gives it an extraordinary advantage.”
“What about the manufacture of engines?” Adi enquired.
“My Foke-Wulf company; Willy’s Messerschmitt Company and maybe Heinkel and Junkers can help,” Kurt Tank said guardedly.
“If each company made thirty engines a week we would be in business,” Adi commented. “Is this an unreasonable request?”
“Speaking for myself I would say no!
As long as we can expand the plant and find more workers,” Kurt Tank Replied. “It would interfere with our current aircraft production. Realistically I think a special facility should be set up. A large production line dedicated just to manufacturing these engines. Naturally I will give all the help I can and I’m sure Willy will do the same,”
“It goes without saying,” Willy agreed.
Adi stood for a moment lost in thought, “Ok Hermann move ahead as quickly as you can. Anything you need just let me know… Come to think of it there has been a storage project mentioned to use some very large tunnels where gypsum used to be mined for the production of plaster. The tunnels are situated in the Kohnstein Mountain close to Nordhausen. I think they are being considered for storing fuel. They may just provide you with a very large, bombproof, engine factory! I don’t know who is responsible for this project. I will have a word with Albert Speer and Adolf Eichmann; I’m sure one of them will be able to help.”
Just then a loud screeching noise put everybody’s teeth on edge.
It sounded like a tortured stick of chalk screaming on a backboard. A distorted metal door was being forced open against a concrete floor. A small, balding, old man pulling a metal trolley loaded with large tin cans entered the hanger. The old man struggled to keep control of his cargo, which seemed to have a mind of its own. His back was to the group and he was quite unaware of the august company he was in. Grinning from ear to ear Walter Horten strode over to the old man and spoke to him. With his arm around the old mans shoulders Walter led him back to where the group stood.
“This is Martin Webber a very important member of our team,” Walter said. “Without his skills we couldn’t have made such a success of our aeroplane. Martin is a very clever chemist. It is thanks to his hard work that we have formulas for some incredibly strong glues that hold our planes together.”
“I did get some very special help.” The little man said sheepishly.
Adi smiled at the scruffy little man and offered his hand. Martin examined his right hand, then after wiping it down the side of his overalls he took the offered hand and shook it vigorously.
Hanna turned away her body shaking with uncontrollable laughter. She was still giggling when the party left the hanger on their way back to the control tower.
“Did you ever hear of such a thing?” Adi whispered to Hanna.
“What thing?” She asked expectantly.
“Hermann’s Hornets,” he replied quietly trying not to laugh.
It was too much for Hanna; once again she erupted into hysterical laughter. A vivid bolt of lightning and a deafening crash of thunder encouraged the party to hurry for the shelter of the control tower. Just as they reached it the heavens opened.
After a light lunch and much discussion, Adi excused himself explaining that he had a long drive ahead and wanted to be back in Berlin before nightfall. As he was leaving Hermann took him to one side and presented him with a small wooden box. Inside the box was a beautiful model of the Hornet Fighter made of highly polished white metal.
“A small memento of this very special day,” Hermann said.
Adi examined the model with great interest, fascinated by the fine detail, “Thank you Hermann not only for the miniature, but for the real thing. You may just have given Germany a unique weapon! With thousands of your Hornets our Luftwaffe will be invincible,” Adi paused for a second, “Hermann you have done a tremendous job. I can’t thank you enough!”
Hermann was almost blushing. Such wonderful words from his leader filled him with immense pride.
“The Ivan’s won’t know what hit them!” Hermann exclaimed proudly.
The conversation ceased abruptly as Adolf’s chauffeur Eric Kempka, umbrella in hand appeared to escort Adi to a dark blue BMW sedan. He held open the door until Adi was seated then jumped into the driver’s seat, “Next stop Berlin!” he said cheerfully.
“Take your time Eric I’m in no hurry.”
“It’s a pity the weather is so bad, for most of the way it’s a pretty drive.”
Two kilometres from the airfield they stopped at a heavily guarded checkpoint, part of the airfield’s security perimeter. One of the guards was questioning Kempka through his opened window.
Three more guards accompanied by an officer came out of a small wooden hut that served as a guardhouse. They approached the back of the car. The officer opened the cars rear door and barked.
