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datatime: 2022-12-01 01:13:48 Author:eJnNAKaE

"Patience, laddie, patience-as our worthy commodore has just advocated. Time is endless. To wait, and to keep on waiting-that is to be of the East."

"Too bloody right, I don't!" Torrance growled.

"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."

"Of course you didn't!" Jensen cut in briskly. "You weren't supposed to. Just wanted to find out if you were the man for the job. I'm sure you are-I was pretty sure you were before I pulled you out of Crete. But where you got the idea about leave I don't know. The sanity of the S.O.E. has often been questioned, but even we aren't given to sending a flying-boat for the sole purpose of enabling junior officers to spend a month wasting their substance among the flesh-pots of Cairo," be finished dryly.

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

"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."

"Bloody awful, sir. A fair cow, it was, a real suicide do." He broke off abruptly, stared moodily with compressed lips through his own drifting tobacco smoke. "But we'd like to go back again," he went on. "Me and the boys here. Just once. We were talking about it on the way home." Mallory caught the deep murmur of voices in the background, a growl of agreement. 'We'd like to take with us the joker who thought this one up and shove him out at ten thousand over Navarone, without benefit of parachute."

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

"They gave you clear weather?"

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

"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.

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

"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."

"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."

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

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

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

"They gave you clear weather?"

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

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

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

"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?"

The interrogation room, harshly lit by two powerful, unshaded lights, was uncomfortable and airless. The furniture consisted of some battered wall-maps and charts, a score or so of equally scuffed chairs and an unvarnished deal table. The commodore, flanked by Jensen and Mallory, was sitting behind this when the door opened abruptly and the first of the flying crews entered, blinking rapidly in the fierceness of the unaccustomed light They were led by a dark-haired, thick-set pilot, trailing helmet and flying-suit in his left hand. He had an Anzac bush helmet crushed on the back of his head, and the word "Australia" emblazoned in white across each khaki shoulder. Scowling, wordlessly and without permission, he sat down in front of them, produced a pack of cigaottes and rasped a match across the surface of the table. Mallory looked furtively at the commodore. The commodore just looked resigned. He even sounded resigned.

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

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.

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