tagNovels and NovellasThe Way of War Pt. 09

The Way of War Pt. 09


Chapter 29

In Silverman's office, with Bobby, Bill and Tim present, he outlined what the little problem was.

"Gentlemen, let me say at once that I don't think this mission is feasible. The Germans, as you know, have reinforced their Luftwaffe with squadrons from Crete and Sicily. They have air superiority at the moment in North Africa. Amongst them are two squadrons of Stuka dive-bombers. They are very good at what they do, they pick off our tanks and transport with unbelievable accuracy. Six weeks ago, we sent eight Blenheim's to bomb their air field, two returned. Me109's guard the base. Three weeks ago, a mixed force of 36 LRDG and SAS in six trucks attempted to force an entrance. They were shot to pieces, fourteen dead the rest wounded and taken prisoner." Silverman looked at their faces before continuing.

"Recent aerial photography shows that they have increased their fortifications to stop any attack from penetrating the air base. Headquarters want that target destroyed before we go on the attack. That gentlemen, is the problem." He sat back.

"What about a naval bombardment?" Bobby asked.

Silverman smiled, "It was thought of, Captain, but at the moment we have only two Destroyers, both under repair at Alex. The evacuation at Greece and Sicily cost the Royal Navy dearly in ships. What is left is now stationed at Gib, desperately needed for convoy duty to supply Malta. If any ship leaves Alex it will be reported back to the Germans by their agents and they will monitor its progress with their reconnaissance aircraft. Also, they have six E boats at Sollum who patrol that section of coast. The SAS did a four day recognisance before their attack. They discovered that a mine field surrounds the base and the guard fence is electrified. A full company of troops guard it, and they're good," Silverman said grimly.

"Could we see the aerial photographs, Sir?" Shaun said.

Silverman nodded, rising he moved to a table behind them, "All the information we have is right here."

The four Officers gathered around the table.

"The base is here, eight miles out from Sidi Barrani," Silverman said, pointing to the map. "As you can see, it's on the coastal plain forty miles of sand dunes before reaching the escarpment."

He withdrew six, 8 x 10 photographs from a folder. "These are the latest aerial photographs. As you can see, there are four sandbagged gun emplacements guarding the main gate. Two contain a couple MG34 machine guns, the other two have 30mm quad cannons. Those were added after the failed raid. The base itself is fairly resent, each aircraft has a high sandbag blast-wall protecting it, as well one protecting the fuel dump."

Shaun borrowed the magnifying glass, going over each photograph. Finally shaking his head, "A frontal assault on the gate would be suicide," he murmured.

Silverman nodded, "I concur Captain."

Shaun stood thinking, he lit a cigarette and slowly drew in the smoke.

"What about an attack from the sea but covered by a diversion at the main gate?" he said.

Silverman frowned, "I don't follow Captain."

Shaun took a deep breath, "If a team were landed from the sea, they could destroy the aircraft with fused explosives. At the same time, an attack on the main gate would draw the enemy to that location. I know it's sketchy at the moment, but it's something to think about."

Bobby nodded, "The team could be landed by submarine, getting ashore with inflatable boats."

Silverman looked at the Officers, "How many men would you need?"

"Just Z patrol Sir, the four Jeeps and the remaining men to form the landing party, eight men in total. We will need to go into the planning in greater detail, but it could prove to be a solution to the problem," Shaun replied.

"Very well gentlemen, I'll find out if a submarine could be available, as well as tides and the state of the moon." Silverman smiled, "We'll continue this meeting in three days' time. No doubt you will need to discuss the logistics amongst yourselves," Silverman said, handing Shaun the packet of photographs and bringing the meeting to a close.

Outside, Shaun arranged for them all to meet at the flat, "We will need to bring the Prof in on this along with Cookie, can you bring them Bobby?" Bobby nodded.

Back at the flat, he waited until Sharon returned home from her duty. After the usual welcome, he told her of using the flat to plan a mission.

She frowned, "What mission are you talking about?" She asked.

He explained about the airbase, watching as her face went white.

"Shaun, it's been tried, the men who tried it were slaughtered. It can't be done, I've seen the reports."

He took her into his arms, "Darling, all we are doing is trying to see if it's feasible. It may be, as you say, impossible but we have to try to figure a way to do it if we can."

