Chapter 5 - North Reich - Robert Conroy

North Reich - Robert Conroy (2012)

Chapter 5

Missy Downing decided that it was time for everyone to have a little fun. War or no war, Christmas and New Years had come and gone with minimal celebrations. A few pathetic little Christmas trees had dotted the Pentagon and Missy, a plump, happy little woman with graying hair, felt there should be a break.

Thus, she proclaimed a party and invited a number of her and her husband’s friends and co-workers to their house at Fort Meade. Fortunately, it was a good-sized four bedroom colonial. The only requirement was that there would be no uniforms. She wanted none of what she told her husband was that "rank bullshit" interfering with people having a good time. He concurred and all complied although some, like Sergeant Major Farnum looked like fish out of water in civilian clothes.

The army had what she considered a ridiculous rule against enlisted men and officers drinking together, so she informed everyone that enlisted men and officers would drink separately. If they happened to be in the same room and talking to each other while they were doing it, well, so what? Besides, it was her house, her booze, and her rules. There were no complaints.

The weather outside was cold and damp, but inside it was warm, congenial, and loud. Someone was playing Andrews Sisters songs on the record player and that added to the din. Tom was nursing his second beer when he did a double take. If it wasn't for the bandage on her nose and the discolorations on her face, he wouldn't have recognized her. She still had stitches visible on her mouth, but they too seemed to be less raw. Better, she had fixed her hair and was wearing a long pre-war dress that hugged her figure, confirming that she had great legs without actually putting them on view. She was with a couple of other women and her face lit up, or so he thought, when she saw him.

"You're looking great," he said.

"Thank you. Even the memories are fading."

"I didn't know you knew the Downings that well."

"Missy called me a couple of times to ask me how I was doing. We hit it off. Even went to lunch. She's impossible to dislike and virtually insisted that I come to her party."

There was a pause. "You know," Tom said. "I don't know quite how to do this. I'd like to talk to you some more, maybe buy you a free drink, and get to know you, but?” He shrugged.

She laughed and interrupted him. "You're worried about the rank thing? Aren't we supposed to drop rank for this evening?"

"Yes, but let's face it, it's almost impossible. Can you imagine Sergeant Farnum calling me Tom and me calling him Dick? And the colonel, of course, will always be the colonel."

"You're right. Look, I'm still relatively new to this woman's army and I really don't know how things work even though I am an officer. Also I'm not going to make it a career, so it won't matter so much if I make a faux pas. After what happened, it wouldn't break my heart if they discharged me and I went back to teaching spoiled adolescents. So what if we quietly agree to use our first names for this evening and see where it goes."

Tom was delighted and she continued. "By the way, I've been told that I may be put in for a Purple Heart, although it may have to wait until we actually start fighting the Germans. Certainly the two men who were with me deserve it."

Tom thought he saw the conundrum. If the army gave her the medal for being wounded in action, they would be admitting that they knew the assault was by Germany, which would inform the Nazis that the U.S. was on to their game. Deferring the medal wasn't fair, but it would have to do. As the old saying went, life isn’t fair. The way things with Germany were deteriorating, he didn't think she'd have all that long to wait before she got it.

They grabbed another drink and went outside. The veranda was cold but relatively private with only a handful of people getting either fresh air or privacy. Missy had also declared no smoking in her house as it was so crowded, so clouds of cigarette smoke wafted upwards. He rarely smoked and she said she never did, and that was fine by him.

"Alicia, do I sense that you are disappointed with your role in the army? If so, there are several million other men and women who feel the same way."

She laughed and he liked the sound. "I think that frustrated is the better word. I was a musician and a music and art teacher and was told that my skill as a musician might enable me to be good at codes. Turns out that didn't work, so I was promoted and became a glorified messenger. Look, Tom, I don't expect to be sent to combat or command men, but we women are definitely second class members of the army, and I don't just mean pay and benefits. I don't think I'm being overly sensitive when senior officers call me 'girl,' or an enlisted man salutes me extremely sloppily while mentally undressing me. I think I have a good mind and would like to use it."

"I can't walk in your shoes and I have to admit I never gave your situation much thought at all. Before I hurt myself by saying anything more, may I change the subject? You said you were a musician, what do you play?"

