This story chronicles what we felt were the last days of WWII in
Luft Stalag 13. The major historical
events that we wrote about actually happened, though admittedly we took certain
liberties on how they happened. The familiar Hogan’s Heroes characters aren’t
ours; the rest are. But they are free
to use if you so wish. (Our only requirement here is that you do not use Toby
unless you treat his character with tender loving care! He represents an
important aspect of, or insight into, the authors’ lives.) Hint… There will be a test later… Who is
Mission: Wurzburg Munitions Factory - Team Three
Veitshochheimer Strasse, Farmland outside of Wurzburg,
April 18, 1945, 0400 Hours
Lieutenant Peter Jenkins lay on his belly at the crest of a hill overlooking their destination. They had left Stalag 13 the day before at one o’clock in the afternoon. They had made good time and were now doing their last reconnaissance of the factory before they made their final plans. But they had run into a major snag and were unable to approach the factory. The goons had built a POW camp practically at the front door. There was no way to blow the factory without taking the POW camp out as well. Originally the factory covered almost ten acres of farmland, but now, one quarter of that space was cordoned off with new barbed wire creating the fence for the POW camp. The camp was located inside the perimeter fencing of the factory. The whole camp consisted of tent shelters; there were no permanent buildings, except one.
“Where did that come from?” Lieutenant Joseph Paylor asked, ducking his head into the grass beside his companion as the searchlights from the new POW camp ghosted past them in the darkness. They should be invisible from the compound as they were just over the crest of the hill, even though they were still able to see the factory grounds clearly.
“I don’t know, Joe,” Jenkins replied. “But this sure tears this mission up. We can’t do a thing without endangering those men down there.”
“What do you think we should do?” Paylor asked. He and Peter Jenkins were the same rank, but Hogan had placed Peter in command of the mission.
“Let’s get back to the truck and see what the rest have discovered. Unless there is something we haven’t seen, we will need a new plan. Perhaps even reinforcements from Stalag 13.” Jenkins wiggled backward, staying on the ground. Joe kept pace with him. When they were well down from the top of the hill and the spot lights were illuminating the trees above them well over eight feet up, they cautiously stood up, moving further down the hillside. The two made a detour around the new camp and silently moved eastward to where the truck was hidden behind a large hedge grove.
They were the first of the team back to the truck, as their signal -- that they were approaching -- went unanswered. Within five minutes two more men came in, Corporals Andy Moore and Jimmy Stokes. The two young men shook their heads at their leader’s questioning look.
“It looks real bad,” Stokes offered.
The last two men, a Sergeant Dennis Callahan and a Corporal Tim Maloney, came in shortly after that.
“Well?” Jenkins asked his men.
He received five negative headshakes.
“Couldn’t get near the place,” Callahan said. “That bloody POW camp is right there at the front, and snakes around one o’ the sides. We can get at the factory for about 300 yards right at the extreme North edge, but any damage done is going to take out the POW camp.”
“I counted almost 35 guards between the factory and the camp. We don’t know how many are off duty, this being so early in the morning,” Moore added.
“One thing for sure, they won’t believe the original plan that we’re Gestapo investigating rumors of sabotage here. No one would touch that factory with a camp right there,” Jenkins said glumly. “Does anyone have any ideas?”
His question was met by silence.
“All right, there’s nothing we can do. We’ll spread out and try to work out what the routine is. Maloney and I will return to Stalag 13. We’ll head back to inform the Colonel of the situation about 10 o’clock. The morning will be well advanced and their routine should be obvious. The rest of you will stay here. Joe, you’ll be in charge. We’ll meet you back here,” glancing at his watch, “later today, probably about 3 o’clock.”
Mission: Schweinfurt Airfield - Team One
April 18, 1945, 0900 Hours
Foster studied his map as Riggs drove along the road, looking up occasionally to check their position. The turnoff they were searching for was to be no more than a path through the woods off the road. “The turn-off should be just ahead.”
“Yes, sir,” Riggs replied slowing the truck. “That was quite a performance at the last road block.”
“Can I help it that my orders are apparently signed by Reischsmarschall Goering?” Foster replied with a grin. “Besides that poor sot will thank me later for relieving him of duty. Just think that he gets to go home before the end!”
Riggs laughed, “Of course if he’s caught, he could be shot as a deserter.”
“Well, accident of war. It happens,” Foster replied. “Slow down. We should be almost on top of it.”
Riggs obligingly slowed the truck further. “It’s lucky there hasn’t been much traffic. I feel so exposed driving openly around in broad daylight!”
“Well act like you belong here. We’re a troop of crack SS sent to take over security of the airfield,” Foster reminded him as Riggs turned the truck from the paved road onto a track leading west into the woods.
“Yes, sir,” Riggs replied focusing his attention on getting the truck through the woods. The track was barely wide enough for their vehicle, but the underground had assured them that they would be able to utilize the track for almost six miles before it widened into a smallish clearing where a small farm was located. That was where they were going to meet up with their local underground guides. From the farm there was supposed to be another dirt road that led to a local road that would put them quite close to their destination.
Once they had entered the woods, they were plunged into almost the darkness of twilight. The bright sunshine barely filtered through the thick trees to illuminate their way. Finally, after traveling at a snails pace through the woods, they completed the six miles to their destination. Suddenly they were in the clearing where the farm lay. Foster had to squint in the sudden bright light. Riggs had an arm up to shield his eyes while he drove. It was a small farm with just three buildings all nestled in the bowl of the clearing. On either side of the track, the fields showed signs of care. Two of them already were plowed and ready for some sort of crop. Riggs pulled the truck near the barn and cut the engine. The men in back leaped out, taking up defensive positions.
A young girl, who was at most sixteen, came out of the barn and approached them. She was slender and blonde, her blue eyes serious. She called out in a clear voice, “I hear that the strawberries are blooming.”
Foster grinned, the expression in sharp contrast to the somber uniform he wore. “We came to pick daisies.”
Now the young girl was smiling as well, her eyes sparkling in amusement. “The bunnies have eaten them all, perhaps you would prefer some Johnny Jump Ups?”
“What a hokey code,” Foster said in German, extending his hand. “I am Paul Foster. Fraeulein …?”
“Schlossburg. Girta. Welcome. Please come into the house. Grosspapa is expecting you. I was just checking on the chickens, they’ve been bothered by some predator the last few days. Probably a fox,” Girta replied. “I am very glad you speak German.”
Foster laughed. “We all speak it, Papa Bear doesn’t let anyone out who doesn’t at least understand German.”
“He is a wise man,” Girta replied relieved. “It will make this easier. Come in,” she said opening the door to the house, leading into a small but cozy living room. It was a friendly room, with a large raised hearth dominating the south wall where a fire burned brightly, taking the chill off the early April day. The furniture while not new, was covered with bright cloth, the wooden floorboards shone with care and reflected firelight. The windows were clear, with the blackout curtains drawn back to let the sunlight flood the room with warmth and brightness.
Foster nodded at Sheoytz and MacDonald. Both men immediately took up posts to guard their position, MacDonald at the window, while Sheoytz went outside. As MacDonald watched Sheoytz cross the yard to the barn, an older man came into the room, through a back entrance.
“Papa Bear?” he asked, his voice thin and tired. The man was dressed in work clothes. His body, while still strong, was beginning to show signs of age. He was a small man, barely five and a half feet. His head still had a full thatch of silver blond hair and his eyes shone with bright intelligence and character.
“Nein. Papa Bear sent us, however. Paul Foster, Herr Schlossburg,” Foster replied, introducing himself.
The elder Schlossburg nodded. “Geoff Schlossburg. This is my farm. It’s just Girta and I here now. My two boys were drafted some time ago. Both are dead. And even Girta’s mother is gone as well. Senseless, this madness is. We do what we can.”
Foster nodded his understanding. “We were told that you would have some information for us?”
Geoff nodded, “Girta takes the cart twice a week and sells eggs and milk at the airfield. She knows the layout quite well. Siegfried Pfeiffer, the man who sells our milk in town, is due within the hour. He has the truck you requested. It is stolen, unlikely to be traced to any of us. Generally we have aided downed flyers and others north to the coast to get out of Germany. This is the first time we have done anything like this. We were honored that Papa Bear called for our assistance. Together, the three of us are called Canary.”
Foster smiled. “Our contacts have spoken highly of your efforts here. It is important that we have some local knowledge of what we were doing. The plan calls for us to take over security of the airfield, and while there to sabotage it completely so that it could not be used again. We brought enough explosives to do that job quite effectively. The trick will be getting in there and knowing exactly where everything is so we don’t look out of place.”
Geoff and Girta nodded their understanding. “Because we knew ahead of time why you were coming, I carefully drew a map based upon my last three visits to the field,” Girta said smiling shyly, moving to a closet where she withdrew a large sheet of paper folded in fourths. “I tried to memorize as much as I could and I drew it later. I hope that it is clear, I’ve never had to map something before.”
Foster spread the map on the table near the fireplace, obviously where the two ate their meals. The map was drawn neatly in pencil, with the many buildings of the airfield and the six runways the field utilized. Each of the buildings was labeled, and there were numbers written between them. “This is good. What are the numbers?”
“How many feet between things. Grosspapa helped me with the math. I memorized how many of my steps it took to get from place to place. Many places I could not do that, as they were places I am not allowed to go, so I merely drew in what was there. I am sorry, the scale is not precise.”
“Do not apologize, Girta. This is more help than we anticipated,” Foster said, with a charming smile at the girl. “We will study this map. Is there a place we can hide the truck we came in, until we need it later?”
“Ja. I will show you,” Geoff said.
“Allan, take care of that, ok?” Foster ordered.
“Yes, sir,” Gettings replied, following the old man from the room.
“Girta, how far are we here from the airfield?” Foster asked, passing the map to King and Riggs to look at.
“We are only five miles away, through the woods. The road is rutted, but I have been getting the carthorse down it twice a week for almost two years now. Once you come to the North road, turn right and the main gates for the airfield are about a half-mile. You cannot miss the entrance as the road dead ends there,” Girta replied.
“Sir,” MacDonald interrupted. “A truck just drove into the yard.”
Girta looked out the window. “It is all right. It is Herr Pfeiffer.”
“All right, men, let’s go,” Foster ordered following Girta out the door. Sheoytz met them at the truck as they arrived.
“Other than for that truck, it’s been quiet,” Sheoytz reported to Foster.
“Good,” Foster replied turning to the driver of the new truck. Herr Pfeiffer was a bald, stocky, older man, probably about 50. He sort of reminded Foster of a picture he’d once seen of Winston Churchill, but without the double chins. “Herr Pfeiffer, I presume?”
“Ja. And you?” asked Pfeiffer.
“Paul Foster,” he replied. “Thank you for the ‘loan’ of your truck.”
“Anytime,” Pfeiffer replied with a grin. “Its former owner is not likely to miss it.”
“All right. Herr Schlossburg. You are to put up one of my men for a day. He will deliver our truck to the airfield with our ‘security order’ after dark tonight. Will this be a problem for you?” asked Foster.
“Nein. He can be hidden in the barn. There is a secret room. It is where we have hidden many an escapee. There is food and water always stored in there. He should be most comfortable,” Geoff replied.
“Good. Gettings, stay here like we planned. We’ll see you tonight,” Foster said.
“Yes, sir,” Allan replied. “Where is this room, Herr Schlossburg?”
“I will show you,” Geoff replied, moving with Gettings into the barn.
Foster gestured for the rest of his men to get into the truck. Riggs took the drivers seat again. “Thank you,” he said climbing into the truck himself.
“Keep safe,” Girta replied. Pfeiffer nodded. The two stood and watched while the truck drove off.
Luft Stalag 13, Barracks Two,
April 18, 1945, 1015 Hours
Freiling had given General Hogan his third set of antibiotics and pain medication after performing a thorough exam of his sleeping patient. He hadn’t noticed any change to indicate that the hematoma had burst or gotten worse, although the General had gotten very restless during his examination and was probably going to wake up soon. Freiling decided to stay.
As the General’s restlessness grew worse, the doctor began to talk softly to Hogan to see if he could ease the officer back to consciousness. He placed his hand on Hogan’s chest to aid in comforting the transition. “Take it easy,” Freiling said softly. “It’s all right.” After a few minutes, Hogan opened his eyes, slowly focusing on the doctor. “You’ll be stiff at first, just lay still. Go slowly, son.”
“Son?” asked Hogan, staring at the doctor. His body felt very heavy. Movement was difficult and his head still hurt, although not quite as badly as before. He also realized his vision was still impaired.
“Excuse me, General, that was very inappropriate of me. It won’t happen again,” Freiling said formally, as he checked for any sign of fever, and was relieved to note that still wasn’t an issue.
“Sorry, Doctor. I wasn’t upset with you. I’d certainly rather have you call me son than General,” Hogan said quietly, as he could only believe that he was made a General, because London thought he was dead. Not quite something to be proud of.
“And why is that? You should be proud of your accomplishments,” reprimanded the doctor.
“Now just isn’t the time for personal pride, there’s too much work to do. We need to work together to get through this endless war,” Hogan said, frustrated. He tried to rise, and on his second attempt, was able to sit up slowly.
“I understand. How’s the head?” Freiling asked realizing again what an extraordinary person this man was.
“Actually, Doctor, it doesn’t feel all that bad. I had been feeling like I was getting kicked in the head by a mule every time I tried to breathe. Now it’s still painful, but I feel like I can breathe without wincing on every breath,” Hogan answered.
“You are not out of the woods yet. You’ve had three very heavy doses of pain medication. I believe at this point the medication is now masking the more serious pain of your head trauma. Please don’t think that this is a cure. It will still be sometime before we can be sure,” the doctor reminded him.
“Okay, Doc. I understand,” Hogan said as he stood and stretched, actually stretching for the first time since his injuries. It feels wonderful. The dull ache of his other wounds had prevented him from trying. That pain seemed to be almost gone now. Remember it’s just the medication. Don’t push it. It’s weird how much pain instills paranoia. Hogan knew death could still be his future, but it didn’t feel quite as ominous now.
“Colonel, first you need to eat, and I don’t want any argument,” ordered the doctor.
“No argument, Doctor,” said Hogan, amazed to discover that he actually was hungry. He hadn’t felt hungry in over a week.
“And I would prefer a regular sleep schedule for you. I would recommend an alternating 8 hour schedule, until you’ve regained some strength,” said the doctor.
“Sleep 16 hours a day, Doc? I don’t think so. That’s where I draw the line. I can’t afford that. I promise I will come to you when I’m ready,” Hogan said stubbornly.
“All right. It’s a deal.” The doctor had known the sleep issue wouldn’t past muster, but at least Hogan was agreeing to eat. An improvement. I now know how to deal with this stubborn patient. Misdirect him with the better of two evils, and he will acquiesce to one.
“Can I go, Doc?” Hogan asked starting to put on his bomber jacket and cap. He needed to make the rounds this morning, get something to eat and then figure out how he was going to deal with his unwanted guest.
“Of course. Just take it easy. Okay?” asked the doctor.
“Sure,” answered Hogan. Glancing one more time at the promotion orders on his desk, his plan only to use them if Birmingham gave him grief. Other than that, they were unnecessary. He left his office, followed by Doc Freiling, only to find Kinch, Carter, LeBeau, Newkirk, and Killian sitting or standing in almost the same places as last night. “Have you gentlemen nothing better to do? You don’t seem to have moved from last night,” he said, as nonchalantly as possible, trying to make a joke.
It didn’t work, his men started to scatter with “Yes, sirs; No, sirs; and Sorry, sirs.”
“Whoa,” Hogan said. “Whoa, guys, it was a joke. I’m sorry I said anything.” There was a collective sigh of relief from the five men. Hogan realized he hadn’t even attempted a joke in the past two weeks, as his mood had been understandably sour of late. He was just sorry he had his men so on edge. “Kinch. I’m going to take a tour of the camp. Is there anything I should know?” Hogan asked.
“Kommandant Klink was informed of the medication drop, as he was concerned when you did not appear at roll call. The men in camp now know of your medical condition and that of the situation with our guests. I’m sorry. I was confronted by a number of the men this morning. I felt I could no longer keep the truth from them. Other than that, General Birmingham is pretty angry about being put off by the Kommandant of Stalag 13,” Kinch replied.
“Thank you, Kinch, I’m not sure I like everyone knowing, but I agree with your judgment to tell them. I am going to get something to eat and then I am going to take a tour of the camp. Will you retrieve General Birmingham in one hour? I will talk to him then. That should give me chance to check in with everyone else. I haven’t made up my mind of how I want to approach him, as far as he knows he is truly in a prison camp. I may just act as Senior POW Officer until he figures it out for himself. I haven’t decided, so no tipping our hand. Okay?”
“Yes, General,” said Kinch.
“Major Killian, you should probably return to your cell. That way you won’t be in trouble for lying to a superior officer and I won’t have to explain how a Major was released first.”
“Yes, General,” said Killian.
“Okay. Now let’s get something straight. I am not to be addressed as General. I will only resort to that, if General Birmingham tries to out maneuver me. If you’ve told anyone, spread the word that nothing has changed and I haven’t yet accepted that promotion. Understood?”
“Understood, sir,” they replied somewhat bewildered, because by now, the whole camp knew. They all felt it was a promotion that was well deserved. As a matter if fact, they had been trying to plan a celebration for the Colonel before he interrupted them. They had known that it would have to wait until after their new General was better and the rest of the men had returned, but it had given them something to concentrate on, other than the alternative. Now they didn’t know what to do.
But since they were all used to obeying his orders, the word would go out immediately that Hogan wasn’t accepting the promotion for some reason. For now, they could only watch, confused as their commanding officer left the barracks, with the German doctor trailing behind.
After entering the compound…
Hogan paused waiting for the doctor to catch up to him. “Doc, how are the families doing?”
“They’re adjusting okay. It is a good thing you have some men on dedicated childcare. Those kids are having a great time. You should have seen them playing volleyball yesterday. I’ve only heard a couple of comments about the barbed wire. But as you know these people have pretended, lied, stolen, and cheated for what they’ve believed in. They’re tough. They’ve had to be, their lives have depended on it. They’ll be okay,” Freiling commented.
Hogan nodded his understanding. It was true these people were amazing. As he walked toward the mess hall, he stopped and chatted with several groups of civilians who were in the compound, relieved to discover that the doctor’s assessment of the civilians’ morale was true. After entering the mess hall, he dished himself up whatever was available. It was gray and nondescript, but he ate it.
When he was finished, he stacked his plate and he headed outside to make a tour of the camp. As Hogan walked and checked in on his men, he noticed that many more men spoke to him than was their custom. Not everyone asked how he was, but most everyone wished him good morning.
And Klink had also been relieved to see him. Hogan had told Klink of the presence of the two officers from London, and that as far as he was concerned… if should he still die, Kinch was to be in charge. He had asked if Klink or Schultz needed anything, but both had replied that they were doing well, and that his men were treating them very fairly.
Hogan then left the Kommandant’s quarters by way of the office and found Newkirk on duty, screening all calls.
“Everything okay?” Hogan asked.
“It’s been quiet,” Newkirk replied. “I’ve had the radio on. But it has only been spouting a bunch ‘o propaganda.”
“Well keep monitoring,” Hogan said and left the building through the office door and headed into the compound.
Luft Stalag 13, Cooler,
April 18, 1945, 1115 Hours
“‘Raus. ‘Raus,” the guard said, gesturing for the prisoners to precede him down the hallway.
General Birmingham glared at the guard but still moved down the hallway. He had given up trying to talk with his guard, as it was apparent he didn’t understand English. Major Killian joined him as they passed by his cell. And as they exited the building, another prisoner, accompanied by a guard, met them at the gate.
“Welcome to Stalag 13,” Kinch said. “I am Sergeant Kinchloe. I’m here to take you to the Senior POW Officer.”
“We haven’t been seen by the camp’s commanding officer yet. This is a serious breach of military protocol and the Geneva Convention. I demand to see the person in charge here,” Birmingham demanded.
“The Senior POW Officer will explain things to you, sir. The camp Kommandant here speaks with the prisoners at his own pace. It may be a while before he will send for you,” Kinch replied hiding his smirk of amusement, knowing that he could have a lot of fun with this guy, although also knowing that the Colonel probably wouldn’t stand for it. “So if you please, sir, follow me.”
Birmingham glared, but followed the black Sergeant across a drab prison compound, examining everything he saw carefully. There were three separate areas, outlined by barbed wire fences. One area held civilians, another held what appeared to be German military personnel, the larger area held the Allied prisoners of war. The whole camp was surrounded by a fifteen foot high, double fence. At regular intervals there were towers manned by guards with machine guns. The camp looked impregnable from first glance. But there has to be a way out.
The Sergeant brought them to a building labeled barrack two. “The Senior POW Officer will be here shortly. He’s in with the Kommandant now,” Kinch told their unwanted guest, gesturing toward the building directly across the compound.
Major Killian sat down on the bench outside the barracks. Carter had told him what was going on here earlier. He was impressed all over again at the level of organization that Hogan had been able to create here. He was sure that the coming confrontation was going to be interesting.
