At 2100 on the night of the drop Theo, Hunter and Franc were out listening for the sound of aircraft engines. All of the village defence force were scattered around and well armed.
By 2200 they thought it was not going to happen until they heard the sounds they were waiting for. The engine noise got louder and Theo switched his torch on directing it towards the sounds.
One thousand five hundred feet above them the pilots of the DC3 saw the torch light and gave the green light to tell the dispatchers to chuck out the three crates.
“All clear! Lets go home I bet my fucking beer is getting warm!” This had been their last drop but there were hundreds more going on in many places all over Europe and tons of supplies were being dropped to supply many thousands of many hundreds of resistance groups. Germany would be fucked, but refuse to accept they had failed again and would continue to slaughter their way to final surrender.
Meanwhile the villagers of Le Bray picked all three crates up and took them into the village hall. The parachutes were never seen again unless you looked closely at some young ladies wedding dress in future years!
Apart from the two on guard duty, all the men and boys crammed in the hall to watch the crates being opened, for Theo and Hunter it was like Christmas had come early.
Two Bren guns and 400 hundred rounds.
Six Sten guns and 4×30 round magazines for each gun.
Fifty hand grenades.
Ten .303 Lee Enfield rifles with 10 five round clips for each rifle.
It got even better as every space was crammed with tin foods and 24 hour emergency ration packs, there were dozens of them.
And then the biggest surprise of all, a PIAT (Projector Infantry Anti Tank) and ten shells. When Theo and Hunter saw the weapon they knew that the invasion would be on the beaches of Normandy, why else send one of these things?
“Alain, you need to get to know your new friend, you will be firing him.”
There was one more surprise, two parcels with their French names on each. After shooing the men out they locked the hall up and stood guards outside then went to Franc’s home.
“Go on then, open yours first.” Hunter said.
“Nope, I order you to op….”
“Oh for fucks sake! Let me do it for you, bloody kids!” That was Franc and in English. He ripped Hunter’s parcel open and a battle dress fell out! The first thing they all noticed were the two pips of a full Lieutenant.
Theo picked up his parcel and gave it to Franc.
“Open it Franc and if Hunter is the same rank as me now, I will hand in my resignation and get the first ferry back!”
Franc opened the parcel and another battle dress was exposed only this one had the three pips of an army captain.
“Oh shit! Status Quo comes to mind!”
There was also an envelope which Theo opened and found a short note but in code. The new Lieutenant went off to find the code book and when he came back Franc watched as his two new friends decoded the message. It would take some time but an hour later Franc knew as much as the two Englishmen.
4T/R’s x 5.
BBC Londra “Blessent mon Coeur C’une langueur Monotone.” (Wound my heart with a monotonous languor.)
Now decoded it meant that on the 5th June they would become British officers again in the Royal West County Regiment and, they assumed, if captured it was hoped that would stop them from being treated as spies.
The 4 tank reserve sites would be attacked on the 5th.
BBC announcement, “Blessent mon…….ect meant the invasion had begun. Crown=Major Paul Dowling
“So my friends, 5th of June it is, when will you tell the village?” They did not know then of course it would be delayed by 24 hours due to bad weather.
“On the 4th but tomorrow I want every man in the hall and select more shooters, that’s going to take time and a bit of ammunition but no more than five rounds each. We have got 38 weapons now and we have to get the best men to use them. Once we have them you Franc, Hunter and I will be telling the group how we are going carry out the ambush.
“Are you going to tell us first Eugene?” Franc asked.
Two hours later and pouring over a map both Hunter and Franc knew exactly what they would be doing.
“That’s it for now but I hope for two more things before the end of this month. Get more MG 42 ammunition, we have less then 100 rounds for the two we have and a few yards of burning fuse to ignite the 10 bombs we pinched.”
“How do you hope to get more ammo?
“You and I go out in those German uniforms in the captured car and if we meet a patrol we kill them and then borrow the weapons and ammo.”
“Soooo, I will be the captain and you the private because of the uniform sizes, I love my job!”
“Franc, I don’t really need to tell you this, but if anything happens to Alain and me, you will have to take over and so you had better find good men you can rely on. Wyatt may only be 17, but he has got a good head on those shoulders and born to lead. Adrien, Jon and Noel are good lads as well. I will be sending Jon and Noel three miles north as soon as we know the landings have started with six pigeons to fly off when they spot a German force. They will have our sleeping bags and plenty of food and water.” Franc smiled at Theo.