"The violin. My dream was to be the lead violinist with some major symphony, like playing for the NBC Symphony and Toscanini, and doing it at Rockefeller or Carnegie, or be recorded by RCA Victor. That dream isn't coming true either. I'm very good but not good enough. When this is over I'm pretty certain I'll be able to play for a smaller symphony and maybe teach at college instead of the small girls’ high school I used to. I went to the University of Virginia and graduated with good grades, and that ought to count for something. I even played soccer and lacrosse for a local club so I’m not exactly a sissy."

Tom thought that she was good enough for him, but now was not the time to say it. "Alicia, I know you think that all army officers are barbarians who've cut their hair short and just learned to shave as well as walking upright, and this may come as a shock - but I like classical music."

"Good lord," she said with a laugh, only stopping when her wide smile stretched the stitches on her face.

"Will you play for me someday?"

She took his arm and steered him back inside. Nobody had asked her to play for them in a very long time. She would have to practice.

"Yes," she answered with another try at a smile, "but not tonight and not here."

Sounds rumbled in the distance and lights flashed in the night. It wasn't lightning and thunder. Something nasty was happening out on Lake Ontario. Canfield cursed the fact that even the best binoculars couldn't penetrate the dark. Worse, snow flurries were obscuring what visibility there was.

"Fucking Nazis are shooting at something," Dubinski said. "Correction, they're shooting at someone, not something. That ain't target practice."

True enough, thought Canfield as he shifted his bulk. It was cold and wet lying on the ground, and there was a foot of snow penetrating what the army insisted was winter gear. He could handle it, though. He didn’t regret volunteering to stand watch. If the troops could handle it, so could he. In another hour they'd be relieved and could go get warm and dry while whatever was happening out on Lake Ontario continued.

"Sir, they're getting closer," said one of his men and damned if he wasn't right. The brawl was getting very close to American property and what had to be German ships were well within American waters.

Canfield told his radio operator to inform the colonel and ask for instructions. As he waited, the situation and the view became clearer. The damned E-boat was back and it was shooting at a number of shapes on the water, and there were small flashes of light from a few of the shapes which meant they were firing back. What the hell?

The radio operator gave the headphones to Canfield who was instructed to fire a warning shot, but to make sure to miss the E-boat. "And what if he fires back?"

"Use your judgment" the colonel said from the safety of a headquarters several miles inland. "If he's shooting for real, you can do likewise; just don't go starting World War II in Canada."

Canfield grinned. Even though he was going to fire a shot across the enemy's bows, he had a weapon that would make the kraut think twice. He'd borrowed a 75mm cannon and its crew and despite the fact that it was an 1897 model, he was certain it would put the fear of God into the Nazis. The metal shield that would have provided some protection for the gun crew from return fire had been removed by its owners, and that concerned him.

The E-boat was now a defined shape. The 75mm gun captain had his orders and fired. The shock of the cannon was followed a few seconds later by a splash landing a hundred yards away from the German.

The E-boat turned and fired her 20mm and 37mm cannon in the direction of the American gun's flash. Shells impacted, throwing up clouds of dirt and debris, and someone screamed.

"Son of a bitch," yelled Canfield. He ran over to the gun. One man was dead and another wounded. The lieutenant in charge looked shocked. "Can you still fire this thing?" Canfield yelled. The young officer shook himself back to reality and said he could. "Then sink that God-damned kraut."

The seventy-five was a relatively quick firing weapon. Shell after shell poured out from her in a coolly measured cadence. Canfield grinned. The young lieutenant clearly knew what he was doing. The German captain saw what was happening and returned fire, but quickly decided he was outgunned. The E-boat turned to the open lake, her three Daimler Benz engines roaring. Canfield was going to order a cease-fire when one of the shells struck the German boat on the stern. Explosions and fire followed and the Americans cheered. The E-boat slowed but continued on out towards Canada and safety.

This time the cease fire held. The Americans waited by the icy shore while a small number of civilian motor boats approached. They were jammed with terrified people and some had been badly shot up.

While some of Canfield's men kept an eye out for the Germans, the rest of them helped several dozen men, women, and children onto safe ground. A number of the men had shotguns and pistols. Several people were wounded and a couple of them were clearly dead.

"What the hell is going on?" Canfield asked.

A dignified and bearded man in his fifties looked at him gratefully. "We are Jews, major. It is beginning."