Birmingham had remained standing, but was leaning against the barracks wall. This sure puts a kink in things. We came here for a very specific purpose. Getting captured wasn’t part of the plan. From what I gathered Papa Bear has a big operation. I wonder if someone in this camp knows how to get in touch with him. I’ll have to play it by ear, but time is against us. London was sure that Papa Bear’s organization was in jeopardy. For all I know it could already be compromised. We were captured even before we got our chutes off. They knew we were coming. The General sighed, but his eyes continued to rove over the camp. His attention sharpened as he noticed several Allied soldiers apparently playing with the civilian children. This camp is one of contradictions. Hopefully the Senior POW Officer will explain this camp’s dynamics.
While Birmingham waited there, he also noticed many Allied prisoners starting to gather. They began lounging about in the area. It must be some sort of exercise period or something. He then noticed an American officer coming from the Kommandant’s office. That must be the Senior POW Officer. He nudged Killian and nodded at the approaching officer.
The black Sergeant raised a hand to get the officer’s attention. As the man got closer Birmingham could tell that the officer was an American Colonel. It also appeared that the man’s face was severely bruised, and he did not appear to be in good physical condition.
“Gentlemen, may I present Colonel Robert Hogan, the Senior POW Officer here,” Kinch introduced as Hogan joined them.
Hogan acknowledged the Major by nodding a greeting, then turned his attention to the General. “Hello, Kyle. It’s been a long time.”
“Rob!” Birmingham exclaimed, amazed. The last time he had seen Rob Hogan they had both received orders to do a bombing raid over Hamburg. During that sortie Rob’s plane had been shot down. He had assumed that Rob had been killed, as no one had ever heard from him after that. “It’s good to see you. I thought you had been killed in that raid over Hamburg. Have you been here the whole time?”
“Yeah.” Hogan shrugged. “I was captured soon after, and it’s not like a guy can request a weekend pass around here.” He didn’t know how long he could keep this up without laughing. Boy it felt good to want to laugh. He noticed some of the men in the compound starting to enjoy the conversation too.
Birmingham looked around again at the guards and barbed wire fence. He couldn’t believe that the Rob Hogan he had known would ever be resigned to staying in a pit like this. If Hogan’s face was any indication of the treatment here, he may have been cowed into staying. Bastards. “I guess. What happened to you? You look like Hell.”
“Thanks for the compliment. Believe it or not, this is a vast improvement. I had a little tête-à-tête with a Gestapo Major a couple of weeks back,” Hogan replied, but wanted to change the subject “So tell me, Kyle, why were you jumping into this area? You’re lucky you weren’t shot as commandos.” Hogan casually put his hands in his jacket pockets and remembered he still carried the men’s dog tags. “Oh. Here. Your dog tags. Courtesy of our beloved Kommandant.” Hogan handed the men their tags, while waiting for Kyle’s answer.
Birmingham was silent for a long moment, fingering his tags. His first instinct was to trust Hogan, but he couldn’t be sure that three years here hadn’t changed the man. Finally he decided that he couldn’t take a chance just yet on what they were really doing here. He was just trying to phrase his response, when an English accented voice interrupted.
“Colonel!” Newkirk said, rushing up to Hogan. “Colonel!” He paused momentarily as he remembered Hogan’s orders. “Oh excuse me, may I speak with you a moment in private, sir? It’s very important.”
Hogan had by then turned at Newkirk’s sudden appearance. “What is it?” he asked, moving Newkirk further from the General’s party.
Birmingham couldn’t figure out what could be that important to interrupt the conversation. It isn’t as if these men have all that much to do.
“Burkhalter just called, sir. ‘e’s on his way ‘ere. ‘e called from Hammelburg!” Newkirk reported unnerved.
“Damn,” Hogan muttered, knowing he didn’t have time to play games with his guest any longer. “Kinch!” he yelled.
“Here, sir,” Kinch replied immediately, turning his attention to the Colonel.
“Get ten guards together. Station them on the ground near the Kommandant’s quarters,” Hogan ordered. “Burkhalter is on his way here from Hammelburg. We’re going to have to take him prisoner. We don’t have time for anything else. I want snipers on the roofs. Make sure the tower guards are ready. We don’t know who he’s traveling with.”
“Yes, sir,” Kinch replied sprinting away, and yelling to the ‘guards’ in the compound.
“Newkirk,” Hogan continued. “Get back on the phones. Keep me posted of any new developments.”
“Yes, sir,” Newkirk replied, running back across the compound to the Kommandant’s office.
“LeBeau, Baker, get the civilians inside. Olsen, pass the order to confine the camp guards in their quarters. Carter, go get Schultz and Klink, bring them out on the porch. I’ll meet you there. The rest of you get back to your barracks and stay there. Pass the word. No one in the compound until the all clear is given,” Hogan continued his rapid orders.
Men who had been lounging around moments before ran off in all directions, leaving the compound suddenly empty. General Birmingham had just stood listening to the Colonel’s rapid-fire orders. What the hell is going on here?
Hogan turned back to his two guests, only one of who was standing there with a bewildered expression. “Sorry, Kyle. I don’t have time to explain now. Major Killian, why don’t you escort the General inside Barracks Two for me? I’ll be in as soon as we secure our unexpected visitor.”
“Yes, sir, Colonel Hogan,” Killian replied rising and gesturing for his companion to enter Barracks Two. Birmingham gave Killian a look of utter incredulity. “General, it’s a long story… sort of a fairy tale… about a Papa Bear,” his voice trailed off as they entered barrack two.
Luft Stalag 13, Compound,
April 18, 1945, 1150 Hours
Hogan had already explained to Klink and Schultz what was going to happen. He expected them to just stay on the porch of the Kommandant’s building. That way they would be out of range off his snipers, but could appear to be waiting for Burkhalter, as the situation could become a little volatile… since no one was sure who or how many people Burkhalter would be with.
Just a few minutes later…
One of the tower guards called down to say that a single staff car was approaching Stalag 13. The car reached the gates and was allowed to pass. Hogan’s men signaled that there were only two people in the car, a driver and the General. Hogan relaxed a little. They should be able to handle the two of them. The car pulled up, the driver got out to open the door for Burkhalter. As soon as they were both out of the car, Hogan’s men approached and were able to easily disarm the driver. And Burkhalter wasn’t even armed.
“What’s the meaning of this, Klink?” Burkhalter yelled, panic rising in his voice.
Klink didn’t answer.
Colonel Hogan approached the General from the porch instead. “Sorry, General. I’ve had control of Stalag 13 for two days now. You are now a prisoner of war and will be spending the rest of this war in the cooler.” With no further comment, Hogan motioned for one of his men to escort Burkhalter, as he really had no use for the man. “As for the driver, confine him with the former camp guards,” ordered Hogan of another soldier.
“Kinch,” yelled Hogan. “Everything’s clear. Stand Down. Kommandant, you and Schultz can return to your quarters.”
“Hogan,” Klink asked, “what are your plans for General Burkhalter?”
“No plans, Kommandant. He’ll remain confined to the cooler until the Allies liberate this camp,” said Hogan. “He will then be turned over to the liberating force to face charges for war crimes.” Hogan paused and watched as Klink’s face grew anxious, realizing that once again, he had put Kommandant Klink on the defensive. “Kommandant, you and your men will be safe, I will keep my promise.” The Kommandant nodded and silently headed back to his quarters.
Hogan headed immediately back towards Barracks Two, knowing he would now have to be honest with his guest. Hogan entered the barracks to find General Birmingham sitting at the table in the center of the barracks.
Birmingham immediately stood and confronted Hogan. “What the hell is going on here, Colonel? What kind of crazy mixed up place is this? POWs ordering German guards around – and what’s this about Papa Bear?”
“Which question would you like me to answer first, Kyle?” Hogan asked sarcastically. “To begin with, this camp has been under my control for two days. My men captured you. They were to take no chances. London didn’t tell us you were coming. The former camp guards are being held in their quarters. The civilians you see are members of the local underground being given refuge here. The rest of the men in camp, including those dressed as Germans, are all volunteers. They all agreed to stay with me and work our subterfuge on the surrounding countryside. As you might have surmised by now, I’m Papa Bear.”
“We were told that Papa Bear had been wounded and his condition had deteriorated. London was worried that you were dead or incapacitated. Can you explain what your present condition is?” asked Birmingham sternly. “Although I admit you don’t look well, you don’t appear to be severely incapacitated, and you are certainly not dead. Did you falsify your report to London? You could be court-martialed for that Hogan.”
As Birmingham finished that sentence, he found himself immediately confronted with the angry faces of Hogan’s men. They had stood and converged on him. Their anger was palatable. He finally heard Hogan say, “Whoa guys, back off. I can handle this. At ease gentlemen,” and watched as men just as quickly backed off.
“Sorry, General. My men are a little too protective of their commanding officer,” Hogan replied. “As to my condition,” he paused wanting to come up with a good lie and couldn’t. He took a deep breath. “General, there was nothing falsified in the report to London. My life does hang in the balance. Without the medication drop, there was no chance of my survival. Now there’s a small chance. The longer I can hold out, the better my chances will become.” He paused again, not sure he really wanted to tell them everything.
Birmingham responded quietly. “What’s the problem, Colonel?” he asked genuinely concerned.
“As a way of a short explanation General, my brain is trying to fight off an infection caused by the blow to my head that caused this,” Hogan said indicating the bruised right side of his face. “Without antibiotics there was no way to stop the infection. Now I have a small chance, but no one knows how far the infection has spread. It’s a waiting game,” Hogan said quietly.
“I’m sorry, Rob,” Birmingham said. “So, I guess it’s time I was honest with you as well then. We were ordered to take over command of your operation if you were dead or incapacitated. I’m sorry to say, by your own admission those orders will have to stand. Until some final resolution is found, I’m prepared to assume command here.”
“Excuse me, General. I have admitted to nothing but a possible outcome. I’m quite capable of continuing in command of this operation. You also need to know that in that eventuality, I have given command of this operation to Sergeant Kinchloe. He’s my second in command here and his orders to command this operation will take precedent,” Hogan responded, determined.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Colonel! Who in this camp would follow a Negro’s orders? You can’t imagine that he could actually handle himself in command,” Birmingham said.
For a second time, the General found himself face to face with group of angry POWs. The only difference this time was that Colonel Hogan had gotten to him first. Hogan had him by the shirt and had shoved him up against a bunk. “General, you will never talk about my officer like that again! He will be in charge of this operation. If you don’t cooperate, I can easily have you confined to the cooler with your German counterpart.”
Kinch jumped in to separate Hogan from the General. The General had been shocked at first, but now anger could be seen in his eyes. The last thing Colonel Hogan needed was to get belted in the face, or anywhere else for that matter. Although, I wouldn’t mind changing places with Colonel Hogan. “C’mon Colonel, it’s not worth it. Let’s break it up.”
Carter and LeBeau both grabbed the General as soon as they both realized what Kinch was doing.
Once both officers were separated, Hogan took a deep breath, and repeated his threat. “I promise you, General, if you don’t cooperate, I will have you confined to the cooler.”
Before anything could be settled between the two men…
Lieutenant Jenkins, Team Three’s leader, in full Gestapo regalia, came running through the barrack’s door. “Colonel Hogan, sir, we’ve run into a big problem. The Wurzburg Munitions Factory has turned itself into a POW camp. They must have just done this, sir. Our reconnaissance never showed any of this. There are possibly 500 POWs being watched by 20 to 25 German soldiers. The problem is that they have camped the POWs at the factory door. We won’t be able to blow the factory without killing those men.”
“All right calm down, Lieutenant,” Hogan said, as he started to pace quietly.
General Birmingham came to his feet, determined to gain some control over these proceedings. “Colonel Hogan, if the target is so important, the men there will have to be considered expendable. Everyone knows the risks of warfare.”
Hogan turned and stared angrily at the General. “No one is considered expendable General. Although, I can always make an exception in your case. If you continue to give me a reason, I may shoot you myself.” Hogan turned from the General to address his men. “Okay. This could get complicated. We’re going to have to convince the guards at the munitions factory that their orders have changed. LeBeau. How many SS uniforms do we have left?”
“I’d say about fifty,” LeBeau answered immediately.
“Good. Get them on fifty volunteers. Make sure they’ve got papers and the works on them. We know how the SS have been commandeering men and sending them to the fronts. We’ll tell them that Stalag 13 just got a new influx of prisoners and they’ve been ordered to transfer their prisoners here. We’ll tell them we need them here as guards to control the growing number of POWs. How many trucks do we have here?” Hogan asked, the plans already clear in his mind.
“There are two in camp,” Kinch replied.
“We saw four at the Munitions Factory,” Jenkins added.
“That’s six and one will be loaded with the guards from that camp. That doesn’t leave enough room. We will need to make two trips for the POWs. They will have to be quarantined for medical exams when they arrive. The German NCO quarters can be turned into a triage ward, and Barracks Eighteen, nineteen, and twenty will be vacated for their quarters. We will need to double up on other barracks,” Hogan continued his mind racing.
“The POWs are living in tents, Colonel,” Jenkins reported. “They could be brought back as well.”
“Good. That will make another trip with the trucks, though. Kinch, get everyone started on all of that. Make sure you tell the doctor. Jenkins, come with me. I need to know exactly what the situation is there as the original plan for blowing the target has to be revised as well,” Hogan ordered rapidly, heading for his quarters followed by Jenkins.
General Birmingham was just floored. He had sat back down at the table after Hogan’s outburst about shooting him. The man is impossible. All he could do was sit back and watch Colonel Hogan’s mind run through the problem. He was amazed that Hogan had come up with a contingency plan that could save the lives of the POWs and blow the target, within 5 minutes of the problem.
Hogan had emerged from his quarters with Jenkins only a short time later and then spent the next hour hashing out the specifics with the rest of his men. Occasionally one man would leave to fulfill some task. It took no more than two hours and Hogan’s fifty volunteer SS were on their way back to the Munitions Factory with Hogan seeing them off personally.
General Birmingham had watched as Hogan and his man Kinchloe interacted, and had to admit that the Sergeant was a very exceptional officer. From what he saw, Hogan and Kinchloe made an incredible team. His only recourse now… was to swallow his pride and apologize to both.
Mission: Schweinfurt Airfield - Team One
April 18, 1945, 1430 Hours
Riggs stopped the truck at the gate of the airfield. Foster turned to the guard who approached and said, “Let us pass. I am Major Foerster. We are expected.”
The guard saluted, “Ja. Ja. Papers please, Major.”
Foster pulled the documents from his coat’s breast pocket and handed them to the Corporal. “We are in a hurry, Corporal.”
“Jawohl. Everything is in order, Major,” the Corporal said returning the papers, while hastily motioning for the other guard to raise the barrier.
Riggs drove the truck through and pulled it up next to the building marked office. The men all jumped from the truck and formed rank. Foster made a show of examining them before leading them into the building. From now on, they were an elite SS squad and would act like one. He led them directly to the Flight Officer’s office.
“I wish to speak with Colonel Schroeder. Sofort,” he demanded, looking down his nose at the clerk who occupied the outside office.
“Colonel Schroeder is in his officer, Herr Major,” the clerk said shakily. The poor man didn’t even ask for any identification, he just let them pass.
Foster brushed past the ineffective clerk and entered Schroeder’s office. He did not knock.
“What is the meaning of this?” Schroeder asked looking up from his desk, which was cluttered with papers. Schroeder was an average looking man of probably forty years of age. He stood almost six feet, had short-cropped black hair, and was wearing a neat Luftwaffe Colonel’s uniform. The man shot to his feet, clearly very nervous at the appearance of the SS Major. “Sorry, Herr Major. What can I do for you?!”
“I believe you were expecting us, Colonel?” Foster said, playing the part of the arrogant SS Major to the hilt.
“Ja. You are Major Foerster?” Schroeder asked.
“Ja,” Foster said with a scowl. “You were perhaps expecting someone else?”
“Nein. Nein. The orders came yesterday, Herr Major. I just don’t understand why Herr Goering wanted to take security from my men….”
“You are questioning the orders of Reischsmarschall Goering?” Foster asked, his voice silky smooth.
“Nein. Nein!” Schroeder replied hastily. “I would be most happy to turn the security of this airfield over to you!”
“There, you see, your first mistake. No one in your office even asked to see my papers. At least the Corporal at the gate asked for my orders. But even he did not confirm them. Sloppy. Inefficient. I am sure if this is how you run your office, your airfield must be in terrible shape. We must ensure that for the next several days security here is in top order,” Foster said, setting up the charade that he and his men would only be here temporarily, and that there was a more important reason for their presence.
“We are a small airfield, Major, with only a few squadrons….” Schroeder began. His forehead was damp with nervous perspiration.
“Enough.” Foster turned and began to walk out. He stopped when Schroeder did not follow him. “Are you coming, Herr Colonel?”
“What?” Schroeder asked.
“A tour of the field?” Foster prompted dangerously, enjoying his part. This Colonel was almost like dealing with Klink. He’s a nervous wreck. Foster wondered if perhaps Schroeder had something more to be nervous about. Maybe some creative bookkeeping? Maybe even black market activities. An airfield would be a perfect place for such an operation. Not that he cared, nor would he look. But he would have to play his part well, but not so well as to be a threat worthy of being knocked off if that was indeed what Schroeder was doing.
“Ja. A tour. Certainly. Coming,” Schroeder replied, placing his uniform cap on his head. He spent the better part of an hour showing his unwelcome new security detail around the airfield.
After Schroeder returned to his office…
Foster turned to his remaining four men. “Patrol in pairs. Split up. You know what you’re looking for. Report back here in three hours.”
“Yes, sir,” the four men replied and they moved off.
They were to locate the best places for the charges to be positioned, while he familiarized himself with the office buildings. They would have to be demolished as well. Hogan didn’t want any part of this post operational.
While Foster was touring the office building, one of Colonel Schroeder’s men summoned him to Schroeder’s office. “What is it that you wanted, Colonel?” Foster asked barging into Schroeder’s office, pretending annoyance at the interruption of his duty.
“Sorry, Major. I wanted to inform you that I have just received notice from Berlin that your VIP is on his way here,” Schroeder began nervously.
Foster looked at the man blankly for a moment, and then he collected himself. “They didn’t tell you who he was, did they?” he demanded. Just who the hell could be coming here from Berlin? He had only said that to ensure that he and his men would not be interfered with as they went about fulfilling their mission.
“Ja. Goering. I am to have a plane ready for him. He will be arriving tomorrow evening,” Schroeder began. He was sweating again. Goering is coming here!
“Silence!” Foster yelled, his mind working furiously. Goering would be quite a feather in Colonel Hogan’s cap! “Those imbeciles were not to mention his name! You are to tell no one he is coming! The runway you must use is number six. You are not to use number six at all tomorrow. The security there must be airtight. Herr Goering is on a special mission and must not be delayed!”
“Ja. Ja. I understand,” Schroeder replied.
“Excellent. I must go. The Reischsmarschall is early. He was not to arrive until the weekend,” Foster said, in as much of a hurry to leave Schroeder’s office as Schroeder was to get rid of him.
Foster went in search of his men. There were plans to be made if they were to take Goering back to Stalag 13 as a present for the Colonel. He looked at his watch, estimating that Gettings would arrive with the truck in another hour. They still had to wire the explosives tonight as well as plan how to capture Goering.
Luft Stalag 13, Barracks Two,
April 18, 1945, 1430 Hours
Birmingham and Killian were sitting quietly at the center table as Hogan and Sergeant Kinchloe returned to Barracks Two, along with an older German civilian, who had followed them into the barracks.
“Colonel,” offered the German rather sternly. “It’s time for your medication. I’d prefer if you got some rest. We’ve all had a stressful morning.”
Hogan just gave the doctor a look of apathy and said nothing.
“Fine, Colonel,” continued the doctor giving in. “Just take it easy. Okay?” The doctor made the Colonel remove his jacket and roll up his sleeve, and then he administered the meds and performed a quick and dirty examination of Hogan’s face. At first he said nothing to Hogan, but as he started to leave, turned back and asked very sarcastically, “So have you eaten anything since this morning, Colonel?”
“I will, Doctor. I will,” replied Hogan acquiescing.
Kinch exchanged a knowing look with the doctor as he left and then turned toward Hogan with a sheepish grin.
“So you both are in cahoots,” Hogan said lightly.
Kinch merely smiled.
Hogan had pointedly not made eye contact with the General after entering the barracks. When he did, he began evenly, “General. I guess we have to clear up some things.”
“Rob. Before this gets heated, I’m going to apologize to you. And I owe your Sergeant Kinchloe an apology as well. I was out of line. Watching you and your men for the last two hours, I’ve realized I’m not experienced enough to take this operation over. Killian and I are here to help for the duration. I promise we will do nothing to interfere with your plans.”
Hogan had been ready for a fight, but now had to choke back a response that had already been planned. Taking a deep breath he said, “Apology accepted. I should apologize to you as well. You see, my men and I were told of your orders, right after you were picked up and brought back here. London sent a ringer along with you, General. Major Killian here spent a month with us a couple years back. His orders were to make sure you ended up in the right place. And he was to tell me of your orders. London wanted to make sure they covered all bases, since they didn’t know my status. Their unconditional orders were that I still controlled this operation.”