The next morning after Sharon had left for the office, he moved the dining table into the centre of the room and placed the photographs out on it. When the others arrived, he quickly explained to the Prof and Cookie about the problem. "What I need from you, Prof, is a large scale plan of the base and the immediate ground in front of the main gate. Cookie, what kind of explosives could be used to blow up a Stuka and Me109 that will give us time to get clear?"

For five hours they discussed various methods until a plan started to come together. Each officer had a task to accomplish and they arranged to meet again the following morning.

At four in the afternoon the doorbell rang. It was Titch, he had brought back the Morris.

"It's running like a sewing machine now, Boss. It needed new points and sparkplugs, and I've reset the timing and tappets, the young lady shouldn't have any problems with it now," he said grinning.

"Thanks Titch, how much do I owe you?" Shaun replied.

Titch shook his head, "Nothing boss, I got the bits from a mate of mine."

Shaun smiled, "I'll fix you up with some fags and a bottle back at the Oasis."

Shaun ran Titch in it back to his hotel. When he returned, he parked Sharon's car out of sight of the flat.

When Sharon came in she was looking worried. "How did your meeting go?" She asked.

Shaun took her in his arms and kissed her, "Its early days at the moment. What do you say about having a steak at our favourite restaurant?"

She frowned, "The last time we went there you were nearly killed."

He laughed, "I keep telling you I'm a hard man to kill."

"Okay, but do you have a weapon, or do you want yours back?" She asked.

He smiled, "It's yours. I have a new one."

Shaun watched as she dressed, feeling excited at seeing her body and knowing that later it would be his. When she was ready she said she had better ring for a taxi.

"No need darling, I have transport outside."

She waited at the entrance to the flats as he went to get it. Her face broke out in to a wide smile as he drew up. He climbed out and helped her into the driver's seat.

"Oh darling, Titch managed to fix it?" she said happily, as he climbed in beside her.


They danced after the meal, her head resting against his, the smell of her hair and perfume was intoxicating. She lifted her head to look at him, "I think your body is trying to tell me something, Captain," she whispered in his ear, whilst pushing her body closer to his.

Shaun groaned at the contact, "I think we should call it a night," he murmured, kissing her neck.

On the drive back, Shaun half turned in his seat to look at her. The summer dress she wore had ridden up to expose her knees. His hand gently pushed it further up exposing her thighs.

"Shaun" she gasped, "I'm driving."

He placed his hand on her knee, "Yes darling, you concentrate on your driving," he murmured as his hand caressing her leg. She could feel the hand lightly sliding up and down the inside of her legs sending shock waves to her nervous system. She bit her bottom lip trying to concentrate as she involuntarily opened her legs a bit more.

When she pulled up at the flats, she switched off and turned to him. "You bastard, I could have..."

His lips covered hers. She groaned feeling his fingers working on her privates. By the time they stepped out of the lift, Sharon was carrying her damp panties. In the flat they undressed quickly, then she was in his arms feeling his member, so hard and big. She could wait no longer and hooked her leg around his waist, giving a low groan has it slid in.

When he awoke the next morning she was gone, he smiled to himself remembering. He showered and dressed, getting ready for the others to arrive.

When they all were present they began. The Prof had made a large scale drawing of the base and surrounds, a legend at the side of it gave the scale.

Cookie had arrived with a block of plastic explosive and time pencils. "What I need to know is how much time you need before it blows?" Cookie asked.

Shaun looked around the room at the men, "Ideally they should all go off at the same time, but it's going to take longer to reach the aircraft at the far end of the runway than those at the beach end. How far do you think that is Prof?"

"Well working from the reconnaissance photograph's and using the scale, say a little over 800 yards."

"What I would suggest then," Cookie said, "is that the charges are placed in the aircraft's air intakes along with time pencils. The man who places the last bomb at the end of the line activates the pencil for his bomb then runs back along the line. Someone in the next aircraft activates his pencil as he sees him pass then sprints along to another aircraft."

"We would need, let's say... three men," Cookie pondered, "alternating between aircraft and activating the pencils. As each man passes, the man waiting activates his pencil and so on down the line. There may be a few minutes difference before they explode."

