tagNovels and NovellasThe Way of War Pt. 07

The Way of War Pt. 07

byRobinLane©

Chapter 22

Ted was on hand to greet them as they climbed from the Ford. "Welcome back chaps, had a good Christmas I hope? You'll find some more presents in the storage tents along with some livestock."

Mystified, they looked in the tents. Large bags announced they were Berber Tents, in another they found boxes with the legend, Camels Kneeling, Camels Standing, and Goats, alongside of these were two small petrol driven generators and air pumps. In another bag were Black Teraquas costumes.

The Officers looked at each other. "So who is going to put them up first?" Shaun said, not at all surprised that no one volunteered.

The following day Shaun and Bobby looked on in amusement as Tim and Bill's patrols started to erect the Berber tents. They chuckled as the 'animals' were blown up. Eventually Tim and Bill, perspiring heavily, came over to them.

"You could have helped," Bill groaned.

"Sorry old boy, but rank does have its privileges," Bobby replied in a superior voice.

They looked inside the tents, "They could just about get a truck and Jeep inside one of them." Bobby said.

"Well let's make sure, Tim bring your truck and Jeep up, see if they'll fit," Shaun said.

The truck was reversed in followed by the jeep, there was about three inches of headroom above of the 50 calibre machine gun. They checked the animals next. Altogether there were 24 camels, 18 were kneeling with 6 standing, and 20 goats. Loops at the base of each animal allowed a tent peg to anchor it. Seen from a distance they looked remarkably life like.

Later that night in the mess tent, Shaun remarked upon their new acquisitions, "They are too big and lumpy to cart all over the place. What we will have to do is move them to the base camp at the out crop, and Wadi Al Kuf, say two tents and half the livestock at each." He looked around at the others for comments. They all agreed.

They had decided that Bobby and Bill would be based at the outcrop, whilst Shaun and Tim would use Wadi Al Kuf as their base. Over the next three weeks they built up their supplies at each of their bases, before going on to reconnoitring potential ambush points. Shaun and Tim's patrols spent New Year's Eve out in the desert.

On their return from a patrol at the end of the third week in January, they were surprised to see Captain Silverman with Ted when they reported in. Bobby and Bill were already present.

Ted had already marked on the big map the ambush points along with the base camps. Silverman was inspecting the map as they came in. He turned and smiled at Shaun and Tim, noting their dusty appearance.

"So gentleman, it seems that you have prepared your positions well. As I understand it, Captain Ramage and Lieutenant Morris, will cover the area between Barce and Gambut. Whilst Captain Dole and Lieutenant Drake, will cover Bardia to Mersa Matruth." He saw the confirming nods from the four officers. He lowered his voice, "I suspect that within a few weeks we will start to put your hard work into action. The advance is stalling at El Aghella, Rommel is fighting back now."

They discussed a few points more before being dismissed. As he was leaving Captain Silverman spoke to Shaun, "I have a letter for you Captain," he said, handing it over and smiling at Shaun.

Shaun was for a second startled but Silverman's smile put him at ease, "Thank you Sir," he managed to mumble.

In his tent he read it, it was from Sharon. She missed him, work was increasing and she was working long hours but didn't mind as it took her mind from thinking of him. He smiled remembering, he took out the photographs that the Prof had developed. They were coloured shots of her in the scarlet dress. His favourite shot was inside the cigarette case. He stretched out on his cot thinking of her and yearning to have her in his arms again.

Titch came to see him the next day, "Boss I've prepared a parts list for Sue and the Jeep. We ought to service them, they've done a lot of mileage over the last month."

Shaun checked the list, oil filters, air filters, sparkplugs, new points and oil. "Have we got this lot in the service tent Titch?"

"Most of it Boss, but the other drivers want to service their vehicles too. It would be a good idea to take some of this to the base camps if we are likely to be there for any time."

Shaun saw the logic in Titch's comments. "I'll make out a requisition order, you can take it to Alex and get it filled."

Titch nodded "Thanks Boss."

He walked over to where the men were working on Sue and the Jeep. He saw Sammy working on a strange radio he had not seen before. "What's this for Sammy," he asked.

Sammy looked up and smiled, "It's a crude form of wireless interception we were given when we attended the code course in Cairo. It's not got much range, only about 25 miles. The idea is, if there's a Jerry radio tracking wagon working between me and Ben we should be able to locate it."

Shaun knew L/Cpl Ben Powers was Tim's radio operator. "So you have to have one of you some distance away from the other in order to track it?"

