A Wing and a Prayer

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Chapter 11

In the morning, Mags and Andy were only up half an hour when Klein appeared. Andy was pleased to see him looking awake and more active than the last time, while Mags was just relieved to see he was still here. She had pressed his Luftwaffe uniform and it was hanging up on the back of the pantry door. Klein noticed the uniform on the door, picked it up to admire it and said to Mags,

“Thank you. The Luftwaffe would be proud of you for such a fine job!”

Mags smiled at him and replied,

“I want a picture of you in it later. I didn’t press it so that you could wear it going out!”

Klein smiled and hung it back on the door and said,

“It does not look like I will ever wear it again, but I am not so sad about this.”

Andy commented on Klein’s ‘fresher’ look this morning.

“It looks like you are getting used to McCulloch’s brew, then!” he said jovially.

Klein narrowed his eyes and said,

“I’m not so sure about that. I think having less of it is better!” Klein started to unbutton his jacket and took it off.

Mags smiled and handed him a plate with two boiled eggs and three rashers of bacon on.

“Have some breakfast. You missed it yesterday, and he got it all!” she said, referring to her husband.

“Thank you,” said Klein as he sat down at the table and got some bread from the basket in the centre.

They all sat and ate their breakfast and made plans for the day.

After breakfast, Andy asked Mags if she was coming with them this morning and she replied,

“Nope! I’m going to set up the dark room and develop the pictures I took the other day.”

Andy, replied,

“Oh, okay. Do you need anything before we go?”

“No, I’ll be fine. Everything is there. If I have time, I’m going to have a look at the camera from the 109 as well, although on second thoughts, I doubt I’ll be able to use it after all.”

“How?” inquired Andy, simply.

“Well it’s a bit of a specialist thing, isn’t it? And I’m a bit concerned about getting caught with it,” Mags replied.

“I’ll have a better look at it, but it may end up getting dumped in the sea!”

“That would be a shame,” Andy replied,

“But only if you’re sure.”

Mags nodded and replied,

“I’d rather dump it than get caught with it. It looks as though it can’t work without some form of power and also a special film, which of course, we can’t get,”

Klein then suggested,

“It may be an idea to do the same with the compass, radio set and oxygen bottles?”

Andy agreed and said,

“We can easily get one of the lads’ boats and dump it all if we have to.”

“Well, I think we’d better just do that, then – today, if possible”, Mags replied.

Klein then added,

“I think we should also dispose of my uniform too. How could you explain having this around?”

Andy, who had thought about keeping the insignia for sale in the future, silently admitted to himself that this was the safer and sensible option and replied,

“Aye, I guess you’re right. We’ll throw some of it off the hill at the top, today.”

Mags, handed Klein his jacket and said,

“Right. Put it on now and I’ll get the camera.”

Klein did as he was told and Mags took a couple of pictures of him, and another couple of him and Jim together. The scene looked very surreal as an Arran farmer stood happily next to a German fighter pilot with Nazi insignia adorning the uniform!

Once Mags was finished, Klein took the jacket off and bundled it up with the tools and other paraphanelia.

Klein and Andy headed out to the barn and began loading up the trailer with the lifting tackle and the gantry and some more tools. They had just finished and were about to start up the tractor when they saw the familiar figure of McCulloch ambling up the lane. As he got closer, Andy called out,

“Morning Gordon!”

“Morning Andy, - Jorgen!”

Klein smiled and greeted McCulloch as he stopped by the front of the tractor.

“Have you not finished cutting that thing up yet?”

Andy replied,

“It’s taking a while longer than we thought. We had to be careful with the guns and the fuel vapours. We’re going to get the undercarriage out today and the other guns and hopefully the rest of the wings.”

McCulloch leant on the tractor bonnet and said,

“Well mind and cut the gun barrels up – the last thing we want is to get done for arms dealing as well! They’ll throw the bloody key away if they find you selling those cannons!”

McCulloch then leant back off the tractor and said,

“I got hold of Iain Menzies last night. It seems he’s always in the market for some aluminium and should get a good price somewhere!”

Andy replied,

“Great! And presumably he is aware that it will have come from a rather unorthodox source shall we say?”

“Well, I told him it was foreign. I guess that’s all he needs to know just now. He’ll draw his own conclusions. You know Iain – he isn’t interested in the details,” McCulloch replied, then added,

“I actually just came up to see if you wanted a hand, today?”