“Okay, Rob,” Kyle said giving Killian a sideways glance. “Like I said we are here to help. No more jockeying for position. I now know my place.”
“Thanks, Kyle.” Hogan reached out to shake his hand.
The General responded in kind, then turned to Kinch and extended his hand. Kinch accepted graciously. “So. When you get some time, Hogan, will you give me a run down on your operation?” Birmingham asked.
“Sure, you hungry? I need to take the good doctor’s advice and get something to eat. We can talk there,” Hogan said, realizing that Kyle and Killian did not yet understand the food rationing rules of the camp.
“Let’s eat,” said Birmingham.
“Kyle, before we go,” Hogan said before leaving the barracks. “I wanted you to know that this camp is under strict rationing. We are still providing two meals a day, though the portions served are strictly enforced. I wanted to make sure you both understand, so there will not be a scene in the mess hall. So with that in mind, you might want to eat later on. You were fed this morning, and this will be it for you for the rest of today. I’m going to eat now, and you are welcome to come with me.”
“We’ll eat with you Colonel,” Birmingham replied, glancing at Killian. “We’ll follow your lead.”
“Good,” Hogan replied, leading the way across the compound.
Hogan and Kinch spent the next hour going over everything, to get the men up to speed. They hadn’t told them everything, but enough so they understood the missions going on now.
“Incredible, Hogan, the camp Kommandant and guards here must be idiots, to let this all creep up on them,” said Birmingham and immediately knew that he must have said something wrong again, as Hogan’s face grew dark, not angry, but sad.
“Listen, Kyle,” Hogan began. “There are no idiots in this war. People, Axis and Allied alike, are trying to survive this war the best they can. Some are more capable than others. Some are just trying to hide from it. It took me a while to understand that. It was much easier as a bomber pilot not to care that real people existed under your bombs. But once you start dealing with people one on one, you realize that people are exactly the same the world over. Don’t get me wrong, there are some ‘animals’ involved in this war that I would love to see taken from this world. It’s just not as black and white as I began this war thinking it was.”
Birmingham didn’t respond to Hogan’s little speech. This place had indeed changed his former colleague. He remembered Hogan as a carefree, highly decorated, and daring pilot. This Rob Hogan was introspective and philosophical. Hogan now acted like he was carrying the weight of the whole war on his shoulders. And if half of what Birmingham had heard in London about Papa Bear was true, he was.
Hogan stood, not sure whether his comments had meant anything to the other man. “Excuse me gentlemen. Kinch, please show the General and the Major our operation. Kyle, you can bunk in with me. Kinch, you might have to move some folks around, but make sure Major Killian has a bunk tonight. I’m heading back to the barracks.”
“Yes, sir,” Kinch replied.
General Birmingham watched Hogan leave the mess hall, noticing that the man was now walking slowly and looked very stiff. Birmingham hadn’t noticed that earlier in the day. He wondered if Hogan had additional injuries that he hadn’t been told about. He’d go see him later and ask, without the rest of his men around.
Mission: Wurzburg Munitions Factory - Team Three
Veitshochheimer Strasse, Farmland outside of Wurzburg,
April 18, 1945, 1520 Hours
The two trucks carrying the ‘SS’ from Stalag 13 pulled into the small hidden clearing that Jenkins had utilized earlier that morning. He gave the signal and his four men came out of the woods.
“How is it looking Joe?” Jenkins asked stepping out of the passenger side of the lead truck.
“It’s been quiet. We think though, that our original count of 500 men is pretty close. The men are mostly RAF with a smattering of the other Allied forces, mostly American. The good news is the number of guards we estimated is high. The majority of the guards are at the factory, not the camp,” Paylor reported. “What’s the plan now?”
“Sergeant Flynn is going to take ‘our’ SS and empty that camp. The camp guards will be reassigned to Stalag 13 and the POWs will be transferred there as well. I brought you four a change of uniform. We’re now all SS. We will still be taking out that factory. So hurry, change and I’ll brief you. Then we can get started,” Jenkins said.
Sergeant Kevin Flynn was dressed as a Colonel in the SS and looked quite menacing. Flynn was one of the few men in camp who was not a downed flyer, but rather he was a marine. He had been on a troop transport that had been shot down, and through a series of transfers had found himself a prisoner at Stalag 13. Once there, he had taken to Hogan’s operation like a fish to water. He was also older than many of the men held in camp so he was perfect for the part.
Mission: Wurzburg Munitions Factory - Team Three
Luft Stalag Camp 19,
April 18, 1945, 1600 Hours
The two trucks stopped at the barbed wire gates of the new prison camp. Flynn shouted at the guards to open the gates. One came outside to demand their papers, but everything went smoothly. So smoothly, that once they were admitted, the Corporal at the gate only pointed the way to the Kommandant’s office. The trucks halted there. Flynn, Jenkins and three of their men entered this camp’s Kommandant’s office, while the rest of his men, formed ranks and waited outside the office building.
“I wish to speak with the camp Kommandant,” Flynn stated emphatically to the desk clerk seated there.
“Yes, sir. Please go in. Major Kalb is expecting you,” the clerk replied, having received the call from the front gate informing the office of the visitors.
“Ah. Herr Major,” Flynn said as he entered the office and began his charade. He carelessly threw the forged orders on the Major’s desk. “I am Colonel Fleischer. I have orders to relieve you of this command. You and your men will all be transferred.”
“Transferred? But Herr Colonel, we just opened Camp 19 last week. Surely there has been some mistake!” the Major protested, picking up the orders with sweaty palms. A transfer meant to the front lines, and that was almost surely a death sentence.
“The SS never makes mistakes!” Flynn yelled, doing a passable imitation of the raging Major Hochstetter. May he rot in Hell. “You are to be transferred to another Luft Stalag, Stalag 13, in Hammelburg. Many more Allied prisoners are being sent there. Your men will be needed to keep order.”
“Jawohl, Herr Colonel. I will gather my men,” the Major offered, visibly relieved at the location of his transfer.
“Dummkopf!” Flynn hollered. “You must take your prisoners as well!”
“Of course, Colonel,” the Major stuttered.
“Excellent,” Flynn said, casually picking up the discarded orders and replacing them in his pocket. They had been a rush job and probably wouldn’t stand much scrutiny. “Now. You and your men will go first. My men and I will see the prisoners to their new prison. It is imperative that you arrive as soon as possible. Therefore, I will have my drivers take you. They already know the way to Stalag 13. How many trucks does your camp command?”
“We have five trucks here currently. We just finished moving here last week and they haven’t been reassigned yet,” Kalb replied.
“Good. I hereby commandeer those trucks. Get your men and prisoners organized. You and your men will be leaving here in two hours, along with the first shipment of prisoners.”
“Jawohl. I will give the order,” Kalb replied, standing.
“Do so,” Flynn replied.
“Sergeant Vogel!” the Major yelled out.
“Jawohl, Major Kalb,” the desk Sergeant replied entering the office, obviously in anticipation of his commander wanting him.
“We are being moved. Inform the guards that we will be leaving in two hours. Then call for a roll call of the prisoners. Sofort!” the Major ordered.
“Jawohl, Herr Major.” The Sergeant saluted and hurried from the office, followed by the officers in the room.
“Captain Jaeger,” Flynn said when they reached the compound.
“Here, sir,” Jenkins replied appearing at his superior’s side immediately.
“Inform the factory manager, Herr Herzog, of the change in status here,” Flynn ordered.
“Jawohl,” Jenkins replied, gesturing for his original five-man team to assemble. The six of them began the walk to the factory entrance, not more than a hundred yards away.
“Major Kalb, shouldn’t you be addressing your prisoners?” Flynn prodded noticing that the Allied prisoners had assembled in record time. Discipline here must be fierce.
Kalb turned and walked to the front of the prisoner formation. Flynn trailed along behind with three of his men. Kalb addressed the prisoners in heavily accented English. “You will all be transferred to another camp. This camp is closing. The SS are here to escort you to the new camp.”
Flynn noticed that there were no catcalls or protests from the ranks. A statement like that one back ‘home’ would have had everyone complaining.
Kalb continued, “You will each gather your effects and strike your tent. Major Boynton, assign a detail to pack the provisions in the mess tent. You will be ready to go in two hours. Any who are not ready will be shot. Dismissed!”
The prisoners left their formation and immediately set about striking camp. Flynn kept his face impassive with a struggle. One of the men flanking him muttered angrily. Flynn shot the mutterer a look that quickly silenced the man. When Kalb turned back to him he hastily got back into his role. “You are tough with them. Good. Too many Luft Stalags are too lenient with the prisoners. However, your prisoners appear to be in good condition.”
“They come from two other camps and were brought here. We didn’t have time for the sick or infirm. They will not hold you up Herr Colonel, if that is what you are asking,” Kalb informed him.
“Very good. You have two hours, Herr Major,” finished Flynn.
Mission: Wurzburg Munitions Factory - Team Three
Munitions Factory, Outside of Wurzburg,
April 18, 1945, 1610 Hours
When Jenkins and his men arrived inside the factory the plant manger, Herr Herzog, met them. Herzog was a short, overweight, balding civilian in his fifties. He wore black frame glasses and was dressed in a slightly rumpled business suit. “I am Fritz Herzog, the plant manager. What can I do for you, Herr Captain?” Herzog asked.
“I am Captain Jaeger. I am here to inform you that the POW camp on your grounds will be moved, no later than tomorrow,” Jenkins told him.
“But, Herr Captain, they were just moved here last week by order of General Burkhalter. Surely this is a mistake!” Herzog protested, worried that the protection he had been given by the presence of so many Allied prisoners was to be taken away.
“I have my orders, Herr Herzog. You are welcome to try to contact General Burkhalter, but you will find that the General is quite aware of this transfer of personnel,” Jenkins replied, grateful that one of the men in the truck on the way here from camp had told him that Burkhalter was now a guest of Colonel Hogan’s at Stalag 13. Herzog would never be able to locate him to confirm the orders.
“You can be sure that I will confirm these orders, Herr Captain,” Herzog replied haughtily.
“As you wish, Herr Herzog, but the prisoners and guards will be moved starting immediately. Heil Hitler,” Jenkins replied, turned on his heels, and led his men from the factory. Their job here was done. The rest of the job would be completed from the POW camp, as well as the woods on the north side where Sergeant Callahan had reported an easy access.
Mission: Wurzburg Munitions Factory - Team Three
Luft Stalag Camp 19,
April 18, 1945, 1800 Hours
Sergeant Flynn stood by and watched the first seven trucks leave the camp for Stalag 13. The first truck held Major Kalb and his men. The other six trucks held the first group of Allied prisoners, numbering almost half the population of the camp. He and his men needed to keep up the charade of being SS, though. He wanted no problems from any of the Allied prisoners they were moving, though he wished he could tell them the truth as the naked fear in some of the men’s eyes was hard to dismiss. But he knew that even if they were told the truth, these men wouldn’t believe it.
Flynn turned his attention to the camp he was dismantling. He still had another 250 men to move, plus all of their gear. The trucks weren’t due back here until 2300. He figured it would take another hour to load the rest of the prisoners. Once the last group of men was on their way, Lieutenant Jenkins and his team could begin to set the explosives. When the trucks arrived back here from their second trip to Stalag 13, the explosives should be set, and all that remained was to pack the trucks with the tents and provisions from this camp. All of the men in his team would leave, taking all but one truck with them. Jenkins and his team would stay in the area to ensure the explosives went off as planned.
Luft Stalag 13, Colonel Hogan’s Quarters,
April 18, 1945, 1800 Hours
General Birmingham had left Major Killian with the German children in camp. As they had gone by, Killian noticed a bunch of them trying to play volleyball. Killian politely excused himself. He had been an Olympic hopeful for their country’s volleyball team, until the war intervened. He couldn’t resist the chance to join in their fun. Soon he had everyone’s undivided attention as he was demonstrating the proper techniques.
Birmingham had returned to Barracks Two remembering what Rob had said earlier, that he would be sharing his quarters. However, he didn’t want to disturb Hogan if he was asleep, so he poured himself a cup of coffee and seated himself at the table.
Having finished his tour of the camp, both above and below ground, Birmingham just had to shake his head in disbelief. The complexity of this organization simply boggled his mind. He had noticed during his tour that the personnel mix here was unique. In some instances he had seen subordinates giving orders to their superiors. I will have to add that to my list of things to discuss with Rob.
Birmingham looked up suddenly as the door to Hogan’s quarters opened, revealing the elderly German physician. “Try to get some more rest, Colonel,” he heard Freiling say to Hogan as he closed the door behind him.
“How is he doing, Doctor?” Birmingham asked, as the doctor went to pass by him.
“About the same,” Freiling replied, not willing to give the General any information.
“What does that mean?” Birmingham asked frustrated.
“It means, that you will have to take that up with the Colonel. If you will excuse me, General,” the doctor replied, leaving the barracks.
Birmingham rose and knocked on the Colonel’s door.
“Come,” Rob said.
“Do you want some company?” Birmingham asked as he opened the door, but stopped in his tracks, shocked by what he saw. Rob stood there, his shirt in his hand, obviously dressing after the doctor had examined him. Rob’s torso was one massive purple bruise, his ribs were wrapped, and there appeared to be two surgical incisions, one vertical down to his naval and the other was horizontal along his left side. He also appeared to be nothing more than skin and bones. His bomber jacket had covered a great deal. “My God!”
Hogan turned away, never expecting that his visitor would be Birmingham. He’d assumed it would be Kinch. If he had known it was Kyle he wouldn’t have allowed him in until he’d gotten his shirt back on. Of course now, after the doctor’s exam, that little chore was going to take some effort. The doctor had poked and prodded, applying pressure to his chest and stomach to assess his pain tolerance. He was now extremely stiff and sore.
“What is it, Kyle?” Hogan asked, trying to casually put his shirt on.
“What the Hell happened to you?!” Kyle demanded, coming up behind his long-time friend. “Here. Let me help.”
Hogan didn’t reply, but let Kyle help him get his shirt on. Once he had the shirt on, he turned to face Kyle again. “Thanks, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get it on again. After one of the Doc’s more thorough exams, it’s a lot harder to do.” He then tried to change the subject, “Is there something you wanted Kyle?”
“Yeah. What the Hell did those animals do to you?” Kyle repeated.
“Like I said earlier, I had a tête-à-tête with the Gestapo. Very thorough, the Gestapo,” Hogan continued, after sitting down on the bottom bunk and staring at the floor. “It was a rough night.” He paused. “Getting shot and almost beaten to death takes a lot out of a guy.” He then looked into Kyle’s eyes resolutely and said, “But that was two weeks ago, and there isn’t time to dwell on it now.” Hogan hoped that would end the conversation, because he really didn’t want to relive the experience.
“I’m sorry, Rob. If there is there anything I can do?” Kyle offered, but knew full-well that he wasn’t going to get any more information from Rob. Kyle was just amazed that Hogan was even walking. And that he’d been able to keep the pain well hidden from everyone during the day.
“No. Nothing. Is there something else you wanted?” Hogan asked, leaning back against the wall behind him.
Kyle moved to seat himself on the stool that was the only other place to sit in the room. “Yeah. I’ve noticed that you have some very interesting dynamics here in camp,” Kyle replied, fingering what looked like mission plans on the desk he was sitting at. Suddenly his attention sharpened at the seal on a hinged box at the upper corner of the desk. Under the box was an unopened envelope displaying the same seal. He recognized the seal. They were promotion orders.
“What dynamics are you talking about, Kyle?” Hogan asked, trying to distract the General after noticing that Kyle had seen his promotion orders.
Kyle stood suddenly, the box and envelope in his hand. “Colonel, don’t you think you should open these?”
“Those contain nothing that has any bearing on our work here,” Hogan said. He stood and retrieved the envelope and box from Kyle, and placed them back on the table. “So what do you want to know about the dynamics in camp?”
“You’re a stubborn bastard, do you know that?” Birmingham said, annoyed with the obstinate junior officer. “You know I do outrank you. I can order you to open those orders.”
“Don’t,” Hogan replied unwavering, as he sat back down on his bunk. “Just leave it alone.”
“No. I won’t leave it alone. You should know what these orders contain,” Birmingham replied offering the envelope back to Hogan.
“I already know what’s in them. Major Killian brought them from London with him,” Hogan said, not taking the envelope. “They’re only here because London thought I was dead.”
“That’s ridiculous Rob. London doesn’t just hand stars out for no reason,” Kyle said opening the box to get Hogan to look at it. He stopped short at what was in the box. There were two stars there. Hogan outranked him. “Rob, you’re being an idiot! These things don’t come in pairs! Open the damned orders,” Kyle said exasperated.
Hogan looked up startled by that statement. That is true. They don’t come in pairs. Everything had been hitting him all at once that he never once considered that normal fact of military life, especially since his military life hadn’t been normal for a long time now.
Kyle offered the envelope back to Hogan, noticing how Rob had reacted to his statement. This is the first time I’ve seen the man perplexed since I arrived.
Hogan slowly reached for the envelope and opened it. Inside there were two pieces of paper. The first promotion was dated three months after his arrival at Stalag 13, and the second one was almost a year and a half ago. Hogan stared at the papers for a long moment and then returned the orders to their envelope. He rose and put both box and envelope back on his desk.
“It still doesn’t make any difference to our work here,” Rob told Kyle. “So what do you want to know about the camp dynamics?”
“Fine,” Kyle said, completely frustrated. “You’re impossible. Okay. Dynamics then. I noticed that you have subordinates ordering their superiors around. What’s that all about?”
Hogan answered, resuming his earlier position on his bunk. “I have over 2000 men here in camp, as well as a number of civilians that have worked for me over the last 3 ½ years. I’m responsible for all of them. When I began this operation, Stalag 13 was a NCO camp. We needed to do things that no one was really trained for, so I relied heavily on the men’s individual talents and abilities. Rank didn’t matter then and doesn’t now. When we began, we were all volunteers and that was just part of the package. The best man for any job was always the man in charge, regardless of rank.”
“You have an incredible operation here, Rob,” Kyle said.
A knock on the door interrupted them.
Hogan immediately answered, “Come.”
“Sorry to interrupt, Colonel,” Kinch said as he opened the door. “Baker just received word that the first set of trucks from Wurzburg are ten miles from camp. The first truck contains all of the German soldiers. There are only 26. The other trucks are carrying the new POWs. As you ordered, those trucks will remain on the road outside camp until the Germans are secured. Doc Freiling and his volunteers are ready to assist any who need help, but the word is that most of these men are in good shape.”
“Good.” Hogan stood up. “Let’s go make sure everyone is ready. Then we can greet our new guests. Kyle, I’d like to ask you to stay in the barracks along with everyone else who is not directly involved. I don’t want any unnecessary distractions out there.”
“All right. As I told you before -- you’re in charge,” Birmingham agreed, thinking to himself that now Hogan could literally order his cooperation. Birmingham noticed a change in Hogan’s demeanor when Kinch’s report was over. The man stood and appeared as if nothing was wrong with him. It is simply amazing, just like this whole operation of Hogan’s.
Just ten minutes later…
The first truck entered the compound. The German soldiers in the back filed out and formed rank. It was a simple matter for Hogan’s men to disarm and capture them. They simply outnumbered and surrounded them. The guards had not been expecting any hostility. The new German prisoners were led to their quarters. Their commanding officer, Major Kalb, was escorted to the cooler.
As soon as the German compound was secured, the guard at the front gate to Stalag 13 waved the other six trucks into the main compound. The new POWs were ordered from the trucks and made to form ranks. Hogan watched for a few moments and then slowly walked to where ‘his’ SS stood. He waited there for his men to bring the Senior POW Officer for these men to him. He wanted to ‘free’ these men as soon as possible.
He didn’t have long to wait as Private Smithers approached with an RAF Major. Smithers, dressed as an SS Corporal, saluted Hogan as he stopped in front of him. “Colonel Hogan. May I present Major Paul Boynton?”
“Thank you, Private. Nice job,” Hogan replied returning the salute. He turned to the RAF Major and noted the look of guarded disbelief on the man’s face. Hogan offered his hand and said, “Welcome to Stalag 13, Major Boynton. You’ll find we’re quite relaxed around here.”
Boynton returned the handshake warily.
Hogan continued, “If you don’t mind -- I’d like to explain the situation here to everyone at once.” Then he raised his voice and addressed the entire assembly, “Welcome to Stalag 13. I’m Colonel Robert Hogan, the Senior Officer here. I realize that this will be hard for you all to believe, but I would like to tell you a long story, sort of a fairy tale, about a Papa Bear.”
The Major’s eyes widened in shock, he was unsure of how to respond to the American Colonel. He felt responsible for the lives of his men. Everyone was very on edge, as this was the second move in two weeks. Although he recognized the reference and knew that it was the recognition code for the Allies’ most highly regarded agent, he still had reservations.
