The Second World War: PART 6 - Andrew MacDonald - Sagan (1943) #2
The Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant, appointed Intelligence Chief of Stalag Luft III, Andrew MacDonald, left the warmth of Hut 106 and closed the door conspiratorially behind him.
He slung his tattered bomber jacket over his right shoulder and descended the wooden steps into the courtyard. MacDonald padded over to a shifty-looking young fellow in his late twenties. Who took a gunmetal cigarette case from his pocket and offered one to MacDonald. His demeanour and the gold stripes on his uniform implied he was of an experienced disposition: he was a naval man.
‘Cigarette?’ he asked.
‘Ta, old boy,’
‘Think Roger made it?’ he said.
MacDonald sighed in the fumes, thinking. He was forty-one and had a very calm, very calculating face for a very tough Scot. His relaxed features wrinkled at the mention of Bartlett’s name.
‘I don’t know Eric. I don’t know.’
He stuffed his hands into his pockets and kicked some dirt around.
‘Farrier?’ Eric asked.
‘I’d say so,’ someone else said.
Willie Dickies joined the RAF Flight Lieutenant and RN officer at the foot of 106. He embraced MacDonald with boyish smirk drawn over his face.
‘How’ve you been Willie?’ MacDonald said.
‘So, you think Farrier’s still alive?’ Eric asked.
‘Of course, he’s made over eleven escape attempts. He and Ives even tried to jump out of the truck coming here. He took out a Stuka on no fuel at Dunkirk and destroyed a Panzer with a six-shot revolver. The man’s a bloody legend!’
‘I know him only through reputation.’ Pitt said. ‘Might’ve seen him earlier though. The goons dragged someone in a hood off to the Cooler. Put up quite a scrap from the look of things.’
‘No surprise there!’ MacDonald said.
The three of them stared at the Kommandant’s office. It was past the warning wire, through two gated doors, under a wire fence and four armed guards. It was exactly fifty feet from the very ground they stood on.
Kommandant Von Luger’s office was a ground floor hut standing around twelve-feet tall. It looked like MacDonald’s old command post on the French coast, but painted beech, it complemented the dirt that filled the compound. It resembled a Nordic sauna building – like the huts – but without shutters and window bars.
It offered nothing of escape.
MacDonald tossed the cigarette long. Beneath his cap, straw hair and furry eyebrows, the blue eyes darted, looking for something else. Another plan.
The Nazi High Command had done a bloody good job on this place. There was none.
‘We’ll need the two Rogers if we’re going to pull this one off,’ he admitted.
‘Don’t hold your breath,’ Eric said.
There was the backfire of an engine. Two German motorcars sped through a clearing, kicking up dust. The second vehicle had three men in the back. Two soldiers seized an arm each and forced a man from the vehicle. He was wearing a raincoat and an airman’s black cap.
Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett had just turned thirty-three when he arrived at Stalag Luft III. He was a tempestuous man with broad shoulders and chilling pale blue eyes. His right one drooped and gave a most sinister, brooding look to his otherwise friendly appearance. Fresh bruising around the mouth left it in a permanent sneer. The battered face fought the urge to smile when it recognised MacDonald, his second-in-command.
‘Don’t take too much notice, the goons may not know who he is. I’ll pass the word on.’ MacDonald said.
Setting off at a pace towards Hut 103, he grabbed a young lad by the jacket sleeve. ‘Send word to Farrier, we’re meeting tonight. Big X is back.’
The boy passed the message onto the next man and they spread excitement through the camp like a wildfire.