Papa Bear's Pony Express
The mentioning of Carter having Native American heritage and using a bow
and arrow in a mission is taken from an actual episode of Hogan’s Heroes.
The mentioning of a chimp named Freddie is in reference to a chimpanzee
in an actual episode of Hogan’s Heroes entitled “Monkey Business”.
By order of Kommandant Klink, for the prisoners of Barracks 1, 2, 3, and 4, that Tuesday afternoon after lunch was a time of work detail at a farm. The men in Barracks 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 would get their chance to do farm work on another day. According to Klink, work detail on a farm was to be regarded as a special privilege for the prisoners mainly because it represented a refreshing time outside the camp, in pleasant country surroundings and therefore an obvious change of scenery for them for an afternoon. However, for some of the prisoners it made them all the more resentful to have to return to the humdrum stalag work when the farm work was finished.
The farm for which they were assigned to do work there for that day was not the Einschtadt farm that was known by Hogan and his men as the one that was most closely located to Stalag 13, but it was a farm located in the opposite direction from it. The Einschtadt farm had very few animals. During work detail on a farm, Stalag prisoners who had been farmers during their civilian life were selected to milk cows, gather and sort eggs from the chicken coop, herd sheep and goats, and do crop field plowing while prisoners who had little or no agricultural skill were mainly assigned to cleanup, fence repair, hay loading, and simple animal feeding chores. Feeding of the farm animals was indeed the most enjoyable to many of the prisoners. Several of the men were eager to take turns feeding the animals. This farm was larger and was owned by a typical German country family, the Friedelmanns. The Friedelmanns took a leisure trip out into town for the day while the POWs worked on the Friedelmann farm. Klink’s commanding officer, General Burkhalter, openly regarded the farm work as a gift from the Luftwaffe to local civilian farmers, mainly under the principle that the Third Reich’s farming system was keeping Hitler’s military forces properly fed. Naturally, some of Stalag 13’s guards were brought along and placed on ordinary, quiet guard duty at the farm to prevent escape attempts. Sergeant Schultz put Hogan in charge of keeping the prisoners organized and well behaved in their work. Newkirk was ordered to repair a fence that had been kicked by a few of the goats, Carter was put in charge of feeding chickens and pigs, and Kinch was ordered to supervise and help with the loading of hay into piles.
LeBeau was ordered to clean the horse barn and wipe harnesses with a cloth rag. He was happy he was allowed to perform a chore that happened to be in connection to animals there. The barn contained seven horses. Six of the horses that were in the barn were large, very heavyset workhorses, known as draft horses. One was much less hefty-looking and built more like a racehorse than a horse that pulls wagons or freight. Its physical appearance was a direct indication of its breed. The horse was a male russet brown 4-year old of classic English thoroughbred stock. LeBeau automatically figured this horse must be the one the Friedelmanns use for riding. While the draft horses were silent and virtually ignoring LeBeau as he was raking dirty hay, the thoroughbred was staring at him. LeBeau smiled, and felt as though this horse was smiling back, in his own equine way. The horse jerked his head up and down and whinnied with a squeak. LeBeau placed the rake against the wall and went to pet him. It was as if the horse was asking the little Frenchman to please come over and pet him. The horse reached for his head and nudged LeBeau’s dark red military beret and nipped his ear, almost like a little kiss. LeBeau was instantly tickled, and he giggled with delight. LeBeau took off one of his gloves and let the horse lick the palm of his hand, as if to eat a handful of grain out of it, then the horse nuzzled his cheek.
là-là. T’es un amical.”
(trans.- “Wow. You’re a friendly one.”)
LeBeau wiped his hand on a cloth rag and finished his work, smiling at the horse as he walked to retrieve a fresh pile of hay delivered from one of the other prisoners. Unlike with the guard dogs back at camp, food did not start this animal’s fondness toward the little Frenchman. It was plain for LeBeau to see that the horse simply wanted to be friends with him. LeBeau stroked the horse’s dark brown mane.
“What’s your name?”)
LeBeau looked around for any indication of the horses’ names but could find none. A few minutes later, after LeBeau had finished cleaning the barn and wiping the harnesses, Hogan came into the barn to call him out. Hogan saw him petting the horse and smiling.
There you are, LeBeau. I see you
made a friend. But we have to go
now. Schultz is calling us to load
onto the trucks to head back to camp.”
LeBeau turned to the horse and spoke into his ear, patting his neck.
