A Shot At Midnight


His people said he would never make it to the end of the fenced wall much less into the forest…

Ben told them that it was just a chance that he had to take, he just had to.
He had been in  “Camp London” for three years now. That’s what they called it, “Camp London”, in honor of merry old England of course.
Ben had parachuted in with the rest of his squadron.
It was behind enemy lines with the covering darkness of a moonless night. parachute ww2
That was both good and bad, the darkness that is. Good because it was harder for the enemy to see them, bad because it was harder for them to see anything.
The planes,DC 3 type cargo planes, flew in formation at altitudes of about four thousand feet. Couldn’t go too high for the lack of oxygen and with the need to conserve fuel and the time it would take both to climb higher and then to get down to jump altitude of only five hundred feet. paratroopers dc3
That’s low man, low. Getting out at that altitude there was almost no good reason to wear a reserve. You would never have time to use it if your main chute malfunctioned.
But the main reasons for a low jump point were the increased chance of actually landing somewhere around the intended drop zone and the decreased chances of being mowed down by enemy fire. You know, just because they had the cover of darkness that didn’t mean that it stayed that way. Both sides used those high powered search lights that would brighten the skies lighter than day and you were a “floating duck” if your were caught in their penetrating beams.
Ben had been in on the first pass of DC 3’s, he was one of the “lucky” ones who actually survived the ordeal and made it to the intended landing area. The only problem was, that he and most of his buddies, the ones who were still alive anyway, had no guarantee that they would make it through, undetected by enemy patrols and they were
immediately captured. 
paratroopers captured
Bummer. Kreta, toter Fallschirmjäger
Others were not so lucky.
 
Off they went, after a night of “debriefing” by the SS, at the local German headquarters.
So it was that Ben found himself in this position of relative safety in a German prisoner of war camp for Brits and the agony of sitting out the rest of the war while your buddies, friends and family back home were chewed up by the German war machine. And still there was hardly any guarantee that he would survive the filth and depravity of life in the camp. It couldn’t compare with the horror and atrocities of the German concentration camps, death camps they were called. They had all heard about the extermination of Jews mainly, and the other “misfits” the Nazis sought to eliminate from the earth. Horrible. Even Ben and his fellow soldiers found it hard to believe that the stories were actually true. I mean, ovens!
Well, here he was now standing outside of cabin #24 his home away from home, peering out over the one hundred yards or so that separated him from the barb wire fence. pow
Ben had just about made up his mind to go when the sirens went off, powerful lights came on scanning the walls and  grounds. Shouts came up and shots were fired and then, Ben could see them, two men breaking for the fence, trying to keep some distance between them and staying low. 
pow camp
They were both big men. Must be new to the camp, still healthy, not broken down. Why, that was Lowell on the right and Franklin behind him and they were almost to the wall. Well, no secret now so the men started to cheer and clap, anything to provide some distraction for their buddies break out. But just as quickly as the excitement started, it was over. Lowell was taken out by a single sharpshooters well placed bullet and Franklin was chopped up by machine gun fire both from behind and from a tower high up on the wall.
The prisoner’s shouts and clapping diminished and slowly died off while the men sank back in sadness and a sense of resignation, realizing they were all doomed to remain in this living hell.
It was then that Ben, still standing outside of the cabin, started to clap again. Slowly at first, the other men joined in as they clapped for their dead buddies, Lowell and Franklin. They were dead alright, but they died trying to escape, to get free and this, why this deserved an applause.
It was then that another lone “crack”, was heard and Ben went down and…german guard
The camp was silent again.

 

 

~ by Vinnie on January 15, 2015.

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