Allegiance - Part One
In Those We Trust
Ehrlichmann of the Abwehr stood at the small window in his office and peered
out, disappointed that his view of
With his hands
clasped behind his back, he continued to gaze out, straining to recall a
Annoyed at himself, he turned from the window to cast his eye directly at the ever expanding file on his desk. What did they expect him to do about it now? It should have been addressed sooner, not now that the Gestapo were involved. They knew it could not be ignored – that would come at too high a price. He had to do something; warn someone. Thumbing through the fine coded information sheets, a familiar notation drew his attention, instantly jogging his memory – Luft Stalag 13. So, their next destination was Stalag 13. Slivers of a smirk assailed his features, as a powerful recollection took hold. Maybe his colleagues were right; maybe there was something he could do after all, or better still – maybe there was someone he could warn.
Snow fell at an alarming rate in the dense woodland; cascading from treetops where small pure white caps briefly formed, weighing heavily on teetering leaves and then jointly dropping to the already leaf encrusted ground.
Crouched behind bushes, with their knees uncomfortably in the unavoidable slush, two figures cautiously surveyed the terrain through their binoculars.
Lowering his binoculars, United States Army Air Corps Colonel Robert Hogan turned to the man crouched next to him. "How many?" he asked anxiously.
require a more detailed explanation. He
Hogan didn't have to guess any more. "Oil refinery."
Wooden guard towers loomed over the perimeter of Luft Stalag 13, systematically manned by German guards. There was no love lost between the guards and the prisoners of war they were guarding; all the more reason why the prisoners within the compound of this Stalag felt a small sense of comfort that they were a little warmer in their confined barracks than these guards in their open towers, huddled against the recent onset of sleet and rain.
In Barracks Two, Sergeant Andrew Carter made it his duty to scrutinise the walls of the barracks and promptly block every offending knothole with well-read magazine paper. He forcefully jabbed another piece of paper in the small knothole in the wall next to his bunk, adjacent to his pillow. Now he knew why he had that dream last night; the one about someone blowing in his ear. He forced the paper tighter into the offending hole. No more blowing. It was a nice dream, he mused; being back in his hometown of CrabApple Junction with his girl, Mary Jane. He stared at the wall; cocked his head left and right; feeling a little self-conscious, then promptly removed the paper – maybe having the wind blow through this knothole wouldn't be such a bad thing.
Corporal Louis Le Beau's contribution to raising the temperature in the barracks was to ensure the small round pot stove in the centre of the barracks burned continuously. Unfortunately the heat was minimal and slowly the illusion gave way to reality as one by one the complaints drifted through the barracks of the cold penetrating their very bones, starting with the Englishman, RAF Corporal Peter Newkirk.
Seated at the lone common room table in the centre of the barracks, with his back to the stove and his German issue threadbare blanket wrapped tightly around him, Newkirk repeated for the umpteenth time what he intended to report to the Red Cross when next he was asked about the conditions in the camp; venturing a loud proclamation that any time he would be given in the cooler would be spent in a warmer climate than the barracks. So entrenched was he in his diatribe that he didn't hear or see the Colonel return from his rendezvous with the Underground until he was joined at the table.
"Some Englishman you are," Le Beau taunted Newkirk, as he handed the Colonel a very hot cup of coffee.
Newkirk merely sank
deeper into his blanket muttering, "This ain't
Hogan sipped his hot coffee gratefully. It was cold, but the barracks was still warmer than the partially melted snow he had spent the better part of two hours kneeling in. "Unfortunately, it can't," he replied. He lowered his cup to the table and removed the coal briquette from his jacket pocket, placing it at the centre of the table.
"Blimey," Newkirk cursed.
Carter picked up the briquette. "They're putting up refineries quicker than our boys can bring them down, Colonel."
"If we supply our boys with enough information; we can bring them down even faster," Hogan said confidently. "They're using the back woods to cover as much of their tracks as possible, then merging to heavily fortified check points."
Radio operator Sergeant James Kinchloe emerged from the tunnel, hit the latch for the bunk to drop down again; then joined the Colonel and Newkirk at the table, gratefully accepting a cup of coffee from Le Beau.
"That's a big if," Kinch added. "You can't very well hide an entire oil refinery plant."
Hogan agreed. "No, but you can disguise it so that it blends in so well with the surroundings that no-one would notice it."
Hogan held out his cup to him for a refill, but directed his answer at Newkirk. "We go Winter scouting."
"Always wanted to feel the ice beneath me knees," Newkirk commented acerbically and wrapped the blanket tighter around himself.
Carter reached for the barracks door and pulled it open, just as Schultz grabbed the outside handle and pushed against it, careening into Kinch and stopping just in front of the stove "Schultz's here, Colonel," Carter called out, the amusement in his voice unmistakeable, and the coal briquette safely shoved in his pocket.
"Do you mind, Schultz?" Newkirk whined. "You're blocking me heat from the stove."
Schultz regained his balance and looked askance at Carter. "You should not be outside the barracks. The Kommandant's orders," he firmly stated, even though Carter was still holding onto the open door and very much inside the barracks. "And I am not blocking the heat," he declared to Newkirk, clearly hurt and insulted.
Hogan couldn’t help but smile. Sergeant Hans Schultz did present with a somewhat portly expanse and his dramatic entrance did place him in front of the stove, which he noted, was now almost hidden well behind the Sergeant. "What's up, Schultz?" he asked as straight faced as possible.
Schultz moved from the stove, but not before glaring at Newkirk, to stand before Hogan. "Colonel Hogan," he began, taking a deep breath and effectively enhancing his girth. "The Kommandant has received word that there will be –"
"Kommandant has a new prisoner," Carter relayed to the Colonel from his vantage point at the open barracks door.
"- a new prisoner," Schultz repeated, then squeezed his eyes shut in frustration and yelled out. "Nein! Nein! Nein! He wants to talk to you about his guests." But everyone had crowded in the doorway. "What prisoner?" he yelled again, easily pushing himself through the prisoner barricade to the front of the doorway.
An open truck housing two armed German guards with a male prisoner in a drab jumpsuit between them, abruptly pulled up in front of Kommandant Klink's office. The prisoners in the compound watched silently as one guard jumped off the back of the truck and the second one prodded the immobile prisoner. "Schnell!" the guard ordered, pointing the rifle at him. Hogan didn't like the direction this was taking. Everyone was watching the prisoner reluctantly make his way to the edge of the truck, when suddenly the guard pushed him off. With heavy restraints on his wrists, the prisoner fell heavily to his knees on the hard ground of the compound.
A unified cry reverberated throughout the camp.
"He pushed him!" Le Beau cried out.
"Pushing someone from behind, especially when they have restraints on is what the Krauts call 'playing fair', Le Beau," Newkirk stated caustically.
Hogan was disgusted. "Anything I should know about, Schultz?"
Schultz was just as shocked. "I know nothing. The Kommandant just sent me to -"
At the sound of all the commotion, Kommandant Klink rushed out of his office, his riding crop under his arm. "Schultz!" he yelled out into open space before acknowledging the truck and prisoner still on his knees before his office. Then he stared at the prisoner, clearly confused. "Schultz!" he yelled out again.
Zipping up his jacket, Hogan angrily marched out of the barracks. "Come on, Schultz," he ordered. "Let's find out what makes one of you act so nasty to one of us."
"Colonel Hogan," Schultz pleaded, "I was sent to – " he fumbled about himself, he'd misplaced his rifle again. Newkirk smugly retrieved it from behind his back and casually handed it to him. "Danke," Schultz quickly said before rushing after Hogan who was in no mind to wait for him. "Please, Colonel Hogan, we are not nasty –" he called out, struggling to keep up.
One guard held his rifle aimed at the prisoner but the other guard now aimed his rifle at the advancing Colonel.
Klink stormed down the steps, standing before the fallen prisoner. "Schultz! What is the meaning of all this?" he bellowed.
The guard did not lower his rifle. Fear engulfed Schultz who was still trying to keep up with Hogan. "Pleeeeeese, Colonel Hogan," he cried out, picking up his pace. Finally catching up to the now stationary Hogan, Schultz glared at the guards then addressed his Kommandant, in between ragged breaths. "Kommandant, believe me when I tell you, I know nothing!"
Hogan was positive the camp guards would not shoot, however, there was something about these two guards that made him think they were nothing like the camp guards. Keeping his eyes on them, Hogan promptly bent down and helped the prisoner to his feet.
One of the guards
addressed the Kommandant. "Herr
Kommandant," he began, handing a thin file to the him. "Orders from
Klink reluctantly took the file and glanced through it, muttering, "But I was not informed." He addressed the guard, confused. "I always receive prior notification so that we can be ready. Even a telephone call would have been sufficient."
"My orders are
Hogan kept hold of
the prisoner and deliberately addressed this guard. "Did
"Colonel Hogan, please," Schultz begged, immediately standing between him and the guard.
couldn't understand why he never received notification. "I always receive prior notification,
The guard stood his ground. "He has a tendency to escape," he explained calmly to what he viewed as quite a rotund Sergeant before him. "It was brought to my superior's attention that Stalag 13 has a reputation of being a camp that has never had any successful escapes."
Klink stopped scanning
the file and stared at the guard, pride welling within him. Again, his camp and reputation had preceded
him. "Yes, yes. We have that reputation. And a reputation that is very well earned, if
I must say so myself," he enthusiastically agreed, rocking himself back
and forth, firmly clutching and unclutching the riding crop under his arm in
To his disgust,
Hogan witnessed the guard then perform a perfectly manoeuvred Nazi salute and
depart. "Schultz, remove the
restraints," Klink ordered, still embraced in the afterglow of
Schultz removed the shackles, only to take in an involuntary breath when he saw the raw ligature marks around the prisoner's wrists. Hogan reeled. Immediately, the prisoner forced down his jumpsuit's sleeve and stood at attention, defiance one emotion that Hogan and everyone else read quite clearly.
Standing at attention before Kommandant Klink's desk, the prisoner glanced at the Colonel beside him, wanting to say something but uncertain if it was permitted in the presence of this Kommandant.
"The actions of those guards was a direct violation of the Geneva Convention," Hogan complained. For the last half hour, he had to watch Klink pacing like the proverbial peacock on parade, contentedly repeating word for word what the guard had relayed about his Stalag.
"Hogan," he continued, still clutching his riding crop and still pacing around his office. "This prisoner," he circled around his desk and flipped open the file that was handed to him, "Sergeant Robert Garner," he read out, "does not need to be told what is or is not in contravention of the Geneva Convention. In fact, all he needs to understand, to have a comfortable stay here, is that I run this camp with an iron hand. I have always run this camp with an iron hand, and I will continue to run this hand with an iron camp – I mean, run this camp with an iron hand." He stared at the prisoner before him, brandishing the riding crop close to his chest. Sergeant Garner didn't flinch. "Schultz!" Klink yelled out, even though Schultz stood only a few metres away from them, at attention near the door.
"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant," Schultz acknowledged, stepping forward.
Klink continued to stare at the prisoner before him, then ordered, "Take him to the delousing station."
"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant," Schultz repeated, gently taking the prisoner's arm and steering him to the door.
Immediately, Garner locked eyes with Hogan, and for a brief instant, Hogan read more in them than words could describe. "It's our safety net, just in case we catch anything from them," he joked softly, watching him being led out.
"Hogan, I called you here for a reason. Didn't Schultz tell you I wanted to see you?" Klink asked, placing the file on top of other files and taking his seat behind the desk.
"We were interrupted," Hogan answered sardonically.
Klink fidgeted, tidying one thing after another on his desk. He wanted something of Hogan. "Hogan, I have just been informed that Field Marshall Von Hienrinham and his fiancée would be visiting the camp –"
"And inspecting the barracks," Hogan added.
"Yes, yes, yes," Klink dismissed with a wave of his hand. "All that, but I also wanted to ask if Corporal LeBeau could prepare dinner for us. You'll be invited, of course."
Hogan faked offence. "Of course. If for nothing more than to ensure that the meal is not only palatable but arsenic free?"
Klink visibly cringed. "Hooooogan," he drew out.
"I really wouldn't let any of this conversation get back to Corporal LeBeau, if I were you. You know how the French are about their food. And to imply that they would ever dream of creating a meal that is even remotely unpalatable, not to mention full of ar-," Hogan stated
"Your barracks will have extra heating rations as of tonight," Klink bargained.
Hogan quickly added, "All the barracks will have extra heating rations for the duration of winter."
"Out of the question. Cannot be done," Klink firmly declared, rising from his seat and slamming his hands on his desk for emphasis.
Hogan leaned on the desk and deliberately whispered to the Kommandant before him. "Ever seen a perfectionist French Chef chop vegetables with frozen fingers? I'd sure hate to be the one to explain to the Field Marshall, or better still, his fiancée that the tasty morsel she had just devoured from her serving of the vegetable mêlée probably wasn't a vegetable."
"Extra heating rations for a month and that's all I'm going to offer," Klink challenged.
Hogan smiled to himself, automatically thinking how that would go down with one member of his team. "Extra heating rations for two months and I'll order LeBeau to make the best French three course meal he knows how."
Klink agreed, already visualising the compliments the Field Marshall and his
fiancée would heap on him. That coupled
with the perfect inspection they would attend was only going to elevate his
Two months; that aptly covered the worst of their winter. Hogan smiled to himself as he returned his cap to his head. "I'll inform Corporal LeBeau immediately, Kommandant."
"Dissssssmissed," Klink drew out.
As soon as Hogan
left, Klink retrieved the file from
"Maybe you should put in a complaint," Hogan offered, poking his head back in the door.
Newkirk was the first to return to the Barracks after completing his laundry for the day. That was something else he wanted to bring up with the Red Cross. Washing clothes in ice cold water was not his ideal way of spending his afternoon. Grabbing his cup, he removed the coffee pot from the pot-belly stove only to discover the contents were cold. Throwing open the door of the stove, he exclaimed in horror. "No," he whined, watching the embers slowly dying.
At the same time Carter was climbing out of the bunk bed access tunnel, but all Newkirk saw was the briquette of coal he was cradling. "You're bleeding marvellous!" he cried out as he grabbed the coal from Carter's hands and headed for the stove. Suddenly, before he knew what was happening, Carter pounced on him, throwing him to the ground with such force that the wind was knocked out of him. Lying on his stomach, a stunned Newkirk glared at Carter trying to fathom what just happened, but all Carter did was remain where he was, seated on the Englander's back, cradling the briquette to his chest and sweating profusely. "What is wrong with you?" Newkirk panted, embarrassed that the young sergeant actually threw him to the ground.
"I'd like to know what is wrong with both of you," Hogan asked returning to the barracks after speaking to Klink, with a thoroughly amused LeBeau and Kinch in tow.
Still protectively cradling the briquette to his chest, a very shaken and pallid looking Carter glanced uncomfortably at the Colonel. Hogan immediately helped the Sergeant up, while Kinch assisted Newkirk to his feet, in between chuckles. "You find this funny?" scowled the Englander.
"No," Kinch lied, in between deepening giggles. "I think the tackle would have been funny. This is just amusing."
Newkirk deliberately turned his back on Kinch and addressed the Colonel. "Ain't I been telling you that Andrew here's just ain't been 'imself lately?" he moaned.