Andy turned to Klein and then said to McCulloch,

“That would be great, actually, if you’re not doing anything else today. We could do with an extra pair of hands as there will be a lot of smaller bits to collect.”

They started up the tractor and made their way up to the field, bouncing along the rutted lane. Klein was getting to be quite adept, now, at hanging on and shifting his weight on the trailer as it pitched and wallowed up the lane.

They arrived at the site and started unloading the trailer. Klein and McCulloch unloaded the lifting gear and the gantry and left it just in front of the trees beside the ’plane. They immediately covered it up with branches while Andy set up the cutting torches and uncovered the wing.

The right hand wing had been cut down almost to the wing root at the top and most of the undercarriage retracting gear and the wheel was exposed. They began dismantling what they could with the tools, but cut away anything that either was too difficult to access, or was too complex to dismantle. Time was more important than care! The job was certainly made quicker by the extra pair of hands as McCulloch dismantled much of the wing and undercarriage assembly, while Klein and Andy followed with the cutting torch. McCulloch started talking to Klein as they dismantled the wing, while Andy began cutting up the wing panels into smaller pieces.

“Have you got family back home, son?” he asked,

“Yes,” replied Klein, “Mother and father – I have no sisters or brothers.”

“Presumably they don’t know that you are actually alive and well and living on a farm, then?” he laughed, then added,

“Don’t worry, son. Andy and Mags will take care of you. Did you know that they have a son in the RAF that’s missing?”

Klein nodded, remembering the picture on the mantelpiece.

“Bloody coincidence too, him being a pilot and all. Just about your age, too.”

McCulloch stopped what he was doing and then looked at Klein direct in the eyes and said,

“Don’t do anything to hurt them, son. They are good people. They don’t care about world domination or master races or any shit like that. All they want is to live their simple life here and I can see from the way that they treat you that they are giving you

the attention that Jim should be getting. They are hurting really bad about that. They may not show it, but they’re really hurt.”

Klein looked over to where Andy was cutting up parts of the wing and replied,

“I know this. I knew they were good people from the minute I first met them. It may surprise you to hear this, herr McCulloch, but I don’t give a shit either about master races or world domination. I only care about having a quiet life too.”

McCulloch smiled and started work again,

“Aye, we’re all looking forward to that again, too!”

They removed the starboard wheel and carefully disconnected the stub assembly from the undercarriage leg. The tyre was still inflated and in good condition, which was probably a good indication that the other one would also have survived the crash.

When there was enough of a load for the trailer, they loaded it up and went through the routine of covering the ’plane up again, making sure there was enough camouflage for the gantry and lifting tackle. Before they left the site, Andy tightly bundled the flying jacket, boots, helmet and lifejacket that Klein wore, around a large stone, held with strong string and headed off to a vantage point that overlooked a small, but deep bay. McCulloch and Klein watched from afar in the tractor as Andy clumsily launched the package into the air and they heard a distant splash as it hit the water, not far below. By the time Andy reached the tractor and hauled himself on, McCulloch made an observation,

“Why didn’t you just bury it? Or burn it, even?”

Andy was still panting slightly and gasped,

“I never thought, actually! Still, it’s away now,” and crunched the tractor into first gear and lurched off.

While the dismantling of the ’plane continued with McCulloch, Mags had been busy developing the photographs that the she took from the first days work. She very carefully blanked off the pantry room in the farmhouse with black-out curtains and had all the developing chemicals set up under red light conditions. Mags got all the materials and the camera equipment before the war, with the intention of becoming a professional photographer. Unfortunately, by the time the war

started, it was taking up all her time to help keep the farm running, just to feed themselves, and she discovered, like so many others did during the war, that dreams and ambitions would have to wait. In the meantime, she continued photography as a hobby, and by the time Klein had come into their lives, she had amassed a large collection of photographs from around Arran, and many of the locals had these pictures framed on their walls.

By the time the men had finished the morning’s dismantling of the ’plane, she had developed all the photographs she had taken of Klein and Andy and they were hanging up to dry in the blacked-out dark room. They had all come out very well and as Mags went through them all, she smiled as she looked at the images of the vulnerable looking young airman and her husband and couldn’t help herself from drawing comparisons between Klein and their beloved son, Jim. She took down one of the photographs that featured her husband smiling broadly with his arm around Klein’s shoulders, and the case of McCulloch’s beer at their feet. She stared at it for a few minutes before taking it into the living room and placing it on the mantelpiece next to the picture of Jim. Although she knew it was silly, she realised that Klein was filling the role of a replacement son for her, and she knew that she wanted him to stay, even after the war was over, no matter how impractical that would be. She felt a strong sense of duty, now, to the young airman, to keep him safe and to ensure that he is never in danger again.