Hogan saw the look of total disbelief on many faces, so he resumed his explanation, “I can see that you don’t believe me, and truthfully at this moment you don’t need to. We have a triage set up to see to everyone’s general health, and there are barracks for you to move into. These trucks will be returning to Wurzburg to pick up the rest of the men in your camp and bring them here.” Hogan went on gesturing to each area as he spoke about them. “You will notice that this camp is divided into three areas. The biggest, is this compound and you will all eventually have every access to it. The next is our former recreation hall; in it there are several German civilian families, who were formerly operating as underground agents in and around Hammelburg. They also have free access to this compound. You will accord these families every courtesy. The last area is where the former German guards are detained. You will notice that the guards from your camp are also being detained there. I have control of this Stalag. They are my prisoners. You will now be escorted to your new barracks and from there, examined in the medical facility. You will all remain in your new barracks until everyone has been seen and been briefed on the situation here at Stalag 13.”
Hogan turned to his own men and said, “Dismissed.”
Boynton didn’t know what to believe. But what he did know was that the SS that had brought them here were indeed taking orders from this American Colonel. They were already back in the trucks, and returning to the camp his men had just come from. He guessed he’d know in two to three hours if what the Colonel had said, about his other men being brought here, was true. In the meantime, he would hold off making any judgments. The guard nearest him came and asked very politely, in excellent English, for he and his men to follow him to their new barracks.
Luft Stalag 13, Cooler,
April 18, 1945, 2100 Hours
After addressing Major Boynton and the new POWs, Hogan looked at his watch. There was no sense in trying to rest for only a couple of hours before the trucks returned here from Wurzburg with the additional prisoners. He was sure that the doctor would disagree. He had managed several hours of rest this afternoon, though he had been unable to sleep. Obviously he still needed the sedatives for that. What he could do, though, was go speak with General Burkhalter. So much had happed since he had captured the German General that morning, that he had had no time to speak with him.
Hogan motioned for the guard at the cooler entrance to let him pass. Another guard with the keys to the cells accompanied him inside to Burkhalter’s cell door. Following his former captors’ procedures, he had the guard open the solitary cell and relock it behind him.
When Hogan entered the cell, Burkhalter stood from where he had been sitting. He looked miserable and helpless in the meager cell, but Hogan couldn’t feel any pity for him. Too many times, the roles had been reversed. Hogan only hoped he had never looked so despondent.
“Colonel Hogan, how dare you ignore me for all this time. This cell is unacceptable for a General,” Burkhalter informed him angrily and clearly contemptuous of his surroundings.
“Your rank means nothing at this point. Hitler’s all-glorious Third Reich will soon be defunct. You are now a POW. This cell is perfectly adequate,” Hogan informed him, adding deliberately. “I should know. I’ve spent enough time here.”
Burkhalter could think of no reply to that statement, but forged on anyway. “I want to know what’s going on here, Hogan. How the hell did you get control of this camp?”
Hogan replied evenly. “What you ‘need’ to know, General, is that I am now in charge of this Stalag. You will only be told what I want you to be told. You better get used to it. It still could be a long war. I would imagine that the life of a prisoner is all that you will know for some time to come. Once Stalag 13 is liberated, your fate will then be in someone else’s hands. But until that time, as my prisoner, you will remain confined to this cell.”
Burkhalter shuddered at Hogan’s statement. He had known what fate awaited him should Berlin fall. He was after all, on the German General Staff, working directly for Hitler. When the Russians had engaged Berlin, he had fled along with countless other officers. Fleeing not only from the Allied forces, but also the SS, Hitler’s private police. If the SS had caught up with him after he deserted, they would have shot him. He had only stopped at Stalag 13 as it was on the way to Switzerland and ultimately escape. He figured he could get a meal and a comfortable bed, and be on his way again. Instead a former prisoner had captured him.
“Why isn’t Kommandant Klink being detained as well? It appears that he didn’t give up the camp to you, without a fight,” Burkhalter said. “It’s too bad, that he was never able to finish what he started.”
Hogan noticed Burkhalter assessing his injuries and realized Burkhalter thought they were from a confrontation between himself and Klink. “Actually, it was Major Hochstetter who wasn’t able to finish what he started. He and most of his men, met with a somewhat tragic end.” I can’t believe I’m condoning that. Hogan started to leave, really not wanting to continue this discussion with the German General.
“Colonel Hogan, wait,” Burkhalter stated before Hogan could call to the guard to be let out. Burkhalter had never expected that Hogan would ever be involved in anything as diabolical as this. He had heard of the Gestapo Headquarters’ bombing and the execution of Major Hochstetter and his men. He had always thought of Hogan as being a coward and a patsy. Perhaps that had all been an act and the real Hogan is standing before me now.
“Yes?” Hogan answered turning back to the portly General’s anxious demand.
“I have to know. This area has had more sabotage committed here than any other location in all of Germany. Were you responsible?” Burkhalter asked finally putting all the pieces together.
Hogan straightened and sighed before answering the General. He decided that since the rest of his German prisoners knew the truth, telling Burkhalter wouldn’t be that risky. “Yes,” Hogan replied.
Burkhalter stared at Hogan for a long moment. Even though he had guessed the truth, he still didn’t believe that it was possible. “And when I sent you to England, many of the functioning underground agents were compromised within a month of your return. No one accredited that to you. You were under guard the whole time, and your own government would not have condoned what you were doing there. You did after all steal the plane.”
“Your first mistake was to select me for that mission. Your second mistake was to send Klink with me. He led me to the first contact, and London ferreted out the rest. London supplied me with a captured Messerschmitt engine in a P-51 frame. They were well aware of my mission, even before I even left Stalag 13,” Hogan replied.
The cell was silent for many long moments…
Hogan finally turned and left without saying a word.
This time Burkhalter didn’t stop him. He stared at the cell door, thinking about all of the set backs and bungled plans that had happened in the last three years. He wondered how many could be attributed to Hogan. Even if Hogan was responsible for only half of them, and he had been discovered, the war could have taken a different turn. They might even have won. It was scary to think that the course of the war could be attributed to one man.
Luft Stalag 13, Colonel Hogan’s Quarters,
April 19, 1945, 0500 Hours
Hogan slowly sat up. He had stiffened up during the night, but figured a little movement would loosen him up sufficiently. Besides he was due for more medication after roll call. He moved to his desk and turned on the light, to dress. They had had a busy night with the three truck convoys from Wurzburg. All but the original Team sent out with Lieutenant Jenkins had returned safely, along with the extra 500 POWs rescued from there. As an added benefit, all the equipment and supplies from that camp were now stored here. The added food would be helpful, for a while anyway, as Hogan now had over 500 more mouths to feed.
“What’s going on?” Kyle asked sleepily from the top bunk. He hadn’t slept well, the surroundings being drafty and the mattress lumpy.
“Roll call, Kyle. A fact of life here at Stalag 13. 5:30 every morning, rain, snow, fog or hail,” Hogan replied.
“Why are you still doing roll calls?” Kyle asked sitting up.
“Everything must remain outwardly the same. The entire countryside for over 100 miles is still controlled by German forces. We can’t take any chances. So get up. Roll call,” Hogan said putting on his jacket and getting ready to leave. “You’ve only got a few minutes. Our German guards will be in here shortly to make sure you attend.”
“You’re kidding,” Birmingham replied incredulously.
“No. Not in the least. My German guards are to act like they are the guards of this camp. They will come in here and dump you out of bed,” Hogan informed him. I should actually have my men do that. It would be pretty funny. Hogan said nothing more, leaving Kyle behind speechless, and entered the main barracks.
Everyone there was starting to stir. Hogan got himself some coffee. He had a busy morning ahead. He would need to explain to Klink about the new prisoners, as well as check in with the doctor. Freiling had been working ceaselessly since last night, with his volunteers, giving medical exams to the new POWs. The last time he had seen the doctor, around 0200, things were going well. The POWs were in fairly decent shape, no medical emergencies at all. Hogan hoped he could get the POWs to believe him, but knew it was going to take some time. And they still had plenty of that, so it didn’t matter.
By the time he heard the guard voices yelling ‘Raus. ‘Raus, General Birmingham was exiting his office. As if on queue the barrack’s door flew open and three guards entered with guns at the ready. “Roll call, roll call. ‘Raus, ‘raus,” they all said together. The men of Barracks Two immediately headed outside.
Hogan said amusedly, as he passed the guards, “You guys are getting good at this, just remember whose side you on, Okay?” and he smiled.
The guards were trying to remain in character, but each man gave their commanding officer a grin before they left the barracks.
Hogan watched as each barracks formed rank. The new POWs had been assigned the barracks closest to the NCO quarters. Their barracks were the first ones out and in formation. Hopefully soon, he could make them believe that they are truly free and they could relax a little.
“So Rob,” said Birmingham coming up and standing beside Hogan, figuring it was probably the best place to stand, never having been part of a POW roll call before. “Who’s masquerading as your camp Kommandant?”
“What are you talking about?” Hogan asked, not believing that Kyle hadn’t seen Klink or Schultz before this. He then realized that it’s only been 27 hours since they had landed and he had kept them cooped up until around noon yesterday. “Sorry, Kyle again it’s a matter of keeping things the same. Both the real Kommandant and the Sergeant of the Guard will be here shortly to do the head count. We needed them to stay visible.”
As if on cue, Birmingham noticed who must have been the Kommandant and Sergeant of the Guard exit the Kommandant’s office, followed out of the building by two other guards. The Sergeant of the Guard approached the center of the compound. Each barrack’s guard sounded off in German, and the German Sergeant turned toward the Kommandant.
The Kommandant for his part, only said “Report.”
“All prisoners, present and accounted for Herr Kommandant,” the Sergeant then reported.
“Dismissed,” ordered the Kommandant. “Colonel Hogan, may I see you for a minute.”
“Of course, Kommandant,” said Hogan.
Birmingham noticed that Hogan turned smartly and on reaching the Kommandant saluted. And that that salute was returned just as smartly from the German Kommandant. “What can I do for you Colonel Klink?” Birmingham heard Hogan ask of the German. Hogan sounds a little too polite to the Kommandant. I’d want to kill the Nazi bastard after three years in this pigsty. Birmingham’s thoughts were curtailed as he watched Hogan and Klink retire to the Kommandant’s office.
After entering the Kommandant’s office, Colonel Klink began…
“Colonel Hogan, how did you manage to get extra guards and prisoners since yesterday? There was barely enough food for the people here already, now there can’t be enough at all,” Klink confronted. “I’m concerned for my men, as I realize my men and I will have to bare the brunt of the food shortage.”
“I understand your concern, but the new POWs came with their own provisions. It may get hairy in the future, but right now there is enough to go around. I will not let you or your men starve to death Kommandant. It will not come to that,” said Hogan evenly.
“That does not alleviate my fears, Colonel Hogan. I do trust you personally. But I worry that, at some point, your only solution to a food shortage may be to rid yourselves of your German prisoners. It could certainly alleviate the problem of us ‘starving’ to death,” Kommandant Klink said with a twinge of challenge in his voice.
“It will not come to that, Kommandant. I am not a mass murderer. I will not let it come to that,” Hogan offered exasperated. How can he believe I would do such a thing?
“I guess I have no choice then, but to take you at your word, Colonel. Excuse me,” Klink said turning away from Hogan and went into his quarters. As he closed the door, Klink realized that Hogan would have never been allowed to get away with closing the door in his face. He waited to see if Hogan would react. When nothing happened Klink continued into his quarters, but was unable to shake the feeling that Hogan would not be able to keep his promise.
Hogan stared angrily at the closed door. By all rights, he should haul Klink’s butt back through the door. But even as he was thinking that, Hogan realized that he would have had the same worry, before the takeover, for his men that Klink has now. I will not let it come to that. Hogan chose to ignore the Kommandant’s actions and headed back to Barracks Two, determined to keep his promise.
Hogan walked into Barracks Two relieved to see that Doc Freiling was sitting there drinking coffee with his men. “When can I lift the quarantine for the new men?”
“I’d say by the end of today. There haven’t been too many cases where I’ve had to intervene. They’re basically healthy, too thin in some cases, but basically okay,” Freiling replied in a relieved voice. When he’d been told that there were 500 new POW coming into camp he had envisioned men who were very sick, with him having no supplies to treat them with. Thankfully that has not proven to be the case.
“Good, Kinch, set up a time when I can debrief them. Probably tomorrow in the afternoon,” Hogan ordered. “I should have time then, most of the teams are due in tomorrow during the early morning hours.
“Yes, sir,” Kinch replied.
“Doc, I believe its time for another shot,” Hogan said with resignation, as he positively hated needles but knew that it was the only thing keeping him going at this point.
“That it is, Colonel,” Freiling replied with a smile. Finally Hogan is cooperating with me!
Hogan led the doctor into his quarters, surprised to find Kyle stretched out on the top bunk sound asleep. “Guess he’s not used to early hours,” Hogan said with an amused smile.
“You may wish to ask him to leave, Colonel,” Freiling said placing his bag on the desk. “I want to see how things are healing now.”
“Kyle,” Hogan said shaking Birmingham’s shoulder. “Wake up.”
“Um. What?” Kyle asked blinking.
“Get out. The Doc’s here,” Hogan told Kyle, unwilling to be examined in front of him.
“Oh, okay,” Kyle replied sitting up and swinging out of the bunk. He jumped lightly to the floor and left the room, closing the door behind him.
“Take off your shirt, Colonel,” Freiling said as soon as the door was closed.
Hogan only sighed and complied.
“Has your vision improved, Colonel?” Freiling asked beginning his examination with the bruising around the officer’s face.
“No,” Hogan replied glumly. “Still can’t see anything out of my right eye.”
Freiling pressed his fingers against Hogan’s right temple.
Hogan winced but managed to stay still for the examination. “It’s not too bad, Doc,” said Hogan quickly.
“Well I think, Colonel, that you’ve made some improvement. The swelling I discovered earlier has reduced in size. If the antibiotics are having this effect, this could be a good sign for the future. You’ve had 28 hours of antibiotics now, but you need to understand you’re not out of the woods yet.” Freiling ran his fingers lightly down the right side of Hogan’s face. “It also appears that the swelling around your facial fractures has reduced as well.”
“When do you feel, as you say, that I will be out of the woods?” Hogan asked.
“Probably another twelve hours, but a real good indication that things are improving is a return of your vision, even if it was only to blurry vision,” Freiling replied moving the examination down to his patient’s torso. He carefully unwrapped the bound ribs, noting that the purple and black bruises hadn’t changed much since yesterday. After he had thoroughly examined Hogan he rewrapped the ribs and told him, “Things here are progressing nicely. Don’t forget to eat. Kinch told me that you will have nothing to do this afternoon, but would likely be up most of the night. Therefore, I want you to sleep for most of today. I’ll be back at 10 o’clock for your next dose of antibiotics and a sedative.”
“All right, Doctor,” Hogan agreed knowing the doctor was right. “However, I want it understood that within the next two days I’m expecting all of my teams back. If there are wounded, they will have first priority to any available medications.”
“That is understood, Colonel,” Freiling replied immediately.
“Good,” Hogan approved.
“You should eat. I’ll see you at 10 o’clock.” Freiling gathered his things together and left Hogan’s quarters.
Hogan stood and dressed slowly, wincing occasionally at a particularly sensitive position. Once he was dressed again, he left his quarters, planning to head to the mess hall.
“Rob,” Birmingham said as soon as Hogan walked into the larger barracks. “I’d like to speak with you.”
“I’m heading to get something to eat. Come if you want,” Hogan replied, nodding at Kinch to hold down the fort. The two officers left the barracks together.
While they were walking the short distance to the mess hall, Colonel Klink and his guard came up from behind them. “Colonel Hogan, may I speak with you for a moment?” Klink asked politely.
Hogan turned and responded just as politely, hoping that this wouldn’t be a continuation of the discussion they had just had earlier. “What can I do for you, Kommandant?”
“I want to apologize for earlier, Colonel,” Klink began contritely. “I was out of line. I do realize that you will do the best you can with the resources that you have.”
“Thank you, Kommandant,” Hogan replied relieved, quickly accepting the apology. “We’ll make it work somehow. Oh. By the way, I don’t believe you’ve met our new resident General. Kommandant Klink, this is General Birmingham, an observer from London.”
“General Birmingham,” Klink said nodding politely, even though he became immediately aware, through the General’s demeanor, that Birmingham had no use for him.
Birmingham, after having given the German Colonel an evil stare, said, “Colonel Hogan, I really need to speak with you.” The General turned and walked toward the mess hall like they had not been interrupted, clearly expecting Hogan to follow.
Hogan never moved and only replied annoyed to the General’s retreating back, “I’ll be with you in a minute, General.” He then asked Klink deliberately, “Is there anything further, Kommandant?”
“Yes, Colonel. Can I have your permission to speak with General Burkhalter?” Klink asked, amazed that Hogan was so disrespectful to his superior.
“I’m sorry I haven’t given you that opportunity. I didn’t believe that you would want to speak with him,” Hogan replied surprised at the request.
“I have many unanswered questions, questions that I should have asked a long time ago,” Klink said decisively, looking Hogan directly in the eyes. Though I fear greatly Burkhalter’s answers. They could confirm the horrible things that I now suspect to be true.
“By all means, Kommandant.” Hogan nodded, wishing to be a fly on the wall for that conversation. He had never seen Klink so resolute. “Corporal Webber, see that Kommandant Klink gets in to see the General when he’s ready.”
“Yes, sir,” Webber replied retreating with his charge after the two Colonels exchanged salutes.
As Klink walked away, he heard a confrontation begin between Hogan and Birmingham. Hogan is actually dressing down the General for his misconduct. How can Hogan be getting away with that? He’s only a Colonel? But, the General seemed to acquiesce to Hogan’s authority. So strange.
As Hogan approached Birmingham…
Hogan immediately snarled, “Your behavior was uncalled for and totally uncivilized. As an unofficial member of my staff you will treat Kommandant Klink and his men with respect. Is that clear, General?”
“Perfectly, sir,” Birmingham replied stiffly.
“Good,” Hogan replied resuming their interrupted walk toward the mess hall. “You had a question earlier. What did you want, General?”
“I had another question about the camp’s dynamics, sir. May I speak freely, sir?” Birmingham asked formally.
“You may ask me any question you wish, Kyle. And drop the sir,” Hogan replied.
Birmingham took a deep breath, knowing that his question was liable to set Hogan off again. “Sir,” he began as politely as possible. “You seem awfully cordial with the former camp Kommandant here. Your relationship seems rather inconceivable to me. He would have been the first one put out of his misery, if he had been my jailor for over three years.”
Hogan said nothing, but had given the General a look of disgust. Silently he led the way into the mess hall and to the chow line. Hogan knew that he may never get Kyle to understand, but was going to try. Hogan began, picking up a plate, “Kyle listen. If it wasn’t for the fact that Klink was the camp Kommandant and Schultz the Sergeant of the Guard, we probably never could have created anything here. Neither man is a dedicated soldier to the Third Reich. Neither man is a member of the Nazi Party. Since Klink has been Kommandant here, this camp has always been run very close to what the Geneva Convention outlined. No Allied prisoner has ever been treated maliciously here.”
Hogan paused, while he led the way to two seats on the far right side of the room. He continued once they were seated. “While admittedly, not well fed, we were never starved. Klink did the best he could with the budget he was allotted. While neither man was ever on our side, they were never really against us either. It was far less dangerous for both men to straddle the middle-of-the-road. Their decision to remain as neutral as possible allowed us to function here.”
“Really? That seems incredible to me that there would be two such men, together, in a position that you could take advantage of,” Kyle replied.
“I admit that lady luck was on our side,” Hogan offered. “But since both men were an integral part of our success, we worked hard to protect both men’s reputations. Klink never had a successful escape from this camp, because I didn’t allow it. That way his position as our Kommandant was secure. Schultz on the other hand was almost one of the boys. He never should have been drafted. He’s as unlikely a soldier as you can imagine. He was very proficient in looking the other way. A lot. He saw nothing, said nothing, and knew nothing, because it was safer. He protected us and we protected him.”
“This camp is one of such contradictions,” Kyle said shaking his head in utter amazement.
Hogan grinned. “It always has been, Kyle.”
Luft Stalag 13, Cooler,
April 19, 1945, 1300 Hours
Colonel Klink waited patiently for the cell door to be opened. When it he entered, it was locked behind him, leaving him alone with General Burkhalter.
Burkhalter who had been curled up on the bunk, huddled under his coat, sat up when his cell door was opened. “Klink! I demand that you have Hogan release me!” Burkhalter commanded, though his voice betrayed his fears.
“Sorry, General. I have no authority here. Colonel Hogan is in control of this camp. If you want out, you must speak to him,” Klink replied evenly.
“Then, what are you doing here?” Burkhalter asked angrily.
“For once, I’ll ask the questions, General. Shouldn’t you be in Berlin?” Klink asked his face expressionless.
Burkhalter glared at him, but replied, “Berlin is in shambles. Anarchy rules. No one was safe there anymore.”
“Are you saying there is no government left in Berlin?” Klink asked.
“Government. What government? Klink, where have you been?! Hitler was the government. He disappeared the day the Russians engaged Berlin and hasn’t been heard from since. Most of Hitler’s staff has fled,” Burkhalter replied amazed at Klink’s gullibility.