Carter remained where he stood, still holding the briquette to his chest and visibly trying to regulate his heavy breathing. Hogan laid a hand on his shoulder, visibly concerned.
"I was just going to throw that piece of coal in the stove there when he just out and out tackled me," Newkirk continued.
Carter was still speechless. His heart was beating so fast he was losing count. Everyone was staring at him, but he didn't trust himself to speak, or if he did, to sound coherent. Instead, he held the coal briquette firmly before him and applied pressure to both sides. Instantly, both sides came apart in his hands revealing two perfectly formed hollowed out pieces – tightly packed with their very own Allied issue highly explosive plasticine.
Newkirk let out a gasp and sagged against Kinch. "Bloody Hell! I could 'ave blown us all up."
Carter replaced the two pieces, waiting until the familiar click sounded alerting him that the pieces were safely in place.
A broad grin replaced the concern etched on Hogan's face. "Andrew, we may not need to know the location of that Refinery after all," he proudly announced, patting his shoulder.
Carter glanced at him, and then at the pallid features rapidly taking over Newkirk, and opted to merely nod.
"Dirty Boche," Le Beau cursed, for the
second time that night, taking a seat on the lower bunk bed in the Colonel's
quarters. Newkirk leaned across the desk
to help himself to another cigarette, while listening to the Colonel read out
what Kinch decoded from
"Robert Garner, Sergeant, with the ninety-ninth
Squadron. Tied to the Fighter Group of
the Fifteenth Air Force, on an escort mission to take out the Daimler-Benz tank
"Answers why they were so rough with 'im, don't it?" Newkirk stated. "His squadron probably did a damn good bit of damage and they 'ad it in for him."
"Yeah, and to strip him so that he doesn't even have his uniform when he comes into camp, well, that's not very nice," Carter complained, nodding in emphasis. "They wouldn't like it if they lost their uniforms, and believe me –"
"That's right, and I ain't found nothing on 'im," Newkirk interrupted Carter's complaint to report his discovery or lack thereof. "Fleeced 'im that many times, and each time I came up empty. What do you make of that? The poor sod's lucky to 'ave the clothes on 'is back, 'e is."
Still holding the blue coded sheet, Hogan merely had to
look at Kinch to get the confirmation he feared. "I asked
"That's what I was afraid of," Hogan stated, peering out the barracks window, observing the object of their discussion nervously roam the compound.
Newkirk stubbed out his cigarette. "What gives?" he finally asked when Kinch and Hogan went quiet.
"If our Sergeant Robert Garner is a member of the
ninety ninth Squadron, that would make him a
"Blimey!" Newkirk exclaimed. "He's one of them – a bleeding kraut!"
One of them? Hogan
mused. He saw the raw ligature marks
encircling the wrists of the new prisoner.
He saw his look of horror when Klink ordered Schultz to take him to the
delousing station, and the entire camp saw his defiance and animosity when
confronted by the German guard from
Garner circled the perimeter of the camp for the second time that morning, staring at the imposing guard towers. When one of the guards glared at him, he backed away from the fence, opting to lean against a barracks wall and complete his observations from that vantage point.
Inhaling deeply from the cigarette he'd been given earlier that morning in the barracks, Garner welcomed the almost instantaneous relief; surprised, as he was never a strong smoker. Taking another deep drawn out breath, he allowed his eyes to roam the interior of the compound, finally coming to rest on Stalag 13's senior prisoner of war officer, Colonel Hogan.
The Colonel Robert Hogan, he mused, unconsciously now massaging the still raw ligature marks on his wrists. Was their first meeting planned or a coincidence? He laughed - a harsh cough like laugh that quickly escalated to a coughing spasm. In disgust he threw the cigarette away. He hated smoking.
Hooking his thumbs into the pockets of his closed leather jacket, Hogan casually leaned against the outside of Barracks Two and observed, along with his men, the movements of Stalag 13's newest impostor.
"That's the second time he's circled the camp," Newkirk commented acerbically, thrusting his own hands into the pockets of his trousers and hunching over in a feeble attempt to block some of the increasing cold. He'd contemplated bringing his blanket outside with him, but he spotted Doc doing his routine checks around the compound and decided not to draw any attention to himself. Not that he had anything against Doc, of course.
help him escape, the dirty Bosch," LeBeau spat out. "To a nice
little prison in
Kinch had spent
most of that morning talking with the men from the barracks housing their
suspicious guest, and now, promptly joined the rest of the team with his
update. He didn't have to thrust his
hands in the pockets of his large jacket, as he hadn't taken them out since he
walked out of the barracks that morning.
Spending most of his time receiving and transmitting messages to
"Which days the escape committee meet?" Carter offered, smiling broadly. That was the question he'd ask.
"If he's looking to escape, he's just succeeded in alerting every guard in the compound, including the ones in the towers," Hogan stated, straightening and deliberately stepping forward until he stood ahead of his men and in obvious sight of their impostor.
"Escaping is definitely not on his mind, at least not for now. Our impostor is intent on getting as much information as possible about a fellow prisoner of war and he didn't care who he had to ask to get it." Kinch informed him.
Across the compound, Garner had ceased his pacing and was leaning against the barracks. Now he was surveying the interior of the compound.
Hogan watched as a coughing fit forced Garner to throw the cigarette he'd been smoking to the ground. "Who?" he casually asked.
Garner's eyes suddenly locked with the Colonel's.
"He's Gestapo!" Carter yelled out, rubbing his gloved hands together and pushing himself forward past Newkirk until he stood directly in front of the Colonel, effectively blocking his view of Garner. Hogan smiled. The way the young sergeant immediately manoeuvred himself in front of him gave the Colonel the distinct impression that he was about to volunteer for protection detail.
Newkirk instantly whacked Carter on the shoulder with his hat, angry that he was so loud and obvious. "Alert the bleeding guards, why don't you?"
"Well, it could be," Carter defended himself, in a hushed tone.
"Yeah? And 'av you ever seen a Gestapo allow himself to be shackled and thrown off the back of a truck – even if it was all in the line of duty?" Newkirk asked, replacing his hat on his head. "I ain't saying there ain't some connection, Gov'nor," he deferred back to Hogan, "but I'll bet next month's Red Cross package that he definitely ain't some Gestapo spy."
Their discussion was momentarily interrupted as a German staff car drove into camp stopping directly in front of Kommandant Klink's office.
Garner straightened, watching the car as it entered the compound.
Hogan's eyes darted quickly from Garner to the commotion outside the Kommandant's office.
"Schuuuuuuuultz!" Klink bellowed, rushing down the steps of his office towards the car.
When Schultz and the Kommandant careened into one another in their haste to open the car door, Hogan's men chuckled. "Klink is taking grovelling to a new level," Newkirk laughed.
Field Marshall Otto Von Hienrinham emerged from the passenger side of the vehicle, surveying the compound around him. "What is the meaning of all this?" he bellowed at Klink. "You permit prisoners to loiter outside and observe your visiting dignitaries? What kind of camp are you running here, Kommandant--?"
"Klink, Herr Field Marshall Von Hienrinham. And may I begin by saying what an honour and a pleasure it is to have you grace our stalag like this, and at such short notice, which I believe –"
The Field Marshall glared at Klink, his disdain evident. "You have not answered my question," he firmly stated.
Surprised, Klink stepped away from the Field Marshall, only to bump into Schultz's paunch. "Herr Field Marshall, " he stammered, "we were not expecting you until much later today."
"Whether we arrive early or late is not my concern. You were informed of my arrival and as such I expect everything to be as ordered, Kink --" the Field Marshall stated, extending his arm into the back seat of the vehicle and waiting patiently.
Klink corrected again, offended. This
was not going as he had envisaged it.
Why did so many high-ranking personnel mispronounce his name? After all, he was the Kommandant in charge of
the toughest prisoner of war camp in
A young woman deftly stepped out from the passenger side of the vehicle, deliberately avoiding the Field Marshall's extended arm.
Hogan was intrigued. The meal Klink wanted LeBeau to prepare was for the Field Marshall and his fiancée. However, the action he'd just witnessed seemed to leave room for speculation. Suddenly, from the corner of his eye he caught movement. Returning his gaze to Garner, he was quick to witness their impostor steal himself behind the barracks just as the young woman turned around.
With a triumphant smile beckoning his lips, Hogan allowed his eyes to linger a little longer on the young woman not too far away from him then said, "Gentlemen, I believe we have just found our connection."
LeBeau hovered around the barracks brandishing a wooden spoon, muttering to himself in French and at times imitating a heated conversation. "Qu’est-ce que je fais dans cette armée ? Cuisinier. Et à quel point avez-vous alimenté le Krauts qu'ils me demanderont ? Combien d'heure vous a-t-il pris pour le projeter?"
Newkirk and Carter continued their card playing at the common room table, trying very hard to ignore their friend, even though the few French words they were familiar with caused an involuntary chuckle to escape from time to time. Newkirk knew the Colonel would join them eventually; besides, his understanding of French was far better than theirs.
"Why do I always have to cook for them?" LeBeau demanded, now reverting to speaking English as he glared at Newkirk and Carter, wooden spoon still in hand.
Carter slammed his hand of cards down on the table, "Gin!" he shouted jubilantly.
"Did you hear what I said?" LeBeau asked Carter, leaning so close that Carter felt he could not retract his hand. Instead he looked into the face of his French friend and stated matter-of-factly, "I can't cook."
LeBeau stared at him, dumfounded, but Carter continued with his explanation, at the same time scooping up the cards as he spoke, "Now if my mom was here, or my Mary Jane, well, my mom makes a really nice apple pie, but Mary Jane can really –"
Newkirk grabbed the cards from him. "Somehow I don't think the Kommandant would appreciate apple pie served as a dessert, Andrew."
"The Kommandant won't, but I would," Hogan cheerfully added, emerging from his quarters to stand beside LeBeau. "Louis," he said softly as he laid his arm reassuringly around his shoulders, "if you feel so strongly against this, I'll find someone else."
Carter and Newkirk stared at the Colonel in disbelief. "You will?" they asked in unison.
"But before I do, I must inform you that the Kommandant values your culinary skills so highly that we're all to have extra heating for the rest of winter," Hogan continued, his voice pitching higher to emphasise the importance of the Kommandant's offer.
This time LeBeau and Newkirk stared at the Colonel, dumbfounded. "He did?" they both asked.
Letting them think about it, Hogan walked to the stove and removing the coffee pot, poured himself a cup, tasted it and waited to see who would speak first – LeBeau or Newkirk. His money was on Newkirk. Extra heating…
"Louis, maybe you are taking this all a little too personally. After all, we're all expected to do things we don't really like some times, ain't we, Gov'nor?" Newkirk asked.
"Gee, just think – when the guys all find out that it was your cooking that got them the extra heating, gee, they'll think you're real swell, they will," Carter continued. Bless his heart, Hogan thought to himself.
Pride filled the French corporal's being. He was a good cook and Kommandant Klink did ask for him when he wanted to impress his guests. With his head held high and his chest pushed out, Louis imagined himself surrounded by his children, and telling them with all honesty that it was his cooking that saved his fellow prisoners of war from the harsh winters in the prison camp. A smile joined the pride he felt.
coming this way,"
But it didn't take
Schultz too long to come crashing through the door, with such force that
Newkirk deliberately remained seated, opting to shuffle his deck of cards instead. "And to think, this is the day I forgot to dust," Newkirk quipped sarcastically.
Carter hypnotically watched the cards slide above, below, to the side, with the smooth precision of Newkirk's nimble fingers. "The Kommandant could have told us in advance to expect visitors, Schultzie," Newkirk complained, continuing his shuffling. - Thumb of left hand on top edge, middle and ring fingers supporting the bottom edge of the deck. Spellbound, Schultz leaned closer and closer until the Englander bent the cards, releasing them to cascade and –
"Schultz!" Klink shouted from the barracks door way. Schultz promptly stood at attention. "Why aren't these men standing at attention?" Klink demanded.
Hogan put down his coffee cup and stepped forward. "Kommandant, under the rules of the Geneva Convention –"
"An inspection can be called at any time be it day or night – if there is any reason to suspect escape or sabotage by the prison body of the Stalag," Field Marshall Von Hienrinham stated, entering the barracks and making his way to stand before Hogan.
Hogan smirked, "Depends on which edition of the manual you read."
The Field Marshall casually removed the heavy overcoat he wore over his shoulders and threw it towards the barracks door where his fiancée, who had just taken a step into the barracks, hastily caught it. "You keep your prisoners in well-maintained accommodation, Klink."
"Our objective is to get it a two star rating, but we think the colour scheme won't work," Hogan quipped.
Klink laughed uncomfortably.
The Field Marshall heard the suppressed chuckles from the prisoners standing at attention. He turned abruptly, but no one moved. "Your prisoners have a comedian as their commanding officer, Klink," he stated. Silence. He picked up the discarded deck of cards on the table and shuffled them. "I cannot say that I hold out much faith for the Allies if this is the best they can do in producing officers," he taunted, then deliberately released the cards so that they fell at Hogan's feet.
again. "Herr Field Marshall, I
cannot emphasis enough that in this camp there has never been a successful
"No successful escapes, Colonel?" the Field Marshall sniggered, closing the gap between Hogan and himself. "No ingenuity? An American officer gets captured and suddenly gives up? Come, come Colonel, You must have something – even a small radio to make a little noise at night?"
Klink approached the Field Marshall, placing himself almost between the Field Marshall and Hogan and not even realising it. "I can honestly say, Herr Field Marshall, that my guards are always on the alert for any noise coming from any of the barracks, and furthermore --"
Hogan smiled, directly into the face of the Field Marshall. "We do try to keep our radio low when we listen to the World Series, but the men's exuberance does get a little rowdy."
Anger seethed within the Field Marshall. This was not the reaction he was expecting of this officer. He turned abruptly smashing his hand against the wooden panels of the bunk bed nearest the door. "I want your men to go through this barracks, Klink!"
"Of course, Herr Field Marshall," Klink agreed. "It will be done immediately."
"I want every mattress checked; every –" he walked to the tunnel access bunk; raising his arm, when suddenly a screech filled the room. With his arm suspended in midair, the Field Marshall abruptly turned to witness his fiancée fall into the American officer's arms.
Johanna stared into the eyes of Colonel Hogan, embarrassed. "I am so sorry, Colonel," she said, quickly attempting to disentangle herself from his arms, while looking for the coat she was holding. Hogan bent down and untangled it from around her feet, at the same time still holding onto her arm in case she fell.
All of a sudden, Field Marshall Von Hienrinham pulled the coat out of Hogan's hands and grabbed hold of Johanna. "Oh, I'm so sorry, Otto. I tripped. It is a very big coat, you know," she hastily explained.
"Klink, where are our quarters?" the Field Marshall asked, his eyes firmly on Johanna.
Klink fumbled around, effectively stepping on the ends of the coat. "I assure you, Herr Field Marshall, everything has been arranged for your stay here. Sergeant Schultz can --"
Steering Johanna towards the barracks door, the Field Marshall tugged at his coat only to find it firmly wedged beneath Klink's boots.
"- escort you –" Klink didn't understand why the Field Marshall was glaring at him. He then looked down at his feet and – "Please accept my apologies, Herr Field Marshall –"
Hogan and his men watched contently as their Kommandant steered his very important guests to their accommodation and apologise profusely for just about everything.
"That was close," Le Beau voiced.