“They will only need one sleeping bag Eugene I can assure you.”
“Maybe I had better send Adrien to keep them apart and focused in that case.”
“He would join in!”
“Yea Gods, a fighting force full of homosexuals! I wish I could let Hitler know that!”
It was the 19th May and by now the armed men were as competent as it was possible to get them. They all knew that they were a small force and could be up against seasoned troops if they came their way, but they dismissed the thought and relied on Theo to make plans that would give them a fighting chance to carry out an ambush that would work in their favour.
Sixty men including Father Jacques assembled in the village hall at 8 o’clock on this particular morning, 38 of them had their weapons with them all sat waiting for Theo to start and tell them how he had planned the ambush.
They would already know that the road went through the woods north of them but most ignored the 250 yard stretch right at the start which was steeply banked either side to about 15 feet before it sloped back down. Any convoy caught in this part of the road would never get out if the attack was planned well.
“Alain, you will be the first man to fire at the first tank. EVERYONE else must remain hidden until they hear Alain’s first shell explode. I will tell you what you will do after I have finished with Alain.
When your first shell destroys that tank you and your loader will have to run like hell to the last tank but ignore it, I want you to attack troop transporters which will stop any tank reversing and also help kill as many troops as possible because THEY will be our biggest challenge if they manage to fire on us and of course we have no idea how many there will be. If we have a problem at our end I will send a runner to you to get to us and fire on them if you have shells left.
There will be 2 Sten and 2 MG 40 gunners about 100 yards in front of the first tank and they will attack motor cycles that will most probably be ahead of the tanks. You will fire on them as soon as the first shell explodes and if you can, get the MG 42 ammunition and run the belts to the gunners who will be right at the front of our force and will be engaging the German’s with both Bren guns and the MG 42’s. All 15 riflemen will be there as well.
We will plant the bombs 10 meters from the start of the banks, five on each side and 30 meters apart. The fuses must be lit as soon as Alain’s first shell goes off and all those that are near the explosives, keep well back until they go off, it will be massive and I don’t want you 10 gunners who will be attacking that area to get yourselves killed. If any of you find that you have a tank below you, ignore it, except for one men who will cover it and shoot the crews as they leave their tanks, the rest get back to where there are likely to be troops. Franc, it will be up to you to direct men to better positions.
Now listen all of you, you will have plenty of cover but you must make good use of it otherwise you could be in big trouble. You will have to break cover of course, but only fire when you see a target and only in short bursts.
“As for me, I will be in the café waiting for news and if it’s bad, I’m off!” Lots of Frenchmen booing and making some very rude suggestions.
“Um, maybe not then! Instead I will be at the front with both Bren guns and the two MG42’s as well as the 15 rifles. On the other side to me there will be a Bren gun and MG42 plus 8 rifles and the other two machines guns and 7 rifles on my side. I will have a .303 rifle.
Again, once Alain’s first shell goes off my side will fire on the nearest trucks first and work backwards, the other side will open up on the rear trucks but make sure you only fire in short bursts, I want them to assume we have a larger force than they think we have. Riflemen, your shooting is very important, make every shot count and remember, every rifle bullet can kill, machine gun bullets wont that’s why you shoot in short bursts. We have two advantages over them, one is surprise and two, we will be under cover and they will be in the open.
One final thing. If you hear my whistle blowing constantly that will mean we retreat back here and defend ourselves the best we can. There are three cottages that will cover from where they will come from and we will mount three machine guns and nine rifles in them and a machine gun and five rifles in the church tower. The rest is up to luck I am afraid.
I’m done now but we will go out after we eat and go over the whole area we will defend and get everything in our heads.”
“Can I ask a question Eugene?”
“Could I stop you Wyatt?”
“I suppose not. What if there are no tanks?”
“I will send you out with a Luger to take their surrender, OR if there are no tanks my guess it will be an artillery force, but the same applies, Alain will fire at whatever comes out first but Jon and Noel would have sent pigeons back to tell us what we will face by the time the convoy gets to us, but I do have a bit of a problem and that is how do we get a convoy to bunch up closer together, if they do there will be more of them between the banks, any ideas anyone?”
“Leave it to this school teacher Theo, Hunter and I will come up with something.”
“Will I, what?”
“You and I are about to do some art work.”
“Oh lovely back to school it is then!”
