Thursday morning I arrived at my office at 0800. I opened the door to chaos. Erica was talking to a tall gentleman wearing a suit with a Nazi Party lapel pin. He looked some what familiar. Johan was arguing with a Hauptman, (Captain) in the Luftwaffe. Donald was jumping around like a Bantam Rooster trying to get in Johan' s argument. I shook my head and entered my private office.
I noticed that my intercom light on the phone was lit. I picked up the phone, “Yes” It was Erica asking me to see the Civilian she was talking too. I told her to send him in. I was wondering what a businessman and a member of the Party wanted with me.
My door opened and closed and before me stood a very personable gentleman holding out his hand. I shook his hand and he introduced himself as Oskar Schindler owner of a Metal works factory in Poland.
Authors note: Although Oskar Schindler was a member of the Nazi Party he was also a member of the Abwehr ( office of military intelligence ) One of the few who survived the later SS sweep of the Abwehr,
I had heard of him, he asked if I had a drink on hand. I told him that not only is it 8 am but we do not drink in this office. “Now what can I do for you ?”
Schlinder replied, “I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Admiral Canaris. He spoke highly of you.” I nodded in acknowledgment. The Admiral sends his regards and a personal message... The house is crumbling... get out now.”
“The writing is on the wall Herr Steiner... I wished I could go too. But if I did who would take care of my people.” He saluted me as he went out the door and he was gone.
I sat there thinking about this strange meeting. I called the girls and sent the essence of the message to DC. When my door banged open and the Captain was framed in the door. Johan was behind him saying sorry sir he insisted.
I walked around the desk Grabbed this pipsqueak of a Capt. By the jacket front and lifted him off the ground. “What in the hell do you think you are doing Captain bursting in to a LT Colonel's office … are you trying to make private.” and I dropped him.
He jumped to his feet and saluted and tried to hand me some papers at the same time. I returned his salute and took his papers “Now What the Hell do you want?” all he seemed to be able to do was to point to the papers. As I looked at the papers which were his orders my curiosity was aroused. They were obviously a forgery and a bad one at that. They said Hauptman Ernst Von Bauer was to proceed to Calais.
“Hmmm this says you are to proceed to Calais my any means available … so why are you coming to me?”
“ The airfield says you are flying to the coast on Sunday. I want to go with you.”
“ I am, but... I am flying in a 4 seater... The pilot and 3 passengers. There is no room for another.”
“ Leave one of them.”
“Why should I leave one of them for a little weasel like you?”
“ It Is important.”
“ To Whom?” I looked at him and thought he was going to cry. I decided to throw him a bone.
“ Check with me at the field Sunday Morning … If we don't have to carry any Cargo you can ride on the jump seat... Dismissed.”
After he had left Johan asked why I was taking the Capt. “I am curious his orders are forgeries and bad ones at that I want to find out what is so important in Calais.''
Friday, Erica made our flight arrangements and we closed the office at noon. Saturday we stayed out of sight. Erica and I stayed in bed getting things straight between us. Then it was Sunday and no one had come looking for us. We dressed and carrying only a brief case we made our way to the street where Donald and Johan were waiting with the car.
We showed our identification at the gate and we drove through to the hanger where we found … Herr Hauptman Von Bauer. He had a small duffel bag and nothing else. I could think of no good reason to say no and a dozen reasons that this side trip could be beneficial. So I told him to get aboard. The fold down jump seat was where he would be sitting had no seat belt. He tried to pull rank but I shot that down quickly. He was informed he was excess baggage, the others were working.
Erica was sitting in the co-pilots seat. Donald, seat on the left and Johan on the right. Just where I wanted them. Our planned flight was over Liege, Brussels, Gent to Burge then South to Calais. When we passed Brussels I began to question Von Bauer more direct.
Capt. It is time to tell the truth just who are you. I know the orders you carry are fake... Hitler is not known to sign orders for lowly Captains. And why Calais...
He pulled a Luger out of his duffel, Pointed it at me. He said I am a pilot so I won't hesitate to shoot you. Why Calais, French underground, who am I ? I am 1st LT Edwin Mohr of the US AAF. I have been trying to get out of Germany for three months.”
“OK boys,” Before he could blink Johan had a hold of his hand and the Luger and he felt the prick of a very sharp blade touching his neck. “ Now tell us a story about your vacation in lovely Germany.”
Mohr' s Story:
I was flying escort for a bomber wing when I was hit by flak... of all the dumb luck it cut my oil line and my engine locked up I coasted away from the bombers path then bailed out. I landed near a farm. I buried my chute and made my way to the farmers barn and snuggled in his hay loft.
I spent that night trying to make plans to get home. I am fluent in German and French. My grand parents were immigrants and I grew up on a farm in Upstate New York, German was spoken at home. In High School and College I learned French. I could have been an interpreter, but no not me I wanted to fly.
I decided that if I could steal some clothes maybe I could hide out in plain sight. I heard a voice saying “ American pilot come down now... it is safe … Come down. “ I peaked over the hay to see this little grey haired farmer looking at me and motioning for me to come down.
He continued to console me and to tell me it was all right. I came down and followed him in- side the farm house where I came face to face with the female equivalent of the farmer. She sat me down a plate of food and while I ate they told me of how their son had joined the Wehrmacht and was a Haputman. He had stood up for some Jewish prisoners that the SS were beating... The SS Strumbannfuhrer had shot the Jews then turned and shot their son. He was brought home and died three weeks later.