"Well it could let us know there was one about somewhere, but to get a positive fix you would need the other truck as well," Sammy replied.

Jack came over and nodded to Sammy, "Another drain on the batteries. It's as well we have the portable generator."

Shaun chuckled, Jack was like a mother hen regarding Sue and the Jeep. He told him about Titch going to Alex and asked if there was anything else they needed.

Jack shook his head, "Not off hand Boss, mind you, new blankets would be nice, ours are beginning to smell a bit ripe."

Shaun nodded, "Point taken, I'll add them to Titch's list."

Three weeks later they received the news, Rommel had broken out front El Ariella and was rolling up the Allies forces. "They are nearly at Derna, and show no sign of stopping," Ted informed the Officers. "Shaun, you and Tim get ready to pull out for Wadi Al Kef, and if they pass Slum, I'll release Bobby and Bill."

Jack checked the loading of Sue and the Jeep making sure everything was on board, whilst Shaun checked the route with the Prof.

They set out at first light with Cookie driving the Jeep. They reached the cave in less than three days. Once all the vehicles were inside, the camouflage net was reset covering the entrance. The burners were broken out to make food and tea.

Shaun was eating a sausage sandwich whilst consulting with Tim. "We'll take the Jeeps out just before sunset and set up on top of the escarpment. We need to wait until we see fuel bowsers that will be the main target, after that concentrate on the trucks. We'll take the three inch mortars and ten shells, the drivers can use them."

Titch would drive the Jeep whilst Jack manned the .50 calibre, Shaun would handle the Vickers Ks. He had four magazines for them, and Jack had 500 rounds of API. He went over to check Tim's Jeep. Alf Bell would be driving it and Sargent Walker manning the 50cal.

They followed the base of the Jebel Akhdar until they reached a spot looking down onto the coast road. Heavy traffic was moving along it, a mixture of tank transporters troop transporters and trucks. It seemed to Shaun that the convoys contained about 50 vehicles and then a twenty minute break before another came into view.

Shaun climbed out of the Jeep, crossing over to Tim's. "Take your Jeep about 500 yards over there," he indicated with his hand, "when I open fire that will be your signal. I'll fire the Verity pistol that will be the signal to break off and to return to base." When he returned to his Jeep, he saw Titch setting up the mortar. He'd parked the Jeep side-on to the road, allowing Shaun and Jack a clear field of fire.

Shaun was scanning the now empty road through his 10x50 binoculars. They heard the trucks before they came into view. The first six were transport trucks, but behind them were two fuel tankers, followed by more transport trucks.

"Wait until there descending the escarpment," Shaun murmured to Jack, who just nodded.

The tankers had slowed to navigate the bend of the escarpment road when Shaun gave the order. The boom, boom, boom of the big 50, rang out as Shaun raked the trucks behind them. He heard the whoomf of the mortar going off. There was a sudden explosion as one of the tankers exploded sending a flaming river of fuel down the road, which ignited the trucks in front. Men were leaping from the trucks trying to find shelter. Shaun changed his magazines as the second tanker exploded creating a tidal wave of flaming fuel running down the hill. Jack swung the 50 round and commenced firing on the trucks that Shaun hadn't fired on yet. Then the sky lit up with a massive explosion as an ammunition truck exploded down near Tim's Jeep. Some of the enemy had taken shelter behind the road and were firing rifles at them. Shaun concentrated on them with the Vickers as Jack racked the trucks setting a number on fire. Titch had used up his mortar shells and was clipping the mortar back into place on the Jeep.

"Nearly out of ammo, Boss," Jack warned.

"Time to be going I think," Shaun said as he fired the Verity pistol.

When they reached the Wadi the men jumped down to move some of the boulders to restrict access through it before carrying on to the cave. Before leaving, Titch unclipped the sand guards.

They sat around the burner drinking tea as they compared notes on the action. Tim claimed 26 trucks, six of which were destroyed by the ammunition blast. Shaun's tally was two tankers and 19 trucks, Titch claiming three with his mortar. Before bedding down for the night Jack organised for two men to take lookout at first light.

The lookout being relieved, reported no activity the next day, which surprised Shaun. He could only surmise that Rommel wanted no interference with the momentum of his attack.

Throughout April they carried ten attacks, culminating in eight fuel bowsers destroyed and 78 trucks. The enemy were forced to start using trucks loaded with fuel in Jerry cans.

