My Stories

After going to the effort of translating my stories for Kindle and having very few sales I though of posting them on ARRSE as a serial. Here's the first chapter of book one 'The Meeting':

The Meeting
Chuck Rogers

Copyright © 2011 ChuSan Services

With thanks to:

Sandy for her encouragement, suggestions and corrections. (ARmy Rumour ServicE) for ntroducing me to:
Andy Kay for his help and encouragement and Neil Adamson for proof reading and correcting my German. - Long Range Desert Group for information about the vehicles and armaments used in the Western Desert Campaign.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner.
Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Locations are as geographically correct as possible but all individual buildings and establishments are fictitious or coincidental.

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Norfolk, England. December 20[SUP]th[/SUP] 1985 - 1720 hours.

The taxi pulled up at my front door. I paid the driver, unlocked the door and dumped my suitcase at the bottom of the stairs. Before closing the door I watched the taxi drive over the virgin snow as it completed the half-circle of my drive back onto the street. I put my briefcase on the hall table and half-consciously counted the flashing ‘you have messages’ light on the answer-phone; seven. Not too bad as I’d been away ten days, over twice as long as expected.
I removed my coat, hung it on the coat rack and picked up the small pile of mail that Mrs Pilkington, my ‘little lady what does’ as she was affectionately know by my family, had placed there. Walking into the kitchen I put the letters on the table, turned up the central heating thermostat, filled my Russell Hobbs percolator with water then ground a portion of Blue Mountain Jamaica coffee beans, poured the result into the percolator and switched it on. In the fridge was a fresh pint of milk; “Good old Mrs Pilkington!” I thought as I splashed a little into a mug and set it down by the percolator, then sat down at the table and started sorting the mail.
Advert, Christmas card, advert, credit card statement and then; a black-bordered envelope with my address written in that distinctive, spiky script used by many Germans. The postmark was crystal clear. It read Marienhafe, Ostfriesland and was dated two days previously.
I pushed the rest of the post to one side and opened it slowly. Inside was a printed card, also with a black border, which informed me, in German, that Harald-Heinz Schick aged 62, had died peacefully in his sleep and would be interred at Sankt Marienkirche, Marienhafe in three days time. On the back of the card was written, ‘Please to come.’ It was signed simply ‘Eva’. Coffee forgotten I stared at the card. This death made me, I realised, the last of a small group of men who were thrown together by unusual circumstances in a foreign land a long time ago. We had kept in touch, sporadically at times I had to admit, ever since.
My reverie was broken by the bubbling and wheezing of the coffee percolator that signalled my second cup of the day was ready. I turned the machine off, poured the fresh coffee into my mug and went into the office, taking the mug with me. Sitting at my desk I opened my address book at the entry entitled ‘Schick, Harald’ and looked through the list of the people in Harald’s life. Jutta, his wife, died 4 May 1983, Heiney, his son, also deceased, tragically young, in a boating accident, and Eva his 25 year old, married daughter who lived in the family home in Leezdorf, a suburb of Marienhafe. I reached for the phone and dialled her number.
The phone was answered by a young girl “Schumacher”, she said. This was, I knew, the name of the family into which Eva had married and the young girl must be Victoria’s seven year old daughter Tina.
“Hallo, Tina”, I said, in my best German, “Kann ich mit Deiner Mutti sprechen?”
“Onkel Paul!” she cried, “is it you?”
“Yes, it is”, I replied, “Your English is getting good!”, and asked again; “May I speak to your mother?”
“Moment”, she said, and I heard her call, “Mutti, Onkel Paul ist am Telefon!” and then, to me, “Will you come to the, ach, wie sagt man Begräbnis auf Englisch?” she asked.
“Funeral”, I replied, “And yes, I will try”.
There was a muted discussion at the other end of the line and then Eva said, “Hello Paul, Tina says you will come”?
“Yes, Eva”, I answered, “Does Katje still run her Gasthaus?”
“Not so much now, but for you there will always be a bed!”
I laughed; it had been a standing joke for many years that Katje, the widow of Uwe, another late member of our select little group, would have been happy to share her life, as well as her bed, with me.
“If I can, I will be on the overnight ferry to the Hook and be with you late tomorrow”, I said, “We’ll talk then”.
We said our goodbyes and I rang Sealink. Ten minutes later I had booked an open ended return on the night ferry. I drank my coffee and threw away most of the mail, there was nothing there which required urgent attention, then listened to my messages on the answer-phone. Three of them were from Eva, the rest I deleted.
I glanced out of the window at the snow covered garden and the dark, yellow-tinged clouds. Picking up my car keys from the hall table drawer I went into the garage via the interior door. My nearly new Volvo 740 estate car stood there. The steel, winter wheels, with no hub caps, which I habitually fitted on the 1[SUP]st[/SUP] November every year (a habit picked up after years of working in Europe) looked out of place, and the brand new winter tyres still glistened in the fluorescent light. The feeling of control those heavily treaded tyres give in snow has to be experienced to be believed! I opened the door, inserted the key and turned on the ignition. Good, almost a full tank, I wouldn’t need to fill up until I was in Holland or possibly Germany. I switched off the ignition, closed the door and walked round to the back of the car to open the tailgate. After trips to the garden shed, the kitchen and the wardrobe in the small bedroom where I kept my outdoor clothes, unfortunately rarely used this last year or so the car boot contained snow chains, a shovel, a camping gas stove and an emergency pack of food and drink. An Arctic jacket, mountain trousers and my trusty hiking boots lay on the back seat. I’d been caught out once in heavy snow: never again!
Back in the house I lugged my suitcase upstairs and tipped its contents onto the bed. From the pile that ensued I rescued my shaving kit and wash bag, several unused items of underwear and then repacked the case with clothes and shoes more suited to a winter in northern Germany. After a few moments thought I included the small, cardboard box which was kept on the top shelf of my wardrobe. I dragged the case back downstairs and stowed it in the back of the Volvo, then from the small safe in the office, I removed 1,000 German Marks and 500 Dutch Guilders. An hour and a half after arriving home I was heading down the A12 towards Harwich.