“OUT! You are in a restricted area. This road is not for the use of civilians. How did you…” The officer never got to finish what he was saying. Slowly Adi got out of the car and straightened up. The officer gasped and stood back. He couldn’t believe his eyes.
Kempka was out of the car in the blinking of an eye, knocking the guard he was speaking too into the mud with the car door. He held a small Walther pistol in his hand trained on the officer’s head. The sound of an automatic weapon being cocked was heard. Suddenly there was a very acute, feeling of tension in the air.
“Put up your weapon!” the officer shouted at the soldier who had cocked his machine pistol. He turned back to Adi. ”Please!” the officer pleaded, “I had no idea who was in the car. I thought you were civilians who had somehow got past our security and wandered into this restricted area.”
“Lower your pistol Eric,” Adi said urgently. “These men are only doing their duty.”
“I am a Lieutenant Colonel of the SS and I am ordering you to get that damn barrier up NOW!” Kempka snarled.
“Yes sir.” The officer replied nervously. He turned and ordered the mud-covered soldier at the barrier to raise it. Kempka was by now alongside Adi holding the BMW’s door open for him.
“Eric stop the car when we’re through.” Adi instructed.
Once the car was parked Adi got out and walked back to the visibly shaken guards. An angry looking Kempka was at his side holding the umbrella over their heads.
Adi walked up to the officer, “Normally we would be in uniform so it isn’t surprising that you should be suspicious. Please don’t be concerned about this incident,” Adi reassured them looking skyward. “You are to be congratulated on your diligence, especially in this weather. I am surprised however that you didn’t hear from the airfield that we were on the way.”
“Our phone line is out! All this rain! I apologise and thank you my leader,” the officer replied.
Both sides of the road were lined with dense pine forest and Adi could see armed guards some with dogs patrolling amongst the trees.
“There doesn’t seem to be much at fault with Hermann’s security,” Adi remarked to Eric as they walked back to the car.
Kempka was still stony faced and did not react to the remark.
“Eric you are not in a very good mood today,” Adi said with a wry smile on his face.
“It could have been an assassination attempt,” Kempka replied.
“Eric the only people who knew I was going to be here was my pilot Hans Baur, Hermann, and yourself. You and my pilot were the only ones who knew I was returning by car. I really don’t think I was in any danger.”
“I suppose not, but I couldn’t take any chances; beside I had no idea of exactly who knew of your movements today.”
“You’re a good man Eric, but at times very scary. That young officer was terrified.
Look at these poor young boys tramping around the woods in all this rain.” Adi remarked nodding toward the trees.
The two men got back into the car; the rain was beginning to increase in intensity.
“If they knew back at the airfield that the damn phone line was down, why the hell didn’t they provide us with an escort?” Kempka remarked angrily.
“Perhaps they don’t know the line is down!” Adi said.
“This foul up could have led to a very nasty incident. We might both have been killed!” Kempka replied.
“Yes it could have Eric, but thankfully it didn’t and we are still very much alive.”
Sitting in the back of the car Adi was experiencing a rush of emotions; the tense situation that had just occurred and the effect of the bad dream still persisted in bothering him. It dulled the elation he should have been feeling after what he had just witnessed at the airfield. With that aeroplane in great numbers he felt as though he could conquer the world. He was even feeling guilty about digging at Hermann over Eric.
He was really very fond of Hermann; they had been together for many years and he had a great deal of respect for him. Most people didn’t like him very much; they thought him extremely arrogant. Like himself Hermann had fought in the last war, the Great War. At the end of hostilities he was commanding the famous Jagdgeschwader 1 Squadron. The squadron had become known as the flying Circus made famous by the exploits of Manfred Von Richthofen, the Red Baron. Once Germany had surrendered in nineteen eighteen Hermann’s squadron was ordered to Darmstadt in Germany.
When the flight arrived the town was in the hands of the Communists. They removed armaments from a few of the planes. Hermann informed the revolutionaries that if the weapons were not returned at once he would attack the town. The weapons were soon replaced. Hermann was then ordered to take his flight to the French headquarters at Strasbourg. He obeyed but sent only a few of the planes.
The remainder he destroyed on the ground at Darmstadt. Hermann’s actions on that day always amused Adi. There was certainly no question of his courage and patriotism. His actions could have had very serious consequences he could even have faced a firing squad.
