Fare Thee Well (unedited extract Close Target Recce)
The briefing over with, the course climbed aboard the 4 Tonne Bedford truck, which was waiting with its engine running outside the block. They sat in their syndicates of four, for the trip to their various drop off locations. The mood was one of anticipation and excitement, it all seemed so real, even though they knew it wasn’t. The warning that if they were reported to the German Civil Police (GCP), they would be disowned, had added extra tension to the situation. Trev had been given the job of patrol leader, with Ron as his 2ic. This was an easy one Richard thought to himself, and was disturbed by the sound of the brakes of the vehicle. Sgt Green appeared at the tailgate, and whispered their syndicate’s number, and that they should dismount. They had only been travelling for about 20 minutes, once Sgt Green had confirmed with Trev their location, he climbed back into the truck and it moved away. The four team members immediately went to ground in all round defence, even though for this particular exercise they were unarmed. It was thought it was not a good idea just in case they were caught doing their reconnaissance. Trev examined the map, and confirmed with Ron where they were to meet their ‘agent’. Once they were happy on the direction they were to take, they moved out of cover. The track that they were going to take was firm, but because of the dense foliage it was pitch black. Ron led the patrol as lead scout, with Spike second, then Trev with Richard bringing up the rear. They spaced themselves the standard 5 metres apart, as for night patrols, and began the slow ascent. The feature they were climbing was the highest point in the local area. On top of it was a well-known landmark, known to the guys as ‘Herman the German’. His real name was Arminius, and had succeeded in defeating the Roman army. This was in the battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD. The statue that stood on top of this feature was not their final destination. That was a tower on a neighbouring hill. They needed however to meet their agent at a grid reference about half way up. This was obviously to make the exercise a little more difficult. They continued their ascent for the next hour, with Trev checking their progress on the map. Ron was counting his paces so that he knew roughly when to expect any junctions or features’ that they could use to confirm this. Trev whispered to Spike that their destination should be coming up shortly and to pass it on to Ron. This he did and Ron in accordance slowed his pace. Suddenly he raised his hand in a signal for the patrol to halt, he had spotted something in the darkness. He called Trev forward to let him know, and surely in the darkness they saw the glow of a cigarette. This must have been their contact, who else would be wandering round the woods at that time of night. Making themselves as small as possible, they began to crawl forward, halting about 20 metres from the now distinctive silhouette of a figure. Ron went forward and whispered the challenge, and received the correct response. The team approached the figure, and found that it was their JNCO Steve London.
‘You okay boys? He greeted them not expecting a reply. ‘You have made good time. I have another task for you. I want you to find the type of security system that is fitted to the gates of the installation. Do you have any questions and do you know what direction you are heading?’ He asked and waited for an answer. They told him that they understood, and knew where they were going.
So with a wave, he bid them farewell. Ron turned 45 degrees and headed in the direction that Trev had given him prior to meeting up with the agent. There was a break in the trees and the team could see a series of red lights rising vertically from the opposite hill. As it was at night they couldn’t tell how far it was. They had however studied the map, and knew that it was around 5 kilometres as the crow flies. This meant it would probably take them, around two hours to get there, factoring in, the terrain they needed to negotiate. They started to descend for the next fifteen minutes until they came to the bottom of the hill that they needed to climb. The track they had chosen was a series of hairpins, snaking its way up the feature. They put their heads down and slowly trudged onwards, stopping every five hundred metres or so to check the map. With only one main track it wasn’t going to be hard to find their way.
As expected after two hours they could see bright lights flooding an area approximately three hundred metres in front of them. They moved off the track, and started to move through the dense wood that surrounded the installation. As the woods grew thinner the outline of the Television Station came into view. Cover was sparse from the edge of the Woodline to the fence surrounding the mast and the outlying buildings. They lined up in an extended line facing the installation. Trev lifted the binoculars he had around his neck. As he scanned the complex, he made observations to Richard who was jotting them down in his notebook. They took note of any changes of security staff over the next hour. Also how alert they seemed to be, and did they vary their patrol routes. They counted the number of floodlights, and any areas of darkness that could be used to approach the installation unseen. Just as they had completed their initial recce, a vehicle headlights could be seen approaching the main gate. The car was dark in colour with some writing emblazoned on the side. Due to the darkness it was too hard to see what it said. No one disembarked, the window was lowered, and an arm reached out and placed something in a post that rose from the ground. The gates then began to swing open on their own. A figure appeared approximately 15 metres inside the compound, and the vehicle stopped once again. The darkly dressed figure leaned inside the open window, then after a short time leaned back and waved the vehicle on. Was this a change of shift Richard thought, but noted the time anyway in his notebook.