Adolf Hitler had made one of his infrequent trips to Berlin, a city he despised. To him it represented the depravity and corruption of the Weimar Republic. The citizens of Berlin had reciprocated by giving only nominal support for the Nazi Party and its subsequent wars. Their concerns had been reduced as victory after victory occurred, but the populace was still only lukewarm towards him and desperately wanted peace. They also wanted the return of their sons and brothers, many of whom were still freezing in trenches confronting the Red Army in the gateway to Siberia.

Colonel General Heinz Guderian walked outside the Chancellery, angrily puffing an American cigarette, a Chesterfield. He was accompanied by Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, father of the German U-boat fleet. Guderian was outspoken, even in front of Hitler, and many assumed that was why he hadn't been promoted to field marshal as so many others of lesser ability had.

"Tell me the truth, admiral, can your ships defeat the American navy, especially if it is reinforced by the battleships and carriers of the Royal Navy?"

Raeder smiled and turned away to hide the expression on his face. "When the time comes, we will overwhelm them with our U-boats and send both their navies to the bottom of the Atlantic. We will not have to worry about sinking tankers and freighters, although we will do that of course. Enemy warships will be our target and we will have more than two hundred U-boats on hand at all times to send them to the sink them. We will even have our aircraft carrier, the Graf Zeppelin, ready to assist along with our capital ships."

It was Guderian's turn to smile. "As I understand it, admiral, the carrier is a small one when compared with the American fleet carriers and, besides, it is our only one. Her sister ship, the Peter Strasser, was scrapped, which does not imply that there is a great deal of confidence in our aircraft carriers. Also, our remaining capital ships are few. The remnants cannot stand up to either enemy alone, much less if they are joined."

The admiral flushed at the truth. "They will suffice."

"How will you keep the U-boats supplied? Our army in Russia is suffering because of the vast distances between our factories and the front lines along the Volga.” He didn’t bother to add that Russian partisans were tying down more than a half million German and allied soldiers. “The distance between our French bases and North America is almost as great."

"Don't worry, my dear general, we will have a number of supply ships shuttling back and forth with food, torpedoes, and anything else our brave captains require. There are even plans for a couple of floating brothels. Since you have concerns about the Kriegsmarine's ability to succeed, what about von Arnim's small army that is about to take on the entire United States military? What chance does it have of success?"

Guderian paused. He had just come from a discussion with the Fuhrer which had deteriorated into a screaming argument. A couple of staffers had led the general out of the conference room before he and Hitler came to blows. It was only Guderian's reputation and history as a victorious general that kept him from being discharged or worse. As it was, he was currently a general without a command.

"My dear admiral, the Fuhrer still believes that the American fighting man is a poorly trained and poorly led coward, and that the American generals are all fools dominated by Wall Street Jews. He looks at the war in the Pacific and sees a United States Army that cannot immediately squash the yellow-skinned savages from Japan. He says that the Japs ran from the Red Army in the Manchurian campaign of a few years ago, and that they were defeated by the Slavic rabble that is the Red Army. Therefore, the Fuhrer’s logic says that the Americans must be lesser men than the Soviets and the Japs. He does not realize that the Japs are fanatic fighters who, while they don't have good weapons, are very well disciplined and willing to give their lives for Japan. The Japanese are insane. The Americans will ultimately win, overwhelming them with the large numbers of planes and tanks that their factories are churning out. I am not confident that von Arnim will be able to hold out until reinforcements arrive. I am also not confident that they will arrive at all."

Raeder glared. He did not like having his judgment doubted even though Guderian had raised points that made him uncomfortable when he thought about them. If his submarines could not destroy the American and British navies, what then?

Guderian ground out his cigarette and lit another one. It occurred to him that war with the United States would mean his supply of American cigarettes would be cut off. He made a mental note to begin to stockpile those and other things that made life pleasant. He’d rather die than smoke the paper wrapped dog shit that Germany called domestic cigarettes.

"Admiral, von Arnim's success depends totally on your Kriegsmarine achieving a level of dominance in the Atlantic so that our forces in Canada can be massively reinforced. I will also admit that I do not like the idea of a two-front war. We went to great lengths to avoid war with the Yanks in 1941. Why are we throwing away that advantage now? We still haven't fully conquered the Russians and the British must be up to something while they stall us. We have almost two million men along the Eastern Front, and another half million fighting partisans in Poland and Russia. Almost every train or truck convoy we send is attacked by the savage Slavs who still control more than three quarters of their own vast land."

The admiral chuckled. "But that land is Siberia and the Russians are starving."