After they had spent the rest of that day and the following one at the ambush site everyone knew where they would be and practised each role.
Theo then asked Jacques to drive Jon and Noel out to their point with four pigeons and released them with a short red ribbon tied to a leg. As soon as they arrived the boy watching rang the school hand bell and the whole lot would run like the wind to take up positions. They practised many times over the next few days, but what the villagers did not know was by the 5th the PIAT and machine guns with their ammunition would already be in place.
Theo was in the café chatting to a few others when Hunter and Franc came in carrying their “art work” and showed it to everyone. It was a large white sign with a red boarder, at the top was the Nazi eagle clutching a swastika. Under that they read the sign; “Achtung! Banken vor unter dem einsturz!”
(Attention, bank ahead subject to collapse)
“It’s very often the case that when you see a sign like this drivers tend to increase speed and it’s possible they will bunch up while going through the bank area, that’s my thinking anyway, if it works I get all the back slapping, if it doesn’t I blame Alain for wasting my time.”
“Bloody good work, thanks both of you.” An hour later it had been put into place 50 meters from the beginning of the wood.
Two days later Jacques came into his and Franc’s house smiling and with a bag in his hand and gave it to Theo. “My dear friend open this and you will know that this priest has just won the war and France will be liberated.” There was quite a few yards of fuse in it and made Theo’s day, but that was about to get even better when Jacques took them out to his car and proudly showed him and Hunter two belts of 100 rounds of MG42 ammunition. “It’s a present from the citizens of Vacqueville who are themselves prepared to attack if and when the Allies invade and I can also tell you there are huge numbers of resistant groups very well armed and also prepared all over this area. The Hun are in for a very bad time and I would like to also share this.” He reached inside and bought out two bottles of cognac.
Early on the 4th June all 10 bombs were put into place, five in each side of the banks and their fuses secured 10 feet over them. Those that were with Theo were quite surprised when he had both Bren guns with all the magazines and the MG42’s and their belts put into place and covered up. When they got back he asked that the whole village would come to the square at 2 that afternoon.
He and Hunter went back to Franc’s home and had a bath together while the owner and his priest went to chat to folks in the café.
They sat facing one another still naked on their mattress cuddled in tight. Hunter looked at his watch, it was quarter to two and just 15 minutes left before they would become Englishmen again and hoped the French would accept the deception.
“Do you know, I actually feel nervous Theo, thank God Jacques will be explaining to the village before we make an appearance.”
“I will go out first so they can bow to me and you come out two feet behind.”
“Be fucking serious for once!”
They cuddled in one more time then got into their uniforms and with their I/D tags around their necks, they became British army officers again.
The village listened to their priest and as he spoke and all of them learning their proper names.
“Eugene, proper name Theo and Alain, proper name Hunter are British and were dropped into our country together with many more to link up with people like us to gain information and send it back to London so that an invasion could be mounted to free us of the Hun. Theo will tell you all he and Hunter knows about that and I ask you to welcome them as our friends and compatriots.
The whole village applauded as Theo and Hunter appeared much to their embarrassment!
Wyatt ran up and hugged both men, then turned back and shouted to his villagers, “Dieu sauve la Grande-Bretagne!” (God save Great Britain) Then kissed both men on the cheek. The French can be rather excitable!
Theo stepped forward and gave yet another talk.
“Ladies and gentleman, thank you so much for your welcome from both Hunter and me. I can now tell you an invasion on Normandy will begin tomorrow. I have no firm details but assume there will be thousands of Allies involved to take Europe back from the Hun. I can only assume there are many thousands like us who will defend our villages and towns to take the war to the enemy and help to destroy Hitler.
We are now able to defend ourselves but we will also be able to attack them. If we allow the enemy to pass without a fight then many more will die, which I am afraid may include some of us as well.”
The applause went on for some time and Theo and Hunter found themselves surrounded by the whole village and many handshakes and the usual French greeting. Neither Theo or Hunter would have been kissed by so many men and certainly women!
All that night the whole of Europe listened to the sounds of aircraft as hundreds of allied parachutists dropped into German held territory from east to west, the enemy would not know the invasion was to be on the Normandy beaches and when it was underway they still thought it was a diversion.