Newkirk grabbed his mattress and thew it back on the top bunk, dust from it scattering into the air. "Too close, if you ask me. The way he smashed against that first bunk – all he needed to do was repeat the process and what perfect timing, 'er falling over his coat like that--"
"Coincidence?" Kinch quietly asked the Colonel.
That did cross Hogan's mind, along with the curiosity at what this Field Marshall was after. "I'll answer that after dinner."
Johanna silently thanked the small miracle that gave them a slow walking guard to escort them to their quarters. With Otto still holding on to her arm and dragging her along, she was in no mood to run. "Please call me if you need anything," the bulky guard formally addressed them, and then she was alone – with him.
"Do you want to tell me what that was all about?" Otto demanded to know.
"I tripped," Johanna plainly answered, firmly pulling away from him and walking towards the window. She removed her gloves, slowly, one at a time, then parted the lace curtaining and peered out. Guards in the guard tower; guards outside the Kommandant's office; guards around the camp…
"You tripped into the arms of the American Colonel," Otto stated.
She turned, surprised to find him standing directly behind her. "I thought that's what you wanted me to do?" she answered, deliberately looking him in the eyes – the one thing she had recently discovered, he did not like.
Otto abruptly turned away and made his way to the drinks cabinet, pouring himself a glass of schnapps. "Remember why you are here, my dear," he threatened, sculling the drink.
An involuntary shiver snaked down her spine.
Holding the refilled glass in one hand, Otto reached into the heavy coat and removed a small white piece of folded paper. "That fool that they have as a Kommandant will be inviting the American to have dinner with us."
"And you think he'll accept?"
Otto sculled the second glass of Schnapps. "He'll accept. After all, you fell into his arms," he taunted. "And during our dinner, you will pass this on," he ordered, handing her the note, but Johanna did not take it. Otto laughed. "Come, come," he mocked, placing the note firmly in the palm of her hand and forcing her fingers to close over it, "it's not as if you haven't done this before."
Her eyes never left his – even when she felt his finger lightly stroke her wrist. "What am I passing on? Co-ordinates to an ammo dump? A power plant? What?" Bile churned in her stomach, threatening to rise.
Otto released her hand. "You ask too many questions," he warned, now taking a lock of her hair and caressing it between his thumb and forefinger. He laughed again. "That's my job," he sneered.
Between the Lines
In his quarters, Hogan wiped the last of the shaving soap from his face with the rough rag that was to pass for a hand towel. He grinned as he recalled the manner in which the Kommandant begged him to join them for dinner, proving that the Field Marshall had specifically asked for his presence. With LeBeau preparing the meal and Newkirk choosing the wine, the obvious interrogation by the Field Marshall might still be manageable.
"All's in place, Gov'nor," a resplendent Newkirk in a white 'waiter's' uniform complete with white gloves called from the doorway.
came in from
jacket, Hogan scanned the message on his way out of his quarters. "Just what I suspected.
"Now?" Newkirk gasped then cleared his throat and quickly added, "I mean, we do have a dinner to attend."
"Carter," Hogan called out, zipping up his jacket. "How many of your loaded briquettes can you produce?"
Carter scrambled out of his bunk excited, "Well, sir, from the amount of plasticine we have in stock, quite a few."
"Good. We're only going to need as many as we can discretely carry."
Carter beamed, "You're going to use them, sir?"
"And 'ere all I 'ad planned for me evening was dinner, good wine and a nice warm lie in," Newkirk moaned.
to use them. Start work on them tonight.
Kinch, get a hold of the Underground and ask them to create a mini avalanche to
block the truck route in the woods,
Newkirk was suddenly beset with an image of himself buried knee deep in cold, dirty snow and hounded by guards to hasten his shovelling. "Bleeding marvellous," he moaned again.
With renewed vigour, Hogan flipped up the collar of his jacket and walked out into the compound. "Come on," he called out to Newkirk. "I'm hungry."
Giving Carter a pained look, Newkirk straightened his uniform and followed the Colonel, muttering, "I was."
"Schultz!" LeBeau called out for the second time.
Returning from the cellar, Schultz stood at the closed door and savoured the aroma wafting to him from the Kommandant's very own kitchen. Grinning broadly, he tucked the bottle of deep red wine under his arm and joined the Frenchman.
"How long does it take to get a bottle of wine for me?" LeBeau asked, stirring the simmering pot on the stove.
Reluctantly handing the bottle over, Schultz answered, in between the sudden onset of hiccups, "I wanted to be certain to pick the right one."
"Phew!" LeBeau exclaimed, taking it and moving away from the obviously inebriated sergeant. "And how many bottles did that take?"
How many? Scrunching up his face in intense concentration, Schultz attempted to recall how many bottles of wine he had tasted before deciding on this one. "This one was next to the other ones in a very, very private part of the cellar. So private, that I do not think the Kommandant even knows it is there," he declared with conviction.
"Then how did you come across it?" LeBeau asked, pouring a liberal amount into the stew.
Schultz merely shrugged in response, busy peering over LeBeau's shoulders, anxious to monitor the flow of wine rapidly disappearing into the pot. "You are making Boeuf Bourguignon?" he asked.
With half the bottle in the stew, LeBeau stopped pouring and turned around only to collide with the salivating sergeant's belly. "No, I am making potato pancakes," he muttered into Schultz's stomach.
"You are going to make potato pancakes with wine?" Schultz asked, incredulous.
Taking his arm, LeBeau promptly steered him to a chair away from the stove. "Sit," he demanded. "I am not going to have the Kommandant march in here and replace you with another guard now."
Schultz barely had time to retrieve his now half-empty bottle before he fell heavily in the wooden high backed chair. "Why would he do that?" he asked through steadily drooping eyelids.
Snatching the bottle back out of his hands and replacing it with a cup of strong black coffee, LeBeau firmly stated, "Because when he takes one look at you, he will count the wine in his cellar and you'll be transferred to the Russian Front."
Crestfallen, the befuddled sergeant could do no more than thumb his nose at the coffee thrust before him and mutter, sotto voce, "Who said he can count?"
In his resplendent waiter's uniform, Newkirk circled the fully laden dinner table, expertly pouring the wine.
"Tell me, Colonel Hogan," the Field Marshall began, taking the bottle of wine from Newkirk's hands and filling his glass to the brim. Klink cringed. When he savoured the small amount of wine that Newkirk had earlier poured into his glass, he recognised it as one of the special bottles he kept in his own private part of the cellar. "How do you handle the simple things of prison life – such as morale, cramped living conditions, escape attempts –"
"Since Colonel Hogan joined us, we have never had a successful escape. Many attempts, but never a successful one," Klink declared, holding his glass up to Newkirk to fill it and at the same time craning his neck to see if he could make out the label on the wine bottle as Newkirk poured.
Johanna was surprised not only at the meal before her, but at the exquisite lace tablecloth that adorned their round table. Running her fingers along the edging she embraced the sudden onset of memories.
"A reflection on yourself, Colonel?" the Field Marshall sniggered to Hogan, who was steadily consuming the meal before him.
Klink was having a hard time following the conversation and watching how much wine Newkirk was pouring. He was positive the Corporal had opened two bottles of wine. "Herr Field Marshall, Colonel Hogan values the lives of each and every man at Stalag 13 and he knows that there is no shame in sitting out the rest of the war in a prisoner of war camp."
Hogan stopped eating and looked intently at the Field Marshall. "If your lines of communication weren't so lax, Hitler would have already ordered you to surrender. We're just waiting for the news to reach you, that's all."
Klink almost choked. "Hoooogan!" he drew out. "Herr Field Marshall, you must excuse Colonel Hogan. He really didn’t mean anything by that remark –"
"Of course he did, Klink," the Field Marshall said between mouthfuls of stew. "Colonel Hogan, I have a saying that I believe you might identify with - Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."
From the corner of his eye, Hogan watched Johanna fumble with her napkin, trying in vain to place it on her lap, when suddenly he felt a feather light touch on his thigh. "Our Kommandant doesn't advocate us getting too close to the guards – it may compromise the delousing station." His knee suddenly went cold.
Johanna coughed uncomfortably, placing the napkin beside her plate.
Hogan hid his smile in his glass of wine.
Marshall, I was informed that you and your beautiful fiancée are inspecting all
the Stalags and then submitting your reports to
Johanna cleared her throat. "You heard correct, Kommandant. This is the third Stalag Otto and I have attended."
There was no mistaking the scowl Otto gave Johanna from across the table. "Keeping count, are you, my dear?"
"Savouring the moment," she replied, sipping her wine contentedly. The other idiosyncratic habit she discovered recently was that Otto did not like her interrupting him while he was goading his prey.
Hogan and Newkirk exchanged amused glances, with Newkirk positioning himself behind Johanna's chair until he was needed again.
"Colonel, you may use humour to cope with your forced incarceration, however, I have discovered that with the passing of time, and some persuasion, the humour dies and prisoners – all prisoners, inevitably reveal all, proving to me that everyone has a price."
Johanna raised the wine glass to her lips, conscious of the slight tremor in her hand.
The meal was beginning to sit heavily on Hogan's stomach. "Interesting. If you ever tire of your present military posting, you might consider joining the Gestapo."
The wine glass in Johanna's hand suddenly shattered, sending glass shards and wine spilling over the tablecloth and into her meal. Hogan and Klink stood immediately, but Newkirk was the first to assist.
"I'm fine really," Johanna reassured them, trying to pull her hand away from the waiter.
Newkirk held firm, "I think we've got all of it. Very flimsy glasses they are, ma'am. Need to be very careful."
Johanna pulled her hand away and rose. "Gentlemen, please accept my apologies. I think I may retire for the evening."
Klink bustled about, helping Johanna with her coat and calling out for Schultz whom he hadn't seen all night.
The Field Marshall remained seated, pouring himself another glass of wine and watching the American Colonel intently.
"Are they alive?" a voice in the darkness urgently whispered.
Captain Daniel Ehrlichmann stepped out of the driver's side of the German truck to confront the cassocked priest before him. "Do you think I would take these risks for corpses? Move it. Some have need of medical attention."
Moonlight cast its eerie glow on the two men, one dressed in the uniform of an Abwehr Captain and the other in a long black closely fitted gown casually worn by Catholic priests.
"What do you want me to do with them, once I tend their wounds?"
Captain furtively risked a glance at the priest as he continued to assist the
men out of the truck, allowing a sense of pride to well within him. "Your best to get them home," he
whispered solemnly. "I have written
all the papers that they need to get them as far away as
Tired, hungry and confused, the eight airmen stood with their feet in the mud, confused at what was happening. David, an American civilian, jumped down from the back of the truck, falling to his knees in the mud. Francois rushed to his assistance. "You a real priest?" David asked him as he rose, leaning back against the truck for support.
Captain Daniel Ehrlichmann chuckled. "Ask him that after the war, and please do it in my presence. I've been yearning for a deep theological debate for years."
"The Lord moves in mysterious ways, my son," Francois muttered to the American, holding onto him.
Daniel chuckled again. How long had it been since he had had a good laugh at his brother's expense? He removed a set of dog tags from his pocket and approached the American. "I know you are not an airman, my friend, but you are the only one who will recognise them and raise the alarm." Three German guards also jumped from the back of the truck to join them. "These three guards before you will unfortunately play their part rather well once you enter the gates of Luft Stalag 13." He handed one of the guards a piece of paper. "This will be sufficient to allow him to stay with no questions, at least until he completes his mission," he informed the guard who merely nodded his understanding.
Daniel could already sense the anxiety in the young American before him, but he could send no other. "At best you may have a little more than 24 hours. Seek out a Colonel Robert Hogan. I have it on good authority that the Colonel will be able to deal with the situation in a rather unique way and assist you as well," Daniel concluded.
David hid the dog tags inside the drab jump suit he wore. "What if this Colonel Hogan doesn't believe me?"
"Tell him –" Daniel faltered. He got eight out didn't he? So why did he still feel that he could have done more? "Tell him –"
Francois said a silent prayer for his brother, sensing the pain within his words. "Tell Colonel Robert Hogan and his men that the priest sends them his prayers."
Garner sat bolt upright on the bottom bunk, his rapid breathing the only sound that was audible in the darkened hut. He didn't remember falling asleep.
Creeping outside, darting from one spotlight to another, Garner circled around the quarters where that Field Marshall and Johanna were accommodated. Suddenly, movement caught his eye. Forcing himself against the hut he watched in horror as Hogan approached the residence and deftly entered. Anger slowly burned within him. He'd heard the Colonel joined the Field Marshall and Kommandant for dinner. The Frenchman and Englander in his team were at the dinner as well. Now he witnessed the Colonel call on the Field Marshall's fiancée. He may have been sent to warn the Colonel of the trap the Gestapo were setting; what he did not expect was to witness the Colonel's unmistakable collaboration with them.
"You used to pick locks in civilian life?" Johanna whispered from her position directly behind the Colonel.
Hogan closed the door softly and turned around, somewhat surprised. "Among other things."
She closed the space between them. "Among other things?"
Cupping her right hand in his, palm up to the light, Hogan repeated with a wry grin, "Among other things," then cleared his throat and stared down at her palm. "Our Kommandant never brings out the good glasses for guests," now he was running the fingers of his other hand gently over her open palm. "We see so many –" his fingers stopped, "shatter –"
Surprised by his actions, Johanna clenched her hand and pulled free, but not before causing the sleeve of her tunic to ride up, enough for Hogan to glimpse something that sent a chill through his body.
"I need a drink," Johanna exclaimed, swiftly making her way to the cabinet and pouring Schnapps into two small glasses.
Conscious of his breathing, Hogan watched, trying to fathom the consequences of what he had just seen. The chill lingered, now travelling into his bones.
understand that our presence here has you concerned, Colonel, but let me
reassure you as to our intentions. Otto
and I are merely touring the stalags. We
observe; we report – to
His mind still reeling, Hogan said softly, "I admit that I have been a prisoner of war for some time, but I can still remember what it is like to have a beautiful woman vie for my attention." Crossing the room, this time it was Hogan who closed the space between them. "Things are not always what they seem," he said, taking his glass from her and sipping the liquor, his eyes never leaving hers.
The Field Marshall's words screamed in his head: 'everyone has a price'.
Things are not always what they seem? Why would this Colonel say that? Alarmed she stated, "I tripped."
But Hogan needed to know more and he needed to confirm that what he glimpsed was not a play of the light. Taking the half empty glass from her, he placed both glasses down on the cabinet, then turned and before she knew what was happening, closed his hand over hers and brought it swiftly to his lips, lightly kissing it. "We Americans have always had a thing for damsels in distress."
Shocked, Johanna quickly withdrew her hand and muttered, almost to herself, "I'm sorry Colonel. Wrong damsel"
Cold water hit the surface of her face with such ferocity that Johanna gasped, gulping in air to cope with the icy sensation now attacking her skin. She stared at her reflection in the mirror above the basin, somewhat content that this action at least kept her nausea at bay, just barely.
Mesmerised by the icy water running through her fingers, Johanna took a deep breath then swiftly, before changing her mind, raised the skirt of her floral dress and removed the neatly folded white note tucked into her silk stockings. It was the note that Otto demanded she pass onto the Colonel, the same note that held the co-ordinates to a partially camouflaged oil refinery. Otto believed, with intense conviction that prisoners of war were aiding the Underground in mayhem and sabotage. "An oil refinery? How many guards have you posted this time, Otto?" she said to her reflection in the mirror. With a sliver of a smile on her lips, Johanna held the note before her and struck a match, watching it disintegrated into a smudge of cinders.
