• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

J66185

Second Lieutenant
Jun 26, 2018
169
3
Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah once more!:D
 

AtlanticFriend

Captain
Jan 2, 2018
355
0
...you know, like how children give reverence to their father...some of the time.

;p
I can only wish that @El Pip can claim better spiritual heirs!

Come to think of it, this looooooooooooooooooongish story owes a dreadful lot to Draco Rexus' For King and Country, whose unabashedly Francophobic tone, gladly bordering on the gratuitous insult, did wonders to convince me that forum would have to endure a caricature-free French-centered story. But don't get me wrong, I do miss FKAC. For all its French-bashing fracas it was 1) well-written (moreso than I will ever be able to achieve) and 2) quite thrilling (let's be hionest, there, too, I can only play second fiddle).
 

El Pip

Lord of Slower-than-real-time
40 Badges
Dec 13, 2005
7.092
504
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Sword of the Stars
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Semper Fi
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Prison Architect
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Divine Wind
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Heir to the Throne
I can only wish that @El Pip can claim better spiritual heirs!

Come to think of it, this looooooooooooooooooongish story owes a dreadful lot to Draco Rexus' For King and Country, whose unabashedly Francophobic tone, gladly bordering on the gratuitous insult, did wonders to convince me that forum would have to endure a caricature-free French-centered story. But don't get me wrong, I do miss FKAC. For all its French-bashing fracas it was 1) well-written (moreso than I will ever be able to achieve) and 2) quite thrilling (let's be hionest, there, too, I can only play second fiddle).
While I also miss FKAC, particularly as it was so nearly finished but cruelly taken from us, I think you are being a bit harsh on yourself and Crossfires.

For all it's strengths FKAC was fairly simplistic about it's characters; the King and the Drakes were always right and utterly noble (or were presented as such) while anyone who opposed them was a nasty sort or an idiot. One of the things I love about Crossfires is the depth of the characters, the interesting villains and flawed heroes. And if that is a sign of something that is very well written, then what is?

Then again, I know Butterfly owes a great deal to @Allenby British Interests and I suspect I'm not as good as my inspiration either, so maybe I'm not the best person to be talking about this. ;)
 

AtlanticFriend

Captain
Jan 2, 2018
355
0
While I also miss FKAC, particularly as it was so nearly finished but cruelly taken from us, I think you are being a bit harsh on yourself and Crossfires.

For all it's strengths FKAC was fairly simplistic about it's characters; the King and the Drakes were always right and utterly noble (or were presented as such) while anyone who opposed them was a nasty sort or an idiot. One of the things I love about Crossfires is the depth of the characters, the interesting villains and flawed heroes. And if that is a sign of something that is very well written, then what is?

Then again, I know Butterfly owes a great deal to @Allenby British Interests and I suspect I'm not as good as my inspiration either, so maybe I'm not the best person to be talking about this. ;)
Much too kind, my dear Sir. FKAC chapters had a vitality I cannot hope to emulate, alas. Noblesse oblige : Honour where honour is due! Maybe Draco and I are a missed AAR opportunity : had he written about the dashing heroes and me about the somber villains, who knows, maybe we could have been an AARland sensation? ;)

I am churning the last part of that longer-ish chapter : a meeting between King Haakon (whose ghost I implore to forgive me, as he won't remind us of the necessity of storing matches, candles and flashlights as the lights go out all over Europe) and the British and French ambassadors to Norway. I promise doom and gloom, Royal Marines and Rubis submarines when it's finished.
 

El Pip

Lord of Slower-than-real-time
40 Badges
Dec 13, 2005
7.092
504
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Sword of the Stars
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Semper Fi
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Prison Architect
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Divine Wind
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Heir to the Throne
I am churning the last part of that longer-ish chapter : a meeting between King Haakon (whose ghost I implore to forgive me, as he won't remind us of the necessity of storing matches, candles and flashlights as the lights go out all over Europe) and the British and French ambassadors to Norway. I promise doom and gloom, Royal Marines and Rubis submarines when it's finished.
As long as King Haakon remains vigilant about the threat of inferior Baltic Plywood and has to leave early for a long weekend at the Fjords, then all will be well.


I am also looking forward to Royal Marines and Rubis submarines, both of which are welcome additions to any story.
 
