The Falcon & the Viper

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Part 2 Chapter 11

In the final year of their studies at Cambridge, Johnny Faulkner completed his BA in mathematics while Anthony Barker scraped through his Bachelor of Arts degree in history. They returned to their homes in Westcliffe for a short while before taking up full time commissions in the RAF with Fighter Command. Their good friend Tom Beckett, much to his disgust, had received a posting to a Bomber Command OTU.

Johnny had been going out for some time with Anthony’s sister, Lady Miranda Barker, during breaks at home from university. Despite initial disagreements because of Johnny’s idealistic attitude and the class difference between his and Miranda’s aristocratic upbringing, the relationship blossomed. Although they did not have much time on their own as Anthony Barker, in the company of Johnny’s sister Catherine always tagged along. Anthony appeared to be at ease with Catherine and appeared to value her friendship platonically. Johnny thought he knew the real reason behind it. However, all four enjoyed the time they had together.

They enjoyed many a happy day that summer walking on the cliff tops overlooking the channel with Toby, the Faulkner family’s elderly golden retriever in tow, and spent the lunch times and evenings in local pubs and restaurants. At the weekends, the girls prepared picnics and watched Johnny and Anthony playing cricket, trying to understand the intricacies of the game. Enjoying a day trip to Calais on the cross channel ferry, they bought some bottles of good French wine to bring back home.

Both Johnny and Anthony were looking forward to the visit towards the end of the summer of Max Schiller and Hans Mueller, the German officers who they had met at the Olympic Games in Berlin. Staying in touch, they had arranged earlier in the year come over. The day arrived and Johnny and Miranda, together with Anthony and Catherine were waiting at the harbour side in Dover for the returning ferry from France. The ferry hove into sight and soon docked and Johnny spotted the two Germans among the crowd of passengers disembarking. It had taken Johnny a few moments to recognise them, dressed in casual wear for their visit instead of Luftwaffe uniforms.

Attracting their attention, Johnny and Anthony welcomed and introduced them to the girls. Max Schiller’s handsome, boyish looks attracted Catherine, as he clicked his heels together, bowed his head and raised her hand to kiss it. He greeted Lady Miranda in similar fashion, although distracted by Catherine’s beautiful looks, her strawberry blonde hair and peaches like complexion. The typical English rose, Max thought to himself. Getting in to the Rolls Royce, Jenkins the chauffeur drove them the short distance up to the Barker’s home in Westcliffe.

Max got out of the car and opened the door for Catherine and Lady Miranda. As Anthony and the others climbed out, he looked up at the imposing façade of the large manor house.

‘This is quite a place you live in Anthony.’

‘Yes, it dates from the Elizabethan period and father prefers living here rather than the draughty old castle that goes with his title.’ replied Anthony.

‘Castle?’ enquired Hans Muller? ’Ach, we call it a Schloss. Your father is an important man if he has a castle to live in.

‘Father’s Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and spends a lot of time in London with the government. Let’s go and meet him.’

Anthony and the two Germans started walking towards the entrance as Jenkins unloaded their suitcases from the boot of the car.

‘We’ll nip next door and get changed and see you later.’ called out Johnny. With Catherine, they walked across the drive and slipped through the old gap in the hedge, which they had used many times since childhood to get between the houses.

That evening, Lord and Lady Barker held a sumptuous banquet for their guests. The butler poured fine Chateau Latour Medoc wine into crystal goblets as the maid served delicious bowls of pumpkin soup, followed by generous helpings of meat carved from a joint of the best Angus beef with green vegetables and carrots from the garden. The goblets were topped up as they devoured delicious helpings of apple pie topped with rich dairy cream. The conversation around the table became relaxed, thanks to the wine and the blazing log fire in the stone fireplace warming the large room, from the chill of the cold autumn evening outside. Johnny reminisced with Max about their success in winning medals in the Olympic Games and flying experiences, when Max told him he had taken part in the civil war that was still raging in Spain.

‘You fought in Spain?’ exclaimed Johnny in surprise.

‘Yes, the Luftwaffe posted me there after the Olympics to fight with our Condor Legion. I see no reason not to tell you, as we are friends now, yes. Of course, we went under the guise of volunteers.’

‘What did you fly?’

‘We flew Heinkel 51 biplanes.’

‘Did you see any combat?’ asked Johnny.

‘Yes, although at the start there wasn’t much aerial fighting so we helped by attacking the republican forces on the ground. My squadron commander was Adolph Galland, a brilliant fighter pilot and tactician who taught me a lot. I flew our new Messerschmitt 109.’

‘The 109, I read about it, it’s quite a machine.’ stayed Johnny.