The bile threatening to rise from her stomach, settled.
"How long's 'e been in there?" Newkirk asked LeBeau who shrugged his shoulders and joined him at the table. When Hogan returned to the barracks he went directly into his quarters and closed the door.
Carter climbed out of the tunnel access bunk with such speed that Newkirk instantly reached out, certain that he'd trip. "I've finished," Carter exclaimed. "Twenty four to be exact. Do you think that's how many the Colonel needs?"
Newkirk smiled. He wasn't going to knock on the Colonel's door just for the sake of it, but Carter could. "Why don't you inform the Colonel of that, Andrew."
Carter practically ran to Hogan's door, rapping on it quite loudly but was met with silence.
"Maybe he's fallen asleep. Where is it written that he has to be alert twenty four hours a day?" LeBeau asked, attempting to hide his concern.
"Officer's manual, United States Army Air Corps," Kinch offered, helping himself to his second bad cup of coffee. This coffee was definitely not the same as the last one delivered in their Red Cross packages, he noted.
"Well, officers sleep too, you know," LeBeau retorted.
Before Carter knocked again, Hogan opened the door, looking wide awake and worried.
"Sorry, Carter. I had something on my mind. How many were you able to put together?"
"Ah, twenty-four, sir," Carter beamed. And he'd used every piece of plasticine he could find, too.
Raking his fingers through his hair, Hogan looked across the barracks at all his men, their concern evident.
Finally, rolling up the sleeves to his shirt, he made his way to the stove and pouring himself a coffee, joined them. Resting his leg on a stool and taking sips of coffee he said, "Going by my gut instinct, I think we're being set up by the Gestapo."
"I knew it! Didn't I say it? Huh? Didn't I?" Carter cried out to no-one in particular.
"Anything solid?" Kinch asked, when everyone had quietened.
Von Hienrinham couldn't help but give himself away as a low level
Gestapo," Hogan informed them.
"Definitely not Field
"Him too? I knew that! You can tell," Carter pipped up, again.
Newkirk pulled Carter's hat over his eyes, "Of course you did, Andrew. It was the German uniform."
"What about his fiancée?" LeBeau asked.
He was certain Johanna was trying to get his attention, yet when he approached her in her quarters, she changed her mind. "From the marks on her wrist, my guess is that this young woman may have just recently been an involuntary guest of Von Hienrinham."
"Blimey," Newkirk exclaimed. "Do you think she knows anything about us?"
Again, Von Hienrinham's acerbic comment at dinner haunted Hogan. Everyone has a price…
Falling into his arms at the precise moment the Field Marshall was going to smash his hand against the tunnel access bunk; vying for his attention at dinner – the light touch on his knee, and the wine glass shattering in her hand when he mentioned the Gestapo. He didn't imagine those things. "I don't know," he muttered. He didn't imagine the marks on her wrists either. "I honestly don't know," he repeated, then drained his cup and returned to his quarters.
The Stalag 13 Working Party
"Of course, Gruppenführer Rattenhuber, my stalag is your stalag," Klink embellished, waving his hand in the air as he spoke into the phone. "My guards are your guards."
Beneath barracks two, Newkirk was breathing rapidly, pushing his chest forward, and squinting his eyes, mimicking frustration as he continued his tirade into the receiver of their small switchboard. "I do not want your stalag, Klink! You are not listening! My convoy is already en route. This avalanche in the backwoods must be cleared before my convoy reaches it."
Standing at attention, just stopping short of saluting, Klink firmly declared, "I understand perfectly, Herr Gruppenführer, and let me assure you that you could not have picked a more efficient group of guards to oversee this duty. Were General Burkhalter here, he would confirm -"
Newkirk clicked his fingers above his head to get Kinch's attention, but Kinch merely scowled at him, busy decoding the information they desperately needed.
"I did not pick your stalag! It is the only one in the immediate vicinity!" Newkirk yelled, his face now reddening with the forced breaths he took to give the necessary impression of bluster over the telephone.
Rattenhuber, I promise you that with my organization and strategic background,
and of course," he laughed nervously, "my excellent record as
Kommandant of the toughest prisoner of war camp in all of
With his eyes rolling heavenward, Newkirk returned his attention to the phone and the never-ending grovelling that Klink was so good at. "There is nothing strategic about shovelling snow!"
Surprised, Klink's eyes widened, his monocle dropping to the desk, the second time in two days. "You want my guards to shovel snow? But I thought -"
Giving Kinch a grateful look when he handed him the co-ordinates, Newkirk continued into the receiver. "Shut up and take down this location. I have already wasted too much time!"
In a mad panic, Klink flung papers across his desk looking for a pen to write with. "Ja, Ja. I am familiar with this area. "
Back in the tunnel Kinch mimicked cutting his throat, hastily alerting Newkirk that he had been on the telephone too long and to cut their Kommandant off. With no further hesitation, Newkirk hung up, falling back in his chair and nervously wiping the sweat pouring down his face with his own hat. " 'e just begun listing all his accomplishments, some I could swear don't even exist. Our Kommandant is getting so predictable in his grovelling, I'm beginning to feel sorry for the poor sod."
Grinning, Kinch patted him on the back. "If he's quoting from the same list that he shamelessly adds to each time one of his colleagues gets a promotion, he is a poor sod."
Newkirk looked at Kinch, shocked. "Our spineless Kommandant falsifying military documentation?"
"Come on, let's see how Carter's doing with his loaded briquettes," Kinch laughed, leading the way.
But as Newkirk caught up with him, he asked, "About those briquettes, ain't you ever noticed how our Andrew seems to derive such pleasure from his craft?"
How Andrew derived pleasure from his craft? Kinch smiled warmly at the camp's very own scrounger. Peter Newkirk was so deft with his fingers, the entire barracks slept with one eye open for months until they knew him well enough and were confident he wouldn't steal the mattress from under them. "Maybe it's something in the water," Kinch deadpanned.
Klink stood behind his desk talking into the phone, when, in the middle of his recitation of his military accomplishments; accomplishments he was certain the Gruppenführer would find comforting, the phone went dead. "Herr Gruppenführer?" he called, patiently.
"Problem, Klink?" Von Hienrinham asked, lifting the decanter on the cabinet up to the light.
Problem?" When the beeping grew incessant, Klink hung up. "No, of
course not," he replied, waving his hand nervously in the air.
can -–" he observed Von Hienrinham pour his favourite Schnapps into
only one glass. "- help himself to a drink –" and gasped as
the Field Marshall sculled it and began pouring another, "- ah, rest easy
knowing that this situation is now in my capable hands. Why even
"Really, Klink?" the Field Marshall asked, clicking his tongue at the smoothness of the Schnapps he had just consumed, and with the bottle still in hand, taking his seat in the high-backed chair across from Klink's desk.
Klink looked crestfallen at the rapidly depleting decanter in the Field Marshall's hand and continued, almost to himself, "Yes," he muttered, wanting to do nothing more than bury his head in his hands, when suddenly the office door flung open and Hogan barged in, clutching his hat and cheerfully approaching Klink's desk.
"Morning Otto," Hogan greeted, without looking at him.
The Field Marshall watched Hogan intently. So, he had a way with the secretary and was quite comfortable approaching this Kommandant, he thought to himself.
With renewed vigor, Klink retrieved his fallen monocle from the desk and glared at Hogan. "Hogan! It is Field Marshall Von Hienrinham to you."
"Oh, I beg your pardon. Something about the intimacy of dinner with one's enemies – guess I got carried away," Hogan apologised, unzipping his jacket and helping himself to one of Klink's cigars.
Klink slammed down the box lid. "Hogan!"
"Well, I'm sure you two indulged in one last night. The least you could do is allow your guest to be compensated for not getting a chance to finish his meal," Hogan deliberately whined.
Klink sat down, defeated. "Hogan, you left of your own accord. What do you want?"
Hogan opened the cigar box again and again Klink reached across his desk and slammed it down. "Don't be angry at me. He's the one that's into your hard liquor." Hogan stated, opening the lid again and quickly grabbing a cigar.
Embarrassed, Klink sank in his chair. "Hogan, tell me what you want and get out."
"Well sir, my men would like to express their gratitude at your generosity of the extra heating."
Resting his chin on the palm of his hand, Klink muttered, uninterested, "Noted. Dissssssmissed," waving him away .
"And we all wanted you to know that, being cooped up in here, well, it’s really comforting to know that your Kommandant cares."
"Hoooogan!" Klink drew out, now thoroughly embarrassed in front of the Field Marshall.
"And to show their appreciation, they have asked me to mention that they are ready to offer any assistance you may need."
"Hogan, they still haven't finished my staff car! It has been in the motor pool for a week, and when it was last serviced your men informed me it needed no more than an oil change," Klink complained, half rising out of his chair.
Hogan wasn't deterred. "Well, we're not to blame for its poor manufacture – you guys built it."
"Hogan!" Klink yelled, now on his feet and leaning across the desk.
"Tell me, Colonel. How can your men be of assistance?" Otto asked.
"Work detail, Otto," Hogan gleefully announced. Klink cringed. "We've established a pretty reliable working party, union and all."
"Hogan, your offer has been noted, dissssmisssed," Klink ordered.
"We'd invite the guards but it’s against union regulations," Hogan continued.
"Out! Out!" Klink yelled
Hogan saluted with flourish. "Yes, sir!" Then he threw over his shoulder, "And our rates are pretty reasonable, too, Otto."
"Wait!" Otto called out. Hogan stopped, his hand on the door knob. "I am curious, Colonel –"
"Won't hold that against you, " Hogan replied smugly.
Klink fell into his chair, wishing that he had a glass of Schnapps before him. Two even. A decanter full to deaden the entire morning would serve nicely.
Otto glared at Hogan, " – as to the coincidence of your newly established working party and the call that your Kommandant received this morning about assistance required," he raised the glass to his lips, "and please, humour me, Colonel Hogan, on your explanation of how you were able to obtain this vital piece of information."
"About what, the possibility of our Kommandant having need of our newly formed Stalag 13 working party?" Hogan asked, his voice high pitched as if he was highly excited to be asked. "You know, Otto, it's about time someone asked. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to keep this to myself, not that I have to, I mean I do have my men to share it with, but, you know, sharing it with officers such as yourself, well–"
"Hogan, what are you talking about?" Klink asked, exasperated.
"My gift," Hogan cheerfully exclaimed. "Of course, that's what my mother used to call it."
Otto sculled the remains of his drink.
Hogan's grin went from one man to the other. "My great-great-grandmother was a gypsy," he continued.
Otto gasped, the liquid burning a path all the way down the back of his throat.
"You know the kind, Otto, the 'Zigeuner' - Your German word for them. However the root meaning is 'untouchable'," Hogan baited, amused to see Otto's face redden slightly. "Thought you knew everything about us Americans." He saluted Klink and left.
Otto cleared his throat, his watery eyes firmly entrenched on the closing office door. He could hear Klink laugh uncomfortably and mutter but did not hear the words that he said. His mind was already playing out how many guards he would have on that road to watch and trap Colonel Robert Hogan and his men.
In anger, Otto picked up the decanter then, finding it empty, smashed it against the office wall.
Bent over his workbench, in a dimly lit part of the tunnel, Carter carefully stacked the secured coal briquettes, which were hollowed out and tightly packed with plastic explosives, before him, but unfortunately, no matter how many times he counted them, they still only totalled twenty in number.
He'd inspected the area around his workbench, going so far as moving his precious lab equipment off the bench and stacking it against the tunnel wall and then re-checking the entire work area again.
"I know I counted twenty-four," he muttered to himself, finally walking across the tunnel to where large crates were stacked; the only place he hadn't looked.
"What are you mumbling about, Andrew?" Newkirk asked, making his way to the workbench with Kinch in tow.
Carter stopped just short of the crates.
"I thought you said you were able to put twenty four of these together?" Kinch asked, weighing one in his hand.
"Guess I ain't the only one who can't recall much of last night. Andrew, 'ere probably miscounted. Ain't that right, Andrew?" Newkirk called out.
Kinch put one of the briquettes in the pocket of his large khaki jacket. "Andrew's memory wasn't muddled from too much wine tasting."
"All in the art of being a good waiter, I say," Newkirk replied, taking a briquette and also weighing it in the palm of his hand. "Right dishonest of me to serve a fine drop without tasting it meself first." He watched as Kinch placed another coal briquette easily in his jacket pocket. "Do you think the Colonel's given much thought as to how we’re going to hide these?" he asked, sticking one thumb in the pocket of his blue waist-fitted uniform to emphasise its inadequate size. " 'Ere, Andrew. How stable are these, anyway?"
He wasn't that tired, Carter thought to himself. He recalled being pleased that he was able to put together enough plastic explosive to fill twenty four, even going as far as double scouring his lab for extra explosive material. He turned, just in time, to witness Newkirk pry open one of the briquettes. "Very stable," Carter replied, taking the briquette from him and locking it back into place. "Unless it's thrown into a furnace of sorts."
Newkirk paled. "Ever thought of going into the demolition business after the war?" he asked, sarcastically.
"Come on," Kinch heralded, slowly packing all the briquettes into two old potato sacks. "Let's get these back to the Colonel."
"I always wanted to do some work with animals – you know, like an animal doctor-" Carter's voice drifted as the men made their way down the tunnel.
When silence descended around Carter's lab, a steady grating sound emanated from one of the large crates against the wall followed by a thump as the side panel to the crate fell to the tunnel floor, dirt flying in the air from its weight. Within moments a figure crawled out, cautiously rising to full height and flattening himself against the tunnel wall.
Silhouetted in the dimly lit passageway, the figure casually replaced the safety on the revolver in his hand. Then, after securing the bulging material pouch to his belt, he purposefully kicked the eight hollowed out half briquettes to the back of the crate and left the confines of this tunnel.
Otto watched Johanna meticulously put on her gloves. She was rarely without them, he noted. Draping his coat over the divan, he made his way to the cabinet to pour himself another drink. The bottle in Klink's office met with an unfortunate accident – falling out of his hands like that. At least it was empty, he thought to himself, raising this full decanter to the light. "You surprise me, my dear," he began.
Johanna flexed her fingers. "I didn't think that anything I did surprised you any longer, after all – you're the one that constantly boasts how well you know us- ah - me."
"My point exactly."
She stared at him, confused.
"I never believed that you passed over the information at the two other stalags we inspected."
Johanna felt her stomach tighten into knots.
"Just as I never believed you would go through with this one." Before panic engulfed her, Johanna clenched her hands together, pretending to flex her fingers within the tight confines of the gloves. Her hands were trembling but she was able to disguise it with the movement, and if she continued to stare at her hands, she would not have to look at him.
"So, imagine my surprise when Colonel Hogan approached his fool Kommandant with some lame story about the prisoners willing to perform work detail."
Swallowing hard, she cleared her throat and said, "As their commanding officer, he's just looking out for their morale. What's so surprising about that?"
A high-pitched grating sound attacked Johanna's ears as Otto twisted the stopper of the decanter startling her enough to stare at him. Immediately, she bit the inside of her cheeks, a subtle but effective way to control some of her emotions.