He enjoyed seeing Hanna Reitsch again; her presence had perked him up no end. Adi had a very soft spot for her. The pretty little lady had made quite a name for herself as a flyer breaking many records piloting her glider. It was this young girl who had flown the advanced prototype FA 61 helicopter. The flight was made indoors at The Deutschland hall Sports Stadium in Berlin. The nineteen thirty-eight Berlin Motor Show was held at the Stadium.
Hanna had performed the dangerous flight not just once, but on fourteen consecutive nights. The crowds were thrilled and amazed at seeing such a large machine fly indoors.
Adi gazed out of the cars window watching the countryside go by through the rain-covered glass. It occurred to him that the blurred image through the windows was like a moving impressionist painting created in muted colours. Little rivulets of water pushed across the glass by the wind showed the scene clearly in a distorted way; realism and impressionism together he thought.
Hermann’s new aeroplane would be officially designated the HO.100 the HO being the first two letters of the Horten Brothers who had designed the plane.
Thoughts of the planes potential flooded Adi’s mind as he watched the windscreen wipers move monotonously from side to side. The view alternating between clear as the rain was washed away and then quickly obscured by a flurry of fresh raindrops. Suddenly during a brief moment when the windscreen was clear he saw something that shook him to the core. There standing alone by the side of the road was his little brother. Was his mind playing tricks with him? He wondered, “Stop the car Eric!”
The car came to a halt and Adi got out and walked back toward the small boy. Eric was also out of the car, his hand in his pocket grasping his pistol.
Quickly he scanned the woods on either side of the road.
“Hello little fellow what are you doing out here in all this rain?” Adi enquired.
The little boy shifted awkwardly glancing to his left. Adi’s eyes followed the boy’s glance. A woman was crouched down in a shallow depression answering a call from nature. At that moment the woman looked up and was astonished to see Adi, who quickly averted his gaze.
“What’s your name young fellow?” Adi asked the little boy.
“His name is Ulrich!” the woman exclaimed as she climbed frantically out of the hollow.
“We thought young Ulrich was on his own. I was a little concerned so we stopped.”
It was obvious to Adi that the woman was extremely embarrassed and distressed about the situation. Adi felt terrible for her. To be caught in such an awful position by the Head of State. He searched for words that would put her at ease.
“It was very kind of you to stop. I am so embarrassed by this situation. I just couldn’t hang on any longer,” the woman explained, her face a bright red mask of embarrassment.
“Please don’t be! We all need to pee! Even heads of state. I had no idea you were down there,” Adi replied with a kindly smile. “What on earth are you doing out here in this terrible weather?”
“We are on our way to see my sister in Liebenwalde. I was hoping to be on the bus before this rain started again. It hasn’t stopped for days,” she said looking skyward.
Adi turned to Eric, “Do you know this town?” Adolf enquired.
“Yes sir,” Eric replied, “we pass very close to it.”
“In that case we can make a little detour, may I offer you and young Ulrich a lift?”
“We don’t want to be any trouble to you my leader,” she replied nervously.
“Now how could I possibly leave you and little Ulrich out here in this wet weather? It certainly wouldn’t be the act of a gentleman,” Adi replied with a warm smile. “My name is Adolf,” he crouched down and offered his hand to Ulrich. The little boy looked delighted at being treated like a grown up, and shook the offered hand furiously.
“Sir I do know who you are! My name is Anna, Anna Holstein.”
Anna, Adi, and Ulrich sat in the back of the car chatting. The boy was totally unaware of the fact that he was in the presence of his countries leader. He told him all about his dad who was serving with the army and the school he attended. Adi showed him his model fighter plane. The boy’s eyes lit up with delight at the sight of the model and he was loath to be parted from it once they reached Liebenwalde. Adi smiled at the little boy and made him a present of it. His mother insisted that he give it back, but Adi was adamant that he keep it.
“You are a very kind man and a wonderful leader, I can’t thank you enough.” Anna said as she and her son got out of the car. “My sister will never believe it when I tell her what happened.”
“The pleasure was all mine and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with you and little Ulrich very much. He is a very bright boy. He reminded me someone who was very close to me a long time ago,” Adi handed his umbrella to Anna insisting she take it. “It’ll keep you and young Ulrich dry until you get to your sisters house.”