"Assuming there is no trouble, I would think thirty minutes to do the job. Can the pencils be rigged for that Cookie?" Shaun asked

Cookie frowned, "I would have to adapt them and then test them, but yes, it could be done, I would also suggest we use two pencils in each block, just to be on the safe side."

"Right," said Shaun, "that's the explosives sorted, next, the gate team," he said looking at Bobby.

Bobby took a deep breath and then began, "The two main targets will be the 30mm Quads and the radio room. The three inch mortars have the range to fire from behind the sand dunes. We can carry two, by strapping the barrels, tripods and base plates to the Jeep's bonnets. If the Prof can work out the range and direction, we can set them up to take them out."

They turned to look at the Prof.

He smiled, "That's no problem, and we have the scale from the aerials. It's about 900 yards from the sand dunes to the entrance. All I need to know is where you will place them?"

Bobby looked at the plan and indicted a sand dune. "How about here?"

The Prof looked at it and smiled, "I can work out a compass bearing and range from there to each target. It will just mean setting them up at the time. One drawback is the guard towers, they have search lights and could prove a problem for the landing party?"

The room lapsed into silence.

"What if we stage an air raid?" Shaun exclaimed. "There would be an immediate black out. If the aircraft circled, it could be maintained for the duration of the raid. The Jerry's would think that they are trying to find them."

"The other problem," Bobby grimaced, "is in a blackout, we wouldn't be able to see the radio shack to get a bead on it."

"Also," Bill muttered, "the sound of the Jeeps would give us away and alert them."

Cookie chimed in, "Why not carry the mortars and set them up before the air raid. If we let them off about half a mile from the base, then the mortar team and passenger in each Jeep could carry them and say, ten or so bombs. Prof could get a sight on the radio shack before the blackout. Once they are fired it won't matter if the Jeeps are heard. In fact, with the noise of the aircraft and the explosion of the mortars, Jerry may well think it is an actual air raid. The rest of mortar bombs in the Jeeps can be unloaded at the mortar site before taking up position."

Bobby nodded, "The Jeeps will need to keep moving when we attack, we can't allow their guns to get a fix on our position. We can use the sand dunes for cover, fire for around fifteen seconds then reverse behind the dune appearing on the other side."

Shaun grinned, "When you hear the planes exploding, you get the hell out of there. What's your escape plan?"

Bill took over, "We retreat back to the outcrop, we can climb up from the coastal plain and drive directly to it, the trucks will be there. Then make our way back following the usual route."

Shaun turned next to Tim, "Have you a list of any specialised equipment we may need?"

Tim nodded pulling out a sheet of paper. "Assuming there will be sixteen in the Jeeps and eight in the raiding party, we will need the following," he said consulting his list. "The raiding party will be armed with silenced pistols, Browning Hi powers. The Browning's can be had from the SAS and say, four clips per gun. We also need commando knives, black overalls and plimsolls. Black skull caps and face camouflage, a black haversack, each containing four blocks of explosive plus the time pencils. Two 3-inch-mortars and twenty five hi-explosive bombs and a range finder for Prof.

Shaun looked at them all, "Well gentlemen, it seems we have a plan to present to Commodore Silverman tomorrow. It remains to be seen if he has procured a submarine and an air-raid, along with a tide time table," he said, bringing the meeting to a close.

When Sharon returned in the evening she found him studying the Prof's drawing. She sat down quietly beside him, "Is this the base?" She asked.

Shaun looked up startled, "Hello darling, I didn't hear you come in," he replied giving her a kiss.

She smiled, "No, you were focused on this," indicating the drawing.

"I was going over it in my mind, I'm sorry darling."

She nodded getting up. "I'm going to shower and change."

They ate in that night, Sharon made pasta and opened a bottle of wine, but she could sense that Shaun was preoccupied with the forth-coming mission.

Chapter 29

They all assembled around the map table in Commodore Silverman's office.

Shaun had placed Prof's drawing on it, he glanced at the men around the table before beginning.

"The plan calls for an eight man inflatable boat to ferry us from the submarine to the shore. The boat will hold just short of the breakers whilst Lieutenant Morris I and slip over the side. We will take care of the guards on the beach. The signal for the boat to come in will be a red torch light."