"Do not take me for a fool, my dear," he threatened, approaching her. "Giving those co-ordinates to the Colonel has obviously forced him to eavesdrop on his Kommandant, something that he most probably does on a regular basis, otherwise how else would he garnish enough information to pass on to the Underground?"
Johanna suddenly felt a weight lifted. She didn't pass on those co-ordinates, so how could the Colonel pass on what he did not have? Deliberately coughing to hide her relief, Johanna quietly stated, "They are men who have been cooped up in a prison camp and just need to do something with their time."
She was too smug. He'd noted that from the moment she had fallen into the arms of that Colonel. She was questioning him a little more, watching him a little more intently, and wearing those unbelievably grotty gloves that were obviously too small for her. Her blasé attitude enraging him, Otto grabbed her arm forcefully and dragged her to the front door, flinging it open and pushing her forward onto the porch. "Not any longer!" he cursed.
Before her, within the grounds of the compound, she watched prisoners being escorted to a waiting truck by armed guards. "Hey! You don't have to push!" a short prisoner shouted to the rotund sergeant escorting him.
"Schnell!" the sergeant yelled to no-one in particular.
She recognised the Englander – the waiter. "I don't seem to recall signing up to do digging," the Englander retorted, climbing into the back of the truck and hauling his shovel with him.
A dark prisoner joined him. "Weren't you drafted just like the rest of us?" Kinch solemnly asked, throwing the shovel into the truck first and then jumping in.
Another joined them, smiling to himself. "Personally, I think a bit of exercise in the brisk morning would do us all a lot of good, don't you think, Schultz?" Carter asked, patting Schultz on the stomach.
"Schnell! Schnell!" the sergeant was yelling now, his hand protectively over his rather expansive mid-section.
The Kommandant stormed out of his office, marching up to the truck, looking snug in his coat and gloves and as always, carrying his riding crop under his arm. "Schultz, what is taking so long?"
Horrified, Johanna continued watching as Colonel Hogan approached the sergeant and joined the short prisoner. "Schultz, you better pass on to the guards that I won't stand for any harassment of my men. Union regulations."
LeBeau threw his shovel into the back of the truck, just missing Carter, then jumped up, missing his mark and falling down. Kinch and Newkirk reached down, grabbed him and hauled him in. "Remind to me speak to the Colonel about union rules for forced labour," LeBeau muttered.
"Why are you still here?" Klink asked, joining them. "Hogan, you volunteered your men to clear up that area. If you take any longer to leave, it will never be cleared in time."
"Expecting some important company, Kommandant?" Hogan queried.
"Hogan! You volunteered your own men to assist. I did not order it. I can just as easily order my own men to complete this simple task," Klink reminded him, now frustrated that most of the morning was gone.
"Can't have you explaining Stalag 13’s first working party strike, now can we?" Hogan emphasised, patting Schultz's stomach on the way to the truck. "Come on Schultz, we don't have all day, you know."
Mumbling, Schultz glanced down at his ample girth, confused why two people now saw fit to pat it, then straightened his uniform and got into the driver's side of the truck.
"It's all a coincidence," Johanna muttered, watching the truck leave the compound. "It's all a coincidence," she repeated, turning to face him. "They're innocent - just prisoners of war, not saboteurs."
"As innocent as you are, my dear?" Otto smirked, watching the guards close the gate. He raised his hand to alert his driver. " I wonder how the Colonel would react were he to know who you really are and how you betrayed your own countrymen – provided they return, that is."
Tears filled her eyes as an image suddenly flashed before her.
Gunfire, people falling, yelling, confusion, - everyone she had met that day fell in a pool of blood at her feet while a Gestapo officer stood beside her, laughing. "Take whoever is still alive," he shouted. Someone grabbed her arm, forcing her away from the carnage.
Otto grabbed her arm, propelling her forward. "Come! I intend to see this Colonel's face when I order the guards to shoot."
In the back of the truck, Hogan unzipped his jacket and made himself comfortable, glancing quickly at the two small sacks underneath the seat where they were hidden that morning, but unfortunately now occupied by three German guards. Kinch glanced worriedly at the Colonel each time one of the guards came close to kicking into them. When the heel of a black boot narrowly missed them for a second time, Hogan yawned loudly, slowly stretching his arms over his head and extending his legs so that his feet hit the boot of the restless guard. "Sie täuschen Schlaf damit nicht zu arbeiten vor!" the guard stated loudly to the guard he immediately squashed himself against.
"I think he doesn't like us very much," Kinch whispered to the Colonel.
Hogan smiled at the guards before him, crossing his arms but leaving his legs outstretched, which, he noted, wasn't helping his balance any when the truck took sharp bends in the road. "If my German is correct, he believes we're trying to get out of work by feigning sleep."
Now Kinch folded his arms and sat back comfortably, "Can't let the poor boy think he's read us all wrong, now can we?" he stated, stretching his legs out languorously, and closing his eyes when the guard glared at him.
When the truck came to a grinding halt, Hogan and Kinch jerked enough to regain their balance and watched contently as the guards disembarked first, their revulsion for their prisoners evident.
"Colonel Hogan," Schultz called out, pushing himself out of the driver's seat of the truck. "I must have your word that your men will not try to escape."
Cold, Hogan quickly zipped up his jacket. "You hurt my feelings, Schultz. And what's with the trigger-happy guards that decided to join us in the back? We've been on work detail before. You had no problem with us in the past, did you?"
"It was all the Field Marshall," Schultz whispered to Hogan. "He made the Kommandant promise that these guards would accompany us and he even checked the rifles. Colonel Hogan, you would understand, to be ordered to check and recheck the rifles, that is not a good thing."
From where he was standing, Hogan saw the Field Marshall's car come to a stop on the ridge above them and the occupants disembark. "No, Schultz, this whole thing is looking like not a good thing." Irate, he grabbed a shovel and joined his men.
"Think Otto's suspicious?" Kinch asked Hogan, briefly glancing at the figures on the ridge now watching them.
"If he wasn't before," Hogan began, welcoming the loud rumbling gaining momentum through the woodland. "He most certainly will be now." Instantly, a convoy of heavily laden trucks roared down the road to come to an immediate halt before them.
Schultz gulped as he watched a Captain disembark from the passenger side of the first tarpaulin-covered truck and walk towards him. Holding firmly to his rifle, Schultz yelled to his contingent, "Schnell! Schnell! We must clear the path!"
"How long will this take, Sergeant?" the Captain of the convoy asked, adjusting his coat in the cold weather.
Bringing himself up to full bearing, Schultz swallowed quickly before replying. "Herr Hauptmann, taking into account the size of the blockade and of course the work detail that has been placed under my command - "
"How long, Sergeant?" the Captain demanded to know.
Schultz murmured, "I have no idea."
Suddenly a shout rang out and, as Hogan feared, it came from the audience above them. "Search them!"
Hogan quickly looked back at his men who moved away from the convoy, but Newkirk held one of the sacks behind him and was standing beside one of the covered trucks with part of the tarpaulin loose.
"I want them all searched!" Otto cried out, standing on the edge in full view.
Concerned, Schultz exchanged a worried look at Hogan before walking up to Newkirk and searching him, more than a little surprised when he discovered the sack on him. Alarmed, Newkirk glanced quickly at the Colonel before staring blankly at Schultz. Before Hogan could take a step towards Newkirk, their own guards aimed their rifles at them all. Reaching into the sack, Schultz removed one of the loaded coal briquettes, holding it before him confused. Then he saw the partially exposed truck with the cargo of coal briquettes it was carrying and returned his attention to Newkirk. "Tsk Tsk - You should be ashamed of yourself," he reproached Newkirk. "Stealing this coal from the trucks, and after the Kommandant promised that you would get extra heating for those long winter months."
Surprised, Newkirk immediately shrugged his shoulders then put on a look of a chastised schoolboy and quietly apologised, "I'm really sorry, Schultz. It's a sickness, it is. Some days it really has a life of its own."
"Schultz, the Kommandant doesn't have to know about this, does he?" Hogan quickly intervened. "You know he might revoke those heating privileges."
Schultz looked from Newkirk to Hogan then at the rest of the men. "Colonel Hogan. This is unacceptable. Kommandant Klink has put his utmost faith and trust in me and, as a loyal officer of the German army, it is my duty to report this incident to him."
Hogan casually took the sack and coal from Schultz and returned it to Newkirk. "I'll make a promise with you, Schultz. If you don't say anything to the Kommandant about this, I’ll see that my men return every piece of coal they took and clear this road so that the convoy gets through, just like the Kommandant promised."
"There's more coal?" Schultz asked incredulous.
Hogan's response was a broad smile, motioning for his men to get on with the task of finding a home for all the loaded coal briquettes.
The Captain of the convoy of trucks stood with his aid, watching. "These prisoners are so desperate, they even try to steal our coal," he said in German to his aide.
"Is it not what our Fuehrer tells us – they are no better than animals," the aide replied.
On the ridge, Otto seethed. Didn’t these guards know what a search of prisoners entailed? Furious, he raced down the embankment yelling, "Search them again!" but with the snow and slush it was proving difficult to keep his footing and going down hill, Otto managed to fall on his backside in the mud and slush and slide half the way down, resting in a small foot deep hill of already shovelled snow.
Hogan immediately turned his back to him, positive that he could not hide the smile on his face.
"Incompetent fools!" Otto yelled, finding that once on his feet, his boots were imbedded in the deep snow. "You!" he yelled to the Captain of the convoy. "I want you to search them all! Starting with him!"
The Captain approached Hogan, who coughed lightly before holding his hands out from his sides. "Careful you don't catch cold, Otto," Hogan taunted, staring directly at the Captain who was thoroughly patting him down.
Otto marched up to Hogan.
"All that snow and I can still see the steam coming outta his head," Newkirk muttered to LeBeau.
"I hope he catches pneumonia and dies," LeBeau cursed.
"I can think of worse," Kinch muttered, scanning the guards who were all watching the angry tirade before them, and moving closer to the Colonel – just in case.
"Nothing, Herr Field Marshall," the Captain reported.
Hogan made a point of looking the Field Marshall up and down. "Sorry, I didn't bring a towel with me."
"You think you have this all worked out, don't you Colonel Robert Hogan? I know you. I know your Kommandant," he sneered, stepping closer and closer to Hogan. Hogan stood his ground, refusing to move. "Where is it?"
"The towel? Back at the camp."
Giggling rang out from Hogan's men. "You can always borrow mine, if you wish," Newkirk offered. "A bit on the tattered side, though."
Kinch had managed to position himself within two steps of the Colonel, and his men a few steps back.
"You have not seen the last of me!" Otto threatened,
Discovering that this Field Marshall held a phobia of anyone, most notably the enemy, looking him directly in the eyes, Hogan decided to do just that and now stared at him. "Union regulations prohibit the use of physical violence of any kind and as spokesperson of Stalag 13's newly formed working party – "
Schultz looked from the Field Marshall to the Colonel and then to the guards. A simple work detail was getting out of hand. "Begging the Field Marshall's pardon," Schultz begged, taking Hogan's arm, "this road will be cleared in no time." Propelling Hogan forward he muttered sotto voce, "Please Colonel Hogan, I am not a well man. A simple man; a man of few words, yes, but not a well man -" he moaned, deliberately steering Hogan to the far side of the road block.
"Well, he started it!" Hogan complained in a high pitch but still low voice, for Schultz's benefit.
Schultz grabbed his chest in alarm, "Please, Colonel Hogan. My heart."
Suppressing a grin, Hogan flexed his hands and began shovelling snow. "All right Schultz, I promise to behave."
Schultz relaxed. "Thank you, Colonel Hogan," but the first shovel of snow that Hogan discarded landed on Schultz's feet. "I think," Hogan heard him mutter as he shook off the snow and left to oversee the rest of the work detail.
When the road was sufficiently cleared, they all watched the convoy continue on its journey to what Hogan knew was the hidden oil refinery, and as Schultz began ordering everyone back in the truck, Hogan deliberately stood in the middle of the now cleared road, watching Otto on the ridge grab hold of Johanna and push her into the back seat of his car.
"Still think he's low level Gestapo?" Kinch asked, joining him and attempting to remove his sodden gloves with no success. His hands were so cold he was positive his fingers were frostbitten.
Tyres screeched as Otto's staff car sped away, swerving on the wet ground.
"Get in touch with the Underground. I want every piece of information they have on those two," Hogan said tightly. He continued watching until the car was out of sight. "Game over, Otto," he finally muttered.
"Pierre," Hogan shook the cold hand of his friend from the Underground, escorted by Newkirk through the emergency tunnel and up the ladder to barracks two. "I didn't mean for you to come here; you risk a lot."
"The Colonel's right. The Kommandant's guest is causing a few problems and can barge in at any time to do one of his inspections," Carter added from his post as guard of the barracks door.
Newkirk took the seat closer to the stove. He was now beginning a tally sheet of how many times everyone went in and out of the barracks and how the temperature dropped each time. "Ever think that's the reason we have the door watched?"
Carter stared blankly at him then, when his comment registered he muttered, "Oh," and resumed his watch.
Shown a seat at the table, Pierre removed his hat and gratefully accepted a hot drink from LeBeau. "Merci," he said to LeBeau, then turned to his friend who had perched a leg on the stool and resting his arms on his knee, watched him attentively. "I wanted to come and pass on the information that my men were able to gather, in person. I know the risks, but when you hear what I have to say, I think you will understand why it was better that I tell you like this." Pierre glanced quickly around him, conscious all of a sudden that he was in a prisoner of war hut. He'd never been inside one and now he found himself staring.
"It takes a little getting used to, but we call it home," Hogan said.
"It is different," Pierre admitted, taking a sip of coffee. Then, placing his cup on the table he looked at the Colonel. "I am sorry, my friend. You will not like what I am about to tell you."
Hogan squeezed his shoulder. "If I didn't want to know, I wouldn’t have sent word."
"The man in your camp calling himself a Field Marshall is a Kriminalkommissar, responsible for the Gestapo, headed by Obergruppenführer Heinrich Mueller. We have reason to believe that he has been responsible for the capture and murder of many agents and, I am sorry, but, we were informed that his interrogation methods are torture and execution."
"Blimey!" Newkirk cursed, then looked up to see Carter beside him. "The door?"
Carter rushed back to his post.
"Nice piece of work, ain't 'e?" Newkirk said, sarcastically.
"No guesses as to who this Stalag's randomly selected prisoners will be," Kinch commented dryly.
Running his fingers across his chin, Hogan said, "No. No guesses. Maybe we should look at showing this Kriminalkommissar English prisoner of war camps. Shouldn't be any different than what we have here."
"What about his fiancée?" LeBeau asked.
"She is not
none. We can still accommodate 'er in a
camp in little ol'
"Why would you
want to place this woman in a prison camp in
"All of them!" Otto was yelling to his driver from the back seat of his car. Beside him, Johanna fidgeted. "We leave this afternoon, and then you know what to do," he continued, talking to the driver.
Johanna bristled. He said the same thing just before they left the first camp – only that time she remained silent. "What does he have to do?" she asked, the tremor returning to her voice.
So, he thought to himself, she was scared again.