"The Russians are used to starving, and they have moved much of their industrial base to the Urals where they are, yes, starving, but building up to attack us again. Their army is larger than ours and their armor is both better and more numerous. Also, their pilots started out as incompetent dunces in miserable planes who we slaughtered in huge numbers, but that has changed as well. The war has paused, but is not over. The Reds are improving at every level."

"You have a point," Raeder admitted.

"We would attack and destroy the rest of the Soviet Forces if we could only build up enough of our own supplies, but we can't because our sources of supply are too far away from the front. Our supply forces use up most of what they are bringing in order to get at least a little to the front. And even if we did attack the Red Army, our advance would peter out in the Urals and, even if we did force the Ural passes, we would be confronting the vastness of Siberia. We are fighting a war that may never end."

"Are you saying we should negotiate with the Russians and then take on the Americans?" Raeder asked.

"Yes, and that is exactly what I said to the Fuhrer."

Raeder laughed. "That comment almost got you thrown in jail, or stripped to the rank of private and sent to fight the Red Army by yourself."

Guderian sighed. "I will apologize to the Fuhrer, of course. My intemperate comments will then blow over like they always have. But I do believe we have the cart before the horse. The Fuhrer believes that defeating the United States will make the British and the Soviets negotiate a real peace. I would agree if I was confident in a German victory over the Americans. Unfortunately, I am not at all confident. We will hurt the Americans, but will we defeat them? Will we drive them to the peace table? I don't think so. What do you think will happen in our conquered countries if we are defeated, or just stalemated, and the French and British and Russians see that we are not invincible? They will take heart and rise up even more than they are now, and we will have another full war to fight. How long do you think the German people will stand for that?"

Raeder took a step away. It was as if the general had just announced that he had something contagious. "You are very close to speaking treason, general. Be careful. Be very careful. One day you might just say something that cannot be fixed with an apology."

Hiding in plain sight is always the best way, Detective Sam Lambert had always thought. Seeking safety and privacy in crowds always worked, and what better place than Eaton's Department Store on Yonge and Queen Streets in central Toronto? The massive, multi-storied red brick building covered an entire city block and had a number of entrances. It would be a nightmare for anyone tailing him.

He and Mike Bradford had arranged to meet for a cup of coffee. Even if anyone did notice them, there would be nothing unusual about two old friends having a conversation over a cup of coffee.

"I saw the two sons of bitches," Mike said. "They were standing around outside that piece of shit shack they call their Canadian Legion headquarters and they were laughing their asses off about something. I showed restraint, Sam, just like I said I would and I still will, but someday I will kill them."

"And I'll be there to steady your aim and buy you a drink when it’s done. But just wait. If you do something now, somebody smart will want to know just how you got the information about the Munro brothers, and it might just come back to you and me. If that happens, it could kill - bad choice of words - all of our plans."

Bradford took a deep breath. "I know."

The report copied by Tinker was not only graphic in the manner in which Mary had been tortured, likely driven mad, and subsequently killed herself, but also named names. Wally and Jed Munro were the ones who had forced her to give them oral sex and then raped her. Both detectives wondered if they hadn't actually held the knife and slashed her wrist so she couldn't tell the Gestapo chief, Neumann, that they'd disobeyed him. If so, they'd overreacted. Neumann simply didn't care that much.

Lambert had decided that Bradford was too emotional to plan and think clearly and dispassionately, so he was told to sit tight.

Lambert was a good solid cop who knew how to develop a case, and he used those skills to contact others who felt as he did about the Germans, the Canadian Legion, and the Munro brothers. He'd even found a RCMP officer who told him that a third Munro brother had been killed in a shootout with American soldiers while trying to steal something from a military courier.

Lambert had enlisted a cadre of twenty current and retired cops who felt that the Legion had to be destroyed and the Germans expelled. Although their numbers were very small, he felt that they might just be able to make a significant difference when the time was ripe. That assumed, of course, that he could keep Mike Bradford from going to pieces and doing something violent and irrational.

He too would like to eliminate the local Nazis, but how to do it without bringing down the wrath of the government in Ottawa? Before the war, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King had visited Hitler in Germany, and had only reluctantly agreed that Canada should fight the Nazis when the war with Great Britain started. When disaster befell England, he attributed it to American cowardice. He then determined that it would be best to deal with Hitler, and that fighting the inevitable defeat would be bloody, disastrous, and futile.