LeBeau: “Je dois partir, mon amical. Au revoir.” (trans.- “I have to leave, my friendly one. Goodbye.”)
LeBeau walked with Hogan and the others to the convoy of POW transport trucks and climbed onto the truck of Barracks 2 prisoners, and, as usual, sat next to Hogan, Newkirk, Carter, and Kinch. On the ride back to camp, he talked about how one of the horses in the barn made friends with him, and then he listened to their stories about their day’s experience fixing the fence and feeding the chickens and pigs. Hogan and his men arrived back into Barracks 2, exhausted but reflecting back on what it was like to work on a farm that was larger than the Einschtadt farm. Carter was the one of the Heroes who came closest to knowing what it felt like to work on a farm, but he was never a farmer. His background included being a typical American farm boy, but one who just knew how to feed the animals and minor chores such as that, which is why he was appropriately selected to feed the pigs and chickens.
I’ll have a chance to visit the horse again sometime if I we get called for
work detail at the Friedelmann farm again.”
But we rarely know when we’re gonna get farm work next.
Next time it will probably be the men in Barracks five through eight who
get to go there. They had to stay here
The Friedelmann farm may be bigger than the Einschtadt farm, but Klink
knew the whole stalag working there at the same time would have made for too
many farmhands for the day.”
if we go there again I’ll definitely want to see that horse that likes me.
Even if I have to beg Schultz to be the one to work in the barn.”
a letter from my parents they told me about the latest news in food rationing.
Did you know that back in the States because of the shortage of beef they
now make hamburger patties out of –“
don’t say it!”
Not horses! Horses?! No! That’s awful!”
LeBeau was disgusted at the thought. After his experience making friends with the horse at the Friedelmann farm, he’d rather do without meat of any kind than to eat horsemeat, even during wartime. LeBeau looked at Carter and saw that Carter now felt like an idiot for bringing it up in front of someone who had just befriended a horse during farm work detail.
sir. Sorry, Louis.
I wasn’t thinking when I said that.
Louis, forget I mentioned it. It
would have been better for you not to have heard about it, I guess.”
That evening after dinner, Kinch went down to the electronics room down under the barracks to solder a wire that had been shorted out from when the stalag’s electrical system experienced a temporary power failure the previous day. The power had been restored that morning, but the secret system under Barracks 2 was left out, which was no surprise to Hogan and his Heroes. If they had had a mission to go on that night, LeBeau thought, they could have taken advantage of the power failure in some exciting way. By Morse code, Kinch sent a message to a secret contact that provided electronic supplies to request a spare part to replace the damage that was done to a wire compartment. It was someone who had provided electrical equipment to the Heroes when their secret communications apparatus had first been built. Luckily, at least Kinch could send a message by Morse code while the wiring for the microphone was awaiting repair.
Later that night, Kinch walked through the tunnel to retrieve the requested box of spare wires to replace the ones that have been shorted out. By Kinch’s order, the box had been placed next to the tree stump tunnel outlet. By the light of his flashlight, he found the box, and placed on top of it was a note that read
To Sergeant Kinchloe –
Here is the box of spare electrical wiring you
By the way, when I arrived here, I found a horse
standing next to the tree stump. I
don’t know where this horse came from. I’ll
just leave the animal alone to stand here.
Good luck to you, your commanding officer Colonel
Hogan, and the others on your secret missions for the Allied war effort.
William Denverton, code name - Bluejay
Kinch was flabbergasted. The first thing he thought of was LeBeau talking about the horse he made friends with that day. If the horse mentioned in the note is not the same horse, Kinch thought, then it must be an amazing coincidence that a horse with no rider just happened to show up all alone near Stalag 13 that night. Raising his flashlight, he looked around with his eyes to see any signs of a horse in the dark nearby the woods. A few seconds later, he was startled to hear the sound of the snorting of a horse. Kinch followed the sound to his left just next to a large tree. With the flashlight, he was able to make out the figure of a horse – a figure he simply did not notice when he came up from the tunnel and picked up the box that was waiting for him. The horse had been completely silent until that moment, as if for a planned surprise.
In a near state of shock, Kinch grasped the box and slowly and silently crawled into the tree stump opening, being as quiet as possible so as not to scare the horse off. He ran through the tunnel and up the steps into the ground floor of Barracks 2. Hogan, Carter, LeBeau, and Newkirk were in their pajamas about to turn in for the night when Kinch came up from the bottom bunk opening from the floor.