‘Yes, it’s a delight to fly. Before we left Germany, Galland made sure our squadron was the first to get them, as they had just entered service. When we flew down to Spain, we found the republicans only had a few obsolete aircraft. I managed to attack one old Hispano Nieuport. The trouble was, he was flying very slowly and I misjudged his speed and shot past him. By the time I had banked round in a tight turn he had dived for the ground, hoping his camouflaged wings would merge with the pine forests below.’

Johnny listened, wondering what was coming.

‘I easily controlled my speed thanks to the Emil’s leading edge slats on the wings and got on his tail. One three second burst was enough, ripping through the fuselage and cockpit. The bi-plane stalled and ploughed through the tops of the trees, ripping the wings off and exploding as the fuel tank went up. I circled back over the wreckage but the crash site was a ranging inferno of burning pine trees. I’m sure I got the pilot with my first shots the way it stalled. It was my first kill.’

Max’s words sunk in as Johnny realised the whole point of his own training.

’When I landed back at the airfield I got my ground crew to paint my first kill on the 109’s tail fin and for good measure, the five Olympic rings on the side of the fuselage. I found out later the Olympic committee had written a letter of complaint to Galland. He replied informing them in his opinion that as I had won a medal, I had every right to display the symbol on my aircraft, irrespective of whether it was a machine of war or peace!′

‘Here, here!’ agreed Anthony Barker, becoming inebriated and sipping more wine from his glass.

‘Germany should organise future Olympic Games, not some jumped up businessmen in Lausanne. Look how damn efficient they were in Berlin.’

‘Well, they didn’t quite get the pigeon thing right, did they Anthony?’ chuckled Johnny!

‘Nonsense! That could have happened to anyone.’ replied Anthony.

Max laughed and said, ‘Anthony tells me you thought it was a Luftwaffe air display. What did you call it?’

‘Let’s not go into that.’ said Johnny.

‘Finish telling me about your time in Spain, Max.’

‘Ach, there were a few bugs to iron out on the new Emil, and it was far more powerful than anything we had been used to.’

‘Emil?’ asked Johnny.

‘Oh, that’s our nickname for the 109. It’s one of the Christian names of her designer, Willy Messerschmitt. I had already flown the Taifun108, its predecessor, but that didn’t have retractable undercarriage like the 109. One day, I forgot to lower the gear before landing and Galland was none too pleased. He packed me of home with my tail between my legs for my sins!’

Hans Mueller, judged the time right to change the conversation in the direction he wanted.

’I agree with Anthony’s comments about our Olympics. We proved without doubt that we could plan and run them much better than any committee. In fact, your own country could benefit, as Germany has from our national socialist reforms, by getting all your many unemployed back to work. I understand you have economic problems in the industrial and mining areas in the north and west of England. Put the unemployed to work! You only need one strong leader such as our glorious Fuhrer, instead of a government that dithers and argues, to unite your nation once again.

Anthony’s father, Lord Barker interrupted the young German.

‘You realise that you are talking to one of your so-called ditherers, yet it has not deterred you from speaking out, young man. I applaud your courage.’

‘Thank you, Lord Barker. I would appreciate the opportunity of discussing the matter further with you.’ replied Hans Mueller as Anthony Barker listened to the conversation.

‘Certainly, my dear chap. Let us retire to my study to discuss our political differences. Anthony, show our guest the way while I say good night to your mother. Perhaps young Faulkner and his friend would care to join us?’

‘No thank you, sir, politics isn’t my forte.’ replied Johnny.

‘I would rather keep your daughter and my sister company.’

‘I would also like to stay with you Johnny!’ added Max, winking at Catherine who blushed. Captivated by her natural, innocent charm, Max smitten with the young, beautiful Catherine.

The evening was proving to be a resounding success. Johnny and Max had much in common and enjoyed their friendship. Miranda had realised she was very much in love with Johnny, the boy from next door who had grown into such a kind, good-looking young man. Catherine, in such a short time had fallen head over heels for Max, the handsome German fighter pilot.

In the study behind the closed door, Lord Barker picked up a cedar wood box of Havana cigars from his desk, took one out for himself and offered them to his son and Hans Mueller. He told Anthony to go over to the drinks cabinet in the corner, who poured two fingers of brandy from a decanter into large balloons and brought them back. Addressing the end of his cigar with a silver cigar cutter, Lord Barker struck a match and lit up amidst clouds of blue smoke, puffing until its red tip glowed fiercely.

‘Anthony, did you agree with our young German friend’s opinions just now over dinner?’ enquired Barker.