Perhaps there was a way the Munro boys could be eliminated without exposing them and their plans. He would have to get Mike Bradford to give up his dream of putting bullets into their skulls, however personally satisfying that might be.

Wet snow lightly covered much of the ground with tufts of brown grass peeping through. From a weather standpoint, it wasn't the best of days to walk through the sacred grounds of Arlington Cemetery, but the damp cold meant that Tom and Alicia had the place almost to themselves this gray and cloudy Sunday afternoon in January.

It had been a week since the party thrown by Missy Downing and it was generally considered to have been a big success. Morale was higher, and a few social barriers had been broken. Nobody had made a fool out of themselves with the exception of one very new second lieutenant who wound up vomiting off the veranda before passing out and being taken home by some of his friends. He was embarrassed for a couple of days after, but got over it.

Alicia smiled and looked around at the gently rolling hills and the rows of white tombstones. "This is one of my favorite places. It is so serene and noble. I think it's sad that so many Americans don't come here and recognize the price that others paid so that we could have our country. God, I hope that doesn't sound too pompous, but that's how I feel."

Tom told her he agreed completely. He mentioned that there were many other cemeteries where thousands of other American dead were buried.

"I've seen a few of them and would like to see others." Maybe someday you can take me, she thought.

Per their agreement, they both wore civilian clothes to disguise their differences in rank. He wondered if it mattered any more since they were becoming so comfortable together. He wore a jacket, dark slacks, and a sweater, which she laughingly said looked almost like a uniform. She wore the roughly the same ensemble, but slacks were plaid and, of course, were tighter where it counted, and reinforced his opinion that she had a lovely figure. The bruises and scars on her face were continuing to fade and were now barely noticeable. She thought she would have a hairline scar above her lip where the stitches had begun. A badge of honor, she'd said.

Tom was curious about her hair. Many women died their hair, but a lot did so to look blond, which meant they had to contend with dark roots. Alicia, on the other hand, had blond roots intruding on her darker hair. When she caught him looking, she said she'd tell him the story some time, but not now. He was smart enough to keep still.

"Along with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier," she said, "this is a part of the cemetery that enthralls me."

They were beside the strange and stark structure that had been the mast of the U.S.S. Maine, the battleship that had blown up in Havana harbor and caused the United States to go to war with Spain in 1898.

"Do you wonder how it happened?" he asked. "I have. In fact I wrote an essay on it back at West Pointe."

"What was your conclusion?"

"That the cause was unknown and likely to stay that way. There are two major theories, of course. One is that the ship was hit by a mine and the second is an internal coal fire explosion. Both theories are a stretch. Along with getting a mine to make contact, the Spanish would have been either careless with their mines, or stupid to attack the ship. As to the fire, the Maine's captain and her crew knew full well the dangers of coal fires and would have been on the lookout for something smoldering and the heat that would have been given off. Their lives literally depended on it."

"So what does that leave?"

"Something else, maybe. Perhaps it was a rogue bunch of Spanish officers acting on their own, or a crewman on the Maine doing something incredibly careless or stupid."

"What did you get on the essay?"

"I got a 'B'. The instructor said I had a great imagination."

She laughed and then turned grim. She tucked her arm in his as they walked around the graves. "I taught American history a couple of semesters and the Spanish American War was part of it,” she said. “One of the crewmen killed was an officer named Friend Jenkins. I thought it strange that someone named Friend would be killed in an event that started a war. I went looking for his grave here in Arlington, but found that he was buried somewhere around Pittsburg. There are a hundred and sixty or so crewmen buried here and nobody really knows why they died. That's one of the reasons I feel compelled to come here. It's also in honor of the men who died at Pearl Harbor and who are either unknown or entombed in the Arizona and the Oklahoma. I think everybody who dies should have an honorable burial and everyone should know just why a man dies."

"I have no idea how to respond to that."

"Then don't try. Someday I think I'd like to come out here and serenade the dead with my violin."

"I'll come with you when you do."

She squeezed his arm. "I'll have to practice some more. Right now, even the dead wouldn't like the way I'm playing. They might get up and leave. In the meantime, why don't you take me to lunch? Someplace away from Washington would be nice and not just because nobody would recognize us. To paraphrase Rhett Butler, I frankly don't give a damn."

Tom grinned. Neither did he.