LeBeau! You’re not gonna
to believe this! There’s a horse
waiting outside at the tree stump!”
He showed the note to Hogan, who then quickly read it and handed it to LeBeau. LeBeau glanced at the note and was stunned, with his mouth hanging open in a gaping expression of surprise.
LeBeau: “Sacre chats!” (trans.- “Holy cats!”)
What if it’s the horse LeBeau was telling us about?!”
can tell us if it is or not. Kinch,
is the horse wearing a halter?”
Kinch: “Yes, sir. A blue one, I think. I saw it with my flashlight.”
Then we can get a rope and tie the horse to a tree outside camp until we
figure out what to do with him. LeBeau,
get dressed. We’ll need you to
come out and see if it’s the horse you made friends with earlier today.
If it is, he somehow escaped out of the stable and managed to
follow the truck convoy back to camp after you left the farm.”
LeBeau: “If it is him, I obviously forgot to close the barn door after you came in there when it was time to leave the farm. And I remember the horse was not tied to his stall. So it might actually be him!”
LeBeau got dressed and went out to identify the horse. The horse was indeed the one he made friends with at the Friedelmann farm.
The main clue was that the moment LeBeau approached him near the tree stump, the horse gave him a friendly nudge as he tied a rope around the bottom of the halter to hold him there at the tree. LeBeau was excited to see him, and nonetheless quite surprised.
“I can’t believe he happened to follow me here, to camp. This is some
extraordinary animal I made friends with. The
whole time during the truck ride back to camp, I never knew he even noticed I
walked to the truck. And that whole
time I never knew I left the barn door open.”
LeBeau envisioned the horse on a steady stride following the truck convoy all the way back to camp and stopping where none of the Stalag 13 guards could see him.
LeBeau: “I don’t know. He didn’t have a name on his stall door in the barn.”
Hogan: “Well, whatever his name is, we gotta keep him here until we figure out a way to get him back to the Friedelmanns. I don’t know how soon they’ll find out one of their horses is missing. And I certainly don’t want us to become known as Hogan’s Horse Thieves.”
LeBeau and Kinch joined each other in a half-laugh.
And we’ll have to do it in such a way so the Friedelmanns don’t
report us as having escaped out of Stalag thirteen to do it.
We can wear our civilian clothes to return the horse to the farm
tomorrow. The Freidelmanns never
met us when we came there for the work detail anyway.
They’d never identify us as having been there before.
We can just tell them we’re travelers who noticed a horse on the road
alone and decided to see if he came from their farm.
They’ll thank us, and it’ll be over with.”
morning after roll call we can do it. Let’s
head back to the barracks.”
The next morning after roll call, breakfast had to wait while Hogan, Kinch, and LeBeau, dressed in their civilian clothing, joined the horse at the tree stump up from the tunnel, untied the horse, and started walking in the direction of the Friedelmann farm, not knowing exactly how to get there but hoping they could remember from their truck ride at least the first half of the way. They knew they could, in their best German accent, ask for directions to nearby villagers or perhaps even a neighboring farmer familiar with the Freidelmanns.
Two minutes of walking passed when Newkirk and Carter suddenly approached them from behind, wearing their civilian clothing and tapping Hogan and LeBeau on the shoulder.
I got a hold of you three just in time! There’s
a message from London we heard when we were down under the barracks looking
through Kinch’s box of replacement wires!
Headquarters needs us to deliver a message to Heidelberg, to a hotel room
where a contact for the one hundred forty-second air squadron is in hiding.
Without the message in time he can’t proceed to alert the unit for a
Luftwaffe advance plan in Berlin.”
a minute! They weren’t supposed
to have us send that message until next Friday!
That’s when the train to Heidelberg can bring us there.
Remember Carter? On Monday you were disguised as Gestapo and had that train
commandeered for our private use for that Friday only.
And I don’t like the idea of trying to reverse that reservation on such
short notice. They already have the
schedule booked up for rides for German military personnel into Heidelberg.
You had that arranged yourself when you thought we wouldn’t need the
civilian ride until next Friday. If
we turn back on that arrangement today, the train conductor and the station
staff in Dusseldorf and Heidelberg would get suspicious.”
right, Colonel. That would make it
more dangerous to accomplish than how risky it would be originally.
And from what it sounds like, we don’t have time to think of how to
fend off suspicious train people who think the Gestapo’s temporarily in charge
of their route. Sounds like that contact needs that message immediately.”
Carter: “What if we commandeer a staff car? We’ve done it before.”