Anna thanked him as she opened the umbrella and she and Ulrich hurried off.
“Well so much for your quiet afternoon!” Eric remarked as he put the BMW into gear and pulled away.
“It’s good to see everyday life going on! I live in such a cosseted world most of the time” Adi said with a broad smile. “I thoroughly enjoyed little Ulrich’s company although I think Hermann would have a fit if he knew where his model has ended up!
It was hard to believe that Great Britain was at war with Germany life went on very much as usual. There had been months of inactivity, a period of time that came to be known as the phony war. Winston Churchill called it the Twilight War whilst the Germans referred to it as Sitzkrieg rather than Blitzkrieg.
During this period the Nazi’s invade and occupy Denmark, and Norway. Hitler unleashes his Blitzkrieg against Holland and Belgium. Neville Chamberlain resigns and is replaced by Winston Churchill. France falls after the British Expeditionary Force is pushed back to the beaches of Dunkirk. The little ships pluck thousands of British and French troops from the battered French coast. Italy comes into the war on the side of the Axis powers and France surrenders. Royal Air Force Fighter Command was under the hammer. They were attacking wave after wave of Luftwaffe bombers, the British pilots flying sortie after sortie. Pilots and ground crews were becoming exhausted. The British pilot and fighter plane numbers were slowly but steadily dwindling. Crews were being scrambled three or four times a day.
German targets all over England were burning in what everybody assumed were the opening gambit in the lead up to a sea borne invasion. The whole country seemed to be holding its breath waiting to hear the church-bells ring in anticipation of an announcement that the Germans were coming.
Sir Stewart Graham Menzies had succeeded Sir Hugh Sinclair as the head of SOE. Con received a message from SOE requesting that he meet with one Commander Kennedy at the Metropole Hotel in London. The following lunchtime Con found himself standing outside the impressive Victorian Hotel. He met the Commander in a ground floor bar. The Commander turned up dressed in a navy blue blazer, grey flannels and his old school tie. Con guessed he was in his late forties. He had a sharp look about him, a chin that almost finished in a point, as did his nose. Evil looking eyebrows met in the middle over a pair of dark suspicious eyes, jet-black hair receded from his forehead. Cons first impression was of a very serious and not very pleasant man, “Commander Kennedy?” Con enquired as he approached the stranger that had been pointed out to him in the bar, “I’m Constantine Schlinz,” he held out his hand. The Commander took it and delivered a firm handshake.
“Very pleased to meet you Mr. Schlinz,” He replied cracking a very pleasant smile that dispelled Cons first impressions.
“Please call me Con!”
“Certainly Con, what would you like to drink?”
“A brandy would be good.”
Whilst the Commander ordered the drink, Con took in his art deco surroundings.
“Rather impressive don’t you think?” the Commander remarked. “This has been the home for several of our covert departments for some time. Tell you the truth the left hand didn’t know what the right was doing. We actually had two different sections falling over one another on the same bloody mission. Absolutely crazy! A complete bugger up,” he handed Con his brandy. “I believe you were recruited by Quex.”
Con looked puzzled.
“Sir Hugh Sinclair?” The commander said.
“Yes I was…. Sorry about the confusion but I’ve never heard him referred too by that name before.”
“I think he acquired the name because of his talent for cracking codes,” Commander Kennedy said.
“He was quite a character. I was extremely sorry to hear of his passing. He was a wonderful man.” Con replied sadly.
“I only ever met him briefly on a few occasions but he had a hell of a reputation within the department,” the commander replied.
“Anyway the reason I asked to meet with you,” the commander looked around scrutinizing the bar. Seeing an unoccupied, out of the way table suggested they sit there where they wouldn’t be disturbed. Once they were seated the Commander leant in close to Con.
“We may have access to some very important intelligence that we need to get our hands on ASAP. The big problem is that it’s in Budapest. There is a Polish agent hiding in a safe house there. The Nazis and local police are turning the place upside down looking for him. We need someone to go to Budapest and pick up this information and get it back to us. You were picked as the favorite because of your nationality and language skills. How would you feel about trying for it?”
Con was thoughtful for a few moments. It was the kind of mission that he had been dreading, “Where would I be inserted?”