Would anyone be interested in me continuing?


Book Reviewer
Please carry on i wanna find out more about the weather in norfolk in nov 85.
On a serious note crack on, i will have a read of it

Sent by Crapatalk. Sitting on my bog having a dump.
Please carry on i wanna find out more about the weather in norfolk in nov 85.
On a serious note crack on, i will have a read of it

Sent by Crapatalk. Sitting on my bog having a dump.

yeah but will you live long enough to finish it ? Or I can Tarot you later.....0800 departed.....
Sorry for the delay, but this has been an annus horribilis for me. First an emergency gastrectomy - six weeks in hospital followed by six weeks recuperation in a nursing home. Home for three weeks then a minor heart attack and a week in Papworth having a new stent fitted! I'll be glad when this year's over.

Anyway, back again so here's chapter two - you may need to read chapter one again first...

Chapter 2

5 miles South-East of Sirte, Libya. December 15[SUP]th[/SUP] 1942 - 2320 hours.

We were in deep trouble. The raid on the German airfield at Sirte had failed dismally when the boss’s Jeep had hit an anti-tank mine five miles away from our target. The blast had blown the Jeep high into the air, parts of it spinning past the other vehicles with vicious whirring noises and one of the Lewis guns impaled itself in the bonnet of the Chevy, narrowly missing Paddy O’Rourke. Other pieces rained down on the remaining Jeep. We had left Jalo Oasis six days previously in three vehicles, two of the new, American Willys Jeeps and a 30 cwt Chevrolet truck. The route chosen was a circuitous one through the southern desert to avoid detection; and now, only five miles from our goal, this.
There was no point in continuing, the explosion would have been observed by both the Germans and the British and at first light reconnaissance aircraft from both sides would be out looking for us. Usually they sent fighters, Messerschmitt 109s or Hurricanes, but it really didn’t matter because, if we were seen by either side, then we’d probably be strafed.
Sergeant Chalky White, a regular army soldier, took charge. Nominally, Lieutenant Palfrey was now in command but not only was he was a newcomer he was also, as his nickname implied a sailor. He had been coerced by the boss to transfer from the navy only three weeks before as his navigational skills were legendary. He could use a sextant and navigate by the stars, he had mastered the sun compass that had been developed by the Long Rang Desert Group in ten minutes flat and his sense of direction was uncanny.
Mickey Finn and the Chevy crew set to digging shallow graves to bury the boss, Captain Peter Simmonds DSO, Staff Sergeant Owen (Taffy) Jones and the youngest member of the troop at just 18, Trooper William (Billy) Little who had all been in the boss’s Jeep.
Lance Corporal Peter (Sammy) Samuels was attending to Trooper Albert (Bird) Finch who had been thrown clear of the boss’s Jeep and had, we guessed severe internal injuries as well as a broken collar bone. He was alternately swearing and crying with pain. A shot of morphine from his first aid kit quietened him down and Sammy set the shoulder as best he could.
The rest of us were scavenging the wreck of the Jeep for anything serviceable, water, fuel, ammunition, and so on. It was amazing what had actually survived. Several jerry cans of both water and petrol, an untouched box of Compo, a bag of Lewes bombs and several belts of ammunition were loaded into the Chevy and the remaining Jeeps. Our only radio was, unfortunately, a mess of twisted metal. Incredibly the boss’s Sten gun had survived intact but with only one magazine. I stowed it beside my seat anyway.
We all stood around the three graves, each marked with a rifle stuck in the sand, while Lance Corporal David (Dicky) Bird, the only semi-religious member of the troop said a prayer, then we carefully strapped Finch, as comfortably as we could, onto the bonnet of my Jeep and set off back into the desert.
And as it's been so long, chapter three.

