Colin's tweets

follow me
Colin Smith
About ColinContact ColinHome Books

Extracts of Let Us Do Evil

(From Chapter 17 - The Intercept)

Hare had spotted Mitzi chatting to the WAAF and, thinking they must be old friends, set them up as a team on a table near his desk. Rather than something out of the German military net he allotted them each one of the frequencies Calderwell had discovered in the cigarettes he found on the Hattin. “It’s possible that a special customer will come up on one of these at any time,” he explained. “I can’t tell you anymore. All I can say is that it’s important.” As an afterthought, before he took his place at his desk, Hare had warned the WAAF, “Your frequency is sometimes used by a Wehrmacht quartermaster’s unit in Athens so you’re almost certain to get some outgoing traffic. What we’re interested in is what they’re receiving.”


But tonight the quartermaster was not doing business. Not over his wireless net he wasn’t. For the umpteenth time the WAAF readjusted the fine tuning: waves crashed on a storm drenched shore; the screech of a tortured cat was followed by the plaintive chiming of a cracked bell. Then she was back between the margins of the frequency again in all its faintly hissing emptiness. She looked across to her left and saw that Mitzi had her eyes closed and was holding a pencil in her mouth like a cigarette. The WAAF tapped her on the arm a couple of times and when Mitzi reluctantly opened her eyes and turned to face her she mimed a cup to the lips. Mitzi smiled and nodded and the WAAF removed her headphones which she handed to Mitzi who put them over her own headphones and by pulling her own right earpiece forward arranged it so that she was half listening to both sets. The WAAF then waddled off towards the tea urn. Her progress was briefly noted by Hare who every few seconds would look up and inspect his domain then return to the crossword he was trying to finish in a month old copy of The Manchester Guardian.
Mitzi was thinking how good it would be to have a cigarette with her tea when her right ear, the one that was monitoring the WAAF’s set, was suddenly full of crystal clear, hand sent and repetitive morse. It sounded so close it could have been transmitted from the next room. She slid across to the WAAF’s seat and stomped the control pedal of the AR80 for a radio finger print. At the same time the pencil in her right hand was beginning to move over the red printed message pad while with her left she picked up her uniform cap and stated waving it over her head without looking up to see whether Hare had spotted the agreed signal for an intercept.
 As it happened, he was by her side in seconds, murmuring insistently into his controller’s throat mike to the Direction Finding teams in the armoured cars, giving them the agreed code for the frequency the WAAF had been monitoring and ordering, “copy this station, copy this”. And all the time Mitzi was writing down what she could hear in the single headphone which three times running was the various dits and dahs for R38 in Morse, a short pause and then again R38 three times and then, oh joy, almost as good as sex, the distinctly fainter TTTTT, the international l sign for “I am receiving you”, followed by what they knew was the receiving station’s call sign in German occupied Athens: E M A, E M A, E M A. Dit dahdah ditdah, all short letters so they would not be on the air too long. And then, after the tiniest of pauses, R38 was sending his message in two letter groups while Mitzi’s pencil flew effortlessly across her pad and Hare, gentle as a lover, bent over her and carefully disentangled the headphones so that she had one from the WAAF’s set on each ear. The WAAF had returned to her set with the two steaming white mugs of NAAFI tea in each hand and tears in her eyes because a couple of minutes either way it would have been her intercept and that, it seemed, was the story of her entire life.

All the other Special Operators in the Set Room were staring at them, a little tableau caught in the cone of light cast by the coolie hat lampshade. But Mitzi had the earphones on and only the WAAF was standing close enough  to hear what Hare was murmuriing softly into the throat microphone connecting him to the Direction Finding teams., “Oh Christ! How long? Shit.”



Back to top Next Extract
site by pedalo limited