A foghorn sounds in the distance, the Sun piercing the night’s curtain of secrecy as the morning mist rises over the Dachsmag facility. I know I have to move quickly. The rusting stern hatch of the Wi??lfram through which I emerge creaked, this port is crawling with Jerries. I became a member of the Services only three weeks ago and was hastily briefed on this mission. Then I was sent out, deep into enemy territory as a stowaway on a German cargo ship. This port was already beginning to wake up, deliveries were being made. I pick each step carefully.
Making my way out into the yard using the walls for cover, I feel like a shadow darting round looking for the traditional side entrance to the U-boat base – easier said than done. The gun-strap of my Tommy gun begins to cut into my shoulder, I know it’ll have to be used sooner or later. Two guards standing at ease under a swathe of lamplight would have to be dispatched. They drop, making a muffled cry as they skid and hit the floor. I tell myself half-heartedly that it was for the good of mankind. I had bought myself some extra time, but they would find them, and my presence would be known; not very professional I thought.
My ears were ringing with the sounds of the port, starting to become paranoid, I hid myself in a niche near the huge iron doors. I start to feel sick and lonely, like a solitary pawn in a bloody race for dominance; this mission was certainly a race. The unseen terror is always the most frightening, and I for one can sympathise with our men. Why should people, even on both sides, die like this? The whole war is a race to create the most frightening weapons of war. Killing machines; the U-boats, V2 rockets and dominance of the skies. What a waste of life, and why should we be forced in to it?
Shaking morals aside, I focus back again on the job. With the door clear I creep deep inside the heavily guard-infested base, engaging stealth to the maximum. I have to get to the third entrance before the alarm is raised, infiltrating through goods shafts and maintenance lifts. I will then secrete myself deep in the belly of U-543 to set the charge, before it leads countless others to the desolate and lonely North Atlantic. I have been through the plan in my head many times; I know that back at Command HQ my movements are being planned out, though that is of no consolation.
The guts of this menacing building echo, with clanging and creaking. Staccato, gunfire-like Nazi exclamations ring through the bleak-looking corridors. I feel constricted as I slide through dimly lit tunnels trying to make sense of my mind’s picture of the schematics presented to me so long ago, back home in England. Oh how much I wish to be back home instead of this dank German hell hole. Suppressed pistol at the ready, this is not the time for my mind to stray. Turning another disorientating corner, the all too familiar sound of those black Nazi boots is closing in on me. There must be two of them.
Icy wind rushes down the corridor, the hairs on my neck standing up on end. I check behind me, the paces getting ominously louder, echoing down the endless tunnel, and surrounding me. A bitter, bilious pain rises from the groaning pit of my stomach, my trigger finger quivering. The wind howls once more, a surge of blood pounds my brain like the relentless drumming of the bombs. I have no-where to go! The officers turn the corner, there is an odd quiet moment and an exchange of a bemused look before them and me, shouting and hasty gun fires begin back and forth. The walls close in on me.
I am cornered. It all happens so quickly and remorselessly. Pain. Sharp. Blood. Horror. My body turns limp and my grave opens up before me as I am swallowed up whole. There is nothing more to it – so cold. To my astonishment both guards drop, the trigger finger of my right hand spasms, looking away, feeling nothing. No time to lose now, the gunfire had to have been heard. “Alarm! Alarm! ” echoes through the catacomb-like tunnels. My left thigh fails me but nothing is felt, this is a serious wound and I daren’t look. I round the corners as best as I can dragging numb deadweight along with me.
This mission is a failure, my cover has been blown, I should have been prepared, how unprofessional. What to do, I must think quickly. The options spread out in my head like the schematics that I have studied countless times. In my mind I stick a pin in to the blueprints and examine the routes around it: Weapons Store Room is not far away, I could hide myself for a while; Shaft B isn’t used much, I could get to the roof and stow away, no, the guard quarters are opposite the shaft. I track those black winding lines and my mind’s eye sees the sign on the door: “Radiotransmitter Zimmer”, that’s it, that’s my target.
I grip my pistol, my knuckles whiten and I heave my body down the corridor. An eerie silence hems me in and surges adrenaline in to my blood. Crashing through the door most awkwardly. I pull the thick black headset over my ears. The dial turns and emits whistles and groans through the speakers. Dots and dashes are hastily sent to HQ; the mission is officially aborted and the pack of hunters sit silently in their watery den, waiting. I swivel on the chair, light-headed, no warmth in my skin. Desperate.
The door is hit again and again with loud commands to open up, “Die ti??r i??ffnen! Die ti??r i??ffnen! The shouts penetrate the thick wood of the door. I am cornered. I quickly scan the room for an escape and notice a small metal grate at the bottom of the wall behind me, my only wish now is to escape. This must lead to the service shaft where vents run up the shaft with the elevator. With the door beginning to unbolt, I scramble to the grate, shoot off the restraining screws and pull myself along on my belly. Please God, let me make it. There is nothing more I can do. The colossal creak and snap of the door echoes around me in the vent. It’s just a matter of wait, until this whole terror unleashes from the innocent.