Printed from WriteWords -


by  scriever

Posted: Saturday, July 29, 2017
Word Count: 973
Summary: For the challenge - treachery. This is a true story, apparently, although the names are made up.

"So you see, chaps, just what a ticklish problem we have here" said Captain Travers, standing at the head of the table with legs apart, hands behind his back. "We need to find out Jerry's strength in this particular bit of the coast, and how many outposts they have so we can plan our assault on the radio transmitter. But with the camp that far inland, and the surrounding landform, it’s going to be dashed difficult to carry out a proper recce.”

Silence. The men of 12 Commando stared at the map, shifting uncomfortably. They’d spent the best part of a year training and now what they wanted more than anything was to have a go at the enemy. The frustration hung in the room as heavily as the thick cigarette smoke that snaked around them. Disappointed in the lack of response, the captain dismissed the men, with an instruction to go to the pub and have a couple of stiff drinks, in the hope that this would lead to some inspiration.

But one of the men, Sergeant Bryce, stayed at the map, considering. At 38, Bryce was older than the captain; indeed, he was the oldest man in 12 Commando; when the war broke out he had been a successful travelling salesman. While Travers had been talking an audacious but essentially simple idea had come to him. He knew it could work. The captain took some persuading, but Bryce's enthusiasm, and his conviction that he could carry it off, won him over.

So it was that, two weeks later, Sergeant Bryce, dressed in grey flannels, a tweed jacket and crisp white shirt with regimental tie, set off, in a submarine, for the coast of Guernsey. In the darkness, 400 yards from shore, he was helped into a small dinghy by a couple of bemused sailors.

With a "Cheerio, see you chaps tomorrow" he headed for the beach. It was early summer, and the sea was like glass. It was still dark when he reached the shore, deflated the dinghy and took up residence in the centre of a large group of gorse bushes. Dawn was an hour off at least, and his accommodation was cramped and uncomfortable, but Bryce didn't mind. He found a spot that had only a few sharp roots, shifted around so they weren't sticking directly into him, and settled down to wait.

When the sun had risen fully he emerged, brushed himself down and set off for the camp, a mile distant. The morning was bright and sunny, and with a light breeze at his back Bryce found himself thoroughly enjoying the walk. The country he was walking through was classic British farmland, green and gently undulating, and the road was bordered by wild flowers. The mix of bright colours cheered him and gave an extra spring to his step. He even hummed a song as he strode along.

He stopped as he crested a rise and saw the camp laid out neatly before him. No longer humming, he took a deep breath and marched towards the entrance in best military fashion. Here we go, he told himself. You can do it, old boy. A single guard was slumped in a seat, leaning against the sentry box, smoking a cigarette. He watched Bryce approach but didn't bother to get up. Bryce stood to attention on the other side of the barrier. “I want to see the chap in charge of the kitchens. Chop chop!”

The guard stood up, cigarette hanging from his mouth. Bryce wanted to slap it away. If the chap had been a member of 12 Commando he’d have been on a charge. “What you want?” he asked, in halting English. Bryce tried again. “The sergeant in charge of your kitchen. Feldwebel. Kuche. Come on, come on, I haven’t got all day!”

Reacting to the authority in his voice the guard retreated to the sentry box and spoke into a phone.
A few minutes later, a short, heavy-set man, buttoning his tunic, arrived. “Well?” he said, eyeing Bryce suspiciously.

“I’d like to do both of us a favour, old bean” said Bryce. “Who have you got supplying you with your food?”
“A Monsieur Gilbert. Why?”

“Thought so” said Bryce. “He’s the chappie that supplied the camp when I was stationed here. Terrible crook. Bad meat, high prices, always ready to cheat you.” The German sergeant gave an involuntary nod. Quartermasters and their like, Bryce knew, were naturally suspicious, and believed that everyone was out to fleece them. “I can supply you with all your food, for at least 10% less than you’re paying Gilbert. And the quality will be top notch. How about a month’s trial? There’ll be a bottle of something nice in it for you, too.”

“Sure, why not?” said the German. “I never liked that Gilbert. Give me a quote and I’ll think about it.”

This was going better than Bryce had dared hope. He took out his notebook and a pencil. “Excellent. Now, let me take a note of what you need. How many men are you catering for?”


And how many of them are officers?”


“And am I going to be supplying it all to the camp here, or will I need to be sending some of it hither and yon around the countryside?”

“No, we are all stationed here, in the camp.”

Bryce tucked away his notebook, stuck out his hand. “A pleasure doing business with you old boy. I’ll bring you a quote, in person, in two day’s time.” He turned about smartly and marched away.

Back at the beach, Bryce secreted himself once more in the gorse bushes, and sat down to wait for darkness and his return to the submarine. His plan had worked perfectly, apart from one thing. He wished he’d brought some sandwiches.