‘Yes Father, I did. At Cambridge, I joined the Fabian Society and many of the members had similar views to those of Hans, for a change of direction in the way the country is governed. As Hans stated, you only have to look to the new Germany. Thanks to National Socialism, the country has become successful, compared to the long depression and high unemployment we are experiencing here. The old style politics we have endured for years are not working, and must give way to a younger, idealistic doctrine incorporating radical views for the future.’

‘I agree. Anthony, but the Fabian society?’ mocked his father.

‘They’re nothing more than limp wristed socialists.’

‘I realise that now Father, for some of us attended meetings of the British Union of Fascists and agreed with many of the issues raised by their leader, Oswald Mosley.’ replied Anthony.

Hans Mueller listened intently to the conversation between father and son.

Lord Barker took a puff from his cigar and looked at his son.

‘I agree that Mosely has the right ideals but lacks a tendency to centralise his party, nor does he have any definite ideological focus. He is only intent on swelling the ranks of his party with a strain of black-shirted bullyboy hooligans from the working class. However, I can offer you a much better alternative, Anthony.’ said Barker, glancing at Mueller.

’As you are aware, Mueller, thanks to my initial contact with your party following my son’s trip to the Olympics, the growth in our relationship has been prodigious. It may interest you to know that although we have a Tory government in office, behind the scenes at Westminster many creditable politicians have secretly joined our movement with its goal of a nationalist Britain. A society, unlike Mosley’s, that comprises like-minded individuals, including members of the royalty and peers of the realm such as myself, all important people in high positions of trust.

Hans Mueller coughed and Lord Barker paused and motioned with his hand for the German to speak.

‘Our party leaders are pleased with the progress you have made, but consider that your goal of a nationalist government is taking far too long.’ stated Mueller

‘What are you talking about?’ interjected Barker. ‘We are making tremendous progress, but one has to remain inconspicuous and discreet.’

‘Our leaders are of the opinion that Britain will not sit on the side-lines if Germany makes moves on neighbouring territories that we consider ours. If you cannot silence those government ministers, such as your warmongering Winston Churchill in time, then your plan will fail.’ insisted Mueller.

‘But should war break out we will still be able to communicate through neutral embassies. It would be in everyone’s interest to avoid war, as our movement wants our two great nations to unite, by getting Britain to embrace National Socialism.’

‘But it is taking far too long.’ snapped Mueller.

‘Let me finish young man!’ snarled Barker.

‘Chamberlain means well with his peace initiatives, but he is a weak-willed man who allows Churchill to trample all over him. We must have more time to undermine Churchill and convert more to our course.’

‘You must speed up your nationalist programme as time is of the essence. If war breaks out, there must be in place a direct line of communication with our intelligence people in Berlin, so you can assist any agents that the Abwehr plan to send over.’ stipulated Mueller.

‘You will not speak to me like that!’ exploded Barker.

‘Come, I only mean to offer you help.’ placated Mueller, ignoring Barker’s rudeness and thinking what an arrogant little prick the man was. He knew the Reich had no use for people like Barker, other than to help in a limited way in any future conflict or occupation of Britain. Major Reichmann, his superior in the Abwehr, had told him he was only interested in Anthony Barker, the young RAF officer ideally placed to supply secret information that would be of great use to the Luftwaffe. However, Mueller realised he had to humour the father and not alienate the son.

‘My superiors in Germany would welcome further communication with you and your society. My country does not seek or want war with Britain. Our common enemy is that cunning bear in the north, Russia. When I return home, I will report to my superiors what you have told me.’

In one of the bedrooms upstairs later that night, Anthony Barker leaned back against the headboard and reached across the inert body lying in the bed. He pulled a cigarette from an open pack of Dunhill’s on a bedside cabinet. Clicking his lighter, a flame flared and lit up the dark room to reveal a naked Hans Mueller beside him.

‘That was very satisfying, my English lover.’

‘The feelings mutual, Hans.’

‘Well, if we are to spend more time together, you must do all that you can to help our cause. Anthony, Germany is not your enemy and many of your compatriots already know this. Men more sympathetic to our cause must remove and replace your present leaders with their misplaced thoughts and morals. With the guts to force through the changes necessary, such as yourself and your father. Before I leave, I will give you the contact details of a friend in London who is sympathetic to our cause. Then we will have two lines of communication between us. Remember, my dear Anthony, we need you to give us all the help you can.’

‘Less of the sermon, Hans.’ Anthony replied, stubbing out the half-smoked cigarette.

