The story so far:-
Majors Lovelow and McKinley are on an urgent mission. After coming under heavy fire on landing, they know it has already been compromised.
Now read on:-
Their commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Hayward-Watts, orders them to kill a German: Oberstleutnant Stein Schmidt-Meyer. The reason is that the experienced interrogator has a British officer – Lieutenant Edward Clark – prisoner. This man has details of today’s invasion of the South of France and which ship Churchill will be on.
As they weave between the trees towards the other side of the orchard, James knows that at some time, he and McKinley are going to have to reassess the situation and
“Cover,” he says. “To your right.”
McKinley veers towards them and dives to the ground behind the nearest one. By the time James joins him – sliding to the ground in much the same way as an American baseball player might seek first base – his comrade is lying prone in amongst the grass, his weapon aimed at the pursing troops.
James brings his own weapon to bear on the Germans and finds they have fanned out. And after comparing one of them to Dopey, James starts ascribing the names of the other six dwarves to the men bearing down on them without even thinking about it.
The man to his extreme left, the one with glasses, James sees as Doc. The German next to him – red in the face – is Grumpy.
Or should that be Bashful?
James changes his mind. The men on their left flank – reacting to McKinley firing at them by throwing themselves to the ground, as well – are Doc and Bashful. The next – directly ahead and bizarrely smiling – is Happy.
On the right, the one reacting to the pollen is Sneezy.
The craggy-faced, tired-looking older man: Sleepy.
Grumpy makes up the last of the German troops. He obliges James by swearing loudly as he strikes a tree with his shoulder while seeking cover.
James opens fire on him before the man can recover. The German’s body slumps into the long grass. In the next instant, a number of bullets strike the bee-hive, ripping it open, exposing drawers of honey and releasing numerous bees.
“Behind us,” says McKinley.
When James jerks his head around to look, he believes he can discern kaki uniforms. He cannot understand how the men have come to be so far behind enemy lines and supposes that his and McKinley’s mission is not the only operation detailed for this area today.
Either that or they’re lost.
“It’s our own lads, dear boy,” he says. “Seems every bugger West of Hitler’s Sigfried Line wants us dead today.”
The bees swarm out.