Last edited:

AtlanticFriend

Captain
Jan 2, 2018
355
0
Working on the Royal Marines part - which, I promise, will be the last addition to Chapter 125. Chgapter 126 should be about Jean Monnet (if only to trigger Brexiteers) and Luftwaffe operations against Allied (mostly French) territory.
 

El Pip

Lord of Slower-than-real-time
40 Badges
Dec 13, 2005
7.092
504
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Sword of the Stars
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Semper Fi
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Prison Architect
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Divine Wind
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Heir to the Throne
Chgapter 126 should be about Jean Monnet (if only to trigger Brexiteers) and Luftwaffe operations against Allied (mostly French) territory.
This should be about a Czech built Ju-87 Stuka, piloted by an ex-Austrian pilot with a rear gunner from the Free City of Danzig, killing Monnet in a bombing raid.

Anything else would be a tragically missed opportunity.
 

AtlanticFriend

Captain
Jan 2, 2018
355
0
This should be about a Czech built Ju-87 Stuka, piloted by an ex-Austrian pilot with a rear gunner from the Free City of Danzig, killing Monnet in a bombing raid.

Anything else would be a tragically missed opportunity.
Be prepared for a tragically missed opportunity then, as I intend to tap Monnet's potential for switching to a rational war economy! :D
If it can make you feel better about it, the Luftwaffe's Junker bombers (as well as Heinkels) are going to have a real (and historically-acceptable) go at blowing things up my side of the border, which will make sense game-wise and story-wise I think.

I've reached the twenty-page threshold and I still feel I'm rushing things. The good news is, all I have to do now is to finish the Royal Marines' part of the story - which for some reason led me to delve into the rich and probably boundless field of Scottish insults and swear words.
 

AtlanticFriend

Captain
Jan 2, 2018
355
0
CHAPTER 125 – PIP, SQUEAK AND WILFRED



Pip, Squeak and Wilfred, one of the most-beloved British comics


The Big Picture - Admiralty House, London, September the 17th, 1939


Admiralty House, one of the nicest rooms

« Why, Lieutenant, what a pleasant surprise ! » said the young assistant, mockery dripping from her every word. « To what do I owe this pleasure ? »

« Hello darling » said Fleming as he sauntered into the cramped office, making sure they were alone. « Please tell me the truth, Meghan : did you miss me ? »

« The truth, really ? We-ell… maybe I did – but not as much as he did, then », replied the young woman playfully, with an emphasis on the ‘he’ which did not escape the young officer.

« Oh ? Old man Godfrey asked after me ? »

« Admiral Godfrey did not so much ask », Meghan replied, « as lament the fact his supposed assistant had once again gone absent without a leave. He wondered aloud whether you were chasing some upper-class skirt again, or whether it was just another of your ‘hangover-nursing’ days off. I distinctly remember him muttering about ‘dereliction of duty’, ‘immediate dismissal’, ‘court-martial’, and quite possibly ‘gangplank’ - though that last one I cannot be so sure about, as it was blurted out between bouts of profanity a young woman should never be subjected to. ».

« Oh dear » mumbled a paling Fleming, all playfulness gone now. « That bad ? »

« No, silly » replied the young woman, in the tone of a teacher chastising her favourite pupil. « But close enough. ‘Dereliction of duty’ was definitely the main theme of the Admiral’s tirade. Since ‘Immediate dismissal’ seemed likely to follow, I told him you were at the French embassy, comparing notes with their naval attaché. It mollified the admiral somewhat. »

« You are a gem. The French naval attaché then ? Maybe I should call that good old Pierre-Yves, just in case he, ah, forgets when today’s meeting took place if he’s asked about it. You know how absent-minded these people can be over the Channel.»

« I already took the liberty of calling Capitaine Le Goff. He promised me he’d swear you were with him ‘on his honneur de marin’, whatever that means.”

“He did?” asked Fleming, surprised. He and Le Goff were not exactly on the best of terms. The quiet French officer showed little patience with Fleming’s taste for highborn mondanités, while Fleming had taken to call his French counterpart Captain Le Goof whenever the Frenchman’s analysis of Allied intelligence material proved either outdated or incorrect. Still, the two naval officers knew they were condemned to work together, and, every now-and-often, the alliance of the glitzy Briton and the sullen Breton proved remarkably productive.

