For a story that was conceived during those long boring hours flying in a steel cocoon, striving to keep away the thoughts that the plane and everyone in it could just simply disappear as planes have in the past, it has come a long way.
Whilst I have always had a fascination with what happened during the second world war, not the battles or fighting, but in the more obscure events that took place, I decided to pen my own little sidebar to what was a long and bitter war.
And, so, it continues…
I had to almost restrain Carlo from going up to the castle and singlehandedly kill everyone in it. I didn’t doubt he could do it, for a short time at least, until they realized what was going on. There were too many of them to take on alone.
It would need a careful plan, and knowledge of the layout of the castle, and the likely spots where the soldiers were located. It was a plan that had been slowly formulating in the back of my mind, especially after Carlo’s help with an internal map of the castle, some parts of which I hadn’t got to see in my brief stay.
I forgot that being built back in the middle ages, and the history of cities fighting against each other, there were ways in, out, and around, both inside and in the walls, so that soldiers could travel from one part of the castle to another without being seen, and not having to go inside the castle itself.
There were, also, tunnels, one of which I had inadvertently found, but there were more, and it seems only Carlo knew of those. Some were useful, others would lead to an early confrontation, and give early notice of our intentions. Those we would avoid, or use to escape.
We had set up a command center at the church ruins, having found several rooms off the cellar that had two exits. I didn’t like the idea of being trapped, nor waiting in a location that Fernando was familiar with and was likely to return to.
Which, in a sense, I was hoping he would because we had set a trap and he and his men would be caught in the crossfire. He was not going to get a chance to explain, nor would I ask any questions, or show him any mercy.
Especially when I found out what he had done to Martina. If it was as bad as Chiara, he would be repaid in kind, if the opportunity arose. I tentatively agreed to give Carlo five minutes in the room alone with him, but he knew that expediency might not give him that luxury. Blinky was not happy about it, but he hadn’t been here long enough to know what the man or his people were like.
We’d also worked out the surveillance system so that we would know when anyone turned up in the village, particularly our prized defector Meyer, and whether anyone left the castle to come down to the village because it was possible there would be more defectors passing through, and they needed to be warned.
What was particularly useful was finding the radio that Martina had been using. It was in the church grounds, which was not entirely unexpected, but one of Blink’s men had stumbled over it when looking to set up a latrine.
Blinky had brought a radioman, but his radio had been damaged in the parachute landing. Now he had a new toy to tinker with, and got a connection back to Thompson, after some initial difficulty in translation. That I could help him with, my Italian was marginally better than a schoolboy.
Thompson was relieved to hear from me, as I was to talk to him.
“It’s been difficult to get a clear picture with Martina, but I got the impression you had to be precise with your questions.”
“A case of getting lost in translation, perhaps.” I had not had similar problems, but Thompson was from the aristocracy, and his version of English was sometimes quaint.
“The situation is bad, I understand.”
“It is. The castle is over-run with British-German double agents. The three you sent out, and reinforcements that followed. I get the impression we have about 20 odd dead soldiers languishing in shallow graves somewhere on the Italian countryside.”
It hadn’t been hard to realize that while the officers were known British officers, the soldiers were substituted Germans whose English language and mannerisms were impeccable. I had no doubt once they’d reeled in Meyer, they would move on, integrating into invasion forces and creating havoc from within, unless of course, we stopped them.
A sigh at the other end, perhaps a lamentation of such needless loss of life. This war was getting tiresome for both of us.
“How close is Meyer? We last heard he was in Gaole, waiting for a courier to take him to the village. His arrival is anticipated to be any time from tomorrow onwards.”
“We’ve got men out keeping tabs on everyone.”
“Blinky arrive with his team?”
“All bar the radio, but as you can hear, we have access to one do it will not be a problem. I think we might finish this and talk again tomorrow. Don’t want the Germans tracking the radio waves.”
“Good. Tomorrow, and hour before today.”
I’d almost forgotten that the Germans were good at tracking radio signals, especially when they thought the enemy was using them, as those at the castle would. That radio unit could also be used to trace other radio signals, and no doubt they had picked up the signal. Hopefully, we had not been on long enough for them to run the trace.
That was not going to be a problem. One of Blinky’s soldiers on village reconnaissance was waiting for us as we approached the church ruins.”
“What is it, man?”
“There are four people at the village, looking for someone or something.”
“More defectors,” I said. “We’d better get to them before Leonardo and his men get to them first.”
© Charles Heath 2020-2021