“It would be in France close to a railway station where you could catch a train to Paris, then make a connection with a train to the Hungarian Capitol.”
“When would you expect to drop me?” Con asked.
“Tonight!” The Commander replied in a matter of fact voice.
“TONIGHT!” Con exclaimed.
“Yes sorry about not giving you more notice, but as I said there is a bit of a flap on.”
“What time tonight?”
“I will pick you up at seven. I’ve offered to drive you to Newmarket.”
“Newmarket? Why Newmarket?”
“We use Newmarket Racecourse as an airstrip. There are a couple of squadrons of Lysander’s stationed there. Those planes have very short take off and landing capabilities and are ideal for our kind of work.”
Con threw back his brandy. “I need another of these!” he said getting out of his chair. “Can I get you one?” He asked his companion.
At The Berghof, Hitler’s mountain retreat on the Obersalzberg Hitler held a council of war with a group of his senior military commanders. The first topic on the agenda was Operation Sea Lion, the invasion and occupation of Great Britain.
“I’m sorry my leader,” Admiral Erich Raeder the Supreme Commander of the German Navy said firmly, “the barges are totally unsuitable without a lot of modifications.”
Adi gave the Admiral an impatient look, “I thought your people planned the sea-born phase of this operation! Are you telling me that you have assembled ships that are not suitable?”
“They will be perfect for the job! But as I said at the time, they all need to be modified to carry troops and armour safely. Some of the work has been carried out but there still remain a lot of barges to be converted. They are not suited to such an operation as they stand,” Raeder replied. “They are after all designed to sail on calm inland waters.”
“So we will pick a calm day to cross!” Adi said impatiently.
“My leader the waters of the English Channel are very unpredictable. A squall can come out of nowhere without any warning. If something like that did happen you could have thousands of troops in real danger of being drowned.”
Adi was lost in thought drumming the table top impatiently with his fingers. A strange look materialised on his face, “Don’t you realise that the RAF are bombing those barges practically every night? We are having a problem making good the damage as it is.”
“I think the barges must be towed to a place where they will be safer than sitting in the Channel Ports. Maybe up an inland river. If they can be kept from being attacked we can make good the modifications,” Raeder insisted.
It was obvious that Adi was not happy about the prospect of moving so many barges. It was going to take a long while.
“Hermann has been concentrating attacks on the Royal Air Force Aerodromes attempting to reduce the numbers of fighters the RAF can put into the air.
It would seem that our intelligence was flawed. The Royal Air Force appears to have far more planes than we were led to believe. Now I learn that the barges are useless. Do totally incompetent people surround me? You said that to make this operation a success we needed to achieve both air and naval superiority. Do you have naval superiority? NO! Do we have air superiority? NO!
“The choice of barges was not mine,” Raeder said defensively.
“Hermann you will have to commit more squadrons of fighters to the defence of those barges.” Adi insisted firmly.
“I will see what can be done Adi!”
“No don’t see what can be done Hermann! Just do it!” Adi snapped.
Hermann looked hurt. “W-we could commit some of the new Hornet squadrons,” he nervously suggested.
Adi exploded. “Don’t you ever listen to me? I have said many times that I will not release those aircraft until the eve of the landings. IT IS VITAL THAT WE USE THEIR ADVANTAGE AT THE RIGHT TIME TO MAXIMISE THE PHYCOLOGICAL EFFECT THEY WILL HAVE!” Adi screamed his expression turning manic.
“Yes Adi,” Hermann sheepishly agreed.
Adi could be damn infuriating at times Hermann thought. They had all that was needed to stop the Royal Air Force. Why the hell was Adi tying his hands? What the hell is going on? Three months ago they had a good part of the British and French armies trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk and Adi let them escape. Use the fucking Hornets and to hell with the surprise!
“Even with the best possible conditions for making the crossing,” Raeder added, “all the British naval ships have to do is sail through the formations of barges to sink them. The barges don’t have the height needed on their hulls. There’s nothing to prevent them from being sunk. Nothing to stop them from being filled with water from the wash large naval vessels generated. I think if you have the air defences capable of protecting the barges they should be committed!”