“He absolutely did – after I agreed to take a drink with him later in the week. It seems I have saved your oh-so-precious gold braids again, Lieutenant Fleming, sir.»

« Oh, Meghan, I do plan to marry you some day » said Fleming with a beaming smile.

« Goodness ! Thanks a bunch, Ian, but no, thanks » she replied with a pout as Lieutenant Ian Fleming, having checked his reflection in a framed picture, was adjusting his tie. « Let’s just say this office is a teensy bit livelier when you’re around, and you know us Belgravia girls, we get bored so easily. »

With a chuckle and a mock reverence, Fleming walked to the thick mahogany door that led into the Director of Naval Intelligence’s office and knocked.

« Lieutenant Fleming reporting for duty, sir »

The admiral grimaced and reached for his cigarette box, flicking it open with irritation.

« Let’s just say you are physically here, Fleming », Godfrey growled. « God knows it’s a rare enough occasion. »

The room was decorated in the Victorian style, with pale green armchairs set against a deep emerald wallpaper. The walls supported various oil paintings in elaborate, as well as gilded frames - mostly portraits of old warships and past admirals, both long-since decommissioned. Even more so than the Admiral’s favourite Jamaican tobacco, the room exsuded a peaceful nineteenth century atmosphere, the subtle aroma of a simpler era when Britannia would forever rule the waves, splendidly isolated from the Continentals’ petty squabbles.

The delicate perfume of a dead and foolish era, thought Fleming. The dangerous nostalgia of when we thought tomorrow would be like yesterday, forever.

Godfrey’s additions to the room’s decorum clearly showed he, too, intended to live in the present, however grim it was. The Admiral stood on the other side of a large rectangular table, upon which had been placed a map of the North Sea, glued on an even larger cork board. On the map, from one cardinal point to another, dozens of coloured pins indicated the presence of merchant ships, their succession revealing Europe’s major trading lanes. In the north, the forest of pins thinned out until there were only a few, concentrated around Norway’s northern harbours. In the great city-ports of Belgium and the Netherlands, on the contrary, the ranks of pins had grown so thick bits of ribbons had been added to better represent the constant influx of trawlers, tankers and bulk carriers anchoring at Antwerp and Rotterdam. The pinheads’ colors varied according to the ship’s nationality : blue, if they flew the Union Jack, or any of the French, Spanish or Italian tricolores ; black if they were German or Lithuanian, red if they were Japanese, and green for all the other neutral nations. The map was updated daily, and even twice a day when the intelligence harvest was rich enough. In the past few weeks Godfrey (and Fleming) had generally given only a fleeting glance to the scores of blue pins. Those had all but deserted the North Sea anyway, and were, on other maps, dancing a complicated and deadly tango against lonely black pins which representing suspected German submarines or Japanese light cruisers. The DNI officers’ attention was usually devoted to the swirling nebulae of green ships. Those were Argentinian reefers bringing meat to Britain and Germany alike, American freighters carrying machine parts, and Greek trawlers moving ores and manufactured goods from almost anywhere in the world. Even most importantly, they were Dutch and Norwegian tankers, their holds full with Sarawak’s crude or Abadan-refined fuel. The neutral tankers Godfrey followed composed a relatively small fleet – perhaps a thousand, tops – but in this modern war, their possession, as well as their protection, were essential to both sides. Across the board, British and German ambassadors were pressing neutral governments into allowing the « leasing » of these ships, or securing long-term contracts with the shipowners.


Fruitful but uneasy cooperation: Admiral Godfrey and Lieutenant Fleming

« Are these yesterday’s positions, sir ? » asked Fleming.

« This was updated this morning » said Godfrey gruffly. « It’s that time of the day that comes before noon, just in case you don’t remember. Good meeting with our friends and associates across the Channel, I gather ? »

« Yes sir. Very – very productive meeting indeed, sir »

« Oh I’m sure it was » grumbled the admiral, squinting. « I really am, Lieutenant. Now tell me Fleming : how goes our Dutch stock today? »

« Our best report is from last night actually, sir. Colonel James’ boys have signalled the Dutch authorities get less forthcoming by the day, as the Germans exert maximal pressure. As expected.»