Chapter 3

Hoek van Holland, The Netherlands. December 21[SUP]th[/SUP] 1985 – 0645 hous.

It had been a good crossing. There were rarely a lot of passengers aboard on Tuesdays and after a late dinner in the restaurant, I retired to my cabin and was asleep before we sailed. The next day, after clearing Dutch customs, I ate a light breakfast in a motorway services on the A7 which I followed round the Amsterdam Ring and over the Afsluitdijk, that fantastic, 20 mile long causeway that separates the North Sea on one side from the Ijsselmeer on the other, to Sneek where I stopped for a rather overdue lunch. I filled the car with petrol and topped up the washer bottle with anti-freeze screen wash.
There had been barely an inch of snow when I left home but now, as I drove round Groningen, I saw that the roads had been snowploughed and there were banks of it a yard high on both verges. At Nieuweschans I passed through the Zollamt into Germany with minimal delay and at Holthuserheide I turned north and followed the A31 into Emden. The outside temperature had plummeted as night fell and was now showing as -8ºC on the dashboard. I decided to stop at a small Schnellimbiß and ate Jägerschnitzel mit Pommes followed by coffee and a much needed sugar-rush in the shape of a large portion of surprisingly good Apfelstrudel topped with a walnut-whip of Schlagsahne before continuing on to Leezdorf where, I knew, I’d be greeted not only by Eva and her extended family but also by many of the friends I’d made in the area over the last forty odd years. The last few miles, after turning off the main road in the centre of Marienhafe, was made difficult by a recent fall of snow that had quickly compacted into ice. Even my winter tyres were pretty well ineffective and progress slowed accordingly. Finally, at just after nine o’clock I arrived, twenty-eight hours after leaving home.
As soon as I pulled up, the house door opened and light and people flowed out into the garden and onto the road. It was overwhelming. Once inside and tea and coffee had been dispensed (more tea is drunk in Ostfriesland than in England) and everyone had greeted me, we all talked in a mixture of bad English and my even worse German about Harald, Uwe and all our mutual friends, until my brain cried enough and I walked the few hundred yards with Katje to her little Gasthaus and went to bed.


Book Reviewer
I suspect i will regret pointing this out, but are Chapters 1, 2, and 3 all connected to each other? I mean, usually chapter 2 isnt so much a plot twist, as in a "wtf, have i picked up a different book" twist?
Chapter 4

140 miles South-East of Sirte, Libya. December 16[SUP]th[/SUP] 1942 - 2208 hours.