There would be many allies who would never go home but because of their sacrifice, thousands would return to their homes and families. Meanwhile Theo and Hunter were cuddled on Franc’s couch, leaving Franc and Jacques to listen to the radio hoping that the message would be announced telling them the invasion was on it’s way. It was not broadcast. The 5th was spent out on the banks once again going through a possible ambush and after that they all cleaned their weapons, again!
At 6pm everyone was in the square and had their evening meals together all strolling around chatting. Theo looked at these people who had become a huge part of their lives and wondered if for some of them it was their last meal? He was convinced the invasion would be launched the next day.
It was now early hours of the 6th June. Theo and Hunter were cuddled up and fast asleep on Franc’s sofa once again. Franc was fast asleep in a comfy chair, which left Jacques sitting on the floor on radio listening duty, but he was fighting to stay awake but then heard, “Wound my heart with a mono…..!” Jacques did not hear the rest of it, he leapt up and screamed out as he ran around the lounge.
“THE ALLIES ARE COMING….! THE ALLIES ARE COMING! Oh heavenly Mother of Jesus, thank you and to all our Allies. Come on boys, get up, the allies are coming!”
Theo and Hunter remained where they were and Jacques nearly having an epileptic fit.
“Jacques, calm down, that message was to tell us that the invasion is underway and it will take hours before the allies begin to land. All we have to hope is that they are able to land and begin to push the Hun back. Hunter and I will get into those German uniforms and their car and drive up north and find out what’s going on then get back here, as soon as we tell the villagers what’s happening.”
“Theo I don’t wish to be rude but it’s a big risk you both going. In my opinion you are needed here in which case I will go with Hunter, I speak fluent German.”
“Oh isn’t that just fine Father flippin Jacques. General Whatsit here stays behind but it’s alright for me to go and get my head blown off, great life in this village!”
“Lets put it this way Lieutenant, if you don’t go I will blow your head off instead, even if I have to waste ten rounds trying to do it.”
“Yes captain, thank you captain, it’s an honour serving under you captain. Horrible man!” Theo gave him a peck on the cheek then went out to ring the bell.
The reality struck home and everyone knew the Hun could be on their way very soon. The atmosphere was one of excitement and fear and when in the distance they heard the sounds of heavy gun fire and the unmistakable sounds of bombs and shells exploding, it was made even more real.
Hunter and Jacques looking very different in Nazi uniforms drove off after each having a private time with their other halves. “Don’t get involved with anything, just information and come back as soon as you can, I love you Hunter, I don’t have a life without you, you must know that.”
“Don’t worry, we will be back, oh and I love you too my dear Theo and I don’t either.” One more kiss and they had gone.
An hour later Theo stole Jacques car and with Jon, Noel and their gear set off to set up the lookout post, after much hugging from tearful mothers.
It took the best part of two hours to get the post ready with Theo talking all the time telling them how to go about the lookouts while the teenagers listened on with half an ear, they already knew exactly how to go about their work and all Theo was doing was going over it all again.
They were well hidden just inside the woods with a good view for half a mile back down the road. They would be in good time to be able to send off three pigeons with short red ribbons attached to a leg and then write a message with convoy details and send the other three. After that, their work was done and would have to stay put until it was all over. They were very sure how they would pass the time!
Just after six that evening Hunter and Jacques returned with quite a story, another MG42 and 200 rounds! The whole village was out to listen them.
“It seems that the Americans have landed on two beaches and as far as we know they are having one hell of a time. The German major I talked to seems sure they can hold them up, apparently the Americans have suffered heavy casualties, but the Major will never know if they can hold them back, I shot him.
We then noticed a large section of troops falling back and digging in, we are sure they are there because the Yanks have begun to break through.
We had seen enough and started to come back when we were stopped by two blokes on a motor cycle and side car, they had broken down and asked for help. I did and shot the pair of them then took their machine gun and ammunition. I would say that it won’t be long before we have visitors.
By what we could find out the British, Canadians and French have landed further east, but we don’t know how they are getting on.”
“Thanks both of you, it must have been very difficult for you Father.”
“War is very unpleasant as you well know, but I did give all three their last rights and IF there is a god there are all at peace now.”
“I know this sounds silly but everyone try to get some sleep, we go to the woods at day break. Don’t forget all that you will need to pack, weapons, ammunition, grenades, food and water to last four days and blankets. Goodnight.”
Nobody slept that well if at all and everyone wondering if they would be sleeping with their, wife, husband, lover, boyfriend for the last time?
They were about to find out the next day.
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