Hogan: “Yeah, but according to the road map of this part of Germany there’s no road alongside the train route to Heidelberg. When I first gathered our maps that we have, we couldn’t get the one that shows the roadway from Dusseldorf to Heidelberg. It was classified for the Luftwaffe and our contact that gave us the maps couldn’t get us that particular one, at least not yet. That’s why we had to make an arrangement with a train to begin with. We have a map of all the train routes for munitions transport. Now that we don’t have the train to take, whatever way we’d get there it would have to follow the train route exactly.”
I’d hate to go back and wire them a message that we’ll be unable to deliver
the message to Heidelberg. What are
we gonna do? We’ll just have to
explain to headquarters that -”
I have an idea! We have this horse here, and in perfect timing.
One of us can ride him to Heidelberg with the message.
All we need is a diagram of the train route to follow and the horse can
go alongside it.”
Just like in the movie westerns.”
Carter, except the horse won’t be running with the train.
The train won’t even be there, remember?”
yeah. I forgot.”
the meantime where are we gonna keep the horse until we’re ready with the
train route? I can make up a
diagram to follow.”
is right. It would break my heart
to see this extraordinary horse continue to be tied to a tree.”
The five men stood silent with the horse for a few seconds. LeBeau looked down toward the ground and then glanced at Newkirk, who had a look on his face like he just thought of a fantastic scheme.
got it! I can get the horse into
camp. We can put him in the motor
pool and feed him with hay and water, or perhaps even have Schultz care for him
until it’s time to go to Heidelberg.”
The horse is too big to sneak into our tree stump, ya know.”
Newkirk: “That, my dear fellow, is where I come in. LeBeau, you and I will make me a German cavalry uniform, or at least something that would look like it could pass for one. Make me a lieutenant. I’ll get a saddle and bridle from a local farm shop, which we’ll need anyway for the ride to deliver the message. Kommandant Klink is about to meet Lieutenant Kirkhoffer of the Reich Cavalry. Poor Herr Kirkhoffer has strayed from his cavalry unit and must hold the horse at the nearest Luft Stalag for a day or two instead of bothering any of the local farmers.”
LeBeau smiled at him, certain that Newkirk will have a great deal of fun impersonating a German cavalryman who orders Klink to allow him to station the horse at Stalag 13 until he returns to his military unit on horseback. LeBeau was good at analyzing how Newkirk would plan a trick to pull off – from beginning to end.
LeBeau: “But do you know how to ride a horse, Peter?”
Newkirk: “I know somewhat. My
parents used to ride with a fox hunting team.
Back home it’s always been one of the proudest traditions for
Englanders like me. I rode with the
hunt a few times when I was younger, but, Louis, you’ll probably be the one to
ride the horse to Heidelberg, especially since you’re the one who made friends
with the horse. Besides, I want
your trusty steed to know that I’ll let you do the honor of
being his rider for the mission to Heidelberg.
I’ll be happy to teach you how.”
LeBeau: “Merci, Peter. He’s shown that he likes me enough to let me ride him. I can see it in his eyes. And I’m not afraid to ride. One time when I was a boy in France, one of the farmers in Epernay let me ride his rather spirited pony, and he galloped with the wind. I loved every minute of it.”
Hogan, Carter, and Kinch smiled, impressed that the two European corporals had prior experience with horses, and they were glad they now told about it at a time when it was about to come in handy.
well. How ‘bout that, Colonel
Hogan? Looks like we have a couple
of former equestrians in our unit. You
and I never knew.”
The men returned with the horse to spot near their tree stump, leaving the horse tied to the same tree as before until Newkirk was ready to carry out his scheme to bring the horse into Stalag 13, with Schultz’s and Klink’s welcome. The horse patiently grazed on leaves and stood quietly while awaiting “his grand entrance”. Down under Barracks 2, LeBeau and Newkirk went to work on the German cavalry uniform right away. To save time, and by Newkirk’s polite request, Carter went to work obtaining a saddle and bridle for the horse. Carter was as eager to see the horse’s entrance into camp as Newkirk was to carry it out. LeBeau shared his curiosity. Carter returned to the tree stump with a fine and sturdy-looking leather saddle and bridle, and watched in his own style of modest fascination as Newkirk ceremoniously put the saddle on the horse’s back and fit the bridle snug on the horse’s head.
It’s been so long since the last time I’ve done this.
This does bring back memories of being with that hunt back home in
England. It seems like so long ago,
and yet I still clearly remember how to properly prepare a horse for riding.”
