Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square
Usual disclaimers apply: I don’t own ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ and am only borrowing them for fun, not profit.
Newkirk was one step away from climbing into his bunk, when he sighed and slipped behind the line of laundry that screened the open tunnel entrance from view. It was shaping up to be a long night, as Colonel Hogan and his men were waiting on a very important message from General Butler in London, which meant that someone had to man the radio at all times. Newkirk had just come off shift, and had his mind on getting some sack time when he realized he’d left his coffee cup in the radio room. Blimey, I’ll be needin’ that first thing tomorrow, an’ with ol’Schultzie in here hollerin’ “Rause, Rause”, there’ll be no chance to get it until –after- roll call.
Though he suspected that none of the other guys already in their bunks were really sleeping, Newkirk made his way down the ladder as quietly as possible. Everyone’s nerves were a bit keyed up in anticipation of the message, but that was no excuse to go clattering around at four in the morning. Not unless you wanted a pillow or two chucked at you, that is. He shook his head as he stepped onto the tunnel floor, smiling at the mental image that came to mind with that thought.
The tunnel was quiet, and in the flickering light of the oil lamp, Newkirk could see Carter sitting next to the radio. The young sergeant had a somewhat melancholy look on his face as he studied the blank piece of paper on the desk in front of him. There was something about the way Carter looked that made Newkirk reluctant to disturb him, and for a moment, he thought about just going back up the ladder and leaving him to his silence.
The decision was taken from him when Carter glanced over and nodded. Newkirk made his way over to the desk, pausing to lean against one of the roof supports. “Hello, Carter.” He spoke quietly, his voice echoing slightly in the tunnel.
“Hi, Newkirk,” was the equally quiet reply, sounding very much out of place coming from the normally cheerful demolitions expert.
“What’s the matter?”
Carter’s hand brushed over the blank piece of paper before he responded. “Oh… I’m trying to write a letter to my girl in London, but I just can’t think of anything to say.”
Well, ‘ow about that? Carter’s got a bird in London and hasn’t mentioned her to anyone? Newkirk’s first reaction was to make a wisecrack along the lines of Carter never knowing what to say period, but quickly changed his mind as he took a closer look at his comrade. This really has him in a twist, don’t it? I’ll lay off him though, as I really ‘aven’t got it in me to take the mickey out of him just now anyway.
Newkirk pulled a chair over, and took a seat next to Carter. “Don’t be silly. I mean, why don’t you just write to her ‘n’ tell her how you remember all the nice little things that happened to th’both of you?”
Carter picked up his pencil and held it poised over the paper for a moment before letting it slide from his hand. “Well… I’m not any good with words.”
The sadness in Carter’s eyes nearly broke Newkirk’s heart. “Look, Carter. I’ll tell you what I’ll do.” He’d never seen the American like this before, and it stirred a memory he never thought he’d share with anyone. “I’ll tell you what to say and you just write it down, right?”
Newkirk took a deep breath, and began.
Carter hadn’t realized how much Lisa had come to mean to him until he tried to put it into writing. He’d met her in London where she worked in her father’s drug store. Chemist’s shop, they called it, though, making it just one more entry on his list of odd English names and things. He’d been surprised to find that they had a lot in common despite the differences, as she had been studying to become a pharmacist before the war broke out.
They’d talked a lot of shop at first, which had been interesting, but had moved past that and had been well on the way to developing a solid friendship when he’d flown off on what proved to be his last mission. It had been both the concern and support from the guys at Stalag 13 and Lisa’s constant stream of letters that helped him get back on his feet after getting the ‘Dear John’ letter from Mary Jane.
He’d been trying to figure out how to tell Lisa how much she meant to him when Newkirk had made his appearance in the radio room. Carter hadn’t planned to tell the Englishman what was going on, but it just sort of slipped out. To his surprise, Newkirk hadn’t tried to make a joke out of it the way he usually did.
Boy, this sure is strange. I mean, Newkirk’s always got something to say no matter what’s going on. I’ve never seen him like this. He’s so quiet, and that look on his face… he’s so serious. And kinda sad too, all at the same time.
Carter’s thoughts were interrupted as Newkirk let out the breath he’d been holding, and in a gentle tone, the Englishman began to speak…
“That certain night, the night we met, there was magic abroad in the air. There were angels dining at the Ritz, and a nightingale sang in Berkley Square.
“I may be right, I may be wrong,” he shrugged ever so slightly. “But I'm perfectly willing to swear, that when you turned and smiled at me, a nightingale sang in Berkley Square.”
Newkirk reached up and removed his cap from his head, letting it dangle loosely from his fingers as he continued. “The moon lingered over London town, poor puzzled moon, ‘e wore a frown. How could ‘e know we two were so in love, when the whole darn world seemed upside down.”
Carter sat absolutely still, his eyes fixed on his friend’s face. Newkirk seemed unaware of the scrutiny and in fact hardly seemed to notice that Carter was even there as a tear glistened for a moment, then slid slowly down his cheek. Voice choked with emotion, Newkirk went on with his tale.
“The streets of town were paved with stars, it was such a romantic affair. And as we kissed and we said good bye… a n-nightingale sang in -.” Newkirk absently reached up to brush the tear away, and the motion apparently made him realize where he was, as he cut himself off mid-sentence. “Well… that’s all you need, Carter. Just tell ‘er you love her and say that ol’Newkirk says hello.”
“Were you ever in Berkley Square?”
“Once, Andrew… just once,” Newkirk whispered as he stood up to leave. He glanced at his cap, not quite sure why it was in his hand, and slowly placed it on his head as he started for the ladder. “Good night.”
He watched his friend in silence for a moment, awed that the proud Englishman had shared something so personal with him. “Good night… and thanks.”
Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square
That certain night, the night we met,
There was magic abroad in the air.
There were angels dining at the Ritz,
And a nightingale sang in Berkley Square.
I may be right, I may be wrong,
But I'm perfectly willing to swear,
That when you turned and smiled at me,
A nightingale sang in Berkley Square.
The moon lingered over London town,
Poor puzzled moon, ‘e wore a frown.
How could ‘e know we two were so in love,
When the whole darn world seemed upside down.
The streets of town were paved with stars,
It was such a romantic affair.
And as we kissed and we said good bye,
A nightingale sang in Berkley Square.
This is my very first attempt at a ‘songfic’. The inspiration for it comes from Hogan’s Heroes Sing The Best Of World War II, the album Robert Clary, Richard Dawson, Ivan Dixon and Larry Hovis got together and recorded on the Liberty Records label. I was lucky enough to get a nearly mint-condition copy of it off eBay, and I highly recommend it to any Hogan’s Heroes fan.
Richard Dawson performs ‘Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square’, though it’s spoken rather than sung, and his wonderful accent turns ‘Berkley’ into ‘Barclay’. Larry Hovis joins him for a brief in-character ‘conversation’ at the beginning and end of the song, which also found its way into this story.
Text and original characters copyright 2004 by Nancy Ware
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.