As the three men trundled back down the lane with another full load, Klein asked Andy,

“How much money can you get for the metal?”

Andy laughed and replied,

“Money? Oh, I reckon we’ll get more than just money for it! Cash could be traceable, though, through the banks. We don’t want any of that! We’ll have to be careful there.”

Klein then turned to McCulloch,

“So what else do you expect to gain from it all?”

McCulloch smiled and replied,

“Well, we could swap bit’s of it for things like meat, fuel, clothes. These things are much more valuable to us than money

in these times. I reckon we will get a lot of cash, but even more could be gained in goods on the mainland.”

“The ‘black market’ that you speak about?” Klein enquired.

“Yep!” Andy replied emphatically.

They turned into the farmhouse drive and reversed the trailer into the barn, where they unloaded the pieces next to the pile that was quickly accumulating in the corner of the barn.

McCulloch looked at the ever-increasing pile and said,

“I don’t know how we’ll get this over to the mainland, you know. I mean, we can’t take it all in one go, and several journeys increases the chances of being stopped and searched.”

Andy hadn’t thought about that yet, but could understand where McCulloch was coming from as he looked at the remains of Klein’s ’plane growing into a large pile of scrap metal in the barn.

“We have to get rid of it, somehow, though,” McCulloch pondered.

“Maybe it would be better if Iain came over a couple of times and took some back with him. We could then make a few trips ourselves,” Andy suggested.

“Not in that van of yours!” McCulloch said mockingly,

“Why not?” Andy exclaimed,

“It would take years, that’s how! It only does 50mph, maximum, when empty. We would spend the rest of our lives going back and forth with loads the size of a cigarette case!” McCulloch reasoned.

Klein, however, thought that it was a better idea to take the two vans,

“We cannot take much over anyway,” he reasoned,

“Maybe between us and this Iain Menzies coming over, we can transport it to him in small amounts and he could pay with each load?”

Andy agreed with Klein,

“Aye, right enough. After all, Iain is getting the highest quality aircraft aluminium. He will jump at the chance to get a regular supply, and I doubt if he could store it all anyway. There is just too much of it not to get noticed by someone, whether it’s here or in a scrapyard.”

Andy had reservations about moving it in it’s current state,

“If any of the vans broke down, or if anyone had reason to see inside, though, how would we hide the very obvious fact that we have the bits of a Gerry ’plane in the back?”

Silence fell among the group as they hit brutal reality.

McCulloch then hit on an idea, which would not only transport the metal, but would also pass any inspection from suspicious policemen or soldiers. There was the Smithy in Whiting Bay, by the name of John Clark who had been more or less put out of business as all metal was commandeered for the war effort. Once he had melted it all down for the authorities, there was nothing much left for him to continue in business with. John soon found that the authorities were less than interested in him, once all the metal was gone and he’d done his work for them. They couldn’t have cared less that he had no business. Naturally he was bitter, so involving him would at least give him a chance to recoup some of that loss.

“We’ll get John to melt the aluminium down into a shape that, once painted up and disguised, will look like parts of the van!” exclaimed McCulloch.

“How do you mean,” asked Andy,

“Simple - we’ll fashion the metal into, say, a false floor on the back of the van, mould it into bits that look like engine parts, wheels, we could do anything we liked!”

Klein thought it was a good idea, but had reservations,

“How can we make it into these shapes, though?”

McCulloch had that covered, too,

“It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. It’s only to roughly pass for a component. We can make anything good enough to pass a glance. We can make a false floor to cover Iain’s truck – that will take a lot of metal, for a start.”

Klein and Andy agreed to this idea, seeing the logic in it, and thought that the ‘false floors’ in the van and the truck were the best items to make. They could be fairly simple and not easily noticed by anyone looking in to the van casually, especially if they painted the metal to match the van and dirtied it up a bit.

“O.k. Let’s go for it, then. We’ll give John a call tonight,” Andy said, then added,

“Are you ready to get another load done before dark?”

They all climbed aboard the tractor and trailer and headed back up the farm track to the field.

The uncovering of the 109 was becoming quicker as the ’plane got smaller, and in no time at all, they were working on the port wing and by dusk had most of the stressed aluminium skin panels off the top of the wing and the wing ribs dismantled down to the undercarriage and the wheel.