Adi pounded the table with his clenched fists. “NO! NO! NO!” He raved. You people only know about military tactics. You have no idea of the psychology of warfare. I DO!” Adi suddenly became very excited. “How will the British react when from out of nowhere hundreds and hundreds of fighter-bombers descend on them? Wave after wave coming on endlessly! They will be mortified. Churchill will have a heart attack rushing to get to the negotiating table!”
Hermann and the Admiral glanced at one another, silently agreeing that Adi wasn’t going to be swayed. In his current rage, they thought it wise to give up the argument. There was no sense in antagonizing Adi further.
An uncomfortable silence settled over the group of men.
Adi sighed and held his head in his hands,
“I hate to have to make this decision, but ok we will postpone the operation until next spring. Can the modifications you want be done in that time?” Adi demanded to know.
Raeder scratched his head, “The heights of the hulls will have to be increased. Thick armoured plates should be fitted to protect the troops. Some heavy machine guns must also be fitted so they can defend themselves. Some of the larger barges will have to be adapted so their bows can elevate allowing tanks and other vehicles to be driven off them. It’s a lot of work but I think we could manage it as long as the Royal Air Force is kept at bay.”
Adolf sat down and calmed himself, “Well that’s settled then! I am not happy about having to make this decision, not at all happy. What’s next on the agenda? Hermann you had something you wanted to discuss?”
“Y-yes Adi the jets.”
“What about the jets?” Adi asked impatiently.
“I think it would be a good idea to speed up our program of development. The initial indications are very encouraging. Messerschmitt have just flown a new prototype.
It can fly at nearly twice the speed of the Spitfire. In fact if it flew any faster bullets wouldn’t be able to catch up with it,” Hermann said smiling broadly pleased with his comical remark. “We must build and test more advanced engine designs. I think we should increase the whole program at Peenemunde Island up.”
“Well Hermann after the splendid job you did for us with your Hornet I would be very silly not to let you have all you need.”
Hermann made a grab for his brief case and hurriedly started to open it.
“I have all the facts and figures here,” He said pulling out a thick wad of papers.
“Hermann please,” Adi said quietly as he placed his hand on top of Hermann’s pushing the papers back into his case, “there’s no need for all that. I know that you will make an excellent job of it. Now what about this wonder weapon? My super duper new bomb?”
“That falls under the province of Werner Heisenberg Adi,” Hermann replied. “He’s here somewhere… I’ve seen him.” Hermann exclaimed glancing frantically around the room.
Just then the door opened and Heisenberg entered holding a glass of beer.
”We were wondering where you had got too!” A stern faced Hermann said.
“I needed a drink!” Heisenberg replied testily.
“SO? Adi said expectantly, “what about my new bomb?”
Heisenberg was thoughtful for a few moments, “The recent occupation of Norway has given us access to large quantities of heavy water,” Heisenberg said. “Czechoslovakia contains the biggest uranium deposits in Europe. Both these elements are essential for the construction of an atomic powered bomb. We have a device that will yield enough energy to set off a chain reaction. This will cause an immense explosion that could destroy a city of fifty thousand people, completely obliterate it! Flatten an area several kilometres square.”
“With just one bomb?” Adi asked excitedly. “Fifty thousand dead in one go. How fantastic! It’s wonderful!”
“Yes my leader without a doubt! There has never been anything like it. It is a true wonder weapon. The way it works is.” He was cut off short by Adi exclaiming.
“Yes, yes we don’t need to know all the details. We’re not all scientists. We’re not as clever as you my friend.” Adi said with a pleased look on his face.
Adi’s eyes were as wide open as they could get. It gave him a strange crazed look. A disturbingly weird smile appeared on his face. He would have looked perfectly at home behind the bars of a lunatic asylum. He started to chew hurriedly at his bottom lip.
Jesus Christ! Hermann thought Adi was starting to loose it!
As suddenly as it appeared the strange look vanished from Adi’s face.
“Werner you will have everything you need,” Adi assured Heisenberg. “Heinrich you have some concerns?” Adi asked.
Himmler was furiously cleaning his circular glasses, “I had some worries about the Channel crossing but I now think they will vanish once the work has been done to make the barges fit for the job.
“Well that’s it then! Now I think we could all do with a drink…. I’m sure Hermann must be hungry! Shall we join the ladies?” He suggested.
An asthmatic cuckoo clock in the hall at the Berghof wheezed nine times as the last of the visitors departed.
