Looking down from our He-59, I can see the coast of England forming up just this side of the horizon.
These English, so smug, so isolated, so close to defeat!
Why don’t they just give up?
On this second night of mine deployment in the Thames Estuary, we’re putting the noose around the necks of those plucky English.
They don’t even know what’s hittin’em.
Our pilot, Adelberg, banks left, turning the aircraft toward the coastline.
Yes, get us close to shore, they’ll never think of being attacked there!
READY TO ARM THE MINE, Kalen announces across the comms.
Lights from the ground staccato on-off, as if flashing us.
GROUND-FIRE, I announced on the comms.
Tracers streak past the plane.
A few rounds slice through the thin metal shell separating my body from the outside air.
WE’RE ALMOST THERE, GET READY. Adelberg announces.
More rounds slam into the side and bottom of the plane.
I’M HIT! Kalen screams.
Turning to see if I can help, I find Kalen curled up, clutching his left arm within his doubled over body.
I’ll have to drop it.
Kalen reaches up with his right arm, trying to stop me.
DROP IT! LET’S GET OUT OF HERE. Adelberg demands.
I pull Kalen out of the way, grabbing hold of the lever.
Kalen struggles, reaching toward my arm.
DROPPING IT, I announce as I pull the lever, releasing the mine into the water below.
In a shaky voice, Kalen mutters, No, not yet!
Is Kalen spooked?
“Kalen, are you alright?” I ask by turning toward him, avoiding the comms.
“It wasn’t armed yet.” He replies, a sense of insecurity in his voice.
I look at Kalen. He stares back at me in anger.
“Why didn’t you arm it?” I demand.
“I was about to when I got hit!” He retorts, teeth mashing together in an effort to deal with the pain.
This mission will have been for nothing.
“I don’t want to have been short for nothing!” Kalen declares, as if he read my mind.
“It’s not for nothing.” I reply. “At least we learned you cry like a baby.” I say as I take out the med kit.
“And you overreact!” He replies, smiling as he kicks me.
SHUT IT YOU TWO, Adelberg chimes in. WE’RE HEADING HOME.
In the early days of World War II a German secret weapon was wreaking havoc on British shipping. Many ships were disappearing en route. On occasion a ship would enter port with it’s keel broken. The British were desperate to figure out what was causing their ships spines to snap. On the night of November 22, 1939 a German He-59 Seaplane was on a mine-laying mission over the Thames Estuary near Shoeburyness when it came under intensive ground fire. In a hurry to unburden themselves and get away from the barrage, the Germans dropped their magnetic shipping mines too early, before they had the chance to arm the devices. Due to the tides at the time, one of the mines landed in mud, rather than under the water. The Royal Navy and Army explosive experts acted quickly, retrieving the mine, and sending it to HMS Vernon (a research facility) to find out its secrets. Through intensive efforts at disassembly, the British were able to find out how the mine worked, and thus, how it could be disabled. The British were lucky to find a solution to their shipping problem. The Germans assumed the British would surrender when enough of their shipping was lost. The British may have done so, if it weren’t for a few nervous crew on a seaplane who accidentally gave the secrets of Germany’s secret weapon to the British first. Sometimes in War a slam dunk victory can be given away in a freak flood of nerves by a few soldiers.