LeBeau noticed a gloss come up in the Englishman’s eyes and a slight twitch at the corner of his mouth. The horse chomped on the metal bit. LeBeau decided to make a kind suggestion to make him feel better in this bout of homesickness brought on by the act of saddling and bridling a horse for the first time in years.
mon ami, I’d like to make
a suggestion. Since we did not get
the horse’s saddle and bridle from the barn at the Freidelmann farm, maybe
after we return the horse to the family you can keep this saddle and bridle as a
souvenir to remind you of home. You
know he has his own riding equipment back at the farm.
I know. I cleaned it in the
very kind of you, Louis. Thank you.
And whenever you look at it in the barracks they will be something for
you to remember the horse by, you know, in case you never get to see the horse
again after we return him.”
Newkirk: “Well, under the barracks. You know during inspection we don’t want Schultz to find them or else after we will have returned the horse he’ll think he’s still being hidden in camp.”
as a new choice of recreation for the prisoners. I can see it now –
‘Step right up, fellas, buy a ticket and reserve your spot in the schedule -
One cigarette for one horse ride. Enjoy
a nice, relaxing walk around inside camp, except this time on horseback.
Ten minutes each.’ And we could let Kommandant Klink ride for free because the
horse might throw him off if he tries to use that riding crop of his.”
Newkirk: “And if he does use his riding crop on the horse and get thrown off, Colonel Hogan would just go up to him and tell him that for once he finally got to use that thing for purposes intended but it backfired this time.”
They both laughed about it together. LeBeau wrapped the reins around the rope that kept the horse tied to the tree and reached his arm up and briskly patted him on the neck as a “see you later” gesture. When LeBeau reminded Newkirk that they should get at least three day’s worth of hay and grain from a nearby pasture or the Einschtadt farm, Newkirk made a comment that he as Lieutenant Kirkhoffer will make Klink arrange it as a small chore for who ever in Barracks Four would like to volunteer, and Schultz would supervise. LeBeau reminded him that the well outside their barracks would be an excellent place to get water for the horse. LeBeau had already decided that the horse should have proper nourishment, meaning a standard supply of hay and grain and no more leaves from a tree. Being a chef and an animal lover, this thought was to be expected of him. He simply would not limit his considerable attention to the art of food to humans only. He felt sad when he realized he had no carrots to offer him as a special treat from that week’s meal provisions for the Heroes.
LeBeau could hardly wait to join Hogan, Carter, and Kinch at their guard doghouse tunnel opening to watch Newkirk’s Lieutenant Kirkhoffer aboard the horse at the stalag entrance gate ordering Klink to admit the horse into camp for a brief stay, with all proper shelter and care in the motor pool. They ate their late breakfast, and eagerly went into position to watch Newkirk impersonate the fictitious cavalryman. Taking turns holding up the bottom of the doghouse, Newkirk’s fellow Heroes saw Schultz order to the guards the opening of the gate, which followed immediately after “Lieutenant Kirkhoffer” introduced himself and stated his business. Newkirk looked convincingly dignified in his fake moustache and military horseman’s attire. He was gladly able to cover his British accent with a harsh, husky German one. He had no problem at all. Just as well as Newkirk had successfully got the horse in through the entrance, LeBeau was also happy to observe that the horse was behaving well for his English friend. Interestingly, the German Shepard guard dogs in the kennel were nearly silent, and with the dogs not barking or growling, the horse didn’t seem to mind their presence. They watched as Schultz came back with Klink, seeing that Newkirk as Kirkhoffer obviously requested, or more likely demanded the kommandant to come out and meet him and the horse at the front gate. First LeBeau, then the other Heroes noticed that the horse began stammering nervously in place and snorted the moment Klink appeared before him. The other Heroes looked at the animal-savvy French corporal, waiting for an explanation for the horse’s sudden behavior toward the presence of the kommandant.
LeBeau: “He sees Klink’s riding crop. He doesn’t like Klink.”
As LeBeau could see, Newkirk as Kirkhoffer enjoyed the game of stating a list of orders for the general care for the horse for the temporary stay, and then told Klink to provide proper food and shelter for him too. As a part of the trick, unknown to LeBeau was that the English corporal had a plan in mind to enjoy recreation time like usual as Newkirk while Klink thinks the visiting cavalryman is taking a leisure walk outside camp for exercise. It wasn’t until that day’s recreation time that LeBeau figured out that Newkirk would remain inside camp and yet manage to maintain the identity of Kirkhoffer for later when necessary. LeBeau knew him well enough to realize that if Newkirk wanted to make something as fun as it could get, he would.
