22:00 August 15th 1948
Colonel David Ogilvy was straitening his tie as the phone in his shared office rang.
"Sir, your transport has arrived”
“Thanks Gracie, now hurry off down to the shelter. Bombs are blind – and don’t know a neutral from a hostile.”
“OK boss…. And good luck….”
“Bye Gracie, give my love to the girls.”
David moved over to the wall safe and opened it. Carefully removing a brown paper wrapped parcel, he checked to see it was ready to go and started down the stairs. He could hear the sirens blaring out their insistent warnings - bombers on the way.
As he descended into the foyer of the Embassy, the MPs on guard straitened and saluted. David barely noticed. Returning their salute he moved on out into the dark of London.
Already the search lights were stabbing fingers of light into the air. The sound of the coming raid could be heard. David wondered how the citizens of London could withstand the onslaught of hundreds of tons of bombs dropped on the night after night. “Bloody War” swore David, as the Tu-4s came ever closer.
“Over here sir” A voice called out in the darkness. In the gloom light by the faint backwash of the searchlights, David could just make out his chauffer and an Embassy car. As he came closer he could make out the little US flag drooping from the bonnet.
As the car started to move out onto the city streets, they were virtually the only vehicle moving. Anyone with any sense was now underground – sheltered in some cellar or railway station. The only people they saw were Wardens and Firemen, braced for the firestorms to come.
Suddenly the car screeched to a halt. “Bloody hell!” exclaimed his driver. “Dammit, now I’ll have to find another way”. In front of them just barely distinguishable from the darkness around was a bomb crater. “Well spotted man!” responded David. “I hope this wont hold us up too much – its important that I am on time.” He glanced at the package cradled in his lap and sighed.
Soon they were at the Downing Street barricade. As David exited the car he leaned into the driver’s window and said. “Don’t wait for me, I'll be OK” The driver hesitated for a moment, then spoke softly “Good luck sir” He quickly put the car into gear and drove off
The bombs were falling some distance away as a Bobby escorted David to the door of No.10. It seemed he was expected as the door was open. He was invited in by a sombre looking butler or some other sort of English flunky. “This way sir,” the servant said as he led the way along a corridor to a stairwell.
Waiting at the steps was the US ambassador himself. “Hello David” he said with his hand outstretched. Bemused, David reached out his hand and they shook. “Sir” he replied.
“Don’t look so surprised David! You know how important this mission is. I've just come to wish you good luck!”
“Sir, I’m beginning to get a phobia about all this luck wishing!”
“Well don’t forget the President is relying on you. And General Eisenhower personally recommends you – so don’t let your Commanding Officer and the people of the United States of America down!”
Once more David straitened his tie, and parcel firmly in his grasp, started to descend the stairs as the sirens wailed and the bombs fell.