Johanna didn't have to see to know that he was staring at her; every inch of her. Biting her inner cheek to keep her fear in check, she concentrated on the back of the driver's head, desperately trying to think of an excuse to leave the confines of the car, when suddenly she felt his fingers purposefully brushing up and down her arm to her hand; her ungloved hands. Johanna recoiled, hitting her hand against the car door. "Please –excuse me. There's something I need to – " and she raced out of the car and back into their accommodation. Inside, she anxiously scanned the living area, feeling panic build within her. Now frantic, she searched inside cabinets, around the furniture but nothing. In one fluid motion, she threw all the pillows off the divan checking that they had not fallen there. "No," she muttered to herself. Unbidden, tears filled her eyes – she blinked furiously scanning the room again. They were all she had. "No," she begged, falling to her knees to look under the divan, running her hand underneath it, bringing forth balls of dust.
She heard the footsteps before she saw the figure near her, but by now she was so distraught that she didn't care who the footsteps belonged to. Thrusting her hand underneath another cabinet, she felt a bottle, which she flung across the room. "Always suspected the Kommandant's maid drank," a voice said. Startled, Johanna looked up at her unexpected visitor.
"Looking for these?" Hogan quietly asked, holding two now very dirty white gloves in his hands. Getting to her feet, Johanna simply held out her hand for them. "Wouldn't think to look at them," Hogan continued, "but, I'd say they're just as valuable as any item is to a prisoner, or as valuable as a simple glove belonging to an executed colleague–"
Johanna lunged, taking the gloves from him and heading for the door.
"Things are not always what they seem," he threw at her.
She turned, her hand on the doorknob, now trembling uncontrollably. "No," she yelled back. "They're often far worse." She flung the door open just as a powerful explosion reverberated throwing her and Colonel Hogan to the floor.
Alone within the confines of the tunnel, Carter carefully returned his instruments to the workbench, all the while scouring the tunnel for the four missing briquettes. Carter respected Newkirk's proposal that he may have simply miscounted, but the more he thought about it, the more positive he was that there were twenty-four.
He even recalled how he had the briquettes stacked up on the bench in formation – just to impress the Colonel. He didn't know the Colonel would be busy in his quarters all night and since he was busy, he decided to leave them in formation.
Setting the vials upright next to beakers, his eye caught the crates against the wall, more particularly one crate with a side panel open. Nearing it, Carter picked up the panel to lock it in place when he noticed black objects inside. Curious, he crouched down on his hands and knees until he was half in and half out, and reached within to pulled out – a hollowed out coal briquette. "I knew it!" he cried out, instantly rising and hitting his head on the panel above him.
Intrigued, Carter crawled further into the crate to discover the other missing briquettes and unfortunately all minus the plastic explosive that he personally filled them with.
Leaving them where they lay, Carter quickly backed out of the crate and rushed up the ladder to the barracks. How was he going to tell the Colonel that someone had taken their plastic explosives?
In his haste to climb out of the tunnel bunk, Carter clipped his foot stepping over the bed parapet falling forward, his face hitting the hard wooden floor.
"How many times did I see that coming?" Newkirk spoke from his bunk. "I swear, Andrew, the older you get, the more clumsy, mate."
Carter quickly got to his feet, ignoring Newkirk's chiding. "Where's the Colonel?" But he didn't wait for an answer, opting to run out and find him himself.
Newkirk jumped down from his bunk. "Why ask when you already know?"
But when Carter opened the barracks door he saw Garner slide from under the Field Marshall's car.
"Hey!" Carter called out.
Garner locked desperate eyes with Carter, immediately backing away from the vehicle.
"What's up?" Newkirk called out, making his way to the door just as Carter rushed out.
Garner frantically looked around him then ran off, with Carter immediately giving chase, but within seconds an explosion rocked the camp, throwing Carter to the ground and Newkirk hard against the hut doorway.
With the wind knocked out of him, Newkirk crawled to the unmoving body of his friend a few paces away. "Andrew!" he desperately cried.
Cradling the young Sergeant's head in his lap, a bewildered Peter Newkirk tried to grasp the horror before him as prisoners ran from around the compound to assist the fallen and guards rushed to douse the fire from the burnt out remains of the Field Marshall's car. "You're gonna be just fine, mate," he muttered, wiping the dirt from Andrew's face with the sleeve of his blue jacket. Commotion reigned around him. "You'll see," he soothed, his voice breaking in his anguish. "You're gonna be just fine."
A cacophony of voices speared through his brain, invading the fog muddying his senses.
Permeating his consciousness, the cries were relentless until finally his mind recognised one voice wavering between strength and sorrow. "Turn him over – hey! Careful!" And then with a sudden jolt, he felt himself being rolled over, a loud groan escaping his lips.
"Careful! He's hurt!"
Who was hurt? How? When?
"Easy," a voice softly commanded. "Easy, sir."
Sight – sound. His head hurt; a relentless pounding striking against his skull, which worsened when he tried to open his eyes and was met with bright overhead lights.
"You're gonna be fine, sir," the voice to his right continued, tinged with anguish.
Hogan squeezed his eyes shut then, before forcing himself to move, strong arms helped him to his feet. "I'm – I'm alright," he heard himself mutter then repeated when he noted the man supporting him was his second in command, the alarmed look registered on his face unmistakable. "I'm – alright," he reassured him, instinctively pulling away. "What happened?"
Some things he
could see for himself, like the front door of the Kommandant's quarters that
was thrown off its hinges and
"The Field Marshall's staff car was rigged to blow," Kinch explained, keeping close to him, his own voice wavering.
gloves lay where they fell, a few steps away from him. He wanted to pick them up but didn't trust
his balance. "Tunnel –" he
managed to say haltingly before continuing on his way.
"Get her in
the tunnel," Kinch whispered to
"Tunnel –" Hogan repeated to himself, staggering to what was the front entrance to these quarters. The dizziness returned without him bending down to invite it and he now discovered that he had to swallow his pride and lean his hand against the wall for a little support. Bracing himself, he shut his eyes and let the feeling run its course, aware that Kinch was beside him. "Have Doc-" he began, his eyes still closed, "-check-" he opened his eyes and his voice died in this throat when the vision before him was a compound in chaos.
He expected to see the German guards in a panic as they raced back and forth ferrying water buckets trying to douse the smouldering remains of the staff car. But what he never expected to see was this Stalag's prisoners of war, his men, staggering to their feet or assisting those who could not.
Fragments of conversations filtered back to him, forcing his attention from one part of the compound to another, resting on a young American corporal from Barracks Four doubled over in obvious distress, the Barracks sergeant throwing a blanket over his shoulders and guiding him to a bunk. "Do anything to get out of laundry duty, won't you, mate?" Martin, from his own hut being given a hand to get back on his feet by their latest Allied prisoner, a very young Corporal Anderson who was having a very hard time adjusting to prisoner of war life. Hogan watched Martin lean against the Corporal and explain, "Thanks, kid. Got the wind knocked out of me. That's all."
How many of his men were injured?
"What – the – hell –happened?" Hogan demanded, disturbed. "How – many?" he asked, when all of a sudden he noticed Doc crouched over one figure being supported by another and all three outside his own hut. "No," he gasped, quickening his pace and wavering, Kinch immediately beside him, taking his arm again. "No," he found himself repeating, stumbling closer, recognising the men before him, especially the fallen.
"Andrew was running towards the car when it blew…" Kinch tried to explain, not knowing if the Colonel heard him. While tending to the Colonel, he'd heard that Andrew had been injured, but until now he never realised the enormity of Andrew's injuries and the repercussions of the blast across the entire camp, making him feel totally and utterly helpless.
Kneeling beside the unconscious young sergeant, Doc promptly felt for broken bones, letting out an audible sigh of relief when he found none.
" 'e's gonna be all right ain't 'e, Doc?" Newkirk anxiously asked, supporting Carter's head on his lap and intermittedly wiping the dirt from his face with the now-dusty sleeve of his own blue military jacket.
Doc continued his examination, checking for bleeding from the ears and nose and helping Newkirk with wiping the muddied streaks from Andrew's face, enough to convince him that Andrew had no bruising around the eyes or behind the ears. "Andrew, can you hear me?" he called out, hoping.
When Andrew's head lolled and a slight moan escaped his lips, Newkirk's head shot up and he cried out in jubilation. "Hey Doc! He's alive!".
Hogan fell to his knees next to Doc and close to Andrew. Doc glanced briefly at the dishevelled appearance of the Colonel beside him then continued his examination of Andrew. "I don't want you or anyone else dozing off for the next five to six hours," Doc briskly ordered.
"How is he?" Hogan asked, wrapping his fingers around the young sergeant's wrist, feeling himself calming a little when Andrew's already-strong pulse strengthened with each forthcoming beat.
"Lucky," Doc answered. "As was everyone around the compound." Two of the men from barracks three brought around a makeshift stretcher. "Take him to the medical hut," Doc ordered the men, "and that goes for everyone else that fell before, during and after that explosion. No excuses."
"Yes sir," the men acknowledged.
Hogan watched Newkirk carefully support Carter's head while the men lifted him into the stretcher. "Peter," he quietly called, "let Doc take a look at that gash."
Confused, Newkirk touched his forehead, surprised when a sticky substance attached itself to his fingers. "Blimey."
"Follow my finger, Peter," Doc requested, moving his finger left to right before Newkirk's eyes.
Newkirk gulped. "Doc, I'm fine. I wasn't knocked out. Must 'ave knocked me 'ead a little, that's all."
"Join Andrew, Peter. Just in case." Doc ordered, rising to his feet.
Newkirk looked helplessly at his commanding officer, especially as he, more than anyone in the camp, understood his aversion to anything medical. "Colonel?" he implored.
"I'm sure it won't be for long. Think of something to keep these men awake until Doc releases them," Hogan suggested.
"Cards?" Newkirk thought out loud. "Cards. Yeah, there's enough of us to get a right royal flush going. Yeah, right, gov'nor," he agreed, following the men carrying Andrew.
From the corner of his eye, Doc saw Hogan cringe as he got to his feet. "That hut accommodates senior officers of prisoner of war camps, in case you'd forgotten," he stated sarcastically, his view never wavering from the now-growing procession of men entering the hut.
"I hadn't forgotten," Hogan quietly replied, pretending to dust himself off. "I just have to take care of something else before considering it."
Now Doc did look at him and towards the direction that the Colonel's attention was diverted – the smouldering remains of the staff car and the commotion around it. "Either you consider it," he firmly stated walking away from them towards the hut, "or I will," he shouted back.
Hogan suppressed his impending grin, however as he and Kinch made their way towards the staff car, a thick mass buried in dirt drew their attention. Kinch gingerly bent down to pick it up, an audible sigh escaping his lips when he recognised the bulky lump as Andrew's hat. "Andrew was mumbling something about four of his loaded briquettes going missing earlier this morning. But I just thought he'd miscounted," Kinch explained, shaking the hat to release any trapped debris that may have been trampled into it.
"Our young sergeant has never miscounted in all the years I've known him," Hogan stated, watching the almost methodical way Kinch tried to clean the hat. "Spread the word. Anyone seen or heard anything, no matter how insignificant, I want to know and get a hold of our impostor. My gut tells me he's somehow involved in this."
"Yes, sir," Kinch said, relieved to be able to do something.
Hogan watched as Kinch promptly followed orders and left.
Taking a deep breath, he slowly zipped up his leather jacket and lifting the back of the collar to protect his neck, thrust his thumbs into the small pockets and proceeded to his intended destination.
He had never seen this coming.
Schultz's voice now reached his ears, yelling orders at inept guards fumbling simple fire fighting instructions and the staff car still smouldering hours after the explosion.
How could he not have seen this coming?
"Schnell! Schnell!" Schultz was yelling. When he saw Colonel Hogan approach him, his demeanour changed and Hogan saw sincere sorrow in the face of the heavyset German guard. "Colonel Hogan, believe me when I tell you I know noooooooothing."
"I know Schultz," Hogan quietly replied, his head still throbbing.
Klink had circled the wreck of the car twice, both times poking it with his riding crop at a safe distance just in case. "How could this happen? Who would do such a thing?" Klink asked Hogan. A guard threw another bucket of water on the mangled wreck and Klink jumped when a hissing sound could be heard. "How am I ever to explain this? What if the Gestapo decides to investigate?"
"When they do, maybe you could suggest they fight their own battles some place else," Hogan offered.
"You think this is the work of the Gestapo?" Klink asked incredulously.
"Well according to our latest Red Cross packages, our request for plastic explosives was denied," Hogan deadpanned.
It was all too messy, Hogan thought to himself as he stared out the window of his quarters across at the medical hut.
The only comforting thought was that Klink, in his obvious paranoia and predictability, seemed to embrace the scenario that Gestapo was involved, which, when he thought about it, was not as far fetched as initially thought.
"Word around camp is that no-one's seen Garner since morning roll call, sir," Kinch informed the Colonel, walking into his office. When Hogan turned abruptly from the window and visibly swayed, Kinch rushed forward, immediately taking him by the arm and guiding him to the bottom bunk. "You have to see Doc, sir," Kinch implored. "Don't worry, we can handle things from here."
"Yeah, gov'," Newkirk added, joining them. "Ain't no reason why you should 'ang around 'ere, sir."
Hogan scowled at Newkirk. "Didn't you have orders to stay with Doc?"
"Me? Orders?" Newkirk stammered, one foot in Hogan's office and one foot out, "Well, you see, gov’nor, what with Doc being so consumed with offers of assistance from around the camp, including our own Louis, I might add, I, in all good conscience, if you take my meaning – "
"Bailed out," Kinch finished.
"- pronounced meself fit and ready for duty, sir," Newkirk completed, ignoring Kinch.
Hogan stood, waving Kinch away and fighting the instinctive urge to massage his temples as the pounding in his head set its own rhythm "All right. Get some of the men together and search the tunnels. If Garner hasn't been seen since morning roll call and Carter's explosives were used in that explosion, it's my bet that he's in one of the tunnels and possibly armed."
"Yes, sir," Kinch and Newkirk said in unison, but just as both men turned to leave, Hogan called out.
"Kinch – Johanna?"
From his bunk, Hogan craned his neck to look out the window, grinning a little when he saw the door to the medical hut open abruptly and two men scurry out. Doc never did perfect his bedside manner. "No. No I'll go. He's expecting me."
"Colonel, there's nothing wrong with me. Just had the wind knocked out of me, that's all," Martin whined, removing the blanket that LeBeau was resting across his shoulders and giving the Frenchman an aggrieved look.
"Do you know how hard it was for me to find another blanket?" LeBeau scolded. Hogan suppressed a grin as he watched LeBeau fuss over all the men in the medical hut like a mother hen. He also suspected that when he wasn't fussing over these men, he was seated next to one young sergeant waiting for him to regain consciousness.
Embarrassed, Martin muttered, "I'm not complaining, Louis. I'm just not that sick and the way you're hovering over every one of us kinda makes me think of home."
"Yeah," another agreed. "Not that its bad, but it doesn't do us any favours in here."
Fielding, from barracks three, pulled a stool up to the table and made a grab for some of the cards. "You know, one year I was really sick with some influenza that hit our town and my ma made the best chicken soup ever," he reminisced.
Abrahams, also from barracks three, staggered out of his cot and joined the men at the table. "Chicken soup? My mamma makes this soup that has these chopped up things in it-"
"What, you can't name the vegetables?" Fielding ribbed.
