The Errand Boy – Part 1

Setting the Stage “the Errand Boy”

The atelier was warm and dad fidgeted with tobacco for his pipe.

“There was a woman in Drachten who made arrangements along the line,” my father began to tell a story. “A few airmen did get back to England via Spain. Can you believe such an amazing feat? True though.”

A cloud of tobacco smoke curled the flows in the air.

“Downed airmen were hid and moved along. Some made it back to England.”

He continued after a clearing cough that seemed to take awhile to get away.

“I knew a couple were on the go when that rash Tjitse bicycled over to me and yelled my two sheep cheeses were waiting,” dad continued. “I was mortified because there were others around within hearing. Tjitse was a lunatic and mad.

“Anyway, I slipped away and deviated to go to the barn set in trees off the road to the village, but I played safe you know. I looped right around twice to scout for odd people and moffen.

“I never got into a fray or anything like that. Once, on that major loop around I decided to loop even wider on a hunch, and I ran smack bang into the rear of a group of Germans who were looking the other way.

“I figured it unhealthy to linger and so I backed away silently.

“Later I gave it another go and they were still there, blocking my path. Obviously they were waiting for someone and I did not care to find out who it might be.

“Much later I gave it another try and there was no sign of anyone watching, so I took the English airmen through furtive paths in the morass. After a few hours I picked out the low profile of a sailboat hiding among the reeds, exactly where they said it would be. A gruff thickset man took the airman aboard and I ran off without a word said.

“Later I heard a whisper that the sailor was Mynheer ‘T’ who sailed right past the Germans on the distant shores.

“Meanwhile I was a shadow spotted so I slipped into reed cover and bicycled to a huge barn with its emergency bolthole. Top secret, you know.”

“Verdomde moffen!” He cursed, coughing up phlegm and spat it out into a spittoon on the studio floor.

The Errand Boy – Part 1

In July 1943 Sake ran errands for the underground resistance after “Sperrzeit”, the nightly curfew, forbidding civilians, by German order, to travel without special permission; he had no “Ausweis” – a signed authorization. Dodging the German patrols was easy for a fourteen-year-old boy who knew the paths among the waterways. He carried a sheep-cheese in calico for his mother.

A distant droning rumble became a loud vibration of hundreds of Lancaster Bombers on their way to obliterate Germany. My father says he hid in a ditch while staring up at the sights and blocking out the noise, watching the planes throb the sky as far as the horizon. The cheese wobbled to the excessive vibration.

Then the dots shrank and suddenly they were gone and sometime later the sky glowed a dull red, the red of conflagration on a massive scale. They were bombing Hamburg. It was said that over 40,000 people perished in a whirling vortex that swirled higher and higher, a tornado of destruction of 800 Degrees Celsius. The flames torched the sky and it’s said thousands of people vaporized instantly.

Running errands caught my father out at unusual times and he witnessed the dogfights overhead in a streaky sky with pieces raining down from the heights. He said that he hid in ditches quite a lot.Many years later he recalled the sounds and sights, tamping down a plug of pipe tobacco, describing what 700 bomber planes droning overhead was like to hear.

“There’s a man who lives on the Kangaroo Flat,” he said. “I want you to go and see him. Say you’re the son of Sam.” As suggested I went to see that man who was working in his machinery shed by the piggery.

“Hello Mr. TenTye. I’m the son of Sam.”

He extended a thick hand, grabbed mine to crush and kneed me in the groin. He pushed me away.

“Bah! You’re not on guard. You wouldn’t last.”

He disdainfully returned to the workshop.

I followed rather sheepishly.

The Errand Boy – Part 2 is for registered members


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