The farmer looked out the window and got excited he said come he led me to a bedroom whispered this was our sons room. He motioned me to get undressed and get into bed I noticed a German Officers uniform draped over a chair. He took my clothes and left the room. Moments later I heard automobile engines.
The walls were thin enough that I could overhear the conversation between the farmer and the German Unterfeldwebber ( Sgt ) in charge of the patrol searching for the American Airman. Mr Von Bauer (the farmer) told him that only he, his wife and convalescing son was here. He showed his sons papers. The Sgt asked to see his son.
I heard the door open and the farmer ask if I was a wake I pretended to sleep. The Sgt asked if this was my uniform, the farmer said yes. The Sgt saw the Combat emblem and medals and backed out of the room thanking the farmer, he departed.
They said they hated the war. Their son was about the same size as I was and they were sure his uniforms would fit and there was his identity papers. I changed into their sons clothes which were a bit large. The Papers was for an Hauptman Ernst Von Bauer. The picture on the Id was just blured enough to pass. It took me a month to make it to Cologne, I hung around headquarters for almost another month, I would snitch forms and papers some signed . I even managed to get paid so I could eat I was doing alright but I wanted to go home. Then I came across Hitlers signature and I thought I had it made. How was I to know Hitler didn't sign a lot of personnel orders. The rest you know.
I told him to look out the window. “He looked and said we are over the water. What The... Where are we going?”
“How about London?”
I contacted Louise she assured me that that a Squadron of Supermarine Spitfires was on the way to intercept us. I was to tune my radio to the indicated frequency. (Spitfire was a British plane made famous during the Battle of Britain.) I dialed the radio to the proper frequency and called out our Identification call letters.
Almost immediately the British pilot responded informing me they were 10 minutes away. I heard Erica gasp, I looked her way and out of her wind screen I spotted an Me- 109. I glanced out my side yep there was another. The spitfires said they were 10 minutes away... sometime 10 minutes can be an eternity.. I informed the Spitfires and said I would try to delay them.
I spun the frequency dial back to normal and spoke to the Me-109 pilot. “ I have a maniac on board he is holding a gun on me.”
“Tell him he has 5 minutes to turn over his weapon and allow you to turn the plane .
“ He said 'fuck you', give us a few minutes we are trying to talk hm down.”
“ You have 5 minutes then we are ordered to open fire.” The messer pilot seemed almost apologetic.
The one thing I was hoping for was that when the Spitfires showed up they didn't make a mistake. The Me 108 although somewhat different looked similar. A big difference was we were unarmed.
Out of the clouds and streaking toward us was a silver spitfire guns blazing. I spun the frequency dial again so I could listen on the battle raging around me. I also contacted Louise/ Carol and Dotty.
Spitfire pilot one, “Two you have a bandit on your tail.”
Two yells, “Get him off I can't Shake him.”
I could see the Spitfire climbing for the ceiling the 109 right on his tail lining up his shot. He began to fire as I was saying “Dotty” the 109 exploded. I said a silent thanks to Dotty she winked.
Two says, “Don't know who got him but thanks.”
Three yells, “Look at'em run. They're bugging out.”
Dotty also aided me in convincing the returning Me 109's that the Spitfires had shot down my Me 108.
The Spitfires were happy they had scratched three including the one Dotty blew up. Of the four who had bugged out one of them was streaming smoke. The Spitfires settled around us and said lets go home Major. I had to think a moment... Major.... oh yes that's me. Major Chad Lincoln. After almost three years as a LT. Colonel it would take some getting used to again.
It wasn't long before we saw the White Cliffs of Dover. Few minutes later the tower of the USAAF field where I was directed to land gave me landing instructions. We set down with no problems then I followed the man with the white flags off the tarmac and into a hanger to hide the plane.
We stepped off the plane, it was kinda of obvious they weren't taking any chances. There was at least a squad of soldiers all pointing rifles. I looked around for a friendly face The only one I saw was my old friend and trainer Pete. “Hello Pete, Did you come all the way to England just to see me?”
Pete laughed, “Nope just here to see if you learned anything.”
“Yep had a good teacher, Pete smiled, and I continued, he Was a Major in the Luftwaffe.”
There was a commotion at the street door and in walked Major General Whitcomb. He bulled his way up to me I saluted and grabbed his outstretched hand. He turned to his aide, Get the Colonel a uniform. I here you brought some baggage.”
“Yes sir, May I present my staff?” Staff Sgt Johan Schmitt, Corporal Donald Marfa and Private Erica Dormer and our hitchhiker 1st LT Edwin Mohr of the USAAF. And General I'd like to keep the plane.”
Gen. Whitcomb said, We will see about the Plane but first we have to decide about ...Your staff.
Lt Mohr follow Cpl Jonas he will get you to your Flight group.”
“Sir I would like to keep them together at least till they learn English. The only reason they are here is their trust in me. I will accept responsibility for them.” 'Louise where are you?' 'On my way.'
“Maybe Colonel But first is the debriefing.”
I explained what was going on and advised Johan to hold his temper and Donald not to play with his knife. The Generals Aide walked in carrying my uniform I adjourned to the Hanger Office and changed my uniform. When I was dressed I noticed a few combat ribbons and that the rank was indeed Colonel … well LT Colonel at least.
My staff was escorted out they had an interpreter one male and one female. I departed with Major General Whitcomb. We arrived at a Quonset hut, you guessed it Military Intelligence. It took twenty six hours at 8 hours a day for my debriefing. Louise sat in on the debriefing so she could send the information direct to Carol at Langley.