Shaun was checking on ammunition and provisions realising they were now running short. He consulted with Tim, "I think it's time we returned to the Oasis, we need to resupply."

Tim stroked his beard, "Well I'm all in favour of anything that gives me a chance of a shower and shave."

They set off the following day after making sure nothing could be traced to the cave being occupied.

Four days later they pulled up at the Oasis. Ted was on hand to welcome them back. Inside his tent, he poured out two stiff drinks for them.

"You chaps deserve this, cheers," he said. "Intelligence has confirmed the wonton destruction of General Rommel's transports. But was unaware of who by until Captain Silverman informed them," Ted said chuckling, "I'm going to send out Bobby and Bill to re supply the cave. In the meantime, you can have a five days leave in Cairo. At the moment, Rommel is stalled just outside Tobruk, but it's feared he won't stay there long."

Shaun made his weary way to his tent and collapsed onto the cot. He knew he stank and needed a shower and shave but more than that he needed sleep.

He woke up five hours later. After peeling off the clothes he'd worn for over a month, he left the tent for the showers. He noticed the snores emanating from the patrol tents as he passed. They were all worn out he knew. The constant strain of being behind enemy lines drained a man, although none would admit to it.

Chapter 23

Shaun dumped his valise on the ottoman and picked up the telephone. A strange voice answered. "Could I speak to Second Officer Silverman please?" he inquired.

"I'm sorry, but she's over at headquarters, can I give her a message?"

"Oh yes, would you tell her Captain Ramage is at the Nile Palace." The voice said she would and the line went dead.

He met up with Tim and they both went down to the dining room where they ordered steaks with all the trimmings. They may not have been to the quality of Sharon's restaurant but after bullied beef they tasted fantastic. Tim told Shaun he had been able to get a hold of Ann and she was coming over after getting off duty.

Shaun got a taxi to the military tailors and ordered four new shirts and three pairs of slacks and shorts, the ones he had worn on the last mission had been burnt. He returned to the hotel. Finding no messages for him from reception, he made for the bar and ordered a large vodka and tonic.

He was on his third when she rushed into the bar. Forgetting protocol she flung herself into his arms. "Darling, I've only just heard you were back, I returned to the flat and the office phoned through with your message," she managed to say before he kissed her.

She sat down and he ordered her a drink. She was looking at him, "You've lost weight," she said concerned.

He chuckled, "Army rations are not designed to put weight on."

She smiled, "I know what you have been up to, Dad kept me informed," she whispered.

"Well you have me for five days. What do you think we should do?"

She smiled shyly "Why don't we go to your room and discuss it?"

He lay on his back with his chest heaving, perspiration covering his forehead. He glanced at her, an enigmatic smile covered her face. "You look like the cat who swallowed the cream," he murmured. She rolled over on to her tummy and kissed his forehead, "Salty" she whispered, rolling out of bed and walking to the bathroom.

"When you're dressed, we'll go and get you a steak at Giza and put some meat on your ribs," she called from the bathroom. He didn't have the heart to tell her he had already had one.

They sat in the restaurant gazing at one another, "God but I've missed you," he whispered.

She smiled, "It's been hell knowing where you were, and what you were up against. Each day worrying if anything had gone wrong."

He took her hand from across the table, "Sharon, please don't worry. I'm indestructible."

She smiled again, "I've just thought, I dashed out without my overnight bag, I'll have to use your tooth brush," she chuckled.

They stepped out in to the street, walking towards the main road to find a taxi. They had only gone a few yards when some instinct warned Shaun. He looked back and saw four Arabs detach themselves from an ally way, walking menacingly towards them. He bent down and retrieved the PPK from the ankle holster as the Arabs broke into a run brandishing evil looking knives. He pushed Sharon behind him as he fired. He dropped two with two shots, then felt a shearing pain down his right shoulder. He spun around to find a fifth Arab who had suddenly grown a third eye in the centre of his forehead as he crumpled to the road. Sharon had a small silver automatic pistol in her hand. She fired again as the other two Arabs bolted back the way they had come from.

"Bugger," he groaned, "I've only worn this uniform five times," he said as everything turned black.

When he came to he was in a hospital bed with a drip stand beside him, Sharon was sitting by the bed holding his hand. "Hello, fancy meeting you here," he mumbled.

She looked up, relief etched into her face. "Now be quite, you lost a lot of blood and need to rest."

"Where exactly am I?" He mumbled.

"You're in the military hospital, they had to put in ten stitches to sew you up again, you lost the blood waiting for help to arrive."