As they loaded up the last of the metal parts onto the trailer again, Andy invited McCulloch and Anne over for dinner that night.

“It’s been a while since you pair have been up,” Andy said,

“And it will give you a chance to get to know Jorgen a bit better, too.”

McCulloch, grateful for the invitation, replied,

“That sounds grand, Andy. We’ll bring a little contribution or two as well!”

The farmer laughed and said,

“Jorgen is getting a taste for your ‘little contributions’. I don’t think he’s ever had anything like it!”

McCulloch laughed and said,

“Right. We’ll see you later – in about an hour?” and left the farm with a wave as he strolled down the lane.

Andy helped Klein to unload the last of the aluminium panels from the trailer and they went in to the house to get cleaned up. Mags had already started on the dinner and had set the table for them and their guests tonight. Andy, drying his hands, turned to Mags and asked,

“How did you get on today, with the pictures?”

Mags smiled broadly and replied,

“They came out great! Every one of them. Go and have a look!” and she nodded her head towards the room where they were all hanging up to dry.

Klein and Andy went into the room and began looking through the pictures and relived the first day of dismantling.

Mags had taken so many pictures of the 109 in it’s complete state, and of it being dismantled, that she had pictures hanging everywhere. When Klein and Andy came out, they passed through the living room and Klein noticed the picture that Mags had put on the mantelpiece. He felt a bit uneasy about this, as he didn’t know what the reaction would be from Andy, especially as it was sitting right next to his son’s picture! Before Klein could try and distract him, he noticed it, stopped in his tracks and walked over to the mantelpiece. Andy slowly picked the picture up and stared at it, while Klein looked on nervously. Andy simply stared at the picture and then gently put it back on the mantelpiece before turning around again, not realising that Klein was still there. He saw the look on Klein’s face and said reassuringly,

“It’s a good picture. It deserves to be there and there it will stay.”

Klein smiled and they both went through to the kitchen again, where Mags was waiting for the reaction as she knew they must have stopped by the living room and seen the photograph.

Andy went over to Mags and gave her a hug and said,

“We actually look like a family in it. Thank you, Mags,” and gave out a barely detectable sob,

“If it wasn’t for the markings on it, you’d think we had a family of pilots.”

Mags was also on the point of tears when she pulled away and said,

“I’ll have to make copies for Jorgen, here, so that he can take them home to his family and let them see what a mad bunch he got involved with!”

Klein laughed and said,

“When I get back to Germany, I will never forget this time. I’ll take back any pictures with pride and will gladly show everyone how kind and how friendly you all have been to me.”

Mags sighed and said,

“Right. Enough of the future. We’ve got guests coming in less than fifteen minutes!” and turned the gas up on the pan which contained a mixture for corned beef hash and began slowly stirring it up.

Andy brought out some of McCulloch’s wine and got Klein to uncork it while he checked on the vegetables, bubbling away on the stove.

They were just about organised when they heard Anne and Gordon McCulloch crunching their way up the last part of the drive- way at the house and knocking on the back door.

Klein jumped up to open it for them and was greeted by the two of them, almost buckling under the burden of boxes and bags!

“Here. Take these before we drop them!” McCulloch said,

Klein took the boxes off him and said,

“Ah, more of your famous B17’s!” he said, and put the box on the table next to the door.

He then took some bags off Anne and as he put them down, McCulloch introduced her to Klein.

“This is Anne. Anne this is Jorgen.”

Klein shook her hand and said,

“I’m pleased to meet you, Anne.”

“Pleased to meet you too!” she said, smiling at him.

Anne was immediately impressed with the young airman and said, “Well, if this is what all the Germans look like, then maybe we should all keep at least one as a prisoner of war, eh?”

as Andy and her came through to greet the McCulloch’s,

McCulloch turned to her and said,

“Aye, knowing your luck you’d end up with bloody Rudolph Hess, or some other ugly bastard!”

Andy took their coats and thanked them for their gifts. As well as the B17 beers, there were two bottles of wine, six chocolate bars, a dozen eggs, four large cans of used cooking oil and a bag of sugar. Klein was busy moving them all to a safer location in the kitchen, rather puzzled at the bizarre selection of items the Scots brought to dinner parties!

Andy noticed his expression and said to him,

“Are you looking for the cheese and port?” and laughed.

Klein replied,

“It is a strange selection, no? Some essentials, yes, but some nice goods too.”

Andy nodded and smiled as Klein added,

“Black market?”

