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Release date: 2022-12-01 07:31:11 Author:oZoeqbjl

"I know, I know." The commodore, nodded heavily. 'We heard. W/T reception was good. And McIlveen ditched just north of Alex?"

"They gave you clear weather?"

"Of course, Captain. You don't have to ask."

"Yeah. But he'll be all right. The old crate was still awash when we passed over, the big dinghy was out and it was as smooth as a millpond. He'll be all right," Torrance repeated.

Both men screwed up their eyes in automatic reflex as the fierce glare of the landing lights struck at them, the flare path arrowing off into the outer darkness. In less than a minute the first bomber was down, heavily, awkwardly, taxi-ing to a standstill just beside them. The grey camouflage paint of the after fuselage and tailplanes was riddled with bullet and cannon shells, an aileron was shredded and the port outer engine out of commission, saturated in oil. The cabin perspex was shattered and starred in a dozen places.

The commodore nodded again, and Jensen touched his sleeve.

"I know, I know." The commodore, nodded heavily. 'We heard. W/T reception was good. And McIlveen ditched just north of Alex?"

"As bad as that, Bill?"

"Yeah. Clear weather. It was ten-tenths over the target," Torrance said bitterly. "We had to go down to fifteen hundred. Not that it made any difference. We would have to have gone down lower than that anyway-about three thousand feet below sea-level, then fly up the way: that cliff overhang shuts the target clean off. Might as well have dropped a shower of leaflets asking them to spike their own bloody guns. Then they've got every second A.A. gun in the south of Europe concentrated along this narrow 50-degree vector-the only way you can approach the target, or anywhere near the target. Russ and Conroy were belted good and proper on the way in. Didn't even get half-way towards the harbour.... They never had a chance."

"As bad as that, Bill?"

"As bad as that, Bill?"

The commodore nodded again, and Jensen touched his sleeve.

"Four hours' sleep, Captain Mallory," he said quietly. "Four hours. I'm beginning to think that you can count yourself damn' lucky to have had even that much."

"May I have a word with the Squadron Leader?"

"As bad as that, sir. We hadn't a chance. Straight up, we really hadn't. First off, the weather was against us- the jokers in the Met. office were about as right as they usually are."

"I know, I know." The commodore, nodded heavily. 'We heard. W/T reception was good. And McIlveen ditched just north of Alex?"

"As bad as that, sir. We hadn't a chance. Straight up, we really hadn't. First off, the weather was against us- the jokers in the Met. office were about as right as they usually are."

"Thanks." Jensen looked across at the burly Australian and smiled faintly.

"I know, I know." The commodore, nodded heavily. 'We heard. W/T reception was good. And McIlveen ditched just north of Alex?"

"Just one little question, Squadron Leader. You don't fancy going back there again?"

"As bad as that, Bill?"

"To total four hours' sleep in three days is not," Mallory said feelingly. "And that's all I've had. Here they come!"

"Four hours' sleep, Captain Mallory," he said quietly. "Four hours. I'm beginning to think that you can count yourself damn' lucky to have had even that much."

"Thanks." Jensen looked across at the burly Australian and smiled faintly.

"Because I don't believe in suicide. Because I don't believe in sacrificing good blokes for nothing. Because I'm not God and I can't do the impossible." There was a flat finality in Torrance's voice that carried conviction, that brooked no argument.

"As bad as that, Bill?"

Navarone! So that's why I'm here to-night, Mallory thought. Navarone. He knew it well, rather, knew of it. So did everyone who had served any time at all in the Eastern Mediterranean: a grim, impregnable iron fortress off the coast of Turkey, heavily defended by-it was thought-a mixed garrison of Germans and Italians, one of the few Aegean islands on which the Allies had been unable to establish a mission, far less recapture, at some period of the war. He realised that Torrance was speaking, the slow drawl heavy with controlied anger.

"Gentlemen, this is Squadron Leader Torrance. Squadron Leader Torrance," he added unnecessarily, "is an Australian." Mallory had the impression that the commodore rather hoped this would explain some things, Squadron Leader Torrance among them. "He led tonight's attack on Navarone. Bill, these gentlemen here-Captain Jensen of the Royal Navy, Captain Mallory of the Long Range Desert Group-have a very special interest in Navarone. How did things go to-night?"

"It is impossible, you say?" Jensen persisted. "This is terribly important."

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