Abrahams blushed. "No. I just remember it was swarming in chilli. I can taste that chilli –"
"Chilli. What did she do, sweat it out of you?" another piped up.
"Careful how you talk about my mamma or I won't invite you for dinner,"
"You planning to invite me over to your place for dinner?" his new friend asked, disbelieving.
Another began dealing the deck. "Only if you can handle the chilli," he chided.
"French cooking does not need chillies," LeBeau added, with pride. "Once you have tasted my soup-"
"Now?" they all asked staring at LeBeau like young children waiting for a treat.
Caught in a corner, LeBeau quickly looked at the Colonel, who nodded then made his way to where he spotted Doc.
"Of course now!" LeBeau promised. "While you play your next hand, I'll put together ma mere's famous recipe."
"What are you going to do about the chillies?" Hogan heard as he approached Doc. He didn't have to hear the Frenchman's answer to know they'd never ask that question again.
From a corner of the barracks, Doc appeared, wiping his hands on an old rag. "Head still pounding, I see," he commented dryly when he caught Hogan rubbing his temple. Hogan didn't answer. "Come on, he's over here," Doc said, leading the way towards a cot in the far corner.
Seeing Andrew still unconscious wasn't exactly what Hogan had expected. "Not what you wanted to see, I gather, and not what I want to see, but it’s going to take time. He's got strength and youth on his side. He's lucky," Doc continued, briefly glancing across at his other patients now playing cards and talking over each other. "They're all very lucky."
With the sergeant before him stripped to his shirt and with his face freshly washed, the Colonel couldn't help but notice how frail and young he appeared. He swallowed hard. Hell, most of these men were no older than Carter.
Suddenly another wave of dizziness assaulted him, and Hogan staggered, grabbing the bunk until the feeling subsided. Within a few minutes he blinked and turned from the cot where Andrew lay to see Doc standing directly behind him.
"How many fingers am I holding up?" Doc asked, holding up a clenched fist.
Hogan winced. "You're not, and you pulled that once before."
"And as I recall, you guessed your way out of that, too."
"I don't have time for anything now," Hogan muttered.
"Sit!" Doc demanded, pushing a chair towards him. Hogan stared at Doc but Doc held his ground. "As medical officer in this camp, and in circumstances such as these, I officially outrank you."
Hogan sat. "Been thinking of flexing those military muscles long, Doc?"
"Nothing military about it," Doc continued, carefully examining Hogan and secretly pleased that there was no bleeding from his ears and nose or bruising. However, some symptoms weren't so obvious until caught off guard, like the dizziness and headache. "How bad's the headache?"
"There's no-" But before Hogan could argue his symptoms further, a familiar yet unwanted noise caught both their attention. Rising carefully, Hogan made his way to the nearby window and peered out. Two staff cars came to an abrupt stop in front of Kommandant Klink's office, and two unwelcomed yet familiar officers of the Third Reich forced their bulk from these cars to join the Kommandant.
Doc let out an audible grunt when General Burkhalter and Major Hochstetter rushed up the Kommandant's steps. "You were saying about me flexing my military muscles?" he asked Hogan. Hogan looked at him, bewildered. "Take these," Doc opened a small tin box and produced two tablets. Hogan stared at him. "You have a concussion."
Hogan glanced at the tablets then back out at the staff cars.
"Aspirin. Take them!" Doc demanded.
Hogan swallowed the tablets.
"Do what you have to do –"
"- and call you in the morning?" Hogan taunted, straightening his jacket and heading for the door.
Doc called out after him. "No. I'll call in on you – in an hour."
In Klink's office, General Burkhalter threw his bulk into the solid high-backed chair across from Klink's desk and delighted in watching Gestapo Major Hochstetter pace backwards and forwards, seething and smacking his thick black gloves into his hands. "A fabrication!" Hochstetter finally cried out, facing the General. "We have no record of inspections being organised for any stalags. I would know," he continued in his own defence.
"One would presume so," the General added smugly. "As the only Field Marshall von Hienrinham I am aware of died at the Russian Front a few months ago," Burkhalter spat out. "Maybe ghosts are now a more fitting regime than the Gestapo."
Klink stood behind his desk, unsure what to do with himself. The thought that someone was in his camp for the sole purpose of spying on him – "What could he possibly want with my stalag?" he muttered almost to himself.
"Good point, Klink. Maybe you should be asking that same question, Major. What could this ghost be wanting with Klink's stalag?"
"Yes," Klink agreed, now with renewed spirit at seeing General Burkhalter question the major. "What would he want with my stalag?"
"Are you questioning the Gestapo, Klink?" Hochstetter asked, nearing the Kommandant and facing him full on in an intimidating fashion. But before Klink backed down and resumed his seat, Hogan barged in.
"Kommandant, I have a question. Why is the Gestapo using prisoner of war camps as its own personal training ground?" Hogan firmly asked, deliberately interrupting the group discussion and making his way to stand before the Kommandant's desk, and at the same time making a point of ignoring the Major.
"What is this man doing here?" Hochstetter yelled to Klink.
Klink quickly explained, "Major Hochstetter, quite a few of Colonel Hogan's men were injured in the blast. I assure you his being here – "
Resting his hands on Klink's desk and staring Klink directly in the eyes, Hochstetter spat out between clenched teeth in firm even tones, "Were any of the guards injured?"
"Why – no Major," Klink informed him, with a smile on his face. "It was all quite –"
Hochstetter leaned further in – his face in Klink's face. "Any Germans whatsoever injured?" he asked, his voice sounding uncharacteristically normal.
Klink laughed nervously. "No, Major. They –"
"Then tell me, Klink," he continued, ever so softly. Lulled into a false sense of security, Klink leaned forward to hear what the Major had to say when the Gestapo man yelled at the top of his lungs, "WHAT IS THIS MAN DOING HERE?"
Hogan flinched, the Major's voice painfully piercing his already delicate nerve endings. "Lodging a formal complaint," Hogan interjected, "Kommandant, as Senior Officer in this camp, I hereby report that you are in direct violation of Section Two, Article Twenty Three of the Geneva Convention which expressly states, and I quote - No prisoner of war may at any time be sent to or detained in areas where he may be exposed to the fire of the combat zone, nor may his presence be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations…"
"WHAT IS THIS MAN DOING HERE?"
"or to put it in your terms, – we will not be used as fodder for the Gestapo's own in-house power struggles," Hogan seriously stated, then put on his hat and saluted, "Sir."
Rendered speechless, Klink found himself formally returning the Colonel's salute and when Hogan opened the office door to leave, he called out, "Colonel Hogan."
Hogan didn't turn around. "Yes, sir?"
"I expect to be informed on the condition of your men," the Kommandant stated.
Hogan merely nodded and left.
Klink remained standing, watching the door.
"Interesting, Major, that a prisoner of war can work out what is happening within your very own headquarters and you cannot," General Burkhalter baited, but his eyes firmly on Klink, not the Major's.
"General, the Gestapo is a highly organised military regime. Every step we take is with the direct order of the Fuhrer," the Major emphasised. "I can guarantee you that there is no secret power struggle within its ranks. We are all –"
"There will always be power struggles – it is the nature of any military regime. What does not sit properly with me is the ease with which a high-ranking Gestapo official has been effectively disposed of."
"He was a high raking official?" Klink asked, aghast.
Burkhalter glared at him. "Very high ranking, and that's all you need know, Klink."
"For this assassin to accomplish a task such as this, he would have needed to know this official's schedule; the innate workings of Gestapo headquarters – " Hochstetter murmured, pacing.
"Sounds to me like the assassin himself could very well have been Gestapo," Burkhalter goaded.
"Hmmmm. It can be done," Hochstetter mumbled to himself, pacing and smacking his gloves in the palm of his hand. "Whoever sent him – bypassing Berlin in getting a man – their assassin – into this camp," he now said a little louder, "and of course, arming him with the necessary explosives and ammunition to carry out this assassination." He looked from Burkhalter to Klink then paled significantly as another thought took hold. "Von Hienrinham moved about the stalags with ease and his assassin also blended in. It was all too well planned; it had to have been, or I would have known about it."
"You would have thought," Burkhalter muttered sarcastically.
"- I would have been informed why this official was targeted and by whom," the Major continued, now no longer looking at anyone but staring into space while his mind raced through all the possible senior officials and dossiers he had on them. "And what would have made him such an unfavourable Gestapo-"
"- it can be done," Hochstetter continued talking to himself. "But, only at the explicit orders of –"
The three officers of the Third Reich suddenly stared uncomfortably at each other, fear reflected in their eyes as they whispered in unison, "Heinrich Himmler."
Whose Spy Is This?
It was far too messy.
For the second time in less than an hour, Hogan re-filled his cup and sipped as his mind raced. And it was at the end of this second cup of extra strong bad coffee that he realised the pounding in his head had somewhat diminished.
"Enough coffee in that pot for an exhausted doctor?" Doc asked, entering the hut and making his way to the pot belly stove.
The gulp of coffee Hogan had taken burned its way down his throat, allowing only a murmur to escape his lips.
Without waiting for a reply, Doc filled his cup, briefly embracing the warmth from it, and brought the brew to his lips to welcome the mouthful. Within seconds the tired doctor's face contorted.
"You made this, didn't you?" Doc spluttered accusingly. "Never mind, I can tell; no one else could survive this stuff, let alone swallow it."
Hogan hid his smile in the next gulp of his coffee. "Cured my headache," he teased.
"Next you'll be telling me the aspirin I watched you take was a placebo and the concussion I diagnosed was a figment of my imagination," Doc curtly replied, glaring at him from the brim of his cup, then opting to leave the cup on the table.
Hogan's smile broadened. "Whatever makes you happy, Doc."
Doc pulled a tin box out of his pocket and handed it to Hogan. "Keep these with you. Take two every four hours or so and they'll keep the pounding in check," he advised, a little more serious.
Hogan gratefully accepted, dropping them into the pocket of his leather jacket and trying very hard not to react to Doc's frown. At least he’d accepted them. "Thanks. I was coming to see you anyway - " Doc's frown instantly became a smug look that didn't go unnoticed; the kind of look that said, "Finally he's going to admit he feels lousy and needs medical assistance!" Hogan offered a lopsided grin as he finished: " –to ask if you can spare some time and have a look at someone for me."
"Johanna?" In all the commotion Doc had never even thought of her.
"Yeah, we have her in the tunnel; she’s still unconscious."
Although Doc visibly stiffened, the words of the Hippocratic Oath screamed in his brain.
…to dedicate all my knowledge and strength to the preservation and improvement of the health of mankind and to the treatment and prevention of disease…
All his knowledge and strength unfortunately didn't help another young woman; not so long ago. When word reached their camp that this young woman, although finally safe on home soil, had lost her fight, sorrow had become Doc's new companion.
He hated this war.
"Lead the way," he reluctantly muttered to the Colonel, but when Hogan hit the access panel on the side of the upper bunk bed in the hut and began his climb down the ladder to the tunnel, Doc couldn't help but notice the care the Colonel took - his foot firmly on each rung of the ladder and his hands tightly gripping the rung above. "Certain Johanna's the only patient you want me to see?"
Reaching the tunnel floor, Hogan stopped short of looking up. His balance was bad as it was and with the sudden onset of perspiration on his forehead, he didn't feel up to any of Doc's lectures on his health. "Why? I didn't think you were anywhere near the explosion," he teased. .
Doc looked down and grimaced.
…and to work in good conscience wherever it is required by society.
Wherever it is required…
He hated tunnels!
Bewildered by the recent course of events surrounding his stalag, Klink's attention drifted between the sedentary form of the Gestapo Major staring out of his office window and the comfortably seated General helping himself to his Schnapps. "What is a mere Kommandant like myself to do?" he bemoaned, a little too loudly.
Burkhalter raised the Schnapps filled glass to the light, briefly entranced with the rainbow hue encasing the skilfully crafted crystal. "What you always do–" He brought the glass to his lips and sipped, clicking his tongue in satisfaction. "- Nothing."
"Of course. That I can do," Klink agreed bobbing his head, and at the same time pleased that the General admired his crystal glassware. Maybe he would appreciate them more if he knew that they were a gift from his sister, Fraulein Gertrude Linkmeyer.
With his hands still clutching his black gloves, Major Hochstetter continued to watch the commotion outside Klink's office. A stale taste grew in his mouth as he witnessed the prisoners promptly assist their injured to the medical hut and the German guards fumble one instruction after another from the rotund guard that held the unfortunate commission of sergeant! "We will not be used as fodder for the Gestapo's own in-house power struggles…" he recalled Hogan declare to Klink. How did a prisoner of war reach the conclusion that it was connected to the Gestapo? And how did General Burkhalter suspect that the Field Marshall was not really a Field Marshall but some other high-ranking official? Abruptly turning from the window to confront the two officers in the room, the Major began pacing, "If the Field Marshall was using an assumed name, then I believe he was hiding his true identity for a very important reason," he firmly stated, enunciating each word as his mind worked through the confusion. "AND –" he reached the General and stood directly before him, "-it cost him his life."
General Burkhalter, who had just downed the contents of his Schnapps, was still savouring the sensation of the potent forty percent proof liquid systematically assaulting each and every one of his taste buds.
The Major briefly glared at the General before continuing with his pacing and his speech. "Many loyal Germans – many loyal Gestapo officers, have risked their lives performing their duty to their Fuhrer," and he reached the end of the room where he stopped and faced the wall.
Klink watched him, spellbound.
General Burkhalter refilled his glass.
"Maybe – just maybe it was something that he knew; something he was about to reveal; that cost this man his life," the Major firmly stated as he resumed pacing, thinking, it was all beginning to make sense.
The General concentrated on the refilled glass in his hand and drank.
Finally, standing still in the floor space between these two officers, the Gestapo Officer declared, "This man could have been killed in the course of performing his duty or he could very well have been targeted for not performing his duty."
Klink coughed uncomfortably.
The General remained silent and again, drank.
working for the Fuhrer or against him?
Did SS Reichsfuhrer Heinreich Himmler order him to perform a specific
duty or did the Reichsfuhrer order his demise?" His glare travelled from one totally confused
Kommandant to a very laid-back General.
The Gestapo were never laid back, he thought to himself. "That is what must be ascertained. That is what I will find out. Nothing, nothing happens in
The General refilled his glass and, taking another drink, stretched his legs before him. "That does not appear to be the case," he deadpanned.
Cautiously rising out of his chair, Klink interrupted. "I assure you Major, there have never been any assassinations at Stalag 13…"
"Shut up and sit down, Klink," General Burkhalter now bellowed.
Klink promptly sat.
Scowling, the Major
remained staring at the General, unable to comprehend how this military man
could question the Gestapo. Didn't the
General know that all he had to do was return to
Klink banged his fist on his desk as he rose and angrily stated to the General, "I don't –"
But Hochstetter marched back in, head slightly bowed as he saluted, "Heil Hitler," and left, again slamming the door.
Klink collapsed in his chair," – like that man," he finished saying, his face now an almost scorched red and his hands liberally trembling.
General Burkhalter's intention was to sit through all this and effectively ignore it. He partially succeeded. Regrettably, the Schnapps he had successfully depleted did not have the desired effect. The Gestapo were not the only ones that held dossiers. What he wondered was if they held dossiers on their own people.
