Operation Cricket (Part 4)

Having escaped the exploding base at Alderley Edge and successfully destroyed the railway gun and computing engine the agents begin their escape from rural Cheshire at 2am. The local resistance that the agents have been working with inform them that they have had radio contact from C. He will be sending a flying boat to pick up the agents from the Erwood reservoir, 15 miles to the east. The agents are unable to find any service vehicles to help their escape and set off on foot, first changing out of the uniforms they disguised themselves in to infiltrate the base.

The agents make good progress to the east, crossing the river without incident and stopping to rest in a small copse with the mountains of the peak district just in sight. During Eric’s watch he hears the sound of a hunting horn and hounds in the distance and wakes the other agents to move on before they are discovered. The agents follow the river wading south for some distance until they reach a bridge just east of Wimslow. The hounds sound like they are getting closer. Archie notices there is a policeman guarding the bridge ahead and signals to the other agents. On closer inspection he sees another policeman guarding the other end of the bridge both are armed.

Tod and Harvey scramble up the side of the bridge to each take one of the policemen. Lee vaults the bridge and takes down one of the men with a bayonet to the back of his skull. Tod swings over the bridge to take the second man with his garotte. Having dumped the bodies under the bridge Tod and Harvey spot the hunting party in the distance and the party move on across country. As they hear the Hunt is  getting closer still, Archie decides to set a trap using explosives taken from the base at Alderley Edge. Harvey and Tod provide cover from higher ground as he prepares the booby trap.

Tod takes out one the lead huntsman with his favourite weapon, the crossbow. The hunting party are armed as a militia and turn their firearms towards the agents. Harvey deals another rider with a headshot from his rifle. Changing to his beretta submachine carbine Tod deals some further damage. As the hunting party stumble over Archies explosive booby trap the majority of the party are taken out in a shower of pack hound and horse leaving only four of the party alive.

Scrambling for cover from the remainder of the hunting party Archie makes it into the hedgerow but Eric is caught on the twigs and takes a hit in the leg which renders him unconscious. Archie struggles to pull him into cover. Harvey bandages Eric’s wound as Tod takes a covering position allowing the team to move on and make it into the peaks.

Eric recovers consciousness during the night but none of the agents are qualified to remove the bullet. At dawn the agents stretch tarpaulin between two sticks and make a bed for Eric that they can drag behind them. Tod gives Archie a firearm since Tod and Harvey will be taking it in turns to drag Eric. Archie irresponsibly wields the weapon around taking great pleasure in being given the beretta.

The agents spot an aircraft ahead of them. Archie enthusiastically takes potshots at the aircraft, shouting and laughing as he does, with none of the bullets meeting their target. To slaps Archies hand down and covers his mouth. The agents take cover on the ground as parachutes descend from the aircraft in between the agents and the pickup point at the reservoir. They count 27 parachutes. (These parachutists are part of the Royal Reconissance Service’s Independent Parachute Company.)

RSS Troopers – the Independent Parachute Company wear the leather jackets

The parachutists begin to land, the nearest about 1.5 miles away. The agents head toward the landing point of the nearest parachutist. Approaching a ridge, they observe two men from the plane ahead of them. Tod pulls Archie to the ground to avoid him giving away their position. Eric rolls onto his front to face towards the men with the rest of the team. The agents observe that one man is using binoculars while the other prepares a mortar. Harvey shoots at the man with binoculars and misses. The mortar misses the agents, exploding nearby. Tod fails to hit the man with the binoculars while Eric misses the man with the mortar. The strong wind make conditions difficult for even the crack shots but Harvey hits the man with the binoculars in the chest’ taking him down. The mortar fires again and misses the team. Eric hits the man with the mortar in the hand and he takes cover, dropping the mortar.

Reaching the edge of the lake the agents are met by the extraction team. They see the aircraft they will be taking coming down on the lake, a large flying boat – the Cataline PBY ‘Bette Davis’ liberated from the US Navy by freebooter Captain Jack Hawkmoon.  They are pulled on board and the plane turns to take off. A member of the crew gives some treatment to Eric’s wound.

Bette Davis and Crew

Ten minutes into journey one of the crew spots some enemy aircraft. Tod looks around him but can’t see any parachutes in the plane. The agents’ plane comes under machine gun fire and the pilots of their craft manoeuvre to try and avoid being hit. Being shaken around, the crew stumble and Archie falls heavily into a fire extinguisher on the wall of the plane but none are hit by the machine gun fire.

The Bette Davis

On of the plane’s gunners ‘Taffy’ Baker takes a hit and Harvey steps into his place on the starboard MG taking aim at the Bristol Bulldogs and Gloster Gladiators pursuing them. One of the stray bullets in the plane has started a fire, Eric notices while Archie is busy blocking a hole in the aircraft’s hydralic system which is causing the crate to become unresponsive. The fire is dangerously close to the ammunition. Eric reaches across to the fire extinguisher but fails to reach it from where he is strapped to his seat. Tod notices the fire and starts stamping it out.

Baker

Harvey hits one of the enemy planes with the aircraft’s fixed gun but the agent’s plane continues to take damage. Archie manages to plug the hole in the wall at last and the hydraulics regain some functionality. One of the Tsai ‘Jane’ Luo, the Davis’ Flight Engineer ties a rope around herself and signals to Tod to use himself as an anchor point as she climbs out of the plane to make a put out a fire out on the port engine – the remote fire extinguishing system is failing to respond.

Harvey observes six more enemy craft approaching and continues to spray fire at them. The aircraft drops quickly and descends towards the Mersey. The crew member on the wing slips and Tod pills her in. Ships with anti-aircraft guns on the river take aim at the enemy planes as the Betty lands safely on the river and friendly aircraft emerge to engage the enemy in dogfights. The flaming engine block from one dogged pursuer destroyed by the AA of the Intrepid splashes next to the landing bullet ridden old bird.

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Published in: on August 7, 2011 at 4:07 pm  Comments (1)  

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