Hans Mueller did not share his lover’s sentiments, as he had been using Anthony for his own gain. He had been prepared to manipulate or blackmail Anthony into spying for Germany, although this would not now be necessary after the successful meeting with Lord Barker. Their help in supplying important information to help the Nazi cause would be very useful to his masters in Germany. Mueller got out of bed to return to his room.

‘Do not fret Anthony, as we won’t be apart for long. Our magnificent Fuhrer has the skills and desire for our countries to unite and I will be back soon so we can live in happiness, but you must do all you can to help our cause.’

‘I will help you, Hans. There’s nothing I’d like better than living with you here under the great ideals and leadership of your Fuhrer.’

’He’s our Fuhrer, Anthony. You will be a worthy addition to our cause as you will be able to pass on information that will help us.

The German visitors’ time flew by in England as their hosts made sure they enjoyed every minute. One highlight for them was a visit to RAF Hawkinge near Dover, where Johnny and Anthony had flown at summer camp with the University Air Squadron. Both now RAF officers they took their German friends to meet acquaintances they had made during their time there. The station commander took more than a friendly interest in the Germans, when Max told him he had fought in the civil war in Spain, and the station adjutant showed them around the airfield. The German pilots took turns sitting in the cockpit of a Hawker Fury bi-plane, one of 25 Squadron’s stationed at the airfield, silently comparing it with their Messerschmitts. They both realised it was not a match for the fast fighters they flew.

As the group were walking past a hangar, Hans Mueller noticed one of the new breed of English fighters inside the opened doors.

‘Is that a Hurricane?’ he asked.

‘Yes, it landed here yesterday with a technical fault.’ replied the flight commander.

‘Can we have a look?’ enquired Max.

‘Sorry old boy, that’s strictly off limits.’

The group walked on.

’That Hurricane looked like an old biplane without its top wing! They won’t be a problem for our 109’s.′ Hans whispered to Max.

‘Maybe not’ he replied. ‘But the photos I’ve seen of their new Spitfire look good to me!’

The tour ended with a round of drinks in the mess, and the visitors said their goodbyes and left the airfield. They drove off to meet the girls who were picnicking on the white cliffs close by. Helping the girls to clear up, they all squeezed into the Rolls Royce Anthony had borrowed from his father and drove to the Cat and Custard pub in the small hamlet of Paddlesworth, close to the boundary of the airfield. Drinking glasses of real ale, they laughed and joked and the Germans commented on the different taste of the English hops, compared with the Pilsner they were more used to. The day drew to a close and they drove the short distance home to Westcliffe.

After dinner, Max and Catherine slipped out of the house and walked hand in hand down the long garden, stopping at the low wall at the bottom perched on the edge of the cliff. Under a clear sky speckled with the shiny dots of stars, they looked at the moonlight reflecting off the waves, turning the surface of the sea into a shimmering glow of silver. Both realised they were very much in love.

‘I’ve never felt this way before about anyone, Catherine. It’s as if I’ve known you all my life.’

‘Oh Max, darling, I do so feel the same about you! You’ve entered my life in such a short time and in only two days you’ll be on your way back home to Germany. I can’t bear the thought of you leaving me. Please, can’t you stay any longer?’

’I wish I could but it’s impossible, my dear. I have to get back to my squadron. We can write to each other every day and I will come back to visit you on my next leave, which won’t be long. Of course, you can always come to Germany! I would love to show you my home town of Hamburg and you can meet my family.

Catherine turned to Max with tears welling in her eyes. He put his hand under her chin and lifted her head towards him, wiping away the tears that were now running down her cheeks. Pulled her closer to him their lips touched and they kissed. Catherine melted into his arms and responded as Max kissed her more passionately. She pulled away and cried out.

‘It’s so unfair, Max. I don’t want to lose you, now everyone is saying that war will start soon between our two countries.’

‘You won’t my darling. Whatever happens, I promise you I will return and we can spend the rest of our lives together.’

He kissed her again and held her in his strong arms. Catherine offered no resistance as Max led her to the quaint old summerhouse nearby. They walked up the creaking steps on to the veranda, careful to avoid the sharp thorns of the scented, deep red roses entwined among the climbing frame on either side of the entrance. Max opened the door, taking her inside and pushed her up against a wall. He started kissing her again and Catherine responded with passion and felt a burning sensation stirring in her groin that she had never experienced before. In a desperation borne of the terrible thought of Max leaving her, she dissolved in his arms as Max lowered her gently to the floor.

Locked in their lovers’ embrace he started to unbuttoned her dress as she struggled to undo the buckle of the belt on his trousers and soon they were both naked. Catherine tensed as Max pressed against her and gasped in pain as he pushed harder and entered her. She gripped him and let out a long sigh as she felt his blood warm manhood deep inside her. She cupped his backside with her delicate, long fingers and stroked the flesh between them. Far from being coy, this, her first sexual experience gave way to a heady desire to consume him.