« Then I guess Colonel James will have to work more diligently » said Godfrey, who personallu disliked the MI-6 director.

« Indeed, sir » said Fleming. He didn’t like James either. The man was a bit off, that much was certain. And he had very disturbing ideas about how this war should be waged. But he kept some interesting specimens in his « Six » ménagerie.

« Latest despatches from our boys at the embassy and the Rotterdam consulate assess the port at a little over four million tons in transit for the past thirty days, sir, half of them ores and oil from the East Indies, the rest being machinery and foodstuff – quite a bit of that actually. Some of the boys in Colonel James’ outfit think the Dutch are buying on behalf of the Reich as part of their economic agreements, to go around the current embargoes on the Reich. Our naval attaché there says the whole port of Rotterdam is basically German : now that Allied merchantmen have been advised to steer clear of Dutch waters, most moored ships sport the Nazi flag, or one of their surrogates. Neutral and Allied shipping is diverted to other ports to make room for German and Japanese ships, and when they’re not it’s always because they’re cargo is military-related, and almost certainly Berlin-bound. Who knows ? At this rate, maybe Hitler will annex the city soon. »

« Our esteemed Mr Hitler has more pressing worries » hissed Godfrey. « If you haven’t heard, it sounds like he’s lost the goddamn Ruhr and a quarter of his war industry to that French offensive. Still, I can’t say I’d be terribly sorry if he decided to Anschluss the Netherlands out of the blue. That would be the end of their damn NSB government, among other things. We’d have carte blanche as your French friends say.»

« And we could do without Squeak » completed Fleming.

« Indeed » admitted the admiral as he sat back behind his desk.

« Can I ask a question sir ? »

« You know, Lieutenant Fleming » replied Godfrey, crushing the remains of his half-smoked Pall Mall into an overflowing ashtray. « I noticed it’s never a good sign when you ask politely. What is your question ? »

« Do you… approve of Pip, Squeak and Wilfred, sir ? »

Godfrey’s eyes narrowed, as he acknowledged the young man’s uncanny ability to read his mind. He hated the idea he could be such an open book. I should get rid of the lad, he thought. God knows he’s given me enough reasons. Undisciplined. Unreliable. Untrustworthy. God only knows what he could do with the information he’s privy to. But a mind that sharp he keeps cutting himself, it’d be a crime not to use it against the Jerries.

« I am the Director of Naval Intelligence » Godfrey started, struggling to formulate a correct answer. « I do not have to approve military operations. I have to facilitate them, and to assess the results. The Navy has a planning directorate. You are my assistant, so you certainly understand that. »

« Yes sir » said Fleming, softly. « But do you think these operations are.. wise ? »

« Wise ? Well… they imply taking risks » said Godfrey. « Great risks, as most naval operations do. We are the only branch that can lose the war in fifteen minutes, Fleming. Wrap your clever mind around that, if you can. Our only objective, our only raison d’être, is to defeat the Reich and its allies. That’s what I come to this office every morning, and why you assist me… whenever you’re not busy with other, ah, activities. The kind of victory the British government seeks, the kind of victory I want, implies a crushing defeat of the Germans’ forces, which means the utter annihilation of their war economy. That, in turn, implies denying the Germans access to certain commodities without which a modern war cannot be waged for long. That is simple enough : we make them unable to obtain such commodities themselves, and we degrade their ability to acquire them from third-party sources. That last part is what Pip, Squeak and Wilfred are supposed to achieve, and I wholeheartedly approve both the underlying logic behind these operations and the technical means by which they will attain that objective. Do I approve Pip, Squeak and Wilfred ? Yes. But I also wish - just wish - there could be other options, better, quicker, safer options. Options that would not risk losing so much now, even in the hope of winning even more later. We are talking about two of the world’s largest merchant fleets here, worth around eight million tons and two thousands ships when combined. Not to mention the infrastructure to service these fleets, and the armies to defend these installations. It’s no trifle matter, Fleming, and whoever tells you otherwise is an idiot. But let that be clear to you, lad : if it takes accepting short-term losses to ensure long-term victory, then so be it. We are Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, Fleming : we’re not the Army or the RAF. It’s our job to think long-term. So, regardless of my short-term worries about Pip, Squeak and Wilfred, and even if the worst came true, this directorate will do its utmost to ensure these operations’ long-term success. Because it is my job, and because I personally want to see the Reich’s agony, as soon as possible. Is that clear ? »

« Very much so sir » said Fleming, nodding slowly. Godfrey’s tirade was, he knew, real wisdom. The man was no Colonel Blimp, and that is why Fleming enjoyed his position as his assistant. « It really is, sir ».