Earlier Adi had quietly asked Hermann and Himmler to meet with him privately for a few minutes once the other guests had departed. They went to Adi’s study and sat down on comfortable, thickly upholstered, chairs.
“Is all of this new research the result of information given us by your friends?” Adi asked Hermann.
“They have given us a good deal of help on all of our new programs,” Hermann answered with a feeling of apprehension.
“Did they have anything to do with the development of the Hornet Fighter?” Adi enquired.
Hermann massaged the side of his plump face, hesitant before answering, “The aeroplanes design was solely the work of the Horten brothers. We did get a lot of help with the engine. There was a big problem when the engine was run continuously for some time. I’ll try not to get too technical Adi.
As I’m sure you know a conventional engine has rings on the pistons to provide a gas tight seal. The single piston in the rotary engine is triangular in shape with the corners rounded off. Bushes were fitted to the tips of the piston to maintain a seal. Our problem was that after many hours these wore down. This meant we lost compression and power. Our friends came up with a new design for the piston. We manufactured it in diamond along with tubular sections for the bore. The bushes were also manufactured in diamond.
These new bushes and the bore greatly increased the life of the engine but they still wore out. The new design of piston had bushes that moved in and out in a special groove. The high-pressure exhaust gas from the engine was channelled back into the piston in such a way as to force the bushes against the diamond bore. The gas tight seal was perfect. This new modification meant the engine could run continually almost indefinitely before the bushes needed to be replaced.”
“I see!” Adi said. There was a long pause. “Can I ask you both a direct question and get a direct answer?”
“But of course Adi!” Hermann said glancing nervously at Himmler.
“Absolutely!” Himmler assured.
“These so called special friends of ours, are you sure we can trust them? They could be colluding with other nations for all we know?”
“I don’t think so Adi. What would be the point?” Himmler replied.
“WHAT WOULD BE THE POINT? Have you never heard of the centre playing off the ends?” Adolf asked. “Has it never occurred to you that maybe they are planning their own invasion of our world. Wouldn’t it make sense to have us all slaughtering one another then deal with the winner?”
“Certainly but my gut feeling is that they can be trusted besides if they wanted to take our world over they could do it in the wink of an eye. They certainly don’t need to collude with other nations,” Himmler said. “They need us just as much as we need them. Their native population has been reduced considerably by plague.”
“I would have thought with all their advanced technology they would have been on top of a problem like that very quickly.” Adolf observed.
Himmler agitatedly fiddled with his glasses, “They tell us that the plague was brought to their planet in a prolonged shower of bullet shaped asteroids made of ice. These melted or broke open when they hit the planet’s atmosphere releasing a deadly virus, which acted incredibly fast all over their world. Quite honestly Adi it sounded identical to the Spanish flu that killed so many here after the last war. Remember? Fine at breakfast, dead by teatime. They lost a huge percentage of their population before they knew what was happening.”
“We have been working with them for how long?’ Adi questioned.
“Just under five years,” Himmler replied.
“There! Five years and what have we got from them? What have we got that we couldn’t have invented ourselves?” Adi asked. “A few engine parts made of diamond.”
“Adi you have to understand that over the next year or so they hope to move our technology forward by a gigantic leap, far ahead of the British and the Americans,” Himmler explained. “It just doesn’t happen overnight. We have to move at their speed. They have a set agenda for us to follow. First on the list is communications, then healthcare and transport. Once we have these programs in place then will come the weapons.
We have had to set up manufacturing bases to make diamond components. A huge workforce has had to be trained in jobs that just didn’t exist before. We had no experienced workforce to call on; it has all been started from scratch. The communication program needed special pieces made of diamond before we could move on to the manufacturing of the communication devices. We have had to learn to formulate things we never dreamt of not least of all growing diamond.
Rare metals had to be obtained that we haven’t discovered here yet. They had to be brought from their home planet. Don’t you really think I have been pushing as hard as I can?”
Adi leant forward and patted Himmler on the knee, “I know Heinrich. I appreciate how hard you have worked with our friends. It just seems that a lot of resources have been used up for a very little return. I mean we have built six huge satellites that are as we speak floating around out there doing what? Have you any idea how much those things have cost? Millions and millions of marks I really am beginning to wonder just what we have let ourselves in for. We may obtain this advanced information, but at what price?”