It was Max’s turn to gasp in surprise when she pushed her breasts up toward his mouth and rocked her hips backwards and forwards. He smothered them in kisses, sucking her nipples, amazed at her boldness for he realised it was her first time. He had fucked more than a few girls but had never experienced such abundant sexual desires from one so young. Was this true love and devotion he was feeling from this beautiful English rose beneath him? Whatever it was, it only made him desire her more and he pounded away quicker and harder. She responded in kind and they both cried out with passion and delight as her pace matched her lovers.

Catherine felt sweat beading her back and chest as Max ground against her and she rose, arching her back in delight, supported by his strong arms behind her shoulders. A low moan escaped from her lips as red-hot fire ignited and burned deep inside, and she ground her thighs even tighter against him. Max gritted his teeth, unwilling to climax before her. He dug his fingernails hard into her back. Catherine tensed, pushed hard and gave out a loud moan that ended in a series of throaty, animal grunts. Max let go inside her, his head fell against hers and he collapsed in a shudder on top of her, a growl of joy escaping from his lips.

Their strength spent, they lay on the floor together in each other’s arms.

‘I love you Catherine, more than I can ever say.’

‘Oh Max, I love you so much too. Never stop loving me.’

They fell asleep and woke with a start as the room became lighter with the rising sun, and in a rustle of clothes and whispered endearments, hurriedly got dressed. Making their way quickly back to the house, they went inside, praying no one was up.

The day after the Germans’ departure, Johnny stared out of his bedroom window deep in thought. He realised a relationship had sparked between his sister and Max and was happy for them, but suspected that Anthony was having a clandestine affair with Hans Mueller and doubted the German’s motives.

He smiled, thinking about his own life and how he wanted to spend the rest of it with Miranda. Johnny went downstairs to tell his father of his love for Miranda and his desire to marry her. Hugh Faulkner pointed out that Johnny could soon be in the thick of it, fighting for his life if war broke out. However, mindful of the fact that he had been in a similar position with his wife Janet during the Great War, gave his consent.

Next, Johnny visited Miranda’s parents to ask their permission for their daughter’s hand in marriage and to his surprise, Miranda’s father agreed to the request, although Lady Barker protested the fact that they were far too young. She visited Johnny’s mother, to persuade her into talking Johnny out of marrying Miranda because of the couple’s comparative youth. Janet Faulkner pointed out that they too had been very young when they had married their husbands and Lady Barker conceded defeat, realising it would be pointless to try stopping the marriage.

Johnny, now a pilot officer in the RAF Volunteer Reserve received orders posting him to 79 Squadron, RAF Biggin Hill, where he would fly the new Hawker Hurricane. Wondering what the future held in store spurred him on and that evening during a candlelit dinner, Miranda accepted Johnny’s proposal of marriage. Miranda had guessed what Johnny was about to do and gave him a small brown teddy bear as a token of her love. He christened the bear Barnaby and told her it would go with him whenever he went flying, as a lucky mascot.

Anthony Barker received orders posting him to Biggin Hill as well, suppressing fears of the uncertainty of what lay ahead for very different reasons to those of his friend, Johnny.

In Germany, Max Schiller was back flying with his squadron although Hans Mueller had flown first to Berlin to report to his boss, Major Reichmann of the Abwehr, the military intelligence service run by Vice-Admiral Wilhelm Canaris. Reichmann had congratulated Mueller on the success of his mission, for he had set a chain of events in motion that would have dire ramifications for Britain’s security.

The Luftwaffe continued to expand as German aircraft factories increased production and Adolf Hitler prepared to seize the Sudetenland, the ethnic German portion of Czechoslovakia. On the 29 September, an emergency meeting took place in Munich between the main European powers of Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy. The Czech Prime Minister, Edvard Benes, left out in the cold by not being invited to the conference, could only watch from the sidelines at the plans being made to divide his country.

To the relief of the others present during the negotiations, Hitler announced that this would be his last territorial claim in Europe, following the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany earlier in March. The other leaders agreed to the cessation to Germany of the Sudetenland, to prevent the possibility of war breaking out, and signed the next day, agreeing to Hitler’s terms. Known as the Munich Agreement, it became symbolic of the dangers of appeasing aggressive governments, for in March the following year the German Wehrmacht would occupy the rest of Czechoslovak after a brief fight by the Czechs against overpowering odds. Some pilots escaped in their aircraft to France or made their way there by road, where they joined many of the French Air Force squadrons.

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