Chepstow

Love All

LOVE ALL by Stephen Henig

I darted through the open gates of my old wartime H.Q. in Gloucestershire in the autumn of 1952. The house in Alvington was crumbling. The glass windows were cracked or broken. The rooms within were vandalised. The fate of the house was sealed. Demolition was the only cure. Oddly, the shutters had been closed in wartime. The derelict huts were abandoned.

I remembered all too well how pilots were drilled to bomb German trains using scale models of real locomotives running from the rose garden to the tennis courts. The recruits hung from weeping willows, dropping tiny bombs with amazing accuracy. What surprised me was that the Luftwaffe hadn’t flattened the complex, knowing then what I knew now.

I jogged by the tennis court. It was there that I had planned revenge for my wretched childhood. I engineered the defeat of the West. As it turned out, I ensured the collapse of the Third Reich during a game of tennis. I laughed. Funny thing, war! It’s so like tennis.

I was an enemy spy who, when charmed by the lovely Cynthia, Blighty’s own secret weapon, became a double agent.

Rusting deep below the tennis court are the remains of a miniature, German, pocket submarine. It was a scaled down design, somewhat like the miniature locomotives that raced across a bridge above the stream, bombed by trainee pilots hidden in the branches above. I stared at the brick walls surrounding the gardens. When I was interrogated in the cellars of the house after Hitler invaded Poland, I had focused on the image of that great wall and nothing else. I convinced my masters I was loyal. Later I had stood by those walls beneath a moon; the guards were ordered to turn their searchlights on the glass houses until told otherwise as an enemy agent broke into the garden.

I paused by the Japanese garden. Our boffins transformed ordinary Japanese knot weed to a new species which grew faster than they could be destroyed. Seeds could be dropped in order to block Jap airstrips and prevent kamikaze pilots from taking off. I felt chilled by the nasty nip in the autumn air.

I had gone to school at Alvington primary school. The pupils were few in number since the late 1920s, but after the Great War, my fellow pupils could not forget I was half German. My German father had been interned and died in a camp. I was mercilessly bullied by the Forest Neanderthal brats. However, because I was bilingual, I was recruited secretly in the thirties by the German SS. I stayed in England where I was called up to serve in our Secret Service for the same reason. Both organisations desperately needed bilingual agents.

While I was in Lydney H.Q. designing propaganda posters, a mysterious cog about the size of a Crown piece was found on a sinking U-boat. Its purpose was a mystery at first until someone guessed it was a spare part designed to modify the Nazi code breaker, Enigma. It was amazing but, unknown to the Jerries, we had broken the code and knew German plans in advance. Even more astonishing, the Germans had no idea that we had the code breaker. In our specialised station workshop in Lydney, we serviced our working Enigma machines. The delicate cog had to be secretly examined by experts and installed without Jerry knowing.

I might steal the cog to prove to the SS that the allies had the machine and used it. They would then encrypt their messages differently. The existence of the cog in Lydney would be my evidence. I could pass the cog to a German agent and the allies would lose! I would be avenged for my father’s early death.

The British were careless. The wider significance of passing a cog around the country had escaped them. In Lydney, security could be lax. At four in the afternoon, officers talked too much on the patio, where there was a constant supply of tea. That was how I heard about Enigma.

Playing tennis one evening before dinner, I came across a girl I had known at school. I liked her.

”Carl,” she said. “I am so sorry you and your Dad were treated so badly. It was rotten of everyone. I never took part in what they did because it was wrong. I wish I had said something. Forgive me.”

A jet of steam from a model train came between us as I watched her serve. It was my “brief encounter” at tiny Lydney station which had changed everything. Revenge in this beautiful garden while playing tennis with Cynthia was now unthinkable. If Cynthia was such a brick, how could I be such a rotter?

“There is nothing to forgive.” I muttered. “See you in the mess!”

I returned from Gloucester, where I kept my radio, the next weekend. I had contacted Berlin. I had double-crossed the Germans!

“The Germans believe we have something of theirs,” I said to my commander later. “I have set it up. An agent will come to interrogate me here, believing I am one of them.“

“Whereas you are one of us.”

“Precisely. He will arrive on a midget submarine up the estuary using the Severn Bore to power it. It’s brand new! Very hush hush. Why don’t we seize the submarine, study it and bury it here so that Berlin believes we were simply after the submarine?”

“Good show,” the commander barked. “Carry on Spying. How do you feel?”

“Shaken but not stirred!" I said. “Can I take my girl on leave? “

“Sorry old man,” snapped the commander. “Orders. You leave for Casablanca tonight. Good luck! Gosh. How I wish I was coming too!”
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NEXT WEEK Part 2 “Armageddon” at all Odeon cinemas, starring Trevor Howard. See the tennis matches that changed history. Love all! Unmissable wartime romance.