In the final years of World War Two, the Allies were beginning to show that unspeakable evil across the water just what they were made of, and the Lion so to speak was roaring no longer but biting...and biting hard. Throughout history Britain had repeatedly repelled invaders with the zest, determination and perseverance of a saint. The iron Lady of Europe was now standing tall and proud, and no one was going to pass by her side easily or without a fight. Deep within the golden cornfields, in amongst the huge urban communities and amidst the breath-taking valleys of our great green and pleasant land, our very own army of Iron ladies were busily working.
....The Lion’s secret army.
Hundreds, thousands of ordinary everyday women were proudly and contentedly doing their bit for the war effort. While the men were away on the front line, the Iron Ladies stood fast, never complaining and never faltering. Slowly but surely the dust filled, smoke clogged factories that they lovingly referred to as their kingdom began to take on a persona of a legend. Numerous pages of History quoted them as the backbone of England at that time and the wax that kept the candle burning.
Amongst all these so called Kingdoms of industry - where our unsung heroines worked - many a story grew, some joyful, some heroic and some sad.
Greta Kaplowski knew all about stories, knew all about the romances, the sorrow and the loss of her fellow ladies. She knew all about the intimate names they called their men, all the little bad habits that made their men so unbearable yet so appealing. The Iron Ladies in Greta’s factory were all soldiers sweethearts and someone’s homecoming queen and saviour. Greta remembered the day when Janet Fawner’s man - a big shot Corporal in the desert rats - got dishonourably discharged due to an horrific injury. There wasn’t a dry eye in the factory when he walked or rather bravely hobbled in - not an easy task with one leg - and asked Janet to marry him. Being close to death does something to a man. Greta supposed that in the big shot Corporal’s case he prayed to the Almighty to let him live, to give him one more chance to see the woman he loved once again. Having been granted that chance she figured he not only wanted to see his sweetheart again but never to be apart from her…ever. Hence the spectacle in the factory, the hand in marriage…to have and to hold from this day forth so to speak. Greta watched stories begin, listened to them as they unfolded and grew around her and wished her life would be just a little more exciting, a trifle more romantic.
She wished for someone to care for, someone to make your heart ache when you’re apart from them, someone to make your heart skip a beat when their name is mentioned. Others teased her, some gave her advice and a few actually listened when she poured out her feelings about love. Greta’s life was about to change however and maybe everyone else’s around her too. As Greta raised a hand to wipe her brow before riveting the next component onto the hundreds of shell casings that repeatedly swept past her on the slow, laborious conveyor, a soldier in a foreign land was fighting for his country. A soldier with a destiny. Love and passion far away from his mind. Cupid however had other ideas.
His name was Francis. Morale had been low in his unit, fatigue, hunger and stress were beginning to show. Previous battles had been harrowing and unforgettable, seeing his comrades collapse around him only seemed to heighten the aura of complete desolation around him. Questioning why was no longer a probing question more now a sense of urgency, a turning twisting knife that had to find it’s target, had to be true and strong. Francis was tired of fighting, tired of running and tired of this scum that somehow though it was their right to kill, invade and enslave all humanity. Knowing that the enemy was indeed a pure embodiment of evil was the only thing that kept his spirit driving forward, the only thing that kept him sane, rational and eager to fight for everyone back home. The British and US forces had just successfully completed the breakout from the Normandy beaches - though not without heavy losses and a few hundred pages worthy of History - and were now heading northwards across France. It was August 16th 1944 and the Allies had landed in Southern France a day earlier and were due to rendezvous with his own unit in the North in a couple of days.
Terror, fear and isolation were fading fast, a few more days and morale would be lifted when they meet with the remaining units of the allies and forge a larger, unified force that would hopefully send shivers down the enemies spine. German resistance however was beginning to falter after the Allied onslaught of the last few days and Francis and his fellow soldiers were granted a much needed rest for a day or so in the fields of Northern France while they waited on the jubilant approach of the British and the US. Francis was a bit of a cad, he loved to play practical jokes on his friends, jokes that seemed to reflect the mood away from all the evil that surrounded them. He was in his early twenties, with a pale but reassuringly pleasing complexion finished off with a short crop of sandy blond hair and startling blue eyes. His physique, though not an unlike an athletes was perfectly toned and he was the first to admit that he could attract any girl he so desired, but the rigours of war were hardly fishing lakes for marital and romantic conquest, and love was definitely on the back of his burner at the moment. The camp was small but morale was still hanging on and the trek over to the small mess tent to get some coffee - a small luxury afforded to them by the friendly locals in the last village they passed through - was an event that still brought fear to his heart. The enemy could strike at any time and even though he knew they were collapsing fast and many miles away, the tiniest bit of fear still lingered, still stirred inside him.
Returning, hot cup of steaming coffee in hand Francis suddenly became aware of a low, melodic rumbling sound. Distant at first growing stronger in pitch and strength as the seconds passed. Looking around, sensing the urgency on the faces that stared back at him Francis’s soul seemed suddenly to turn upside down, to spew away from his body as if running in terror. For he now knew the sound, now recognised the unmistakable groan of the wings of death.
Panic, wonder, stunned silence, soldiers running around like wild horses were all scenes that now greeted the wings of death from above. Erratic bodies below ran, dived, took up arms and began to come together. The pilot of the plane didn’t care, he had a job to do after all. Allies were the evil to him, especially the French who messed up their plans and got in the way of everything and he was under strict orders from the fuehrer to eliminate the enemy whenever he came across them. So who was he to argue? After all the fuehrer was God and he was helping his God to fight evil, wasn’t he?
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All characters contained in these tales are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.