“Captain Franz, further details will be provided in a couple of days but until then you can take leave. Perhaps you can leave to visit your family. When we are ready, we will send a despatch to you” added the Admiral as the Fuhrer prepared to leave the meeting
“We have set things in motion – for the Third Reich, we must make it happen” was the parting words of the Fuhrer as he left the room.
The Gestapo Head had a long look at the Admiral and the Captain before following suit to leave the room.
“I hate dealing with the Gestapo but the Fuhrer want them around, damn there is nothing much we can do about it but whenever we get the chance, we will try to deny them from claiming success of disrupting others’ work” remarked the Admiral and the other officers from the German High Command nodding their heads in agreement.
“The High Command and Gestapo are like water and oil – it never mixes” remarked a General
“Captain, until further orders, you are to report to the High Command in Berlin. Your base commander in Saint-Nazaire has been briefed about yours and your second in command’s posting to Berlin. We can’t keep a good captain from his vessel for far too long, I know, we will quicken the duration of your posting to Berlin”
“We are finalising some matters on the mission, we will call for another meeting once we are ready. Until then, you are to go off on a two weeks break. The same goes for Commander Ernst. If you are planning to visit your family in the country side, a driver and a personal bodyguard will be provided for you”
“That will be all, Captain – an escort will you and Ernst to your quarters. Please let me know on what you have decided for the next two weeks”
“Admiral, like you said, I prefer to go home to see my family for the next two weeks. It has been a while since I saw them and since I am near Berlin, I would like take the opportunity to be with them. I don’t know about Commander Ernst but he did inform me that he will follow me to the countryside. I will ask him later”
“Good” the Admiral called the sentry in and passed a handwritten order.
“Admiral, I did not want to ask this in front of the Fuhrer but all this story about some ancient U Boat seems like fairy tale. If I have a choice, I rather not risk the safety of the U Boat and my men on such long distance mission. We may end up empty handed”
“But since the Fuhrer himself had expressed his interest to complete the mission, I will take it as an order”
“Captain, personally we did not have the full confidence that we will achieve something in Malaya. As you mentioned, we may have sailed thousands of miles to the Far East and still would have returned empty handed. Further, the longer you are sailing away from German bases, the riskier it becomes. I would rather have my men spending time and resources fighting the Allies in the Atlantic. There is a war that we need to win”
“But if what the professor had said ends up true, then we would gain valuable advantage over the Allies. We will stand a better chance to win the war with less casualties. If there is a way to reduce the death and injuries of my men, I will go for it”
“I understand Admiral. I also have men under my care and I am always have their safety and concerns on my mind all the time when we are on mission”
The sentry came back and whispered something to the Admiral
“Captain, your driver and your bodyguards are waiting for you at the entrance of the bunker. You may leave now. I will see you in two weeks time” the Admiral stood up shaking the captain’s hand.
Captain Franz took leave and exited the room. He looked around and could not see Ernst. He walked several steps and saw Ernst busy chatting with one the female secretaries.
“Ernst, let’s go” the captain’s voice startled Ernst who was uninterested to things happening around him.
“I must have missed him” said Ernst when asked whether he saw the Fuhrer
“What is our plan, Captain?” asked Ernst when he saw the captain walking towards a car where a driver and a well built bodyguard was waiting.
“We are leaving to the country side for two weeks, visiting my family and you are not excused to go any way else, my friend. Otherwise my wife will not forgive me of not having you for dinner” laughed the captain as they entered into the car
The ride down the mountain was however smooth and there was no stop at the security checkpoints. The guards recognised the Fuhrer’s personal emblem on the flag mounted in front of the car and did not dare stop the car for any reasons.
The ride to the country side took five hours but they stop at a small town mid way for some short rest.
“Captain, I think this is the first time I got tired of travelling in a confined area” remarked Ernst as he got out from the car.
“Ya, it has been a while since I travelled far in a car. I realised how small the interior of the car” replied the captain as he stood up and stretched himself. His body had started to ache.
The driver and the bodyguard stood nearby but did not say anything. The captain spotted a small café, couple of meters from the place where they were standing. The captain walked toward the café and found a good spot. Ernst joined him whilst the driver and the bodyguard sat at another table, near to the Captain’s table. Their guns were fully loaded and armed. The captain and Commander Ernst’s safety for the next two weeks was paramount and they will ensure that the captain returns safely. There was news that some grunted Gestapo agents may harm the captain and disrupt his preparations. Although it has been denied by the Gestapo Head, the German High Command had secretly formed a team to investigate this and catch anyone who may harm the mission.
“I will have some coffee” instructed the captain when the waiter came to take their orders. It was late in the evening but the café was busy with customers, mostly German officers. There are some local residents have their drinks at the far end of the café.
