The ride back to Stalag 13 was a miserable one for Colonel Robert Hogan and his men. Not only did they lose Ace Egan and Andrew Carter to the Gestapo, but Ace’s rocket was also firmly in the hands of the Nazis.
“Gonna be bloody boring without Andrew around, Colonel,” Peter Newkirk said.
“Fichu!” swore Louis LeBeau, clenching his fists into tight little balls. “It makes me crazy thinking about what those dirty Gestapo pigs might be doing to Carter and the lieutenant.”
The two guards in the back of the truck sat stone-faced, seeming to pay no attention to their prisoners.
“Say the word, Colonel,” Newkirk whispered to the American.
Before Hogan had a chance to reply, the Englishman found himself staring down the barrel of a German machine-gun.
“No need for that,” Hogan told the guard. “They are just frustrated because of the Gestapo kidnapping our friends.”
The guard never said a word; he just returned his weapon to its former position.
“When we get back to camp,” Hogan said, speaking to his men, “I shall behave like a good Englishman and go through the proper channels with my concerns.”
It was near dark when the truck rolled through the front gates of Stalag 13. As the men climbed from the back of the truck and started to walk toward their barracks, Sergeant Schultz caught Hogan by the arm.
“Colonel Hogan, Kommandant Klink will be back in a couple of days,” the sergeant said. “I will let you know as soon as he arrives.”
“Thanks, Schultz,” Hogan said.
“We may be enemies,” Schultz said, “but I hate seeing anyone in the hands of the Gestapo. Carter was a good man.”
Hogan felt a knot form in the pit of his stomach when Schultz said was, but he just nodded and went in to the barracks. James Kinchloe was waiting in his personal quarters.
“The guys told me what happened,” the man said, “but I wouldn’t dwell on it.”
“Dwell on it,” Hogan said, then a little louder, “dwell on it? The Gestapo has taken two very good men, and you tell me not to dwell on it.” He was almost shouting.
Kinch put his hands up in an attempt to calm down his superior. “Hold on a second, Colonel. Let me finish.”
Hogan saw something in the sergeant’s eyes that caused his anger to cool. “What do you know?”
“I received a message from Poppa Bear a couple hours ago,” Kinch said quietly. “It appears that the men who took Carter and the lieutenant weren’t Gestapo. Doppelgänger contacted England and told them that our guys were safe.”
A wave of relief swept over the colonel.
“Not only that,” Kinch continued, “but they are going to try to get the rocket back.”
“But they’re OK?” Hogan asked.
Kinch smiled. “Yeah, they are.”
“Did you tell Newkirk and LeBeau?”
“I figured you should be the first to know,” said Kinch.
Hogan put his arm across the sergeant’s shoulder. “Come on,” he said. “Let’s give them the good news.”
To Be Continued