Hogan and his Heroes were finishing their recreation time in the barracks. Newkirk was making up his own new card game he called, with a characteristically British touch, “Tally Ho”, in honor of the horse he just brought in to camp. As they were learning it from Newkirk, they suddenly heard the sound of the horse’s frightened, shrieking whinny coming from outside, then the sound of Klink crying for help. They dropped their cards and rushed outside, startled to see the horse rear up with Klink on his back, and with that familiar riding crop – an accessory of Klink’s that the horse was obviously not approving of. The horse was beginning to buck like a bronco in a western rodeo, and Klink was holding tightly with both hands onto his mane and the reins at the same time, trying with all his might to stay aboard the horse. Klink was yelling loud and with the very excited horse carrying him all around the inside of camp, they were within earshot of the entire barracks compound, and it was only a few seconds before every prisoner in the camp stood outside watching. A few of the prisoners who were in the outdoor section of the recreation compound ran into the Kantine and came out with the remaining prisoners to watch the unusual sight. They all knew they’d better come out and have a look or else they’d miss out on a spectacle very rarely seen in a place like a Luft stalag. And the guards didn’t seem to want to miss it either. The horse staggered near the area of the guards’ quarters, where Schultz was already outside. A few guards at a time were distracted off their duty as the horse bucked and trotted, whinnied and snorted loudly, and then broke into short spurts of a gallop.
Klink: “Schullllltz!!! Heeeeelllllllllllllllllp!!! Schulllllllltz!!!”
The first thought that occurred to LeBeau and Newkirk was that Klink had done just what they joked about earlier – that he would use his riding crop on the horse and the horse would try to throw him off.
But the fact that Klink had even made an attempt to ride the horse was unexpected. The Frenchman and the Englishman both stared at each other in amazement at the coincidence. They figured that Klink had simply snuck into the motor pool, brought the horse out, and tried to ride him, just for the fun of it. Whether Klink ever had any knowledge of horsemanship or not didn’t seem to have much to do with it. As far as they were concerned, it was Klink’s superficial misconception that the horse would automatically like him enough to let him on his back that led to the humiliating incident. After all, German kommandants of Luft stalags were supposed to be the personification of strict and effective authority over all of the lower-positioned in their camps.
Schultz approached the horse, and Hogan, LeBeau, and Newkirk followed.
Quick! Do you know anything about
how to stop a frightened horse?”
know nnnnnnnothing! Nnnnnothing
about it, Colonel Hogan!”
That leaves you and Newkirk. Quick!
Both of you! Stop the horse! Calm
him down so Klink can get off his back without getting hurt!”
LeBeau and Newkirk cautiously approached the horse at once. The horse was jerking his head up and down as he bucked and trotted around in circles. Being the taller of the two men, Newkirk immediately grabbed the horse while his head was high, then he yanked it down in a tug, but for the small Frenchman, being short didn’t prevent LeBeau from pulling the reins under the horse’s head and stroking the neck, soothing the horse enough to stop bucking and stand still. As LeBeau held the reins and petted the horse and coaxed him to stay put, Newkirk helped Klink off the horse safe and sound. As Klink proceeded to march to his office in a state of sheer embarrassment in front of the hordes of prisoners gathered around, LeBeau noticed Hogan walk up to the kommandant, ready to make a remark the American colonel couldn’t resist making. LeBeau and Newkirk followed closely behind, refusing to miss hearing Hogan’s upcoming words to Klink, whatever they may be.
everybody! Getta loada your
kommandant, fellas! Cowboy Klink
tried to be the horse’s kommandant and failed!
The horse obviously knows he’s not a prisoner here! Ha ha ha!”
Klink: “Aww, shut up, Hogannnn.”
Though Hogan didn’t make the same wisecrack they had predicted, LeBeau and Newkirk shared a laugh at the sight, and the fact that this time Hogan made it an announcement to the other prisoners standing nearby made it all the more humorous. For LeBeau, Newkirk, and everyone else present to see it, it was a sweet and comical surprise. The horse, in his own unprecedented way, had just made a fool out of Klink in front of all the inhabitants of Stalag 13.