“Those satellites are vital for the new communications systems,” Hermann explained. “They had to go up before we could proceed with the program. At least our friends put them in orbit for us otherwise we would have been involved in the building of expensive rockets.”
“Why couldn’t we use the old methods of communication, what’s wrong with our telephone system?” Adi enquired.
“Telephone systems need wire!” Himmler answered.
“Wire? Of course you need wire otherwise they won’t work!” Adi commented dryly.
“This new system doesn’t need wire. Our friends tell us that this system is capable of dealing with literally millions of individual phones on a massive network. It works on tiny waves of electromagnetic energy. They can also be utilized as a powerful weapon; they can even cook your dinner.” Himmler replied.
“This is no time to make jokes Heinrich. Cook my dinner indeed,” Adi said with a contemptuous snigger. “I would have thought a wireless network is just a fancy radio system!”
Himmler seemed to have been cornered and his argument was failing. Hermann stepped in to try recovering the situation.
“Adi I can promise something in the not to distant future that will truly astound you. We are creating vast new industries. A huge new factory in Bavaria will soon be ready to manufacture television sets with incredibly clear colour pictures. Soon every German family will have one of these televisions.
Think of it Adi you will be seen in every German home in beautiful colours.”
“YES! This could be a very useful means of informing my people about what a good job our party is doing.” Adi said slowly. A demonic smile materialized on his face as he sat back. Hermann went on.
“The scientific inventions that they talk about developing for us are truly amazing, fantastic things that we could never have imagined. If hope you don’t mind me saying but, if you showed a little more interest in what they are doing maybe it would settle some of your fears. How long is it since you saw any of them? They always ask after you and they work very hard.”
“Umm it has been a while; I do have a lot of other important jobs to do!” Adi replied.
Yeah! Hermann thought. Like watching a cartoon of Snow White and the seven fucking dwarfs!
“It can’t be too pleasant for them having to be kept out of the way. They see so few people stuck in my castle all the time. Until we have our folk conditioned to deal with the idea of people from other planets we can’t let them out in public,” Himmler said.
“This is Joseph Goebbels responsibility; I hear he is working very hard on that question.” Adi remarked.
“Then there is the problem of security,” Himmler explained. “If the British ever got wind about them you can bet your life they would launch some kind of operation to kill or capture them. We did save the life of one of the fellows that crashed in the Black Forest. We also gave them a lot of assistance in the recovery of their flying disc.”
“Yes your right I should visit them. I must admit I found that fellow, what’s his name the ambassador fellow?” Adi asked.
“Kimondye,” Himmler prompted.
“Yes that’s the fellow. He was very pleasant…. Yes lets arrange a visit Heinrich. Do you still have those two pretty girls up there?” Adi enquired.
“Maria and Traute? Yes and now a third girl called Sigrun has joined them. They have become very close to our visitors. They stay with them all the time. These girls keep them company and make sure everything is running smoothly. If it hadn’t been for Maria and Traute none of this would have come about.” Himmler replied.
“I think those girls should be given some sort of recognition. Perhaps we can have a special medal struck for them, something like that.” Adi suggested.
“I think they would like a new car each. One of those Volkswagen Bugs!” Hermann suggested.
“Excellent idea Hermann!” Adi exclaimed. “I will see to it.”
There was a knock at the door and Eva stuck her head in, “can I come in? She asked. “Is there anything you need? A nightcap or a snack?”
“No,” Adi replied, “Hermann is just leaving. Heinrich will you see Hermann out for me?”
“My pleasure Adi!”
Himmler was spending the night at the Berghof. He accompanied Hermann out to the front steps of the alpine house.
“So what did you think of that earlier performance?” Hermann asked Himmler.
“I thought it was a little disturbing,” Himmler replied. “We have to remember that all great men can be a little strange at times.”
“Genius bordering on madness?” Hermann replied dryly, “or maybe just total paranoia!”
“Something like that.” Himmler said unconvincingly.
“It’s a shame there has been such a balls up over the barges. As I told Adi the RAF is on its knees I’m sure. Not being able to exploit that advantage is very disappointing. My boys have performed wonderfully well. They have taken a lot of casualties and we have lost quite a few planes in this operation. All that sacrifice for no result.”