“Berlin hasn’t yet fallen, Herr General,” Klink pointed out.
“No. But it will,” Burkhalter replied certain.
“Do you mean that there is no one left to support our countrymen in the aftermath of this war?” Klink asked still amazed that he could be appalled at anything Hitler’s staff was capable of doing.
“Are you insane, Klink? Once Berlin falls we would have all been dead men,” Burkhalter stated.
“Is there a reason, General, that you would be summarily executed by the Allied Forces?” Klink asked.
“We could have ruled the world Klink. We are the master race. We could have had everything,” Burkhalter said with arrogance.
“But instead we lost everything,” Klink replied greatly saddened by the enormous loss of it all. “Our way of life. Our traditions and history. Everything gone, to support a mad man.”
“You’ve missed the point, Klink. Ours was the true path, the rest of the world were just too blind to see it. We would have led them all to glory,” Burkhalter replied with the conviction of a true believer.
“No. We are a bunch of murderers. Whole families wiped out, nearly a whole race. Who were we to play God? The Allied forces have the right to line us up and shoot us all. We were all to blame for Hitler’s Final Solution, for the Concentration camps, the Labor camps, the Death camps and the Political Prisoners, for the Gestapo and the SS. How could we all have been so blind that we just closed our eyes and let all of that become our way of life?” Klink turned away from Burkhalter and shouted for the guard to let him out. He hoped never to see that man again.
Mission: Darmstadt Chemical Plant - Team Two
Heinrichstrasse, Outside Darmstadt,
April 19, 1945, 1600 Hours
Soule pulled the truck off the road about a mile from their destination. O’Malley sent Lieutenant Brunelle and Corporal Girouard off on a brief reconnaissance mission. They knew a great deal about the factory, its personnel, and operating schedule. What they didn’t know much about was the surrounding countryside, as they were almost 120 KM from Stalag 13. While his two men were gone he asked if anyone else had any questions about the plan.
There were no questions.
Lomax and Gagel were dressed as German officers and were posing as scientists along with the two underground members they had picked up. The rest of the group was their escorts, ensuring their safe passage throughout Germany while on an inspection tour. Everyone was ready for what they had to do.
“It’s all clear. The factory is just where it is supposed to be. The security is tight, but we shouldn’t have any problems with the orders we’re carrying,” Brunelle reported when he and Girouard returned to the truck.
“Excellent. Let’s get a move on then. That plant has to go up in a little under eight hours,” O’Malley ordered.
Soule stopped the truck at the checkpoint outside the factory. They all got their first look at the place. It was located in a deep valley, with the hills very close. It was no wonder, an air attack on this place wasn’t feasible. The factory itself was huge, covering well over ten acres of land. They were lucky explosives were made here. It wouldn’t take a lot to begin a chain reaction.
“Papers please,” one of the four guards at the gate asked, approaching the passenger side of the truck.
O’Malley reached into his jacket and pulled out his identification papers and his orders. He handed both to the guard.
“Wait, bitte.,” the guard told him, bringing the papers to the guard shack and calling the plant office. After several anxious moments he returned, “Your papers, Captain Mehler. I have informed Major Schiffer of your arrival.”
“Very good, Corporal,” O’Malley replied. “Drive on.”
Soule put the truck in gear and drove into the German plant, stopping the truck in front of the main entrance, so everyone could get out. Soule and Girouard stayed with the truck, ready at a moment’s notice to get them out of the factory. The rest of the men formed an escort around their scientists and headed for the plant’s office.
“I am Captain Mehler. Heil Hitler,” O’Malley told Major Schiffer when they were introduced to the German. Schiffer was a short man, in his forties. He looked to be fit and proud of his factory.
“Heil Hitler, Captain,” Schiffer replied. “Your orders say that you are conducting an inspection tour?”
“Ja. Colonel Dressner and Major Eichmann,” he said indicating Gagel and Lomax, “Along with their civilian counterparts Herr Stoffler and Kirsch,” this time indicating Johann and Pieter, “Are interested in inspecting your facility.”
“It is indeed an honor to have Herr Kirsch with us. Such a distinguished man in our field of research,” Schiffer replied bowing to the older man.
“It is I who is honored, Major,” Pieter replied his lips quirking with amusement. The identity he had been provided with was that of a very respected name in Atomic research. “It is not often that I get to go out and see what others have been doing.”
“Ja. I can see that. Well we should begin then. This way, gentlemen,” Schiffer replied gesturing for the party to precede him from his office. “I’ll give you a tour of the facility.”
They followed Schiffer from building to building, accompanying him into a variety of research labs and finally the production area of the plant. While they toured one member or the other of the escort would momentarily fall behind, planting small incendiaries designed by Carter. These packages would all go off together, triggered by the main explosion. The main explosion would come from a briefcase that had been ‘accidentally’ left in the main production area behind some nearby drums of stored liquid explosive. The bomb in the briefcase was set to explode at midnight. It was hoped that only a small staff would be employed at that hour and the loss of life would be minimal, while the loss of the plant would be catastrophic to the Third Reich.
“I hope,” Schiffer was saying, passing out small glasses of schnapps to his guests, “That your report to Berlin will be a positive one.”
“You can depend upon it, Herr Major,” Gagel replied.
“Excellent, Colonel Dressner. I hope your return journey will be pleasant. Are you sure that you will not take up my offer of hospitality? It is getting late,” Schiffer said.
“Nein. I don’t believe so. We have quarters provided for us in Darmstadt. We should really get on the road, Captain Mehler,” Gagel replied, glancing at O’Malley.
“Ja. Ja. As you say, Major. It is late. Thank you for your tour. You are doing an excellent job here,” O’Malley said, saluting the superior German officer.
Soon they were at the truck and driving from the plant. Soule pulled the truck onto a small overlook to the south of the plant that was several hundred feet above the floor of the valley where the plant was built. “We should have a good view of it from here, sir,” he said to O’Malley.
“Excellent. Excellent job, men. Even I believed us at times,” O’Malley praised. “Pieter, you could spout that stuff with the best of them. Fooled them all completely.”
Pieter grinned self-consciously. “I believe Ian that was more due to the identity you gave me than my own knowledge of the topic.”
“No matter. It worked,” O’Malley glanced at his watch. “We only have about fifteen minutes before it should go up.”
The men all waited anxiously, but remained silent, each keeping their thoughts to themselves. Finally multiple explosions shattered the night and the valley below them became a fiery inferno.
“Let’s get out of here,” O’Malley ordered trying not to think of the people who had been killed below. Soule put the truck in gear and began driving back the way they had come.
Luft Stalag 13, Colonel Hogan’s Quarters,
April 19, 1945, 1800 Hours
Doctor Freiling let himself into Colonel Hogan’s quarters, expecting that Hogan would still be asleep. Closing the door behind him, he quickly flicked on the light as he put his bag down on the desk.
Hogan grumbled irritably when the light was turned on. “What time is it?” he asked blinking excessively in the bright light.
“6 o’clock. You’ve been asleep for eight hours,” Freiling replied. “It’s time for more medication.”
“Swell,” Hogan replied still blinking and feeling a little dizzy.
Freiling noticed Hogan’s slight disorientation when he pulled the stool closer to administer the shots. “What’s the matter, Colonel?”
“It’s really bright in here,” Hogan complained, still blinking.
“It’s no brighter than normal,” Freiling commented. “Let me take a look at your eye.”
Hogan held still while the doctor peered into his right eye. When the doctor blocked his left eye, Hogan was startled to realize that he could see something with his right eye. Not clear shapes, but definite light and dark shadows. “I can see light,” Hogan said softly. “It’s blurry and I can’t make anything out, but I see light.”
“That’s a very good sign!” Freiling exclaimed very relieved. “Let me give you another dose of the antibiotics, but I’m going to have to cover that eye now. It will be too distracting to you. Your balance and depth perception will be shot.”
“I don’t want to wear a patch doctor,” Hogan protested, not wanting anyone in camp to know the extent of his disability.
“You don’t really have a choice, Colonel. In order for your eyesight to return, it must do so slowly and in its own time. I don’t want you falling and aggravating your other injuries,” Doc Freiling stated unwaveringly.
Hogan slumped on his bed in defeat. “Okay. I guess you know best.”
“I’m glad we’re in agreement here. But remember; this is a sure sign that the hematoma is shrinking. I believe that we can safely assume that you are no longer in imminent danger of dropping dead on us,” Freiling smiled relieved at Hogan’s apparent improving condition.
Hogan straightened immediately. “Really?” he asked astonished and relieved. He looked up into the Freiling’s face grinning and reached to shake the doctor’s hand. “Thanks, Doc, I don’t know what to say.” Hogan sighed heavily, as he continued to contemplate the news. He was still a little shell-shocked. He had been waiting for this news, of course, but had prepared himself to never hear it.
“You’re not completely recovered, you still have a long road ahead of you. You must continue to rest and eat all of your rations,” Freiling admonished his most stubborn patient.
“Yeah sure,” Hogan replied, high-spirited. “I will.”
“And you must wear a patch, probably at least for a week, or until I tell you can take it off,” Freiling ordered taking some of the wind out of Hogan’s enthusiasm. “I’ll make one for you. In the meantime, you should lie down, and I want you to get some more rest. No getting up, until I return with that eye patch.”
“Yeah sure. I will,” Hogan repeated deflated, lying back down, but nothing could really take away from the doctor’s news. The ever-looming shadow of his imminent death was gone. He felt like a new man.
“I’ll have someone bring you something to eat. And I’ll be back within the hour. I know you need to be up for 10,” Freiling said as he picked up his bag, “I’m going to tell the men out there that I believe you are out of danger. They will be concerned for you when I tell them to bring you food, and that I’ve forbidden your getting up.”
Hogan knew the doctor was right. His men were such worrywarts when it came to his health. “That’s fine. You’re right they would be worried.”
Freiling opened the Colonel’s door and entered the barracks with a wide grin. The men in the barracks stopped what they were doing and looked at him in astonishment. It was the first time they’d seen any reaction from the doctor since that night. “You will be relieved to know gentlemen, that I believe the Colonel is out of danger.”
The men in the barracks reacted to that very welcome news by smiling and slapping each other on the backs. There were many sighs of relief. Everyone in the barracks, indeed in the whole camp, had been walking on eggshells over Hogan’s condition.
Freiling held up his hand to quiet the men. “Unfortunately, there was something that Colonel Hogan had asked me to keep from you for the past few days.”
The barracks grew deadly quiet.
“What was that?” Kinch demanded his smile of relief fading.
The doctor replied, “Colonel Hogan hasn’t been able to see from his right eye. It had been an indication that his condition was worsening. He had asked that it be kept quiet. The good news is that his vision is slowly returning now. He will need to wear an eye patch to avoid disorientation while the eye heals. I believe he will eventually have complete vision restored. He still has many other injuries to recover from, but is no longer in imminent danger of death.”
A collective sigh was released from Hogan’s men.
Birmingham had listened to the doctor’s news as well and was relieved to hear that Rob would be okay, but he was astonished at how much Hogan’s men seemed to care for their commander. Hogan is a lucky guy, but it looks as if he is going to catch a lot of flack for not telling these guys about his vision.
“One of you must bring him a tray for dinner. I have told him not to get up until I return with the eye patch for him to wear. I’m going to make that now,” said the doctor
“I’ll bring him something, Doctor,” LeBeau replied immediately, leaving for the mess hall.
“Excellent. I’ll be back shortly,” Freiling gave the men a nod, and exited the barracks.
After the doctor left the barracks, Kinch entered Hogan’s quarters. “I have a message from Kommandant Klink.”
“Really, what is it?” Hogan asked sitting up.
“Klink has talked with Burkhalter. Burkhalter said that Berlin was in shambles when he left there. Hitler has disappeared and most of Hitler’s staff has fled. Klink wanted you to be aware of that news, and that we could no longer count on German supplies to be delivered. The end is very near now,” Kinch reported.
“It’s about time,” Hogan said. “But now we must be doubly cautious. The German Forces will be in a state of panic. The Allied Forces have now seen first hand just what has happened in Germany and its occupied territories. Anything can happen now. We may not even be able to rely on our own forces. It may be up to us to ensure the safety of everyone in this camp.”
Mission: Schweinfurt Airfield - Team One
North Road, Outside Schweinfurt,
April 19, 1945, 2030 Hours
Geoff crouched down behind the thick brush lining the North road. He could see the position of his granddaughter who was to alert them when Goering’s vehicle drove into sight. Siegfried was beside him and Gettings was across the road. Allan’s job was to shoot the driver and stop the car. Then they were to rush in, capture Goering, secure him, and hide him back at the farm. The plan the called for Siegfried to take his truck and report the incident to the airfield so that Foster and his men could legitimately leave to investigate, as the explosive charges would detonate at midnight, and they all had to be out of the area by then.
Geoff and the rest of his team had agreed to leave with Foster who had offered them sanctuary with Papa Bear. None of them wanted to be left behind after abducting Goering. Their plan was simple and therefore had the best chance of success.
They had all been in position since noon, as they had no idea when Goering would arrive…
Siegfried finally nudged him when he saw the signal, now a flashlight, from Girta. Goeff hastily signaled to Allan to be ready. Suddenly the hooded headlights of a car coming down the road pierced the darkness. As it drew even with their position a shot rang out and the car swerved off the road into the ditch running along side. Geoff and Siegfried ran to the passenger side door and while Siegfried wrenched it open, Geoff grabbed the man sitting there and threw him to the ground. While Allan ensured that the driver was dead, Geoff and Siegfried searched the man they had captured. Goering was dazed from the car crash and was easily handled. He was then handcuffed and gagged so Gettings, Geoff and Girta could take him back to the farm.
Gettings came over to the older men. He shined his light directly into the face of their captive, recognizing him from pictures he had seen. They had the right man. “Herr Goering, I presume,” he said pulling the German to his feet, shoving him toward the truck from Stalag 13.
Goering mumbled something around his gag, his eyes outraged. He lashed out with one of his feet. Gettings danced aside, almost pleased that the man was fighting his capture. “So you wish to do this the hard way,” he said shoving his prisoner hard against the truck. There was a dull thud as Goering’s head impacted the side of the truck and he slumped to the ground. “There. That’s better,” Gettings said gesturing for Geoff to help him lift Georing into the back of the truck.
Together they nailed him into a box that had been prepared with air holes for him earlier that morning. They were going to take no chances with this prisoner.
“You better get a move on,” Gettings told Pfeiffer. “We’ll meet you at the farm.”
“I’ll give you some time to get into the woods,” Siegfried replied, looking at his watch. “I’ll get to the airfield in 10 minutes.”
Gettings looked at his watch. “Good. We’ll be well into the woods by then.” Gettings waited for Girta and her grandfather to get into the truck, and then he drove off towards the Schlossburg farm.
Mission: Hammelburg Bridge - Team Six
Luft Stalag 13, Compound,
April 19, 1945, 2200 Hours
By this time, everyone in camp knew that Colonel Hogan’s condition had improved significantly. Hogan had toured the camp this evening after being released from his quarters. He was embarrassed about having to wear the patch. But, he was grateful that his men had learned not to ‘see’ his injuries, whenever they talked to him. He had also gotten quite the earful from Kinch, Newkirk, LeBeau and Carter. They were angry that he had kept his eye injury from them. He sheepishly apologized, but was truthfully glad he hadn’t told them.
Hogan looked at his watch, realizing it was time to send the last team out. Sergeant Carter would now be leading this team, even though his original plan did not include sending Carter. He had wanted to keep Kinch, Newkirk, Carter and LeBeau in camp. They were his best men and he needed them to help coordinate everything, but Carter had been so upset not to see his explosives go off as these were the last bombs he would probably ever make, that Hogan finally relented and said that he could blow the Hammelburg bridge. It was the closest mission and Carter wouldn’t be out of camp for long.
Hogan approached the truck by the front gates just as Sergeant Carter was doing a final briefing of his team. His team came quickly to attention and saluted Hogan as he approached. “You ready Sergeant?” asked Hogan.
Carter couldn’t contain his enthusiasm. “Yes, sir, we are all set. We have enough stuff to blow all of Hammelburg!”
“Remember, we only want to take out the bridge. Right Carter?” admonished Hogan.
“Right! Of course, sir,” Carter said deflated.
“Good luck, gentleman,” Hogan said again saluting.
The men returned the salute, hopped into the truck, and were gone.
Hogan watched the front gate for a long time after it closed behind his last team. He now had over forty men scattered across the countryside doing his bidding. And in less than two hours from now, all his plans would come together. He shuddered to think of the lives that would be lost this night. -- And I had wanted Klink to believe I wasn’t a mass murderer. -- Oh God, what have I done? -- This war needs to be over.
Hogan felt that his only salvation would be when his men returned safely.
He walked back toward Barracks Two and sat heavily on the bench outside the door, needing just to stay outside and wait. He soon found himself being joined by LeBeau, Newkirk and Kinch. LeBeau had brought him some coffee. As Hogan sat among his staff, he couldn’t help but noticed that many others in the camp had made their way into the compound all, but they were all keeping their distance from him.
So there they all stayed, sitting or standing motionless, and quietly waiting…
>From inside Barracks Two, General Birmingham had noticed that the barracks was strangely empty. He headed towards the door and opened it to a disturbing sight, seeing most of the men and civilians in the camp gathered outside, and spread out in small groups around the compound, while still others sat alone. He saw that Hogan was sitting against the barracks, seated on the bench outside. No one was talking.
Then, as if his opening the barracks door had caused it, explosions from the Hammelburg Bridge area were heard. He watched as Hogan closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the barracks wall. The man should have been ecstatic that his plans were successful, instead he seemed miserable. Hogan stayed motionless for a long moment.
Why wasn’t anybody celebrating? Kyle wondered, but chose not to interfere.
After what seemed like an eternity…
Everyone quietly returned to their respective barracks and Kyle couldn’t contain his enthusiasm, “Great Job! I love it when a plan comes together,” Kyle congratulated Hogan, taking hold of his shoulder, as he went by.
Hogan glared at Kyle, infuriated. Grabbing the General’s shirt under his chin, he shoved the General out of his way and headed towards his office, slamming the door behind him.
“What the Hell is the matter with you, Hogan?!” Birmingham shouted. Recovering his balance, he went to follow, only to be stopped by Kinch.
“Don’t,” Kinch said softly. “Leave him alone. He’s always like this. It’s his way of mourning.”
“But he doesn’t even know the status of his men yet!” Birmingham protested.
“It’s not just the lives of our people, General,” Newkirk said. “There were other lives at stake ‘ere.”
“Oui,” LeBeau agreed. “The fatality estimate was to be upwards of 500. And not all of them would be German military. We’ll never really know how many were killed tonight.”
“So. Just leave him alone, sir,” Kinch said joining back into the conversation.
Birmingham acquiesced, now sure, that he’d ever understand this Robert Hogan. Fatalities are a fact of warfare. Hogan should have long since realized that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.
Mission: Schweinfurt Airfield - Team One
Schlossburg Farm, Outside Schweinfurt,
April 19, 1945, 2330 Hours
“Do you have everything that you need to take with you?” Foster asked the three civilians who would now be accompanying them back to camp.
“Ja. The food is all packed like you asked, and we each have a bag of things to take,” Geoff replied looking around at the house he was leaving. He had grown up here and hoped that everything would survive until he could return. “Where are we going?”
Foster shook his head. “I am sorry, but I cannot tell you that. Don’t worry, you can trust Papa Bear. You will be as safe as he can make you. We should get into the truck now. The explosion is due any moment. We have to get to the overlook so that we can see it go up.”
Geoff nodded and carefully locked his door, then he climbed into the back where Siegfried and Girta waited. Riggs drove to the top of the hillside where they could barely make out the airfield. Foster counted down the seconds on his watch and smiled in satisfaction when the first explosion rocked the night. The men all congratulated themselves excitedly.
“Mission accomplished. Good job, everyone,” Foster said. “Home, James,” he told Riggs with a grin.
“Yes, sir!” Riggs replied, driving back into the woods and onto the narrow track that had led them here.
Mission: Hammelburg Bridge - Team Six
Luft Stalag 13, Compound,
April 20, 1945, 0130 Hours
Carter brought himself up to rigid attention as Colonel Hogan came to where they’d stopped the truck. The men who had accompanied him did the same.
“Mission accomplished, sir,” Carter reported, his eyes sparkling and he added with his boyish enthusiasm, “It was completely demolished. The best job yet, boy, um, sir.”
“Good job, guys,” Hogan replied.
Carter nodded accepting the Colonel’s praise, though for him that was the best part of this job. He loved to blow things up. He quickly pitched in with the rest of the guys to unload the truck while Hogan and Kinch stood by.
“I hope Kinch that was the last bomb we will ever have to place,” Hogan said wearily. “God I’m tired.”
Kinch nodded knowing that Hogan wasn’t just referring to physical tiredness. He imagined that the Colonel was feeling the mental stress of un-relenting tension and duty. And then to have to be in charge of this final huge effort while trying to deal with tremendous amounts of pain and the stress of his injuries. Kinch knew that the Colonel was more than due for some well-earned R&R. But getting any was unlikely, because even after the men returned from the various missions, they were not done here yet. They still needed to sit here and wait for a liberating force to arrive. And there is also the possibility of still more missions coming our way.