Andy reinforced it,

“Could be! Not all of them, though.”

Andy reached over for the used cooking oil and said,

“Ah, from Mr Nairn, I presume?”

McCulloch replied,

“Aye. A new blend. He has a barrel of it for you. Slightly less paraffin in it than last time as it’s getting too scarce. He says to just come down and collect it, anytime, if that sample works alright. It does mean, of course, that we’ll have to go hunting for him again!”

Klein looked puzzled as to why anyone would want used cooking oil, and asked Andy.

“I’ll use it in the tractor. We’ll get him some rabbit and he gives us the used oil. He doesn’t drive, see.” Andy said,

“Ah, use it to oil the moving parts – very clever!”

Andy looked in McCulloch’s direction as he laughed and said,

“Oil the moving parts, my arse!” then looked back at Klein,

“No, I’ll use it IN the tractor, I can put it in the tank and use it like diesel fuel!”

Klein suddenly realised why the smell of chips seemed to be around them everywhere. He always assumed it was Sandy Nairn frying up in the chip shop upwind of them!

Mags beckoned them all to sit at the table and she and Klein started to serve up the dinner.

After explaining to Klein what they were eating, unfamiliar as he was with the concept of corned beef, or ‘American’ hash, they all ate and chatted away. McCulloch then announced,

“I got hold of John and Iain before we came over,” he said,

“Oh?” Andy questioned,

“What did they say?”

McCulloch continued,

“Well, we may have some problems melting the aluminium. John’s never done much of it before, and certainly not in the quantities we have, but he is fairly confident he can do it. Iain, on the other hand, was as excited as though he had won the football pools! He has an outlet for the aluminium, all of it, and

it is a company that has a military connection, would you believe!”

Andy laughed and said,

“Wouldn’t it be bloody ironic if we ended up selling back to the Germans!”

McCulloch carried on,

“Well, it’s definitely not going back to Germany, but it turns out that our lot aren’t adverse to obtaining some goods, via unorthodox routes either, as long as it helps them win a war! When I told Iain it was aircraft quality, from an actual aircraft, he said that he could get top money for it.”

Mags then asked McCulloch,

“What does Iain reckon it’s worth?”

McCulloch turned, smiled at Anne, who smiled at everyone else and then turned to Klein, Mags and Andy and said, slowly, for emphasise,

“Even after Iain has taken his cut, and we give John a fair deal, we are looking at around £10 000, I guess!”

Andy, Mags and Klein sat for a minute in silence, open mouthed, before Andy said,

“Bloody hell! Who is going to be able to pay that amount?”

Mags added,

“No wonder the yanks were so keen to pick up the bits of the bombers that crashed here!”

McCulloch laughed and said,

“Who will pay? A firm with a Government contract! Can you believe it! For once, we actually come out of a deal with the Government, on top!”

They all laughed heartily and Andy then refreshed everyone’s glasses and got Klein to propose the toast.

“Naturally, to the end of the war!” he said.

Andy then added,

“And here’s to our war pensions!”

Klein then remembered the parachute,

“Don’t forget the parachute. That must be worth something too,” he said.

“Of course, the bloody ’chute! I keep forgetting about that! There you go Mags and Anne – you should be able to rustle up something from that, eh?”

Anne laughed and said to Mags,

“Or we could sell that too, and make something for ourselves. What do you think Mags?”

McCulloch then leaned in to his wife and said,

“Oh, don’t worry, love. You’ll be o.k sticking with me after all this is done.”

Mags replied for Anne and said, light-heartedly,

“Aye, you’d better believe it Gordon McCulloch. Don’t think for one minute that you three chancers are getting all the spoils to yourself!”

Anne then said,

“Don’t forget, it’s the lad’s ’plane. What will you get out of all this Jorgen?” she asked the young airman.

Klein’s reply was immediate,

“I will get freedom. I will get back home. I have new friends. I am looked after. I get to feel welcomed and I get to drink gallons of this fine wine and beer that has been fermented in a kerosene tank, of all things!”

Anne and Gordon laughed, but the sentiment of what Klein said was not lost on his hosts. Mags carried this sentiment on by saying,

“Yes, and we get the satisfaction of helping someone in distress in a strange land, back to their family safely, with no interference from politicians or armies, or the Police, the bloody SS, or anyone else. Knowing that we were able to help Jorgen, here, is worth more to us than any money.”

McCulloch raised his glass again as he looked at Klein,

“Here, here. I’ll drink to that.”

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