Phillip Good
United Kingdom
London
London
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Part 1 (6am to 9am)

Things had been busy in the village for a couple of days now since Mr Churchill’s speech. Edith Finlay had noticed there were a few more phonecalls going in and out of the switchboard than normal and Capt McGowan had come and given her the ‘the walls have ears’ speech yesterday; silly little man, what would have his father thought of him prancing around in that oversized uniform, his father was a much bigger man in so many ways. Today was different though, Sergeant Taylor had a concerned expression on his face when he had arrived at 6am this morning with his son in their Bedford truck and a considerable amount of copper wire.

“The weather’s too good today Edie” he had said pointing at the sky, “the Bosch like days like today and their bloody recon planes have been coming over since dawn.”

With that he’d shimmied up on to the gable of her shop’s roof and attached one end of the copper wire to her telegraph connection.

“What’s all this about Sergeant?” she asked, desperate for some news she could pass on to the pub regulars when they dropped in for their daily papers and cigarette ration later on today.

“Sorry Edie” said Taylor, “mum’s the word” and with that he hopped back into the Bedford and, with his son feeding out lengths of cabling, proceeded to drive very slowly back towards the church.

Within the hour the new radio transmitter/ receiver at the church had been wired in by Taylor and Captain McGowan was tuning into the right wavelength. “Baker Sugar to Washboard control…?, Baker Sugar to Washboard control…?, Washboard control are you receiving me….? Over…?”.
“Washboard control calling Baker Sugar…. Stand by for message….” The terminals of the radio crackled softly as McGowan, Sergeant Taylor and the Rev Barnstable subconsciously leant closer “Baker Sugar…..? Message reads ‘The Eagles are scrumping’…… repeat, ‘The Eagles are scrumping’…… Can you confirm Baker Sugar….?”.

All three villagers looked at each other momentarily and McGowan leant forward and pressed the ‘send’ key “Baker Sugar confirm…” he said and flipped the ‘out’ switch.

“Bugger….” Said Taylor softly “this time the balloon’s really gone up and, by the sounds of it, the Bosch are coming in from the Orchard”. With that he grabbed his rifle and headed off in the direction of Orchard Lane.

-----

“Fine bloody time to start an invasion” thought Taylor as he lay in the ditch at the crossroads of Orchard Lane and Pub Lane. He had been there about ten minutes with his eyes constantly moving between the cricket pitch on his left and the cemetery on his right. “Where are you you buggers….”.

Suddenly, there between the pear trees he saw a movement, he paused; “a rabbit? Too big. That paddy bastard Reynolds? Oh, if only”, Taylor would have liked to submit that terrorist to some friendly fire. “No, there’s definitely something there and it’s more than just one thing.” Squinting harder down the sight of his old faithful Lanchester he could make them out now…. Two…. Three…. Four…. Maybe half a dozen, all in grey helmets and pale grey boiler suits. Before he knew it the Lanchester was barking at them , shots fizzing into the green orchard, cracking against branches and thudding into the trunks of the trees. He saw two figures fall and the movement in the orchard stopped; silence above the ringing in his ears sinking into the surroundings.

Two hundred yards away at the pub Betty Tanner heard the shots. She had been sitting with Lord Thorncroft and some of her regulars taking on some Dutch courage before going up to the cricket pavilion but as the shots had rang out she could see the Lord of the manor pale considerably before he excused himself to be sick outside. “Funny”, Betty thought, “I’ve seen the old man drink ten times that before and then drive home”, then she found herself flat on the floor with Chipper Gamble, the village’s carpenter and darts captain on top of her as the windows on the river view side of the pub exploded in a hail of gunfire.

“Get off me Gamble you big oaf” she shouted as the darts captain struggled to get up. She looked across to see Lord Thorncroft crouching, pale and shaking by the coat stand. “Douglas?” She shouted, Thorncroft looked up “don’t just crouch over there, where’s you bloody gun? Show these nazi bastards what we’re made of, I’ll go and grab some bottles”

Lord Thorncroft looked around. The pub regulars were looking at him, waiting for his word as Lord of the Manor, “oh Christ”, he thought to himself “I am leading these poor lads to die again aren’t I”. He clambered slowly to his shaking feet, downed the last of the Haig wiskey in his glass and moved towards the broken window. Off across the North Stream he could see a group about ten paratroopers, apparently pinned down by some feisty, yet ineffective fire coming from one of the older gentlemen of the home guard who was over in the direction of the bridge. He raised his rather ancient blunderbuss and with Betty Tanner and her regulars throwing beer bottles, proceeded to further suppress the fallschirmjager whilst they waited for the seventh cavalry in the shape of the East Sussex Hunt to get there with their shotguns.

Lying in his ditch Taylor saw the new home guard recruit Hodges, the deaf and mute farmer’s son. He was sauntering across the cricket pitch without a care in the world, what was he doing? Couldn’t he hear the bullets flying around. Taylor wanted to call to him to get down but he knew that Hodges Probably wouldn’t hear him and, even if he did, he would almost certainly give away his own position. Even as he was thinking he heard the shot ring out and watched the boy fall into the long grass by the pitch’s boundary but the boy was still very much alive and firing a volley of five or six rounds back into the orchard. “Good lad” thought Taylor, “That should hold them up” but then he felt the bee sting in his right shoulder and realized he couldn’t lift his arm. He rolled to his left instinctively but the pain was immense. Knowing he couldn’t fire another shot he crawled as best he could on his left side back over the crossroads and then, back on his feet, ran back towards the police station and the doctor’s surgery.