"Once ashore, the men will place half-pound, plastic explosives into the air intakes of the aircraft delegated to them. The reconnaissance photographs show 24 Stukas and 6 Me109's. Lieutenant Morris, Corporal Yates and I will proceed to the end of the aircraft line where they will place their explosives and I will place mine in the fuel bunker. As I pass on my return run, Lieutenant Morris will activate his time pencils on the last aircraft in the row. Corporal Yates will activate his, whilst I activate the third in the row. By which time Lieutenant Morris will be seeing to the forth aircraft. We will be leapfrogging each other down the line, activating the explosives placed in the aircraft by the other five members of the raid. Once all are back on the boat, we will head west along the coast line for two miles and await the submarine." Shaun stood back making room for Bobby.

"The Jeeps and trucks will be moved to the outcrop. It will take three days to reach from the Oasis. Once there, the Jeeps will be fuelled and made ready. The 3-inch-mortars will be loaded onto the bonnets of the Jeeps, two carrying the tripods and two the barrels and base plates, padding will be placed beneath them to cut down noise. Each Jeep will carry four men to make up the mortar crews. Cpl Workington will be the spotter and range finder, Sargent McNought, L/Cpl Burr and Pvt Car will work with the mortar crews."

Bobby glanced at the faces around the table, making sure there were no questions. "With the exception of Cpl Workington, the members of the mortar teams have extensive experience and should be spot-on. Cpl Workington will work out the range and direction of the principle targets, namely the radio room, and the 30mm Quad canons. Sargent McNought will set up the mortars here behind this sand dune," Bobby indicated a spot on the plan and the others nodded their understanding.

"Out of the lines of fire from the Jeeps, Cpl Workington will be able to give instructions to adjust the mortar fire from the top of the sand dune. The signal to attack will be when the mortars fire at precisely 0315 hundred hours to coincide with the air raid and with the high tide. The Jeeps will take up positions behind these sand dunes," he said, pointing them out on the map. "The Jeeps will fire on the gate gun positions, then reverse behind the sand dune when they come under fire. With four Jeeps supplying suppressing fire it should draw out the rest of the garrison who haven't gone into their air raid shelters. Once we hear the aircraft explosions, we'll break off contact and return to the outcrop, it should take four to five days to return to the Oasis."

All their eyes turned to Commodore Silverman.

He stood looking down on the plan drawing for several seconds, deep in thought. He lifted his head and smiled at them, "It seems gentlemen, that you have created a feasible plan of action. The next high tide, which fortunately falls on a quarter moon, is in just under a weeks' time. Will that give you enough time to get ready?"

"If we have this equipment, Sir, then yes," Shaun replied, handing him a piece of paper.

Silverman checked the list Shaun had given him. "I take it, Captain Dole, you will wish to take the mortars and bombs back to the Oasis?"

Bobby nodded, "Yes Sir. Also a range finder for Cpl Workington."

Silverman smiled, "They'll be delivered today. The eight men going on the submarine will need to move into the Navy yard, billets will be found for them. I'm sorry this is cutting your leave time, but when you all get back, I can promise you all will receive two weeks leave. The other items on your list will be delivered to your new billets." He picked up the telephone and said a few words into it.

There was a knock on the door, and Sharon walked in. Shaun's eyes widened at seeing her, whilst his other Officers smiled at her.

"Second Officer, I require billets for six enlisted men and two Officers somewhere in the Navy Yard away from any others, can you arrange it please?"

Sharon nodded, "Yes Sir." Shaun noticed her face was drawn.

Silverman continued, "Once you have it arranged, you can take the rest of the day off."

Sharon's eyes widened, "Very well Sir, thank you," she said, as she closed the door behind her.

Shaun was waiting by her Morris when she came out of the building. She didn't say anything as they climbed into it.

She drove in silence until almost at the flats, "You had to try for it didn't you?" she said bitterly.

He held his tongue waiting until they were in the flat. Shaun tried to hold her but she shrugged him off, "It's suicide to try to take that airbase," she said angrily.

He gave up and sat down on the couch, "We have a good chance of pulling it off, I have no wish to commit suicide because there is a girl I'm hoping to marry someday," he said softly.

She stood before him looking down on his head, she suddenly grasped it, pulling it into her waist. "Darling, if anything happened to you now, I wouldn't want to keep on living. I love you, you know that."

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