Mission: Wurzburg Munitions Factory - Team Three
Luft Stalag 13, Colonel Hogan’s Quarters,
April 20, 1945, 0215 Hours
“Once all the POWs were gone from the new camp the men and I simply set the charges near the fence perimeter. At 2400 we lobbed in some grenades. They set off the charges and the whole thing went up,” Lieutenant Jenkins reported standing in Hogan’s office, while Hogan sat at his desk. Jenkins couldn’t help but notice that the Colonel now had an eye patch covering his right eye. He was concerned, but everyone else tried to convince him that it was an indication that their CO was recovering.
“Very good. You encountered no other problems?” Hogan asked.
“No, sir,” Jenkins agreed.
“Excellent. Good job, Lieutenant. The men you rescued are apparently in good shape, and are settling in here,” Hogan told him. “Go get some shut eye, you’ve earned it.”
“Thank you, sir. You sent me out with some good men,” Jenkins replied giving his commander a sharp salute.
“We have a great mix of men here, there is no doubt about that, Lieutenant,” Hogan agreed, watching the young man leave his quarters. Two teams have reported back, only four more to go. So far there haven’t been any problems reported. No casualties at all. They’ve been very lucky. Dare I hope that that luck will continue?
Mission: Lindach Train Depot - Team Five
Luft Stalag 13, Compound,
April 20, 1945, 0325 Hours
“Just a little longer leibchen,” Captain David Kellogg whispered to the small German girl he held on his lap as the truck pulled into Stalag 13. One of the tower headlights remained trained on the truck providing them with light. When the truck stopped, Kellogg got out holding the child. “All right, everyone can come out now.”
The canvas cover was thrown aside and Private Walton jumped down and then reached back up to help a child that Corporal Patterson had lifted over the side. The rest of Kellogg’s team jumped out on their own, helping the children already out of the truck to stand and keeping them together. The last man out, Sergeant Russell helped the two women from the truck. Sister Mary Nelson and Frau Eichmann. Finally after the truck was emptied, Kellogg handed over the child he held to one of the other men as Private Doyle from Sergeant Marlow’s crew came over.
“What’s going on?” Doyle asked glancing aside at the rather large group children, clearly ranging in ages from two to about twelve.
“Orphans. Where’s the Colonel?” Kellogg asked.
“In his quarters. You’re to go over and wake him. Team Three came in about an hour ago,” Doyle replied. “Do you have any wounded?”
“No. Just a lot of kids,” Kellogg replied. “I’ll go get the Colonel. Sergeant, keep everyone here. We’ll be right back.”
“Right, sir,” Russell replied, smiling down in reassurance to the little six-year-old boy who had attached himself to his leg.
Kellogg entered Barracks Two and stealthily made his way to Hogan’s quarters. As he entered the room he turned on the light, and started to close the door, but Kinch came into the room behind him.
“How did you make out, Captain?” Kinch asked moving to wake the Colonel himself. Hogan hadn’t been sleeping, merely lying awake in his bunk. They were expecting the first four teams in tonight and the first two had already made it back.
“We didn’t have any problems, with the mission that is,” Kellogg replied watching as Hogan sat up. He blanched when he noticed the eye patch. Hogan’s health hadn’t improved much since his team had been gone.
“What did you have problems with?” Hogan asked rising to sit on the stool at his desk. He saw Kyle roll over and lean on an elbow to listen to the Captain’s report.
“We arrived in Lindach at the contact’s house, a Frau Freta Eichmann. She was expecting us and hid us till it was time to leave. But she said that a friend of hers, who she had aided from time to time, had a group of orphans to move and no place to send them. Frau Eichmann knew she was to come back with us, and asked us to take the other group as well. I met with Sister Mary Nelson, and she was hiding 24 children, many of them Jews. We brought them back with us Colonel. I couldn’t leave them there. So as soon as we were done at the depot, we picked up the Sister and her children and came back. The depot, its facilities and 300 yards of track are gone, sir.”
Hogan sighed. Still more mouths to feed. “Good work, Captain. I completely understand. I would have done the same thing myself. Kinch get Lieutenant Taylor to see to the children.”
“Yes, sir,” Kinch replied.
Mission: Lohr Bridges - Team Four
Luft Stalag 13, Compound,
April 20, 1945, 0545 Hours
Sergeant Jean Ouellette sighed with relief when the truck containing his fifteen-man team pulled into Stalag 13 and the gates closed behind them. Two of his groups of men had had trouble, though all of the targets had gone up as scheduled.
Colonel Hogan met the truck when it stopped. Ouellette along with many of the men in the truck were surprised by his appearance, as he now wore an eye patch, and moved slowly. Ouellette was one of the many Frenchmen in the camp and like most of the men here he greatly admired the American Colonel. He was not a flyer, but rather a former member of the fast moving French resistance troops. He was an expert in small unit tactics, and Hogan had utilized his knowledge and skill on more than one occasion.
“Sergeant Ouellette reporting, sir,” Jean said leaping from the truck to stand at attention and saluted his superior.
“At ease, Sergeant,” Hogan replied returning the others salute. “Report.”
“Yes, sir. I’ve got wounded in the back though,” Ouellette said.
“Your report can wait then,” Hogan said turning aside to yell, “Kinch!”
“Here, sir,” Kinch replied running up to the truck.
“We’ve wounded here,” Hogan said, as he watched in satisfaction as Kinch and the rest of the men nearest the truck leaped to bring the wounded to the German NCO barracks, which was still set up as a triage unit.
Hogan and Ouellette trailed along behind the procession. Once Hogan had assured himself that there were no serious injuries he motioned Ouellette to return to the barracks with him for his report. Damn. Three wounded. But I guess it’s lucky that this was the first team reporting in with wounded. There are only two more teams in the field and they are due back tomorrow. God, I hope they return safely.
“What happened, Sergeant?” Hogan demanded after he had seated himself at his desk and the door was closed. Kinch was seated on Hogan’s bunk, and Ouellette was standing.
“We split into three groups as planned to blow the north bridge, the railroad trestle, and the dam. Corporal Utley had the group taking out the trestle bridge. They ran into a patrol after planting the charges and Matteson took a bad fall, breaking his leg. But they got away from the patrol and back to the truck okay. Corporal Haith was almost unable to take out the North Bridge, as there was a steady stream of refugees crossing, forcing them to wait almost past the appointed time before they could safely approach the bridge. An armed escort accompanied the refugees. Haith thought they were being moved from the nearby labor camp, but he didn’t have enough men to interfere. He said the folk looked in a bad way. My team had the dam, and we had no difficulties approaching or setting the charges, but we also ran into a patrol. Wood and Bowen both took bullets, flesh wounds as you saw. The patrol was spraying the woods, not firing directly at us. We managed to elude them and get away. All three targets were destroyed successfully though,” Ouellette reported.
“Good work, Sergeant,” Hogan said. “Glad that you kept your heads. Go and get some rest.”
“Yes, sir. I’ll check on the men and then turn in,” Ouellette replied.
Luft Stalag 13, Kommandant’s Quarters,
April 20, 1945, 0600 Hours
Earlier at roll call, Hogan had indicated to Kommandant Klink that he wanted to talk to him, but asked him to return to his quarters and told him that he would be there shortly. Klink had silently nodded his agreement and returned to his quarters with Schultz.
Hogan had then waited on Team Four’s return, before he went to see Kommandant Klink. There had been some wounded returning with team four, but nothing that was life threatening. Thank God. At this point, there were only two teams left to return. In addition, Hogan now had to deal with an extra 26 mouths to feed, adding to the 500+ POWs and guards that had come yesterday. I hope I can hold this together.
Hogan entered Klink’s quarters and found Klink staring out into the compound, through the window. Schultz was sitting at the table. Both appeared lost in thought. They turned when they hear the door open.
“You had wanted something of me, Colonel?” Klink asked trying to avoid direct eye contact with Hogan, assuming that the eye patch he wore was not a good sign.
“Yes,” Hogan said. “First I wanted to tell you that Doc Freiling has told me that my condition has improved. I am no longer dying. This eye patch is to help restore my vision slowly. I hadn’t told anyone of the loss of site in my right eye. It’s supposed to help me avoid disorientation as the eye heals.”
“That is welcome news, Colonel. I’m relieved for you,” Klink said as he turned again to look out the window. “May I ask you something, Colonel?”
“Of course,” said Hogan not able to read the Kommandant expression.
Klink turned to face Hogan. “I heard the explosions at midnight last night and I noticed the return of four additional trucks, to the six already in camp. Were your men able to complete their missions successfully?” he asked morosely, realizing again that Hogan was more of a soldier than he would ever be.
Hogan brought all his military training to bear to answer Klink’s question. Other than that he might just fall apart. “Four of the six teams sent out, have returned. They each completed their missions, with only minor injuries incurred.” And upwards of 500 others dead. “Two other teams are due in early tomorrow morning,” Hogan offered as the sorrow began to envelope him again. Hold it together. “If all has gone as planned, we will have put a monkey wrench into the plans of any one running scared into Switzerland. We will have knocked out the most readily available modes of transportation in southern Germany, as well as removing obstacles that would stand in the way of Allied troop movements.”
“You appear to have had this ‘end game’ well organized, Colonel Hogan. As an officer I commend you on your abilities,” Klink offered keeping eye contact, and trying to match Hogan’s military bearing, but couldn’t. He looked away from Hogan. Staring at the floor he said, “I never would have been able to do the same had our situations been reversed.”
Hogan felt his military bearing just melt away. “Kommandant Klink, I only did what I had to do. It was necessary to obliterate Hitler’s Third Reich. I know you realize, now, that he was a madman. I would do the same again.” Hogan paused and took his turn to stare at the floor. “But, I now have to live with the guilt of destroying the lives of hundreds.” Thousands? “Some innocent, some not. Up until this morning, I had been glad that the guilt would last no more than a few days. Now I realize the guilt could be with me for years to come.” Mass murderer.
Klink realized how hard that admission was for Hogan. He responded, “Colonel Hogan, I have been hiding behind my fears for so long. I didn’t want to believe that my country could be responsible for the atrocities I now know to be true. I now have to live with the guilt that hundreds of thousands died.” Millions? “Because I did nothing to stop Hitler’s madness from consuming my fellow countrymen.” Coward.
Things became deathly quiet. Both men were at their most vulnerable. A strange voice of reason interrupted. “Guilt,” Schultz said accusingly. “We are all guilty of ‘too much’ or ‘not enough’. It’s time we move on and create a future for the innocents among us.” Schultz moved to the window and pointed into the compound. “The children need our help to rebuild their heritage!”
Hogan and Klink stared thunderstruck at Schultz, not knowing how to respond. Both men knew Schultz was right, but neither knew how to get past their guilt. Hogan turned from Schultz and left the Kommandant’s quarters. Klink turned from Schultz and entered his bedroom.
Schultz had watched both men leave. This war needs to be over.
Luft Stalag 13, Colonel Hogan’s Quarters,
April 20, 1945, 1000 Hours
“Can you give me a medical update on everyone who came in last night, Doc?” Hogan asked while re-buttoning his shirt cuff after yet another shot in the long series. I am going to positively hate needles after this was over with!
“Your two men who received flesh wounds are fine. I’ve cleaned the wounds and bandaged them. They’ll be sore for about a week, but that will be about it. I have set Private Matteson’s right leg, it was a clean break and after another three days he can get up and get about on crutches. Of the children who arrived, all were in fairly good shape. They’re scared, but no one is injured. The two women who had accompanied them here are both fine, and are keeping the children together. I think they’ll be joining the crowd of youngsters playing in the yard soon,” Freiling reported with satisfaction. So far he didn’t have a more seriously wounded patient other than Colonel Hogan, which was a good thing as the Colonel took a lot of effort on everyone’s part to keep under control.
“Excellent. I’m glad that everyone is doing okay. I’m going to make a tour of the camp and speak with the team members who are back. After the noon roll call I’ll debrief the men who came from Camp 19. I will meet you back here at 1400 for a sedative. I need to be awake tonight.”
“Yes, Colonel. Kinch and I already determined that,” Freiling informed him with a smile.
“You two are really in cahoots, aren’t you?” Hogan asked, putting on his jacket.
“It takes two of us to keep up with you, Colonel!” Freiling said with a wave and a grin, leaving the Colonel’s quarters.
Hogan wandered around the camp for the next two hours until it was time for noon roll call…
Things seemed to be going smoothly in camp. Hogan had spoken to everyone he passed in the compound, congratulated the various members of the Teams who had returned, visited the men in the former NCO quarters who were recuperating from their wounds, visited with the families, and finally had taken some time to watch the kids play.
Hogan had even noticed that Major Killian had taken to the children. And that he had been teaching them volleyball. Actually, he had been attracting quite a crowd. Maybe we could set up some kind of tournament for after all the missions return. We’ll have a lot of time on our hands then, it could be good for morale. I’ll have to talk to the Major.
After the noon roll call he had debriefed the men from Camp 19. He could tell that the majority of the new men were skeptical. But he assumed that they would come around with time, which they still had plenty of. With a shrug, as he’d done all that he could, he watched the new men disperse across the compound, returned to his quarters, and waited for Doc Freiling. He had more important things to worry about now, as he still had two teams that were due back this evening.
Meanwhile elsewhere in camp…
Major Boynton walked the new compound with Captain Simon Weller who had been his second in command at Camp 19. They had only been there a week before they were moved here. Major Boynton had been in two camps prior to Camp 19 in which discipline was fierce. Months in solitary had not been an uncommon punishment. During his time as a prisoner, now approaching a year and a half he’d seen three prisoners sentenced to death, many others shot while trying to escape. Boynton and his men had been trucked to Camp 19. Captain Weller however had told him another story. Weller had come from the second camp that had contributed men to Camp 19. During their forced march to the new camp, Kalb, the ranking officer and the soon to be new Kommandant of Camp 19, had routinely shot men who were lagging behind at the end of each day. It had taken them five fear filled days to complete the march to the new camp. 32 men had not completed the journey.
The Senior Officer here at Stalag 13, who looked like he’d had a thorough going over by his captors recently, was trying to convince them that though still in a prison camp they were in actuality free men. From where he sat, Boynton found it a hard pill to swallow. How can I believe him? Colonel Hogan had just finished conducting a briefing for them. He had told them a lot of things that were still unbelievable and Boynton couldn’t bring himself to trust the man yet. He’d been through too much as a POW to trust easily now. But surprisingly enough, they were now free to leave their quarters without an escort, enabling them to see the new camp.
Boynton wandered the compound with Captain Weller. They walked toward the fence separating this compound from where the German prisoners were kept. It was true that the former guards from Camp 19 were detained in there. He could easily recognize the two he’d had the most difficulties with.
“This is just so unbelievable,” Captain Weller said indicating the former guards. “Do you think Hogan is on the level?”
“I don’t know,” Boynton replied. “Everything he’s said is apparently true. But I just don’t know.”
They stood there for a moment longer and then continued to walk, passing a rather large group of men going the other direction. One of those men, lagged behind, and stared intently at the two newcomers. “Damn,” he said. “It that you, Simon!”
Simon did a double take as the Corporal who had addressed him looked very familiar. “Tom?”
“In the flesh, buddy. Damn, it’s good to see you. You must of come in with the Stalag 19 boys,” the Corporal replied.
Tom Sullivan. We were neighbors growing up. We’d done everything together until I had entered West Point and Tom had opted to go to art school. “Yeah I did,” Weller said glancing aside at his companion. “Tom and I grew up together.” Turning his gaze back to Tom he asked, “You been here long?”
Tom laughed. “You’re transparent. Yeah I’ve been here a long time. Almost four years. I was here before Colonel Hogan arrived. The place is sure different than then. The Colonel is a down right magician. I ain’t never seen anything like him. He comes in here, and within 2 weeks we had our first tunnel under the wire. But he wouldn’t let us escape. We were here to help others.”
“I can’t believe it,” Simon replied. “It just doesn’t seem possible.”
“Believe it. I’ve been a forger for him. I’ve never been outside the wire. My talents lay elsewhere. In fact, I’m going below now to put in some time. We’re doing identity papers for some orphans that one of the teams brought back. It will make it easier for after the war, if they have some sort of identity papers that doesn’t classify them as being Jewish,” Tom replied. “You can come down if you want. The Colonel has given you guys complete access. I can give you a tour.”
“What’s there to see, Corporal?” Boynton asked. “It looks like every other prison I’ve been in since my capture.”
“Sure. Up here it does,” Sullivan replied with a grin. “But underneath we’ve got over six miles of tunnels, workrooms, and storerooms. Hell there’s even a sauna down there.”
“Lead the way,” Boynton replied his eyes wide with surprise.
Two hours later…
Boynton and Weller returned to the compound leaving the tunnels through Barracks Sixteen. The tunnel entrance had been concealed under the wash sink. “Unbelievable,” Boynton muttered.
“Amen to that,” Weller replied. “But I’ve got to say I believe the Colonel now. What an amazing organization! To think all this time, right under the German’s feet in the middle of Germany. It’s no wonder we’ve heard so much about Papa Bear!”
Mission: Schweinfurt Airfield - Team One
Luft Stalag 13, Compound,
April 21, 1945, 0300 Hours
Private Riggs pulled through the gates of Stalag 13 with a sigh of relief. They had been away from ‘home’ for four days. He stopped the truck outside the motor pool. “Good job, Fred,” Sergeant Foster told him.
“Yes, sir,” Fred replied with a grin. They had gotten away with a very dangerous and complicated assignment.
“That goes for the rest of you as well,” Foster said to the rest of his team as they climbed from the back of the truck. He held a hand out to help Girta jump down.
“We are in a prison camp!” Pfeiffer said looking around him in horrified amazement.
“Yes. Stalag 13,” Foster replied. “Papa Bear is this camp’s ranking POW officer. Colonel Robert Hogan. Just before we were sent out Colonel Hogan took over this camp to accomplish all the missions he had planned.”
“But a prison camp!” Geoff said. “That was why you wouldn’t tell us where you were bringing us.”
“That and in case we were captured, the less you knew the better,” Foster replied with a smile.
The gates of the motor pool swung open, and one of Sergeant Marlow’s men from Barracks Three came out. “Welcome back, Sarg,” Private Tom Doyle said. “Everything okay?”
“Yes. No problems. We do have a few unexpected guests, though. Does the Colonel want me to wake him?” Foster asked.
“Actually, Sarg I wouldn’t wake him. Talk with Kinch first. We had a close call with the Colonel the last few days. London dropped some medical supplies for him, and the Doc is keeping an eye on him. It was touch and go there for a while, but the Doc said he’s beaten it,” Doyle told them.
“He is okay though,” Foster demanded, as the news that the Colonel was still ill was very unwelcome.
“Yeah,” Doyle agreed. “But we are all still worried for him.”
Foster swallowed hard at the news, not able to imagine this place without Hogan. “All right then, I’ll wake Kinch. Allan, give our VIP a nice cell with a view.”
“Sure thing, Paul,” Gettings replied, gesturing for King and Sheoytz to get Goering out of the box in the back of the truck.
“Doyle is there anyone who can show our three civilian guests to some quarters?” Foster asked.
“I’ll get someone from Barracks Fifteen to take care of that, Sarg,” Doyle replied, turning to the three civilians. “We’ve space for you, never fear. We’ll get you settled shortly, so you can get some sleep.”
Foster nodded to the rest of his team. “The rest of you go on back to your bunks. I’ll fill Kinch in.”
Foster headed across the compound, his skin crawling every time a searchlight brushed him. For almost two years he had trained himself to duck away from the lights, it was hard to continue to walk under their search patterns.
He entered Barracks Two and moved to the bunk Kinch used. He woke Hogan’s second in command gingerly. “Kinch. Kinch,” he said shaking the man awake.
“Huh. Ok. I’m up,” Kinch replied blinking in the low light of the barracks. “What’s the matter?”
“It’s Foster. We made it back from Schweinfurt. We brought a very unexpected guest back with us,” Foster said.
“Who would that be, Paul?” asked Kinch rolling out of bed.
Foster glanced around the sleeping barracks, and then he dropped his voice and whispered a name in Kinch’s ear.
“You don’t give me any easy ones do you?” Kinch complained as he led the way into Hogan’s quarters. “How the Hell did you do that?”
“Let me tell the story once,” Paul asked, following Kinch into Hogan’s quarters. Kinch turned on the light, and a man Foster had never seen before sat up. He’d been sleeping on the top bunk.
“What’s wrong?” the man asked.
“Another of the teams coming in, General. I’m waking the Colonel,” Kinch replied, seating himself on the bunk next to Hogan. “Colonel Hogan. Wake up, sir,” Kinch called out, placing his hand on the officer upper arm.
As Foster watched Kinch wake the Colonel, he couldn’t help but wonder about the other officer. A General? Boy, have a lot of things happened here since we’d been gone!
Hogan stirred on the bed, mumbling a little bit. Kinch redoubled his efforts and shortly Hogan was blinking up at him. “What’s wrong, Kinch?” he asked rolling onto an elbow and wincing as his still healing ribs protested.