LeBeau knew that Newkirk had to start getting ready to distract Klink from noticing the horse leave camp. Newkirk came up with a plan to go into Klink’s office and start some kind of conversation with him while LeBeau sneaks out and rides the horse to the designated destination. Newkirk then made up an excuse to first take the horse and place him just outside the camp, for which the real purpose would be to allow LeBeau to mount him and ride off on his mission to Heidelberg without being seen by the guards. Newkirk as Lieutenant Kirkhoffer would scold Klink about making an attempt to ride the horse inside camp during the leisure walk, and then tell him he can no longer trust him to leave the horse undisturbed, declaring that the horse would just have to spend the remainder of their stay right outside camp. As Newkirk was explaining the sneak-out plan to LeBeau, down under the barracks Hogan and Kinch were busy carefully preparing a paper drawing of the railroad map to Heidelberg, then a smaller diagram of directions to the hotel from the Heidelberg train depot.
When Newkirk was finished, LeBeau glanced at him for a moment and recognized another look of eager fascination in his eyes. Newkirk smiled and told him he just thought of another wild idea, and he told LeBeau he was saving it as a surprise for him later that night. Newkirk postponed his dinner and his usual after-dinner game of cards, instead spending the entire evening down under the barracks alone. He told LeBeau to wait on his bunk until lights out, and then that he would come up and show him the surprise. The surprise was a set of homemade European-style jockey silks, bright green in color, complete with a matching jockey cap, white breeches, and shiny black boots – all to fit LeBeau. Newkirk didn’t forget the horse. Next the English corporal presented a bright green racing pad to fit under the saddle, bearing the number nine, as if to signify the horse’s entry in a horserace.
if anyone stops and questions you along the way, you are a jockey who has been
entered in a race course and must ride your horse to Heidelberg because you
missed the train of horses and jockeys that goes there.
Colonel Hogan told me to tell you that right after you return with the
horse, we’ll sneak him back to the Friedelmann farm overnight so that the
horse will be back there without the family knowing what happened.”
Newkirk presented to the other Heroes the endearing sight of LeBeau dressed as a racehorse jockey. They admired how cute and handsome he looked wearing the silks, with the coincidence of his body height to go with that particular attire.
silks look excellent on you, Louis. You’d
pass for the perfect specimen of a racehorse jockey anywhere.”
LeBeau: “And not just because I’m short. Right, Carter?”
The other Heroes chuckled and reassured him he’ll do just fine on the ride to Heidelberg, but “as long as he doesn’t catch the eye of some pretty frauline who can’t resist how cute he looks dressed like that.“
Hogan: “That might delay the mission.”
Early the next morning after roll call, LeBeau dressed himself in the jockey silks and Newkirk snuck LeBeau and the horse out into a field nearby the stalag for a quick horsemanship lesson about how to control and manage the horse for a cross-country ride. The horse welcomed LeBeau on his back, obeying his every command and steering by the reins, and LeBeau was a quick learner, just as he was with his army training in the Free French Resistance forces. He felt no less capable of maneuvering a fast thoroughbred than of flying a fighter plane for his Resistance air unit back in France. And he enjoyed even the simple parts of Newkirk’s lesson such as learning how to sit in racing position on the saddle for a full gallop. Kinch had put the map diagrams and Hogan’s intelligence message to the contact inside a pocket Newkirk sewed into the horse’s racing pad under the saddle. A food ration in a burlap bag was securely tied from the top of the saddle girth. A slip of paper with the code names and secret locations of Hogan’s Allied contacts located within the region of the route was included with the diagrams, specifically in case something should go wrong. It was easy for LeBeau to figure out that those particular contacts were for some reason not in a position to deliver the message to the Heidelberg, but could at least rescue him from danger and return him to camp. Glad that the horse was properly fed and energized that morning for the mission, LeBeau, disguised as a left-behind jockey on the way to a racecourse, was ready for the important ride along the railroad route.
LeBeau on the horse headed off for the route, alternating between gallops, cantering, trotting, and then an occasional walk when the horse’s physical rest on the ride was needed – all while avoiding the roadways and staying on the course alongside the train tracks. No train had accompanied them during the ride, but LeBeau and the horse made good time to the area of Heidelberg, mostly thanks to the horse’s endurance derived from frequent riding by the Friedelmanns. LeBeau was a safe and smart rider for the horse, mostly thanks to Newkirk’s early morning horsemanship lesson for him. LeBeau was careful to follow every mile of the route as shown on the diagram. Fortunately, the terrain of the train route was not unsafe for high-speed horseback riding when the time came for a good gallop. LeBeau was happy to catch a glimpse of the train depot that marked the end of the train route. As he rode the horse into town, he found a stable where horses that pulled vegetable wagons for outdoor markets were being kept. He brought the horse inside there for temporary keeping, using the jockey story that Newkirk made up for him to use if necessary.