Slouched in the chair, the General swore he could feel
the weariness seep into his bones. The
Major was a very loud man and, he hated to admit, a very loyal Gestapo
Officer. The Major was also a very
persistent man who would investigate this incident the minute he reached
Finally, pushing his bulk from the chair, the General removed his coat from the stand and stated, matter-of-factly. "Gertrude has very good taste in glassware."
Beaming at the idea of this gift from Gertrude Linkmeyer being not only exquisite but quite probably expensive as well, Klink jumped to his feet and agreed. “Thank you, Herr General.”
Showing no indication that he had heard him, the General casually threw over his shoulder, as he opened the office door, "Maybe next time she can make a gift of her own glassware and leave mine where she finds it."
The door shut with a resounding bang.
Klink's eyes widened in surprise, his monocle fell to the desk, and his previously beetroot complexion now paled significantly as he felt the blood drain from his head to his feet.
Her mind screamed out – wait forty-eight hours.
In the encroaching darkness, she huddled, hugging her knees to her chest, waiting. There was a pattern to his madness.
In the encroaching darkness, with every fibre of her being alert, she repeated to herself - forty-eight hours.
you are, my dear," he sniggered, the formal gloves of a dress uniform in
his hands. Looming before her, he
laughed. "Come, come. I know all about all of you," he slowly
enunciated every word, tilting her chin with his finger until he forced her
eyes to meet his. "I know all your
times of arrival. Even before you left
He is lying, she mentally repeated to herself.
There was no day or night. No time. Only him and her and, God help her, pain.
"Yes," he muttered to himself, releasing her, "imagine the loathing that your comrades will feel for you when they discover that the location of the entire network was so easily given by a member of their own."
Now her stomach lurched and bile filled her mouth, forcing her to turn and cough it up. He is lying, she said to herself, but how could she be certain?
"All not too comfortably accommodated for the time being, in a cell not far from where you are my dear, but have no fear, they still live – unlike your collaborators at the café."
Again her stomach lurched and again she turned just in time to throw up.
He laughed harder, taking pleasure in witnessing this physical weakness of the agent before him. "Tomorrow, you and I are embarking on a very interesting adventure," he relished informing her. She wiped her mouth with the worn out sleeve of her tunic. "Tomorrow you will do exactly what I say or I will order the immediate execution of every one of them."
She stopped wiping her mouth and glared at him.
His manic laughter echoed off the cell walls. "Didn't anyone ever tell you, my dear?" he exclaimed, opening the cell door and allowing a little of the hall light to filter into the dismal cell: "Everyone has a price!"
Johanna's eyes flew open. Her hands desperately clawed at the hand that was suddenly smashed against her mouth and nose.
In a panic, she violently thrashed around, tearing at the hand, but her assailant held firm, applying more pressure and making it impossible for her to breathe. With his other arm wrapped around her waist, he dragged her from the cot.
Her lungs screamed for air.
She could feel his breath at the back of her neck.
"Release her, now!" she heard, but it was too late. She was going to pass out from lack of oxygen.
Abruptly, pressure from across her mouth and waist released. Johanna instantly fell to her knees in the dirt, forcing in lung fulls of air. Dizziness and tremors overtook her as soon as she forced in the air. Someone laid a scratchy blanket over her shoulders, holding onto her.
"You don't know what you're doing!" someone else was yelling.
She looked up to see one man glare at her with hatred and another, the Englander aim a revolver at him. When she looked behind her, she was surprised to see the black man, the one that had joined the Englander on the work detail. "Thank -" she barely got out. He nodded, helping her to her feet, supporting her weight.
"That gal over there ain't what you think. Look, you owe me!"
"You're right, mate. There's a fair few of us who owe you," Newkirk spat out.
Garner glared back at Newkirk then at Kinch, seeing him wrap the blanket around Johanna's shoulders. "You don't know what you're doing," Garner cried out again. "Ask her who she is and how she came to be with that Kraut! Ask her what happens every time they leave a stalag!"
Newkirk grabbed him by the arm. "Come on, I'm sure the Colonel will-"
Garner shook himself free, ignoring the gun in Newkirk's hands. "You ask her why she was singled out by that Kraut while her colleagues were executed," he demanded, his words filled with hatred.
Johanna's hands flew to her mouth in horror, unable to comprehend the severity of what she was hearing. "No," she gasped, falling back to her knees.
Hogan stepped forward, having heard bits and pieces as he made his way down the tunnel, "Good work," he said to his men, then angrily stared at the impostor before him. His headache was returning with all the aches he'd thought he'd dealt with. "Hole him up in tunnel five, and keep watch," he directed to Newkirk and Kinch.
"With pleasure, sir," Newkirk said, taking Garner roughly by the arm. "Come on, you mug. You 'ave a lot of explaining of your own to do, and I'm really looking forward to finding out who you are."
Helping Johanna to the cot, Doc wasted no time checking for signs of the concussion he suspected. "I don't bite," he assured her when her hands desperately clutched the blanket to her. "Please," he pleaded.
Hogan pulled up a chair and straddled it, using the back of it to rest his arms. "The Doc here is telling the truth-- although his bedside manner still leaves a lot to be desired."
Johanna released the tight hold on the blanket, but her eyes met the Colonel’s. "Colonel Robert Hogan," she said, recognising the man seated before her.
However, when Johanna heard Doc's sudden intake of breath, she jerked away but Doc was holding her wrist firmly, one minute staring at the ligature marks surrounding it and the next looking at the Colonel.
"How long were you a guest of the Gestapo?" Hogan asked.
Panic-stricken, Johanna wrenched her arm away, lowering the sleeve of her blouse until it covered the marks. She moved away from Doc and further across the cot until her back was against the tunnel wall. Suddenly, pain pounded relentlessly in her head. "Damn!" she cursed, grabbing her head.
"You have a concussion. Any ringing in the ears, nausea, dizziness?" Doc asked, trying to help his patient and glimpsing more bruises where her blouse gaped at her neckline. "Blurred vision?" Not all her injuries were from the explosion, of that he was certain and concerned.
"I'm fine," she lied to Doc, however, when she faced Hogan her mind screamed the doubt she felt in the pit of her stomach. What if she hadn't waited the agreed forty-eight hours so that her team could move location? "I don't know how long I was held," she reluctantly admitted.
With his arms still folded and supported by the hard back of the chair, Hogan swallowed, desperate to prevent anything from leaving his stomach. Yet, when saliva filled his mouth and short stabbing sensations began hitting his abdomen, he prepared himself to lose the battle of digesting his coffee.
"There was an explosion," Johanna recalled. "I was returning to the staff car." Hogan was perspiring, Johanna noted. "If I was hurt – " and his fingers were digging into his arms as if he was trying to gain some form of control or he was in pain," – then so were you."
She heard a grunt from Doc. "Interesting how explosions tend to do that."
But Hogan's reply was a taut, "Someone set up your boyfriend's car to blow."
Anger immediately replaced any concern she may have felt for him, his comments causing her to jump to her feet in protest and hiss, "How dare you!" but all that that accomplished was the sudden onset of spots before her eyes and a severe attack of vertigo, forcing her to sit back on the cot and cradle her head in her hands. "You don't even know me," she muttered, hoping the pain inside her head would stop as quickly as it had begun.
"Who are you, Johanna?" Hogan asked a little less firmly this time - and not because of Doc's reproachful look. "I take it Johanna is your real name?"
"My name is
Johanna Marie Ducet," she stated, slowly raising her head, but still
holding her hands to her face. When the
dizziness was accompanied by nausea, fear joined in and she found herself
mentally praying – I am not in
Icy tentacles of dread suddenly wrapped themselves around Doc's spine. The three women he helped stay alive some time ago were also answerable to England.
Hogan found himself running his fingers through his hair. Sometime ago he thought it was all messy. Now he was convinced it wasn't just messy, it was dangerous!
"We were despatched to assist the locals in espionage and intelligence gathering. During one of our runs, the Resistance informed us that a downed flyer was being hidden in the basement of a local café. My team leader ordered me to locate the café and bring the flyer to our safe house."
"Did you meet him?" Hogan asked.
"No. Within moments of my arrival, the Gestapo joined us," she spat out. "Those they did not kill they dragged at gunpoint to Berlin for interrogation. I was given the pleasure of being a guest of the Kriminalkommissar himself – your Field Marshall," Johanna caught the look of horror in both these men's eyes. Did they know this Kriminalkommissar and his sadistic interrogation methods?
Hogan sank further in his chair, pure horror and exhaustion finally taking hold. "Go on," he quietly requested.
Johanna's throat tightened. What if it was true? What if her entire team was really executed? She felt a weight on her shoulders and looked away from the Colonel to find Doc watching her intently. "I was interrogated. My cell was always dark," she glanced around at the minimal amount of light in the tunnel. "I – " her mind raced. How long? To this day she didn't know how long? "It was dark," she repeated, not able to bring herself to tell this man before her any more.
Pain, nausea and dizziness, coupled with blurred vision may have been attacking all of Hogan's senses, but he wasn't so absorbed in himself and his health to miss the play of emotions on Johanna's face. There was something that was eating her up that she still couldn't bring herself to acknowledge. What horrors had she endured?
Doc's concern alternated between Johanna and Hogan. He understood that this interrogation was important and that both his patients were pushing themselves, yet understanding and acceptance were two things he never managed to marry, now more than ever. If they both didn't finish this soon, he was going to flex more than his medical military muscles and call a stop to it
"When my network was captured and imprisoned in a cell not far from where I was held, the Kriminalkommissar made a point of explaining to me that if I failed to co-operate, each and every member would be executed. What would you do, Colonel?" She didn't wait for Hogan to answer. "He believed that prisoners of war were working with the underground and passing on co-ordinates of installations of military importance. He just didn't know which Prisoner of War camps."
So, Pierre was correct, ten prisoners of war from the two camps they had already visited were executed after the Field Marshall and Johanna left, but how much did she know and how far was she involved? Most of what the Underground had passed onto him was proving correct, but it still didn't prove to him that Johanna was not a double agent.
"Why did he need you?" Hogan asked.
"To act as a double agent."
Now seated beside her, Doc flinched.
"I was to pass the co-ordinates to the senior officer in the stalags that we frequented and he would make sure that the Gestapo was armed and ready at these installations for an ambush. He knew the Underground were a growing force, so his intention was to reduce it significantly and at the same time reduce the number of prisoners of war."
Now Hogan bristled. "The Field Marshall, or whoever he was, certainly succeeded at that. You visited two stalags. Once you left, ten men from each stalag were immediately executed."
She paled so suddenly that Hogan thought she was going to pass out. But instead, Johanna ran her hands up and down her face, balling them into fists and muttering, "No, no, no! You have it all wrong." But if she wanted to be honest with herself, didn't she suspect something was happening? Hadn’t she been aware of the clipped words and hushed tones that the Field Marshall was having with his driver when they left the Stalag? Didn't she just choose to ignore it? "Please," she pleaded to Doc and the Colonel, "I swear – I never passed on the notes. I – " She had never really believed it was all that easy, did she?
"Just as you never passed the note onto me," Hogan quietly confirmed.
Johanna brought her knees up to the cot and wrapped her arms around them, closing her eyes and allowing her head to rest on them. "I didn't know –" she muttered. "I didn't know." She didn't – not the execution of the prisoners, but she knew he was capable of more than she witnessed.
Doc coughed. Hogan deliberately didn't look at him. He knew that cough. Doc wanted this interrogation to end. Hogan did, too, but he knew somehow that there was something more Johanna wasn't revealing. When he stood, he found himself grabbing hold of the back of the chair as a wave of dizziness hit him.
When it subsided, he wasn't surprised to find Doc at his side, holding onto his elbow. "Can we continue this later?" Doc quietly asked.
Hogan wanted to make light of it. He even had his reply on the tip of his tongue, but the pounding against his skull didn't diminish and he honestly didn't trust himself to have the stamina to continue – not that he was ever going to admit that to Doc. "Fine, Doc." he whispered. "Yeah, we can continue this later." Then, still holding onto the chair, he said to Johanna, "Stay here, at least until we can get you safely home." Then, discretely testing his balance, Hogan released his hold on the chair and zipped up his jacket. "I'm fine," he reassured Doc. Pulling the collar around his neck, Hogan then shoved his hands in his pockets and removed the gloves he'd retrieved from Klink's quarters – the very gloves that Johanna was so frantic to find. Placing them beside her he simply stated, "They're too snug to be yours."
The groan that escaped her lips was heart-wrenching.
With trembling hands, Johanna lowered her knees and sat up, placing the gloves in her lap and gingerly running her hands over them as if that alone would remove all the dried out dirt and mud that had accumulated. It was so methodical it looked to Hogan as if she was caressing them.
Her concentration was only on the gloves. "I counted. But I couldn't tell anymore," she blabbered almost incoherently. With every word her hand slid harder across the mud encrusted gloves. "I – I – I couldn't take – he was -." Tears fell uncontrollably. Consumed with horror, all Johanna wanted to do was scream and yell until her voice ceased; until all emotions that once lived within her died.
Hogan crouched before her, watching her fingers squeeze the gloves. She used such force that her knuckles turned white. His hands immediately cocooned hers. "They belong – they belonged to a member of my team." Her teardrops fell on his hands. Hogan held her hands more tightly. She looked at him, a sliver of a smile on her face as she explained, "I'm always borrowing – I borrowed them." And then, agony replaced the smile that never quite formed. "I – " she hesitated, "I gave the co-ordinates of the safehouse to my interrogator."
It took Hogan every ounce of energy not to react. Didn't he, more than anyone else, know what it was like to be questioned by the Gestapo? Didn't he, more than anyone else, know what it was like to lose friends, colleagues? His own crew?
Johanna felt his hands almost crush hers, and she looked up at Hogan, surprised to see such intense pain in his eyes. Was he feeling simply sorry for her? Or did he have a deeper, more personal connection to what she was feeling? How did he live with it? Oh God, how do I live with it? "He knew all about your network before you gave him the information," the Colonel was quietly saying to her. Someone had wrapped the blanket again around her only this time, hands remained resting on her shoulders. Glancing to her side, she saw Doc.
listen to me. He already knew,"
Hogan repeated, but pure wretched misery was reflected in the eyes that looked
back at him. Her mind whirled in its own
turmoil. Glancing briefly at Doc, Hogan
reluctantly rose to his feet, swayed briefly, but quickly regained his own
composure. "I'll get Kinch to get a
When Hogan turned to leave, Doc was at his side, "Robert," Doc whispered. "Johanna's in a bad state, and so are you."
Hogan knew that from the minute this interrogation began. "I'll get some rest," he promised, patting his jacket to remind Doc of the tablets he'd given him. "Don't worry." Somehow, this time Hogan didn't need to be reminded what a bad state everyone was in. From a dangerous mess, it had just become a very costly one.
In her own private hell, Johanna vaguely heard the Colonel and Doc. All her concentration was on the soiled gloves before her. Heavy, silent teardrops fell on them, merging with the dirt to form a dull grey that now wiped out their original pristine white colour. When pain ruptured her chest, Johanna lay on the cot, welcoming the darkness that was slowly encircling her. Finally, bringing her knees up to her chest, Johanna crushed the gloves to her heart and closed her eyes. She was always borrowing these gloves; even if they were snug. Isn't that what sisters did?
To be continued on… Allegiance – Part Two
Text and original characters copyright 2007 by Teresa Strati
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.