The sight of two men in trench coat watching the captain and Ernst did not escape the attention of the driver and the bodyguard. The captain however was unaware of these two men and was busy chatting with Ernst as he drank his coffee.
“Ah, life is so peaceful here” remarked the captain wishing the war had ended and he could return to a normal life.
The two men in the trench coat talked to each other but did not take their eyes off the captain and his companion. They hardly noticed a truck stopping at the rear of the café and five military police guards getting off the truck. They were heavily armed and had a paper with picture of two men. They started searching for the two men at the café but they were discreet. They passed by the captain and stood in front of the two men in the trench coat. They said something to one of the men and immediately both of them stood up, looking very upset and angry. They protested as they were whisked away by the guards.
The captain’s driver and the bodyguard nodded at the guards and sensed that their mission for now has been successful.
They continued with their journey and it was not long before the car reached a large plantation with a big mansion in the middle. The car stopped at the mansion compound and the captain got out.
Two children ran out and jumped on the captain. Their father was back at home!
A young beautiful woman was waiting at the entrance of the mansion and when the captain came near her, she hugged him and held on to him for several minutes.
“Dear, I see you brought some guests” remarked Franz’s wife, Steffe when she saw 3 men near the car. She immediately recognised Ernst but could not recognise the other two men.
“Friends of yours or Ernst?”
“They are my driver and bodyguard assigned by the High Command while I am away from Berlin”
Steffe shouted something to her mansion caretaker and asked her to prepare the rooms for the guests.
“I would not have forgiven Franz if he had not brought you here” remarked Steffe when Ernst came close and hugged her.
“Dinner will be served shortly. In the meantime your rooms are ready, please refresh yourselves and I will see you downstairs shortly” informed Steffe as she walked towards the kitchen.
The driver and the bodyguard excused themselves from dinner as they do not want to disturb the captain. But the captain insisted them to join him for dinner. He joked that his wife was very strict in making sure that the guests sit together and enjoy the dinner. It has been the family’s tradition for many generations now.
The dinner was brief but full of laughter and story telling. Ernst keep the mood going with his funny stories as the captain’s children sat on the captain’s lap and listen attentively. The driver and the bodyguard had excused themselves, citing that they were tired and wanted to take rest. They walked to the mansion compound and started to walked around the mansion, making sure that there is no one waiting. They noticed that there was two guards near the plantation and introduced themselves. They asked them to inform if they noticed anyone suspicious lurking around the mansion. The bodyguard took the first watch whilst the driver went to sleep.
In the meantime, having Ernst and the children going to sleep, the captain and his wife sat in front of the fireplace and chatted.
“How’s the situation here? Anyone giving you any problem?” asked the captain as his wife made herself more comfortable in his hug.
“If you asking about the Allied bombing, we have almost none over here but we know that there has been night bombing runs over Berlin last week. We heard many had died or injured in the bombing run. We are worried all the time but we engaged someone to build a strong bomb shelter here, just in case we are attacked. The plantation is doing well and your uncles have been very helpful”
“Occasionally we can see truckloads of soldiers passing this place”
“By the way, your uncle in South Africa wrote to us, enquiring when we will be coming to South Africa for good. What should I tell him, dear? asked Steffe.
“As usual, I cannot reveal the details of my mission but I am required to report back for duty in two weeks time. There is one major mission to be done after that. Perhaps after that, I could ask for a leave from active duty to be back here. Just answer that we will let him know soon” replied the captain
The fire at the fireplace started to slow down. Then someone shouted at the outside.
Captain Franz loaded his shotgun and ran out the house. At the same the driver also dashed out to the open with his gun. They saw the bodyguard holding someone in trench coat with the guards from the plantation helping him out.
“Captain, I caught him loitering around the place. I immediately recognised him as one of the person who at the café. I thought he will be held for a longer time but clearly I was wrong. He had a gun and tried to fled” the bodyguard handed over the fully loaded gun.
“Who are you and what business you have in my property?” demanded the captain menacingly
The man in the trench coat remained silent and demanded that he is to be released immediately. He was not successful as the hands holding him got even tighter.
“You better answer or else” shouted the bodyguard, hold a gun closer the man’s head.
“Alright, let me go and I will tell everything” demanded the man.
The captain ordered the guards to let the man go but kept close eyes on him.
“I am a Gestapo agent and I have been ordered to follow the captain wherever he goes. I was not ordered to do anything to harm the captain or anyone else close to him. In fact, I was ordered to protect the captain when it is required” said the man, dejected.
“We don’t believe a word that you are saying” the guards said as they moved closer to the man.
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