He found the hotel as described in his direction notes, and immediately approached the Allied contact’s hotel room - #43, as stated in the notes. He knocked on the door, and a chubby old Englishman answered the door, questioning the meaning of a racehorse jockey at his door.
LeBeau: “Papa Bear’s Pony Express.”
He said it to the man as a brief, polite announcement, like someone who was delivering a telegram. Without any further words, he handed the message to the man. In his head, LeBeau realized he just unconsciously made up and used a catchy name for the delivery of the message on horseback. The thought occurred to him that he must have learned what a pony express is when he read one of Carter’s books about the Old West. The Old West was Carter’s favorite historical subject, mostly in connection with pride in his Native American heritage from the Sioux tribe, which the other Heroes would hear about in a later mission where Carter uses a bow and arrow to throw a flame.
As LeBeau came to think of at the moment, it was a pity that the horse’s name was still unknown to him. Smiling, the man thanked him briefly and allowed “Papa Bear’s jockey” to leave so that he could make it back to camp in time by nightfall. As LeBeau made his way back to the market wagon stable, he thought of how simple that was compared to all the effort the horse was putting in for LeBeau’s travel for it. LeBeau felt like it was the horse that was the hero in this mission. Second to be thanked was Newkirk. LeBeau knew that back at camp, the reliable English trickster was still generously contributing to the mission - not only alternating between appearing as himself and appearing as Kirkhoffer but also creating excuses to Schultz for LeBeau’s absence for the day. LeBeau’s mind had fun guessing what Newkirk was possibly telling Schultz when “cockroach” was not around with the rest of Hogan’s unit during the day’s activities at Stalag 13.
Having had a chance to rest at the stable for some minutes of calm and feed, the horse was ready for the ride back to camp. LeBeau ate his food ration and started to follow the reverse route. He managed the ride going back exactly as he managed the ride going forth. As analyzed by Hogan the previous night, the mission outside camp ended by nightfall. LeBeau once again tied the horse to the tree near the tunnel, patting the base of his neck in a warm gesture of gratitude. The horse responded affectionately by lowering his head and nudging the Frenchman’s boyish, fair-skinned face. The both of them were quite exhausted from the trip, but LeBeau was satisfied by the accomplishment of yet another job well done for Colonel Hogan. He imagined a large tin bowl of fresh carrots would be the perfect reward for his obedient equine friend. He knew he couldn’t have bought them at the market in Heidelberg because he had no intention of burdening the horse with an extra load to carry back to camp, especially with the running parts of the ride for time’s sake. He decided carrots rather than apples because, as usual, he needed the apples for his desserts of apple strudel known by the Heroes for encouraging Schultz to “see nothing”, “hear nothing”, and most importantly, “know nothing”.
Still wearing the jockey silks but without the cap on his head, LeBeau slept in his bunk during the time he would otherwise be cooking. The Heroes settled for leftover ham and cheese sandwiches Carter made for lunch. During the much-needed deep sleep, LeBeau was dreaming that he was a steeplechase jockey back in France, riding with the wind in a race attended by General DeGaulle, and the name of the horse he was riding in it was La Victoire – the French word for victory. In the dream, he won the race.
He requested Newkirk as Kirkhoffer to order Schultz to go to market and buy some fresh carrots for the horse. Newkirk set up Kirkhoffer’s leave from the stalag, which was simply an announcement to Klink that he has decided to leave Stalag 13 with his horse and continue to seek out his cavalry unit. Newkirk came back through the tunnel, changed into his usual blue RAF uniform, and told LeBeau his story of how he handled his part of the mission as both himself and Kirkhoffer. LeBeau then learned that as a part of Newkirk’s thoughtful help, his absence had been covered up by the use of his uniform, which was stuffed with some of the horse’s leftover hay and placed on his bunk, covered by his blanket to create the appearance of a sleeping LeBeau sick in bed that day. After his reward of carrots, the horse was safely and quietly returned to the Friedelmann farm that night. It wasn’t the last time an animal would help Hogan and his Heroes in the delivery of a message. In a later mission, a chimp named Freddie would be appointed to do it.
Text and original characters copyright by Carolyn Waller
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.