At last we’d had a little luck. Not once in the seven hour drive, before finding a wadi in which to hide up for the day, had we hit soft sand, enabling us to put a good distance between us and the wreck of the boss’s Jeep. There had been two stops, one to refuel the Chevy and once to give Bird another shot of morphine.
A good, sheltered wadi had been spotted and we had driven, line astern, into it.
Chalky White had immediately started organising the others. Camouflage netting had to be erected and food cooked before first light. Bird had to be made comfortable so he was unstrapped and lifted off the bonnet, cursing all the while.
I, as the driver of the lead vehicle, had continued on through the wadi and out the other end. Sailor looked at me curiously, “Where are you going?” he asked.
“Nowhere” I grinned as I turned the Jeep and aligned the wheels as best I could so that we could drive back in our original wheel tracks. Sammy Samuels jumped out and untying one of the camel thorn bushes we towed behind the vehicles proceeded to sweep away the marks made by turning. I looked at Sailor, “We drag the bushes to try and hide our tracks,” I explained, “but it’s not always successful. Now we’re leaving a partial track into and out of the wadi.” Sailor nodded with understanding and Sammy, having reattached the bush to our Jeep, climbed back in.
I drove back into the wadi and turned the Jeep round again then we slung the cam nets, refuelled and watered the Jeep and buried the empty Jerry cans before sitting down and drinking the tea that had been made while we’d been busy. Fuel and water were taken from the Chevy to replace what we’d used and both the vehicles were checked by Mickey Finn, our mechanic.
The twin Vickers ‘K’ and Lewis machine guns mounted on the Jeep were cleaned and checked as was the .50 Browning mounted on the Chevy. Then we ate our rations, quickly so the fire could be extinguished as soon as possible. We couldn't risk the glow or the smoke signalling our presence to the aircraft that would soon be up looking for us. Then we settled down to wait for the day to pass.

I was woken at 1400 by Paddy O’Rourke. “Bird’s dead,” he said flatly. I was more relieved than upset. Bird had been an unpleasant and untrustworthy man. His nickname wasn't related to his name, Finch, but to the fact that both in and out of the army he’d spent most of his life in gaol. We had stopped him pilfering from us by the simple, but effective, method of knocking three types of shit out of him one night at Jalo. That said, he was an excellent scrounger and could acquire almost anything. He also had a way with locks and alarm systems that had been useful on more than one occasion.
“We were over flown by a 109 half an hour ago,” continued Paddy, “and a Hurri was stooging round earlier but I think he must have been late for mess call and buggered off.” I grabbed my binoculars and the boss’s Sten that was still stowed in the Jeep, checked it was still loaded, and climbed to the edge of the wadi for my two hour stint on watch.
The desert looked empty. But I did a full scan of the horizon using the bins just to make sure. No clouds of dust, no glints of sunlight on glass, nothing. The silence hurt my ears. It was so quiet I could hear sand grains sliding down the side of the wadi and when the wind blew there was often a soft, eerie moan or whistle. We told rookies it was the souls of the dead crying out from hell, but it was actually made by the wind in the sand dunes.

Nothing at all happened. I woke Rabbie Burns for his turn on watch, went back to the Jeep, had a drink and got my head down. When I awoke this time the sun was going down and another brew of tea was being passed around. I munched a couple of Spam covered biscuits then cleaned my rifle and the Sten waiting while for full darkness to fall. By 1900 it was dark. We buried Bird, Sailor took some readings using his naval sextant and calculated our course back to Jalo. Home or something close, in two or three days!
Chapter 5

Leezdorf, Germany. December 22[SUP]th[/SUP] 1985 – 0935 hours

I awoke, temporarily disoriented, in a strange room and it took a moment or two to muster my thoughts and remember where I was. The last ten days had been spent negotiating a contract to supply a large supermarket chain with a computerised stock control system. It should have taken two days, three at the most, and I’d been there ten. The problem had occurred on day one when I realised that not only did we have no idea how a chain of supermarkets was organised but that they also had no idea whatsoever about what a computerised system could do for them. Terry Suffolk, my business manager, was still there finalising the costs and time scales.

“Free!” I thought, snuggling down under the duvet, “Free for at least a week.” Then I glanced at the clock, it was almost half past nine!
I got up, wandered into the bathroom and performed my morning ablutions before returning to my bedroom and getting dressed. Downstairs Katje was busy in the kitchen. She turned as I came into the room and offered up her cheek, which I dutifully kissed. “You are late sleeping”, she said, smiling.
“I slept very well”, I replied, “May I use the telephone?”
“Naturlich” she answered, “Frühstück ist im Wohnzimmer bereit.”
Breakfast was laid out on the table in the living room as promised. I looked at the spread of rolls, cheese, ham, butter and jam, two boiled eggs, each in their own little blanket cocoon, milk, sugar and coffee, my mouth watering, but first, the telephone. I dialled the office number and Sandy, my secretary answered.
“Where are you?” she asked before I could say a word, “I've been trying to call you all morning.”
”I’m in Germany,” I said, “and it’s personal and it’s important. You’ll have to do the best you can without me for at least a week, maybe longer. If you absolutely have to contact me then leave a message on this number.” I gave her Katje’s number. “But”, I reiterated, “Please don’t call unless it’s really, really, important.” We spoke a little longer about the supermarket contract then I wished her luck and hung up.