Secretary of State Cordell Hull was seventy-four years old and had served in that position for eleven years. Prior to that, he'd been in the House of Representatives and then in the U.S. Senate. At one time he'd had aspirations of becoming president, but those had faded as reality set in.

Hull was in ill health and had been contemplating retirement when the war began. He felt that he should stay on to ensure that American interests were best served. He had no illusions. He knew he wasn't irreplaceable. No one is. He had a reputation for bluntness and his illness was making him irascible as well.

Hans Thomsen, the German Charge d'Affairs sat across from him in Hull's office in the Main State Building on C Street NW in the Foggy Bottom area of Washington. There had been no German ambassador in Washington for a few years, just as there was no American ambassador in Berlin. Hull sometimes thought that was a mistake. However, one plays the cards one is dealt. Thomsen was in his early fifties and rumor had it that he was not a fervent disciple of Hitler.

It didn't matter to Hull. As Hitler's representative, Thomsen was due for a scolding.

"My dear Mr. Thomsen, please tell me, do you want war with us or not?"

Thomsen smiled at Hull's bluntness. It was expected. "I would hope not and I would never want war. Our two countries should never clash over matters that are so trivial."

Hull glared at him. "Trivial? What is trivial about German warships on the Great Lakes and what is trivial about them shooting at American soldiers who were simply doing their duty? And why was that damned E-boat in American waters in the first place? And what was it doing shooting up small craft that might have been American boats containing American citizens who were simply out fishing or some other legitimate enterprise? It seems damned rash to me."

Thomsen was prepared and responded quickly. "The shooting of your soldiers by our boat was regrettable. The captain thought he had been taken under fire and retaliated. The death of an American soldier is more than offset by the two dead and five wounded on the E-boat. And the E-boat is scarcely more than an armed patrol craft, and not a warship."

"Then get rid of those torpedoes. A patrol craft in the Great Lakes does not need torpedoes. Torpedoes are intended to sink major warships and that makes the E-boat a major warship herself."

"I will take that point under advisement. As to the fact of the E-boat firing on small craft, it was in hot pursuit of what was believed to be a number of smugglers and simply didn't realize they were so close to shore in the night."

Smugglers my ass, Hull thought. "You know as well as I do that they were refugees and not smugglers. And you also know that the E-boat's skipper knew precisely where he was."

"Regardless, the resulting mistake was tragic."

"There have been too many tragic mistakes lately," Hull snarled. "And, yes, that includes the botched attack by the Canadian Legion on an army courier in Washington itself."

Thomsen wiped his forehead with a handkerchief. "I think we can safely say that a number of young men in the Canadian Legion were far more enthusiastic in support of the Reich than they should have been. As in so many new situations, the matter is fluid and the men uncertain."

Hull sat back in his swivel chair. He felt so tired. "So, we have another mistake and another apology. Frankly, sir, I am getting damn sick and tired of them."

"As am I, Mr. Secretary. May I remind you that the Reich has repeatedly complained that you have given sanctuary to the major portion of the Royal Navy and the ships’ crews? I would also remind you that the Reich has complained about the existence of so-called governments in exile that fled from England to here. I mean, of course, the shadow and illegal governments of Norway, Holland, Denmark, and Belgium. We would also like Mr. Churchill returned so he can be tried as a war criminal in accordance with the rules established by the League of Nations."

"The League is defunct and Germany quit it in 1933, around the same time that Japan quit, while the United States never joined. Therefore neither of us is bound by the League's unenforceable rules."

Both men recognized the irony that, with the Soviet Union's expulsion from the League in 1939, it meant that none of the world's major powers were members of the organization that was supposed to prevent wars by the time World War II broke out.

Hull smiled coldly. "Good. Now let's set some things straight. There will be no more incidents. You will keep the few E-boats you have, but there will be no additions. Nor will any other Nazi warships enter either the St. Lawrence or the Great Lakes. I hear rumors that a squadron of submarines is going to traverse to Erie and beyond. That, sir, will not be permitted to happen."

"I am not aware of any such plans,” Thomsen said truthfully. Berlin had kept him in the dark about many things, the German thought ruefully. Of course, what he didn't know he couldn't give away.

"Then send word back to Doenitz and Raeder and, hell, von Ribbentrop and Hitler themselves, that any such efforts will result in our sinking those ships the moment they enter the St. Lawrence."

"Sir, that would be an act of war," Thomsen gasped.

Hull smiled a wicked smile. "That, sir, would be for Germany to decide."