To the south of the Bank and just off the bridle path Reynolds sat quietly in his Foxhole “Sod ‘em all” he thought. “They’ve never given a rat’s arse about me and I ain’t gonna help them. Four years in this sodding village and all I get is sneers and bickering but I’ll show ‘em. You just wait ‘til the Germans kill the lot of you and good old me gets to give them access to some of my friends, they’ll like my friends” Reynolds took another swig from his hip flask and waited it out. If he was lucky it may be all over by this evening and he could search out the commandant with a nice fat rabbit to give him for his dinner as a peace offering.

Police Sergeant Drake heard Taylor coming before he saw him, the W.I. shooting party had been lambasting him for twenty minutes about the internment of their rifles in one of his cells, when he heard to wheezing coming from behind him.

“Bastard….. paratroops….. orchard…. I think they got the farmer’s lad Hodges ……” gasped Taylor who then collapsed breathing and bleeding heavily from his shoulder.

“Victoria,” said Drake, handing her the Sergeant’s rifle “take Taylor down to Dr Greystone, he’s in the surgery this morning, then make your way back up to the crossroads by the cemetary, the rest of you come with me”. Drake grabbed his trusty Lee Enfield and the keys to the locked cell where he liberated the rest of the shooting party’s weapons. “Ladies, this may not be pretty but our country needs us.”

Taylor woke to the sound of Sergeant Drake and the W.I. moving out in his Bedford van. He was in Dr Greystone’s surgery and the doctor was trying to remove the german bullet from under his collarbone. He breathed again and the doctor saw him move his eyes.

“Stay still Taylor”, said the doctor with slow and calming concentration “we’ll have this little sod out in a jiffy”. Sergeant Taylor closed his eyes and heard the ferocious gunfire pick up again over toward the Orchard.

Edith Finlay had been busy since Taylor left that morning. She had found the length of telephonist’s cable that she always had tucked away for safe keeping and connected it up to the copper wiring that Taylor had installed that morning, being careful to loom it back into her telephone exchange on a vacant telephone address. She had been listening to lots of indecipherable traffic related to fliegercorps this, kriegsmarine that and fallschirmjager the other and had to admit that, frankly, it was all German to her; that was about the time the gun fire had started and she had taken refuge under the exchange itself, a heavy piece of oak and bakalite. Suddenly, with a lull in the fighting she could hear a mans voice shouting; “BAKER SUGER ARE YOU THERE? ARE YOU THERE OVER? DAMNIT MCGOWAN, ARE YOU THERE?”

Edith picked up the mouthpiece and took a deep breath “Hello? I rather think Captain McGowan may have a bit on his plate at the mo, can I help you? I’m his…” she paused “second in command”.

The voice on the other end paused, “Really?” said the voice “The captains adjutant is a woman? Ho well….. can you get a message to Captain McGowan?”

Edith felt very proud; she rang Mr Pendrake at the bank, she rang Betty Tanner’s pub but the woman was obviously out, she rang Dr Greystone and told him to tell his patients and, when the firing recommenced she thought about writing the message on one of her newly washed sheets that were on the washing line outside before she realised that they now appeared to have a couple of holes in them. Finally Edith Finlay rang through to the church and spoke to Captain McGowan “Hello Captain” she said “Now don’t you go worrying yourself for much longer about the nasty spot you’re in, somebody has just rung me to say that the real soldiers are coming and they’ll be here in half an hour” and she hung up. She felt rather smug about the way she’d handled that “that’ll teach you you pompous little man” she thought.

Somewhere in the woods to the south of Bridle Path the German 7th Fallschirmjager detachment was moving silently. Up ahead one of the men spotted a wire loop laying across their path. He gestured his platoon commander and the troops split silently into the lush green cover. Was it a tripwire? A mine of some kind? They did not know so, silently they traced the wire back to a foxhole and the hand of a sleeping poacher. Despatching his life silently they moved on, towards the clearing on the bridle path and the village outskirts in the distance.

Elsewhere at the North Stream the German 5th Light Infantry were still coming under withering fire; not just from the incompetants in the pub opposite with their beer bottles and billiard balls but now from a large group of what looked like British Napoleonic redcoats armed with a fearsome array of shotguns and rifles. “Ruckzug….. ruckzug……” yelled the squad leader as the men fell back to the trees. To the pub regulars and, with greater relief, Lord Thorncroft it looked as if they had turned back the best that the Wehrmacht could throw at them and three cheers rang out from the saloon bar but the cheers and laughter turned to silence as Betty tanner turned the volume on the radio up so she could hear the news report; it had transpired that King George had been kidnapped along with the rest of the royal family.
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Dave Daffin
United Kingdom
Ledbury
Herefordshire
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Fantastic narrative. Brings the village (and the conflict) to life. thumbsup
 
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Phillip Good
United Kingdom
London
London
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Cheers Dave, am playing as a co-op with the wife; she doesn't really know the rules but is telling me what she wants the villagers to do and I'm giving her the various options and decisions to weigh up as we go along. Imagine the "whoop" that she made when the W.I. kicked falschirmjager butt in the orchard!! Epic! She is also warming to Betty Tanner and the pub boys so I may be winning her over with wargames...... finally..... if you really call this a wargame!

Pip
 
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