He nodded "How long have you been carrying a gun?" he asked.

She smiled "Since I was sixteen, I'm not a bad shot either," she said proudly.

He chuckled, "I'm sure the guy with the third eye would testify to that."

Just then the door opened and Captain Silverman walked in, "I see you are back amongst us, Captain Ramage. I've spoken to the doctor, he says you'll not be able to use your arm for at least two weeks."

"He'll have to revise his schedule, I've a patrol to lead in six days," Shaun replied.

Silverman smiled, "I don't think you have to worry about that at the moment, as your injury is not life threatening they'll keep you in overnight for observation then release you tomorrow. Sharon will take you back to the flat and keep an eye on you. I've given her six days leave." Shaun looked surprised at the Captain.

"It seems you mean a lot to my daughter," Silverman grinned, "I'll be seeing you before you return to the Oasis."

After he had gone, he turned to Sharon, "So he knows about us?" he stammered.

She smiled pushing his hair back over his forehead, "I tell him everything. What's more, he approves of my choice of you."

*********

Sharon helped him into the lift, he was wearing a sling around his neck. The hospital had loaned him a dressing gown which he wore over his slacks. Sharon had said she would visit the tailors to get a new uniform jacket made for him and pick up his other order.

She took him through to the bedroom, "Right, in you get, and you are to rest no exertion at all." "We'll see about that young lady," he said trying to grab her.

"Shaun, I mean it," she said firmly.

She unpacked the bag she had brought from the hospital, putting the dressings to one side and taking out his blood stained uniform jacket. "I'll have it cleaned and repaired," she murmured. She then removed the Walther PPK and ankle holster putting them at the side of the bed. "I'm going to make you some chicken soup, Mum always claimed it cured all medical maladies."

***

For two days she would not let him get out of bed, except to go to the toilet. She slept in her father's room. She dressed the wound, bathed him and shaved him with a safety razor. When he asked if it was her father's, she had replied that it was hers. "What do you need a razor for?" he had asked.

She gave him an old fashion look and murmured, "I changed the blade silly." It took a few moments for him to fully realise what she meant.

She had collected his valise from the hotel after visiting the tailor. On the third morning, he collected his cutthroat razor from the valise and went into the bathroom. The shoulder was stiff and sore, but being left handed didn't prove a problem to shaving. After washing and cleaning his teeth, he dressed and went into the kitchen to make tea.

She must have heard the noise because she came hurrying in, the cotton dressing gown hiding her nakedness. "Shaun, you should be in bed," she said angrily.

"Darling, if I stay in bed any longer you'll be treating bed sores." Resigned, Sharon sat down while he poured out her tea.

"That gun you used, it's a .22 isn't it?"

She nodded, "Why do you ask?"

He stood up and walked into his bedroom, returning with the PPK and holster. "If you have to carry a gun at least have one with a little more clout," he murmured, handing it to her.

"But it's yours darling," she protested.

"I can easily get another one," he replied. He showed her how to remove the magazine and explained the features of the weapon, ending by giving her the two spare magazines he had carried in the valise.

"I won't need the holster, I'll carry it in my handbag."

"I'll need to go back to the hotel to see Tim and explain things," he told her.

She nodded understanding, "I have to do some shopping for food, so I can drop you off from the taxi."

Still wearing the arm sling, Shaun entered the foyer. He asked at reception for them to ring Lieutenant Morris's room. Ann answered, and he quickly explained that he needed to talk with Tim down in the foyer.

Tim came hurrying in, his face betrayed the shock of seeing him with the arm sling. Shaun explained about the incident and what the doctors.

"Tim, I'm returning with you to the oasis, you'll have to pick me up," he handed over Sharon's address, "but Shaun, you are in no state to lead the patrol," Tim protested.

"In case it escaped you, that's an order Lieutenant," Shaun said firmly.

He stopped at reception to pay his bill, and the receptionist informed him that there was a message for him. Would he ring Captain Silverman's office giving him the number. The girl at the end of the line asked him if it was convenient to call into the office. Shaun said he could call in right now if that was okay.

Report Story

byRobinLane© 2 comments/ 2622 views/ 5 favorites

Share the love

Report a Bug

Next
2 Pages:12

Forgot your password?

Please wait

Change picture

Your current user avatar, all sizes:

Default size User Picture  Medium size User Picture  Small size User Picture  Tiny size User Picture

You have a new user avatar waiting for moderation.

Select new user avatar:

   Cancel