I was drinking my second cup of coffee when Katje walked in carrying her tea in a traditional Ostfriesische cup and saucer, thin, white china decorated with blue flowers, and joined me at the table. She looked at the devastated breakfast table, I’d been hungry!
She grinned. “Come to live here,” she said, “You like German Frühstück!”
“Katje,” I laughed, you’re incorrigible!” Her brow furrowed but I didn't translate for her, “Where should I be now?” I asked, “And how is Eva, really?”
Her face changed and looking sad she replied, “Eva is sad. Her father she is loving very much. You go there now?”
“Yes, Katje, I’ll go there now.” I said and stood up. “Will I see you there?”
She shook her head, “No,” she answered, and sweeping her arm round to indicate the remains of my breakfast on the table, “I must more food buy!”
I laughed, kissed her cheek again and walking out of the room said, “I’ll see you later then.”

There had been a fresh fall of snow overnight and I was glad I’d taken my parka and boots out of the car the previous night. My breath steamed as I walked down the road to what was now the Schumacher residence exchanging a cheery, “Moin, moin” with a couple out walking their dog. It was a small, brown, rough-haired dachshund which was jumping, more than walking through the snow. I assumed it was enjoying itself as its tail was wagging fit to drop off. Tina answered the door when I rang the bell and before I could get inside threw her arms around my neck, pulled my head down, and gave me a rather slobbery kiss. When she let go we went inside, I removed my parka and boots then held out my hand to her. “Guten Morgen, Fraulein Tina,” I said formally.
She shook my hand solemnly and said, “Good morning, Uncle Paul.”
“Paul, du bist schließlich hier!” said Eva, coming into the hall. Her eyes looked red and I knew she’d been crying.
“Yes,” I said, “I’m here at last. What can I do to help?”

It seemed the only thing I could do was to chauffeur Eva and Tina around as Tina was on holiday from school and Rainer, Eva’s husband, had had to work and had taken the family car. I clear the snow from off and around the Volvo, fitted the snow chains, defrosted the windows and off we went to Marienhafe.
I parked in Am Markt and Eva ordered flowers at the shop across the road from the church and while she went into a bakery two doors away, I popped into the florists and ordered a wreath. The florist seemed most surprised when I dictated the ten names I wanted on the dedication.

Eva wanted to visit the church to finalise the funeral arrangements. This took some time but Tina and I spent it laughing with the children who were sledging down the 100 yard slope of the path from the church door.
Ostfriesland is flat. It is the lowest place in Germany and the church, at nearly twenty feet above sea level, some six miles inland, is built on the highest place in Marienhafe.
Eva’s meeting with the vicar took much longer than I’d anticipated and when she came out she had obviously been crying again. I touched her arm sympathetically and she smiled weakly. At my insistence we left the car parked in the square and walked down Rosenstraße to a small Gasthaus where we ordered the fixed lunchtime menu and I persuaded Eva that an Asbach would do her the world of good. Whether it was the food or the brandy I don’t know but after our meal some colour came back into her cheeks and she seemed a little happier.

We wandered from shop to shop in Marienhafe trying unsuccessfully to buy a dress and coat for Tina to wear at the funeral, so we trooped back to the car and I drove them to Emden. I parked in the Hertie car park and we went into the store and up the escalator to the girls’ section. Half an hour later we were back in the car and heading for Leezdorf. Both girls were wearing broad smiles as they had found exactly what they wanted!

That night we all sat in Katje’s Wohnzimmer. Katje, Eva, Rainer and Tina, Ulla and Hans, and several other couples I’d come to regard as friends. We drank schnapps, beers and wine and talked and sang and remembered.

Katje’s daughter Ursula, a nurse in the Hans-Susemihl-Krankenhaus in Emden turned up around nine-thirty stamping her feet and shaking fresh snow off her coat, “Es schneit wieder.” She said.

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