“Sergeant Foster is back, sir. He has got a report for you,” Kinch replied moving back so that Hogan could see Foster.
“Go ahead, Sergeant,” Hogan said sitting all the way up in bed so that he was leaning against the wall.
“The mission went fine, Colonel. The airbase is no longer there. Almost totally destroyed in the blasts. But before we managed to do the job, the base commander got word that a VIP was coming from Berlin to utilize the base. We couldn’t let him get to the base, as he would’ve easily blown our cover. So we captured him before he got to the base and brought him back here. I had the men put him in a cell in the cooler,” Foster began noticing that the Colonel’s face hadn’t seemed to have healed any in the time they had been away. And there was a new addition, a patch over his right eye. “You’ve got Goering sitting in there now, sir.”
“Goering. You brought back Reischsmarschall Hermann Goering,” Hogan repeated his voice breaking on the last word he spoke. He was absolutely amazed.
“Yes, sir,” Foster agreed. “Like I said, he would’ve blown our cover. We had to. Then once we had him, well we didn’t know what to do with him. So. Well. We brought him back as sort of a gift for you, sir. We also brought back Canary. Once they helped us capture Goering we couldn’t leave them where they were.”
Hogan shook his head in rueful amazement. “I seem to be collecting Generals.” He stood slowly. “It’s a good thing you brought in Canary. They’ll be nothing for them to do there now, and they’ll be safer here. How many folk went by the code name?”
“Just three, sir. A grandfather and his granddaughter. Geoff and Girta Schlossburg, and the man who delivered the milk from their farm, Siegfried Pfeiffer. We brought back all the food we could lay our hands on. We even managed to empty some of the provisions from the airbase. We knew they wouldn’t be needing it after the 19th,” Foster replied.
“Excellent work. All right. Let me get dressed and I’ll go over and meet our new guest,” Hogan said standing.
“Actually, sir,” Foster replied. “Goering is unconscious. It was easier to move him. He should be okay. We only knocked him on the head a few times.”
Hogan sat back down on his bunk. “Oh okay. Go and get some shuteye then. Tell the guards at the cooler I want to know when our new guest wakes up.”
“Yes, sir,” Foster replied saluting Hogan.
Hogan returned it. “Excellent work, Sergeant.”
“Thank you, sir. I’ll tell the men,” Foster said grinning.
“You certainly can, but tell them, I’ll be seeing them all later on as well,” Hogan said. After Foster had left, Hogan turned to Kinch. “Anything else?”
“No. That is it,” Kinch replied with a grin. Goering!
“Okay. See to it that no one gets any bright ideas. He is a VIP prisoner and will stay in the cooler. Make sure his cell doesn’t have a tunnel entrance in it,” Hogan ordered.
“Yes, sir,” Kinch agreed as he left Hogan’s quarters.
“You should shoot him like the rabid animal he is,” Birmingham said with venom in his voice.
“No,” Hogan replied. “Not in my camp.”
“He has committed so many atrocities! The reports of those camps I’ve read are horrifying!” Birmingham protested.
“I know. I’ve seen one of those places you refer to. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is to leave that place still functioning after I left it.” Hogan shuddered visualizing that concentration camp in all its horrible detail again. They had only gone to Dachau to pick up a report from a visiting messenger. The contact had said that it was the safest place for them to meet. The meeting had gone just fine, and the information gathered had saved the lives of many Allied service men. But they had left that camp shaken men. To see such horror, and to walk away from it had been a terrible burden to bear. “The only thing I could do, was inform London of its existence, in hopes that they could bring some political pressure to bear. The horror that that place was will haunt me forever. And I know that Goering was responsible for that camp and the others like it. But I will not execute him. I will not be his judge and jury. I’ve had to assassinate many people in this war. I will not add a prisoner to that list.”
Mission: Darmstadt Chemical Plant - Team Two
Schonbornstrasse, Outside Aschaffenburg,
April 21, 1945, 0405 Hours
Soule pulled the truck onto the major road that ran southeast between Frankfurt and Aschaffenburg. He increased their speed as the road evened out onto pavement. “We’re about ten minutes from Aschaffenburg, sir,” he told Captain O’Malley. “After we drop our passengers off we’ll only be about fifty miles from camp.”
“Good. We could be back by dawn. That would be best,” O’Malley replied. He remained quiet as Soule navigated the narrow streets of Aschaffenburg again. Their two civilian members soon slipped out of the back of the truck and disappeared into the shadows. Hopefully they would both be able to return safely to their homes. Soule headed the truck out of the village and entered the city proper. They were stopped at two checkpoints, each time passing without any difficulties.
They were about 20 miles from camp when McSorley said, “Parachutes! I count 12.”
“Where?” O’Malley demanded as Soule brought the truck to a halt.
“About a mile to the east,” McSorley replied wincing when the early morning quiet was punctuated by machine gun fire.
“Looks like someone else has spotted them,” O’Malley said grimly. “Hope the poor bastards make it.”
“Aren’t we going to do anything, Captain?” Lieutenant Brunelle asked. The gunfire had startled all of the men who had been dozing in the back, awake.
“What would you have me do, Lieutenant? Am I to sacrifice all of you, for 12 or so commandos who may already be dead or captured?” O’Malley replied his voice harsh. “My orders are to see all of you safely back to camp at the successful completion of our mission. That’s what I intend to do. Besides,” he added in a softer voice. “We’re dressed as goons, those men aren’t going to welcome our aide with open arms.”
The quiet in the truck was absolute as each man strained to hear what was happening in the woods. Finally after several minutes of quiet, O’Malley motioned for Soule to begin driving again. Soule sighed, but did as requested. They had only driven a few minutes before Soule slammed on the breaks, narrowly avoiding a falling tree.
Suddenly there was a ring of seven men around the truck…
“Get out!” a voice demanded. “‘Raus. ‘Raus,” it continued in horrible German.
“Captain?” Brunelle asked from the back of the truck looking down the rifle held by what was apparently an American commando.
“Better do what he says, fellas,” O’Malley said using his best Irish lilt. O’Malley exited the truck, holding his hands at shoulder level. “You boys created quite a disturbance earlier. Anyone injured?”
“Shut up, Fritz,” the apparent leader of the group said.
“Sure. Whatever you say. But you know that patrol that fired on you, should be here shortly,” O’Malley pointed out, joining his men where they stood at the side of the road.
“Get the wounded into the truck,” the leader said to one of his men, while holding his rifle steady on the German soldiers who had been in the truck.
“Sir,” one of the men inside the truck said. “This truck’s loaded with explosives!”
“Tell him the crate under the left hand seat has a first aide kit,” Sergeant McSorley helpfully called out.
The leader glanced into the truck and was astonished to see that his man was right. “What’s going on here?” he asked.
“You really don’t want to discuss this here, do you? You’ve obviously got wounded,” O’Malley asked. “Like I said that patrol will be here shortly. I don’t want to be here when it comes, and I sure as Hell don’t think you want to be either.”
“All right. Get in the truck,” the leader said, indicating that O’Malley’s men should sit on the right side of the truck, while his men got in the back on the left. “You’re driving, Fritz,” he said to O’Malley pulling out his handgun. “I’m sure you’ll get us by those patrols you keep mentioning.”
“Calm down, Major. You’re awful jumpy,” O’Malley said quietly as he put the truck in gear and drove down the road. “You won’t get too far as a commando in occupied Germany if you’re this high strung.”
“Enough. Tell me about what you’re carrying in this truck, Captain,” the American Major ordered.
O’Malley shrugged his shoulders. “There isn’t much to tell. We’re returning from a mission. Those are the leftovers. Just where am I taking you, Major?”
“Taking us?” the Major asked.
O’Malley rolled his eyes. “You did have a destination, didn’t you, Major?”
“Not now! Let’s get back to you and your explosives. Who are you?” the Major demanded.
“In a minute, Major. There should be a checkpoint just around this bend,” O’Malley replied. He gestured for the other to hide his handgun. “I’ll get you through.”
O’Malley stopped the truck at the checkpoint and chatted with the guard. The guard laughed and passed their truck.
“What did you tell him?” the Major demanded.
“Only that we had captured you and your men and were turning you over to the Luft Stalag outside of Hammelburg,” O’Malley replied.
“I don’t think so, Fritz. I still have the upper hand here,” the Major reminded him, producing the handgun from under his jacket.
“If you say so. So to get back to the earlier topic. Where am I taking you?” O’Malley asked.
“Schweinfurt,” the Major replied. Then he continued angrily, “We were discussing you and your cargo.”
“Were we?” O’Malley asked innocently. “Oh yes. My explosives. Do you need any supplies for whatever your mission is here, Major? Like I said they’re extras. It’s likely they won’t have a target, and they’ll go to waste. It would be a real shame to waste such good explosives.”
The Major beside him grumbled, “Shut up.”
“The correct phrase would be – Halt’ den Mund,” O’Malley said helpfully. “Really I don’t know what this war is coming to when the commandos dropped can’t even speak the language!”
“I am warning you, Fritz,” the Major said through clenched teeth.
O’Malley glanced at his ‘captor’ and decided to stop needling the man. He was obviously on edge. “Lieutenant. How are our passengers doing?” he called back to his own men in the back.
“A couple look real bad, Captain. The other one only has a leg wound,” Brunelle called back.
O’Malley heard a muffled uumpf from the back and then Brunelle’s voice said. “Easy there, mate. I was only answering his question.”
“Major, I must protest,” O’Malley said. “I was only inquiring on your men’s health. You came to us with wounded. What kind of a host would I be if I didn’t even ask?”
“You are no kind of a host, Captain,” the Major replied hotly. “You and your men are my prisoners.”
O’Malley shrugged his shoulders. “So you say, Major.” He continued to drive down a road that forked at the northern most point. Left would go to Schweinfurt. Right to Hammelburg and Stalag 13. He was wondering what the high-strung Major would do when he turned the truck to the right. He hoped the man wasn’t up on local geography, though that was unlikely.
“You took the wrong turn,” the Major said indicating the turn O’Malley had just failed to take. “Stop this truck and turn back.”
“Schweinfurt is almost 100 KM away. How are you going to get there? Besides, your injured aren’t going to make it that far. Come with us we can get your wounded treated by a doctor,” O’Malley replied.
“Stop this truck at once! You’re going to take us there,” the Major ordered drawing the hammer back on his gun.
O’Malley stopped the truck and kept his hands in plain sight on the steering wheel. “Listen Major. I’m going to be honest with you. I’m not a German Captain. I’m an Irish Captain in the RAF. Captain Ian O’Malley at your service. Your men need a safe place to recover from their injuries, and you were dropped quite far from your destination. I can get you assistance from the underground. Papa Bear is quite near here.”
“Papa Bear!” the Major repeated.
“Yes,” O’Malley agreed. “You do know who Papa Bear is don’t you?”
“Of course I know who Papa Bear is!” the Major agreed hotly. “Everyone knows that name! Do you have any identification?”
O’Malley grinned. “Do you want my forged German orders or my dog tags?”
“If you admit to one being forged, who’s to say which one is forged and which is genuine?” the Major asked.
O’Malley sighed. “I guess you’ll have to fill that one in for yourself, Major. May I get my tags?”
The Major gestured with his gun giving his approval. O’Malley handed him the tags. He watched as the American tried to read them in the dark. “There’s a flashlight strapped to the door beside you, Major.”
The Major glared at him and flicked on the flashlight. “Okay. Captain O’Malley. So if you’re who you say you are, what is going on here?”
“We’re a sabotage team sent by Papa Bear. We’re returning from blowing a chemical plant in Darmstadt. We were on our way back to our base when you stopped us,” O’Malley replied. “So if you don’t mind, Major, I’ll bring you back as well. You can sort your mission out with Papa Bear. As I said earlier you are a long way from Schweinfurt.”
The Major was silent for a moment.
“Listen. Every moment you delay those men back there are bleeding. Wouldn’t you rather they were getting medical care?” O’Malley pointed out.
“You have a doctor at your base?” the Major asked.
“Yes. A local. He is a member of the underground. So Major… may I?” O’Malley gestured at the road.
“Yes. Go ahead,” the Major gave in.
About fifteen minutes later O’Malley stopped the truck at the camp entrance…
“A prison camp?!” the Major yelled.
“Where else would we hide, but in plain sight?” O’Malley asked with a grin. Calling out to the guard at the gate, “Open up, it’s Captain O’Malley.” The gates opened and O’Malley drove in, stopping the truck outside the motor pool.
Sergeant Doyle rushed up. “How did it go, Ian?” he asked.
“No problems. That factory went up like a roman candle. There are leftovers in the back,” O’Malley replied. “These here are some commandos we picked up. There are wounded in the back, as well. Where’s the Colonel?”
Mission: Darmstadt Chemical Plant - Team Two
Luft Stalag 13, Compound,
April 21, 1945, 0510 Hours
Captain O’Malley headed for Barracks Two with the Commando Major, Dwayne Tonioli, in tow. Doyle had told him that the Colonel was in his quarters. Doyle had also told him that Hogan had nearly died in the past three days. That would have been a devastating blow to the Allied invasion efforts, not to mention the demoralizing effect it would have had on the men here at Stalag 13. He had only been a part of Hogan’s team for a little over a year, but he had talked with men who had been here since the operations inception, and he had seen the operation for himself. Hogan had created the most unbelievable organization deep in the heart of enemy territory. There was nothing that O’Malley had seen that Hogan hadn’t been able to plan around. He was very proud to be a part of Papa Bear’s team.
“The men should be getting up soon anyway. Roll Call is in twenty minutes,” he told the Major as he opened the barrack’s door.
“Roll call?” Major Tonioli questioned.
“Yeah. This is still a prison camp. Colonel Hogan didn’t want any apparent outward changes, and so he still holds roll calls and the other scheduled activities here,” O’Malley explained leading the way through the barracks. Many of the men were still in their bunks, but a few were already up. One of them, the diminutive French Corporal, was putting coffee on. “Where’s the Colonel, LeBeau?” O’Malley asked the Corporal not immediately seeing Kinch in the barracks.
“In his quarters,” LeBeau replied. “How did your mission go, Captain?”
“The mission went fine. We picked up some strays on the way back though,” O’Malley replied leading the way towards the Colonel’s quarters.
Just as he was about ready to knock on the door, it opened and Colonel Hogan walked out. “Captain O’Malley. Good to see that you’re back. Yours is the last team to return. How did it go?”
O’Malley was surprised by the Colonel’s appearance. The eye patch took some getting used to, but he said reporting, “There were no causalities among the team and we had no problems. The plant went up like a huge roman candle. But on the way back we had ten commandos drop in our laps. They commandeered our truck, so I brought them here. They have wounded. I left them with Doyle who said there was a triage set up.”
“Excellent job, Captain. You and your men should get some rest. I’ll come and see you later today,” Hogan commended. Then he turned to face the American Commando and asked, “And you are?”
“Major Tonioli, sir,” the American Major replied saluting the superior officer.
“Colonel Hogan. Welcome to Stalag 13,” Hogan replied. “How badly wounded are your men?”
“I have three wounded. Two look to my eyes in bad condition. The third just seems to have a few broken bones,” Tonioli replied. “I understand you have a doctor here?”
“Yes, he’s excellent. If humanly possible, your men will make it,” Hogan reassured. “What else can I help you with, Major?”
“My mission is in Schweinfurt,” Tonioli replied. “I understand it’s a long way from here.”
“Yes. I can help you get there. What is your mission?” asked Hogan. What could London possibly want in Schweinfurt? The only thing of importance there was the airbase and London knew that we were taking it out. Maybe this was going to be about Goering running south.
“I can’t tell you that, Colonel,” Tonioli replied. “I’m sorry. It’s confidential.”
“Then I can’t help you,” Hogan replied glancing at his watch. “Outside, gentlemen. It’s almost time for our morning roll call.”
Most of the men left the barracks. “Wait,” Tonioli said. “Captain O’Malley said I would be able to speak with Papa Bear and he would be able to help.”
Newkirk grinned as he walked between the two men on the way out the door. “You are talking with ‘im, mate.”
Tonioli turned back to Hogan in the empty barracks. “You’re Papa Bear?!”
Hogan grinned, “Last time I checked. -- So Major. What is your mission?”
“London received intelligence that Reischsmarschall Goering was on the run. He was projected to go through Schweinfurt. London wanted Goering captured to answer for all that he has done,” Tonioli replied.
“London was right, he was in Schweinfurt two days ago. He’s not there now,” Hogan replied. “It seems you landed in the right place anyway Major. Reischsmarschall Goering was captured by one of my teams. He is sitting in a cell in the cooler across the compound,” Hogan replied with a smirk.
“You have Reischsmarschall Goering???!” Major Tonioli demanded astonished.
“Yes. I haven’t yet had time to inform London of his whereabouts. The team that brought him in did so a couple hours ago. So Major. You can relax. Your job is done,” Hogan assured.
“What are you going to do with him?” Tonioli asked.
“My plan was to turn him over to the Allied force liberating this camp,” Hogan replied. “What were your orders regarding Goering, if you had been successful?”
“We were to sit on him. The US 7th Army is in the area and we were to turn him over to them,” Tonioli replied. “But I say. He’ll be much more secure here than any place we could have come up with.”
Luft Stalag 13, Kommandant’s Office,
April 21, 1945, 0800 Hours
Hogan had taken another turn around the camp. Everything was running smoothly. All of his Teams had returned safely with only 6 wounded. It was a remarkable accomplishment, even if he did have to say so himself. He had expected that the casualties from his own men would be higher. However, it still did not take away the fact that he had ordered the death of hundreds two nights ago. And I now have many more people depending on me. Now begins the true waiting game. I am still unsure of what is coming next. We can’t make a move, until the Allied forces arrive. We are still boxed in here. I just hope I can keep everyone fed, healthy and occupied until that time.
He hadn’t planned on coming into Klink’s office, but he had wanted a place that he could be sure of not being interrupted. He needed time to think and usually he was able to think in his office, but with Kyle bunking in there, it was no longer private. Hogan sat behind Klink’s desk, reached into his pocket and drew out the box and envelope that had been on his desk since Major Killian had handed them to him. After opening the box and putting it on the desk, he withdrew his orders from their envelope and placed them carefully on the desk, one on each side of the box.
He stared at them for a long time, contemplating exactly what they meant. It had taken Kyle’s bullheaded attitude to wake him to the fact that they meant more than just a posthumously awarded gesture. He had been promoted to General a few months after his plane had been shot down. That probably meant that the promotion had been in the works prior to his last mission. More than likely he would have been grounded fairly soon after that mission.
Hogan had found out during his stay at Stalag 13, from a visiting Luftwaffe General named Biedenbender that he, as the commander of the 504th, had been singled out for elimination by Germany’s illustrious Luftwaffe. Hogan and his squadron had continuously out maneuvered the Luftwaffe during their raids. This Biedenbender, before becoming a General, had been assigned the task of studying Hogan’s tactics and was personally responsible for eliminating the American Squadron Commander. Biedenbender confirmed that his plans had indeed come to fruition on that night when Hogan’s plane was shot down. Many of the Luftwaffe pilots had been ordered to target Hogan’s bomber specifically. Captured or dead. Either was a victory, according to Biedenbender.
I do remember that night. There was a considerable amount of flack aimed at my plane. Damn. I haven’t thought about the men that died during that mission in a long time. Those Bastards! We never had a chance! -- Listen to yourself, Hogan! It’s not the German’s fault. You would have done the same in reverse. If you hadn’t been so damn cocky, those men might be still with you today.
But where would I be today? I’d probably be assigned to Headquarters in London. A desk jockey. A paper pusher. Not exactly my style. I probably would have accepted the promotion, continuing the proper course for a military career. At the time, that was all that mattered. Like I said to Kyle, the war was more of a game then. I never had to think about the lives that I destroyed with each bombing mission.
In a way, I guess, I should thank Biedenbender. He made it possible for me to stay an active participant in this war. I’ve done things I’m not proud of, but this command has been special. The people here, be they German civilians or my fellow POWs, have taught me the value of each individual. It has been a hard lesson, but one worth learning. And I know we’ve made a difference. Our operation has been vital to the Allied War Effort.
Hmm, I wonder.
What if I had actually gone home, that time, when headquarters ordered me to? -- Come to think of it, that was about a year and a half ago. -- My second promotion -- I almost did go home. But I couldn’t leave these people under the care of Colonel Crittendon. He’s a nut. How the Hell headquarters thought he could take over was beyond me. Ah! Maybe that was the whole point. Maybe the powers that be knew I wouldn’t come back, so they sent Crittendon as a failsafe, knowing I couldn’t leave him in charge.
And I thought I had mastered the art of manipulation!
Hogan was interrupted as the door leading to Klink’s quarters opened. Colonel Klink was almost to the desk before he realized that the office was not empty. “Excuse me, Colonel Hogan,” Klink said startled. “I didn’t expect to find you here. I was just coming in for a cigar.”
“Certainly, by all means, come ahead, I’m through now,” Hogan replied standing, too quickly, all the while trying to casually close the box containing his stars, as well as trying to fold the two papers back into their envelope.
Klink noticed that Hogan was attempting to conceal the material on the desk from him. But Klink had already seen the contents of the box and he was sure he knew what the papers were. Hogan had been promoted and was now a Two-Star General. Amazing. This man is full of surprises. As Klink opened the humidor on the desk he said, “I’d been meaning to ask you since yesterday how a Colonel could get away with dressing down a One-Star General.” Klink came to attention, heels clicking, and saluted. “Congratulations, General.”
Hogan returned the box and envelope to his pocket and answered Klink. “Congratulations are not necessary, Colonel. I have yet to accept these promotions. They don’t have any bearing on my command here. But they do come in handy when one has to deal with closed-minded Generals.” Hogan also came to attention, returned the salute and left the Kommandant’s office without another word.
Klink watched as Hogan left. So Hogan has received two promotions while he was my prisoner here. This operation of Hogan’s has to be very important to the Allies. Especially since it seems that they hadn’t told Hogan until recently that he was a General. Not to mention a Two-Star General. If he had known, he could have easily been sent back home, as Generals were swapped as a matter of course. Amazing. I guess though, there was no reasonable explanation for why Hogan would be promoted during his internment at Stalag 13. The Allies had no choice, if they had told him, his operation would have been revealed.
Luft Stalag 13, Barracks Two,
April 21, 1945, 0930 Hours
Kinch had just reported to Hogan, that London knew that he and his men had Reischsmarschall Goering under wraps, as well as having rescued the commandos sent to capture him. “Thanks Kinch, I’m sure rumors are now starting to fly. Do we have enough protection for Goering? I will not be responsible for his death. I’ll let others make those decisions,” said Hogan.
“Yes, sir. I personally chose the guards myself. I know they will obey orders and not let their emotions get in the way. I have fifteen men lined up, five each shift,” reported Kinch.
“Good. Do you know if he has woken up yet?” asked Hogan. “Should I have the doctor check him out?”
“He was still out cold forty-five minutes ago. The guards know to come get you when he does wake up,” said Kinch. “The doctor is presently working on the injured commandos. He may not have time.” He gave the Colonel a look that said the doctor probably shouldn’t be the one to examine Goering.
“Maybe it would be better for Wilson to check on him. Emotions will be running high about Goering. Let’s not complicate the issue,” said Hogan, having read Kinch’s face when he suggested Freiling.
“Yes, sir. I will go with Wilson myself, just to make sure nothing happens,” Kinch answered.
“Good. Have Goering looked at as soon as possible. I’m going to inform Kommandant Klink about our new guest. Then I will return here,” Hogan said. “You may officially inform the camp of his presence. Just make sure the men guarding him are ready for anything. You know where to find me.”
“Yes, sir,” acknowledged Kinch.
Both men went their separate ways. Kinch went to find Wilson and Hogan went to inform Klink.
Hogan entered the Kommandant’s quarters purposefully. “Good morning, Colonel. Schultz,” he said. “I need to again start off with an apology. I have kept something from you, as well as from most of the camp. It has to do with one of the last teams that returned around 0300 Hours today. They returned with an extraordinary package.”
“And what might that package be?” asked Klink at first worried, but Hogan’s expression wasn’t one that would instill fear, he just appeared cautious.
Hogan took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I wanted to phrase this better, but I can’t think of a way to do it.” He paused. “My men have captured Reischsmarschall Hermann Goering. They intercepted him, as he tried to flee Germany. He’s being held under heavy guard in the cooler. He too, will be turned over to the liberating force to face charges for war crimes. Until that time, he will be kept under heavy guard, and remain in solitary confinement,” Hogan said, not sure what Klink’s reaction would be.
Klink turned away from Hogan and walked to the other side of the room. He was quiet for a long moment. That announcement had stirred many mixed emotions in him. He no longer had any use for those who were supposed to be the leaders of his country. They had all fled and left his country in shambles. He really wouldn’t mind if the man was dead, but Hogan was going to treat him like a prisoner, making sure he would face a judge and jury for his crimes. I suppose a quick death would be the easy way out. Klink was interrupted from his thoughts, when he heard Hogan address him again.
“Colonel Klink,” Hogan said softly, trying to get his attention. The man had almost turned white when Hogan told him of his new prisoner.
“I’m sorry, Colonel Hogan,” he said turning back to face the American Colonel. “Thank you for informing me. As an officer, I respect your ability to be impartial to your prisoner. As a man forsaken by his government, I’d prefer to see him die painfully slow for the atrocities he’s committed,” Klink paused sighing heavily and his body began to tremble as he fought to control his emotions.
“I will not be his judge and jury Kommandant,” said Hogan evenly, noticing that Klink was trembling. Hogan couldn’t fathom what Klink, and for that matter other German citizens, must be feeling now. Trying to come to terms with all that their government has done. All the conflicting emotions welling to the surface, the grief, the hatred and fear.
“I understand your position, Colonel Hogan. I may not like it, but I do understand it,” Klink said flatly and turned to look out the window into the compound. He noticed Kinch and Wilson heading in the direction of his quarters from the cooler.
Hogan had started to leave without another word.
“Colonel, your men, Kinchloe and Wilson are heading in this direction. They appear rather anxious,” Klink announced.
“Thank you, Colonel Klink,” Hogan left quickly to meet his approaching officers.
Klink returned to the window, noticing that both of Hogan’s men looked a little ragged. Hogan started, almost immediately, lambasting his men in the compound. Klink had never heard Hogan do that before. I wonder what happened? Obviously it is about Goering.
Hogan upon meeting his men in the compound, bellowed…
“What the hell happened to you two?!” He couldn’t believe what he saw… Kinch was sporting a bloody nose, and Wilson had a huge egg on his head.
“Sorry, Colonel. We underestimated Goering. He had been only pretending to sleep. As Wilson went to examine him, Goering attacked him. I jumped in on the fray. It took a few minutes to subdue him,” Kinch reported sheepishly, knowing that he should never have been caught of-guard like that.
“You underestimated him! What are you stupid? He and his cronies were out for world domination, for Christ sake. They almost succeeded. And you underestimated him! What the hell is the matter with you?” Hogan exploded. He was fuming and couldn’t catch his breath. Pain, from his ribs, shot through him like a knife. Hogan stood there for a long moment trying to compose himself. Finally he said angrily, “What condition is the prisoner in?”
Kinch had actually taken a couple of steps backward from Hogan’s tirade. He responded quietly, “Sir. I’m very sorry, sir. Goering is okay, sir. He may have a few bruises, but other than that he’s fine, sir.” Kinch fell silent, not moving. He had messed up bad and he knew it. He noticed Hogan was waiting for him to continue. Kinch took a deep breath. “The Reischsmarschall is presently handcuffed and shackled, sir. I recommend taking no more chances, sir. I feel he should remain in handcuffs and shackles until the liberation army arrives, sir.”
“That could be as much as a month away, Sergeant! Do you mean to tell me that you and your men cannot handle this prisoner?” Hogan asked furiously. He continued not waiting for an answer. “He will only be handcuffed and shackled if he’s being moved, other than that he will be confined to his cell. No one will enter, unless there are at least two additional people in the room with them. Is that understood, Sergeant?”
“Perfectly, sir,” said Kinch saluting. “I will relay your orders immediately, sir.” Kinch paused still holding the salute. “May I go, sir?”
Hogan didn’t return the salute. “Dismissed. I will be there in ten minutes to see our new guest. Make sure there is no evidence of your altercation or I will come down on you hard, for beating a prisoner,” Hogan said hotly.
Kinch finished the salute. Both he and Wilson turned and left quickly.
Hogan was still fuming as he reached his quarters. Doc Freiling and Kyle were in the barracks when he returned. They both avoided eye contact with him as he walked in the door. Obviously that hadn’t stayed a private conversation. I must have made quite an impression.
“Doctor, how are the injured commandos?” asked Hogan.
“It will be touch and go for the two with the more serious injuries. I can not make a determination at this point,” Doc Freiling told him. “The third will be fine, just some broken bones.”
“Thank you. Please keep me posted.” Hogan paused and when no one spoke, he continued, “Doctor, you are here to give me another shot. Are you not?”
“Yes. Of course, Colonel,” Freiling said quickly approaching Hogan, but his mind was elsewhere. He just couldn’t believe that Hogan’s men had captured Reischsmarschall Goering. That monster is here in this camp.
There was continued silence during the time the shot was administered. “If you’ll excuse me, gentlemen, I have to meet our new guest,” said Hogan evenly, heading for the door.
“Excuse me, Colonel,” Birmingham interrupted as Hogan went to leave. Hogan had been so edgy since the missions were to have gone off, that Kyle had been trying to keep his distance, but he needed to say something before Hogan met the Reischsmarschall. “May I make a suggestion?”
Hogan sighed, but stopped. He hadn’t really had a complete conversation with Kyle, since he pushed him out of his way the other night. Was he trying to avoid me? “What suggestion?”
“Perhaps you should dress the part, when you go and speak with your new guest. He’s not going to be all that impressed with an American Colonel,” Birmingham suggested, hoping not to set the Colonel off again.
“What!” Hogan replied glaring at the General.
Didn’t work, thought Kyle.
Hogan’s gaze softened as Kyle’s meaning became clear. He could dress as a Two-Star General. While not quite the same rank as the prisoner, at least it was much closer than a Colonel. “Sorry. You’re right. I should,” Hogan apologized. He turned and entered his quarters.
A few moments later he emerged sporting the two stars and carrying his bomber jacket. “This doesn’t go any more,” Hogan commented. “Kyle, how about loaning me yours?”
Moments later he exited barrack two, dressed as a Two-Star American General, and headed for the cooler. He noticed people avoiding him. Like the plague. He knew emotions would run high about their guest. He was sure he was doing the proper thing, but he understood the feelings on the other side of the coin as well. But, I will not be his judge and jury.
Hogan entered the cooler. He now had three prisoners there. He hadn’t talked to Major Kalb yet, because he was planning on getting a first hand account of his treatment of POWs from the men of Camp 19 before he confronted Kalb. His interview could wait until after the POWs have some time to get acclimated.
Hogan noticed that there were nine guards now stationed around the cooler. Possibly overkill, but I just can’t take any chances. The nine guards practically jumped out of their skin, when they saw him. Obviously they heard my little tirade. Good. Maybe it will keep them on their toes. And alive. I’ve got to keep these guys from getting too cocky. That’s when mistakes happen. We’ve been incredibly successful up to now. I hope our luck holds out.
Kinch was waiting for him at the cell door, when he arrived. Hogan acknowledged Kinch’s presence with a nod, and then indicated he was ready to see their new guest. Kinch and two armed guards preceded Hogan into the cell. Upon entering, the guards took up defensive positions in opposite corners nearest the cell door. Hogan was glad Kinch had taken him at his word. Nothing would be left to chance anymore. Hogan waited a moment to enable his men to be ready. With a figurative deep breath, he prepared himself for his first glimpse of the Reischsmarschall. He entered the cell to see Goering seated on the cell’s cot. He was a big, portly man, clean-shaven but with several days’ stubble on his chin. His eyes were an icy steel blue, the type that could stare right through you.
“Reischsmarschall Goering. I am General Robert Hogan. You are currently at Stalag 13, a German POW camp outside of Hammelburg. I now control this Luft Stalag and you are my prisoner,” Hogan began, never flinching as Goering glared at him. “You will be held here until the Allied Liberating Forces arrive. When that happens you will be turned over to them, and formally charged and tried under the newly formed War Crimes Commission.”
In one swift movement, Reischsmarschall Goering stood and headed toward General Hogan. The two guards and Kinch, who were prepared for such an attempt, moved in and were able to physically restrain the Reischsmarschall. Goering struggled but had no recourse but to stop. He then shouted a string of vulgar German, making direct eye contact with Hogan, “Du verdammter Hurenshon. Fahr’ zur Hoelle!”
Hogan blinked and exchanged a knowing glance with Kinch. He looked back squarely at Reischsmarschall Goering and replied in fluent and equally vulgar German, “Also meiner Meinung nach hoeren. Sie sich an, Wei… ein verdammtes Arscloch!”
Reischsmarschall Goering made some guttural noise and threw himself at the American General. He had not expected the American General to be so fluent with the German language. When he was unable to free himself from the guards this time, he spat in the American General’s direction.
Hogan didn’t even flinch, instead he said in a cold voice, “I have no use for you, nor do I have time to deal with your outbursts. You have no rights here. You will be here for the duration of this war. You will keep a civil tongue in your head. You do not wish for me to be called back here to deal with your insubordination.” Without another word, Hogan turned and left the cell followed by Kinch then finally the two guards. The cell door was securely locked.
Goering was at the cell door yelling in English this time, “You can not control me! No one controls Reischsmarschall Goering!”
Hogan stopped and turned back to the cell. “That makes one outburst, Reischsmarschall. Another such outburst, and I will gladly have you gagged, handcuffed and shackled for the rest of this war.” Goering fell silent, contemplating how he would escape if he were gagged, handcuffed and shackled. He would bide his time, knowing that there must be a way out.
Hogan walked away with Kinch. As they exited the cooler, Hogan started removing Kyle’s jacket as well as any insignia labeling him a General. Kinch followed closely in-step behind Hogan. Hogan wasn’t sure he wanted to let Kinch off the hook yet. He could have gotten himself and others killed earlier today. But Hogan couldn’t cope with the tin-soldier routine Kinch had fallen into since their confrontation.
“All right, Kinch. That’s enough,” Hogan said as he stopped and faced the Sergeant.
Kinch actually flinched and took a step back, as Hogan turned. “Enough what, sir?” Kinch said a little panicked.
“Calm down, Kinch,” said Hogan frustrated. “Stop the perfect soldier routine. Okay? You’re making me crazy, following me around and yes sir’ing me to death.”
“Oh sorry, sir,” said Kinch and the he noticed Hogan sigh heavily. “Sorry,” Kinch said pausing. “I know I messed up this morning. I just don’t now how I can make it up to you.”
“The fact that everyone survived that little mishap is enough for me. Just make sure you and other men don’t get too cocky, all right? There’s still too much war left. I don’t want to lose men over stupid mistakes,” replied Hogan “Okay?”
“Okay,” Kinch said visibly relieved.
Both men returned to Barracks Two. Hogan retired to his quarters, changed back into his regular uniform, and decided to get some rest, as he had been up all night.
But only a short time later, Hogan heard a knock on his door…
“Come,” he said.
Kinch peeked his head in the door. “Colonel, we have a problem. There is a contingent of the underground waiting outside for you. They want to talk to you about Goering. They do not appear very happy, sir.”
“Tell them, I’ll be right there. Make sure the guards at the cooler are on their toes. Block all tunnel entrances to the cooler, post guards at the entrances as well. I don’t want any mishaps. Goering will be alive to face the war crimes commission,” Hogan said.
“Yes, sir,” said Kinch, as he closed the door and went to make sure all the precautions to keep Goering alive were in place.
And then, just a few minutes later…
Hogan exited Barracks Two and found himself faced with fifteen of the men from the underground. He was surprised to find Doc Freiling also part of this group. “What’s the problem, gentleman?” he asked calmly.
“Don’t pretend you don’t know, Colonel. We want Reischsmarschall Goering turned over to us. He needs to pay for his crimes and atrocities. And who better to dole out punishment than those of us who have seen first hand, the results of his actions,” said Hermann Schlick. Heinrich Berger and the other men were all nodding, expressing their agreement, although Doc Freiling continued to stay very quiet.
Hogan knew this would be nothing more than vigilante justice if he turned Goering over to them. They were all good men, who had done, and were subjected to, horrible things during this war. Their present emotional and mental states would not allow them to see beyond the anger.
As the men were getting louder and more agitated, he realized that a lot of the POWs were also starting to gather as well. I can’t let this turn into a lynch mob. “Gentlemen, gentleman,” he said holding up his hands, in a stopping gesture. “Let’s just settle down for a minute. I understand how you feel. You know me, and you know how I work. I cannot give you what you want. You’ll have to trust me that the Reischsmarschall will be tried for his crimes. We just can’t do it here and now. It would be vigilante justice.”
Many of the POWs had now intermingled with the men from the underground. They were definitely turning into a mob. They started to surge toward Hogan. One of them yelled, “We don’t need his permission. Let’s just go get him now.” Agreement was coming from all sides. “Let’s hang him,” someone yelled.
The swelling tide of men turned toward the cooler.
Hogan got out in front of them again and tried to stop them. “You can’t do this. This is wrong. He is now a prisoner and will be accorded the rights of a prisoner. Goering will face a judge and jury for his crimes. I promise you that justice will prevail,” Hogan said almost pleading with the angry crowd to stop.
It wasn’t working. The crowd appeared as if they would walk right over Hogan. But before that happened, machinegun fire rang out. Kinch was standing in front of the cooler, with what looked like the nine ‘German’ guards assigned there. The gunfire was aimed straight up in the air. It was meant to distract, not injure. It had scared the living bejeezers out of Hogan, as well as that of the angry crowd.
Hogan said again, “You can’t do this. I promise you that justice will prevail. Have I ever lied to you before? We just can’t take justice into our own hands.”
Doc Freiling and General Birmingham joined Hogan on his side of the ‘fence’. Doc Freiling said, “Colonel Hogan is correct. Look at yourselves. You almost trampled the one man who has worked with us to end this bloody mess. Go back to your quarters. This was wrong. Go back.”
The compound was very quiet for a long moment. Very slowly the men started to disperse. Hogan, Kyle and Doc Freiling, as well as Kinch and his ‘Germans’, stayed in place until the compound had returned to normal.
Watching from the window of the Kommandant’s quarters…
Colonel Klink and Sergeant Schultz had seen the angry mob gather and they watched as Hogan had almost lost control of the situation. The civilians and POWs were enraged that Hogan would try and save Goering’s worthless hide. I’m impressed again with Hogan’s ability as a soldier. He would have stood his ground until it ended one way or the other. He’s lucky he has loyal men to back him up. He knew Hogan understood both sides, but being able to keep those emotions in check to do the ‘right thing’, was not something that Klink thought he would have been able to do.
Meanwhile back in the compound…
Hogan had let out a huge sigh of relief. That was too damn close! He walked over to where Kinch and the other men stood. “Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate your support in this matter. Please keep on your toes. Emotions are running high and are just too unpredictable.”
“Yes, sir,” they replied in unison.
Kinch then ordered them back to the original duties. Kinch and Hogan headed back to Barracks Two. Doc Freiling and General Birmingham joined them as they went by.
Doc Freiling said, “Colonel. I’m very sorry about that. I will talk to the other men this evening. I won’t let it happen again. Finding out that that monster was only 100 yards away, was more than they, and I, could handle. I promise you, your wishes will be followed.”
“Thanks, Doc, let’s just hope it’s over. We, the entire group of us, have more important things to deal with. We still don’t know how long we will be here. We are going to need to come up with a plan that keeps morale up and everyone busy. I don’t want anyone to have much time to think,” he explained, though his mind quickly changed gears.
“Kinch,” Hogan ordered having turned to face his second in command. “Have LeBeau, Carter, and Newkirk conduct an inventory of all our available food provisions. I want to know how long we can hold out with what’s on hand. Then I want you to set up a meeting for tomorrow morning at 0900 in the Mess Hall, with all barrack’s leaders, including the Camp 19 Senior Officers, as well as members of the underground. Kommandant Klink and Schultz should be invited as well.”
“Yes, sir,” replied Kinch.
“Good. I’m going to get some sleep.” Hogan entered Barracks Two, and headed directly for his quarters.
Doc Freiling looked at his watch, 2:00pm, and said, “Colonel. It’s that time again. If I may, I would like to examine you before you go to sleep.”
“Fine, Doc. Fine,” Hogan acquiesced, hoping these examinations would be over soon. He was still sore and had the eye patch, but the headaches were all but gone. It is so much easier to think without your head pounding and you aren’t feeling dizzy all the time.
The examination consisted of the pain tolerance maneuvers the doctor had been perfecting over the past three weeks, as well as checking for the vision in Hogan’s right eye. “Your eye doesn’t appear to have changed much in the last two days. Do you see any difference, Colonel?”
“All I can make out is light and shadows. I can tell that there are some objects around me, but not what they are. It’s confusing,” Hogan replied, trying to make sense out of what his right eye was seeing.
“Well you’ll have to continue to wear the patch until there is some definite improvement. In the meantime, we can begin to cut down on the antibiotics and pain medication. You’ll need to be weaned off slowly. Both medications have an addicting quality. As for the sedative, I will let you decide. If you feel you need one, just let me know. Okay?”
“Do you mean that you and I won’t be having these clandestine meetings every four hours anymore?” asked Hogan sarcastically, but with a wide grin as well.
“Correct, Colonel. But I don’t give up that easy. We will need to meet at least twice a day for another week,” Doc Freiling replied with a smirk of his own.
“Okay, Doc. Thanks for everything,” Hogan said. He headed for his bunk immediately after watching the doctor leave.
End of Second Quarter
This copyright covers only original material and characters, and in no way intends to infringe upon the privileges of the holders of the copyrights, trademarks, or other legal rights, for the Hogan's Heroes universe.