« Good » said Godfrey, slightly surprised by his subordinate’s diffident tone. « Now, tell me about Antwerp. What about that rare earths shipment our source at the Union Minière signalled left Banana three weeks ago? »


Operation Pip : French submarine Rubis, off Bremerhaven, September the 18th, 1939

« Machines avant, lentes » grumbled Capitaine de Vaisseau Cabanier, his face still pressed against the periscope visor.

« Machines avant, lentes » echoed Lieutenant de Vaisseau Rousselot.

As Rubis slowly lurched forward, there was the sound of men sucking in air nervously, like kids about to plunge into a cold river. Being immersed in cold water was a quite real concern, as Kriegsmarine destroyers could appear any minute, to say nothing of German warplanes. Earlier that morning, Rubis had spent three hours stationed motionless, just a few miles off Bremerhaven, immersed at periscope depth. Rousselot and Cabanier had surveyed the constant flow of ships that steamed in and out of the Hanseatic city, irrigating the Reich’s war industries. They had also witnessed the Kriegsmarine’s diligence in protecting the largest German port in Western Europe. Obviously, Raeder’s boys knew their jobs quite well, and showed no sign of complacency. Flanked by fishing ships turned into auxiliary cruisers, a small retinue of destroyers kept conducing sweeping patrols, and they had been quite thorough about it. Twice already they had forced the French submarine away from her intended target, to avoid detection. Rubis was now operating at the outer limit of her objective, which was Bremerhaven’s « anteroom », the major avenue leading into and out of the main port. It was a target-rich area where merchants ships waited until the way into the busy harbour had been cleared. But the area was equally rich in perils : German destroyers notwithstanding, Rubis had already run into an antisubmarine net, but had been lucky enough not to get entangled. Cabanier was certain there were several layers of such nets, most probably fitted with mines and steel cables, ready to trap an adventurous submarine.

On the surface, the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe were actively patrolling the port’s furthest approaches. As a whole, the Kriegsmarine seemed poised to avenge Artois. The past month had been full of surprises for the Franco-British headquarters : in the news, the unexpectedly high success of the motorized offensive in the Rhineland had been balanced by the German navy’s own accomplishments. In the Atlantic, the French and British navies were racing to shepherd isolated merchantmen into large, protected convoys, as the U-Bootwaffe sank stragglers by the dozens. In the Indian Ocean, there had been reports of German corsairs attacking isolated ships. Further East, it was just as brutal : the Imperial Japanese Navy was blockading Haiphong and conducted raids on Saigon and the Burmese coast. And in France itself, several Allied ships had hit mines in supposedly safe areas, causing a sudden anguish in French and Britain’s headquarters about the ability to safely and rapidly transfer British infantry divisions on the Continent. To top it off, German Heinkel-115s and Junkers-88s had conducted several daring raids on Le Havre and even Brest, to the point two Préfets Maritimes had been brutally - and publicly - revoked, along with half a dozen Armée de l’Air « rear-area » commanders. As one shrewd political journalist had put it, the first month of the war had shattered most of the Armée’s fears as well as most of the Marine’s confidence. In a much-discussed article published under his pen name Pertinax, l’Echo de Paris’ journalist André Géraud had openly wondered : « Will this war be won on the frontline, but lost in the rear ? ». In the wake of the stunning success of the offensive into Rhineland, the onus was now on the Allied navies. The biffins had done more than their part, and now, the public thought, it was up to the boys from la Royale to do theirs, as part of war plan Artimon. The airmen were just as eager to get their hour of glory, as part of the Armée de l’Air’s own Artaban plan.


Rubis, off Brest naval base, on its way to Operation Pip

« Do you think Saphir and Perle had it better ? » asked Rousselot, as Cabanier lowered the periscope.

« Who knows ? » snarled the commanding officer. « With that damn radio silence, and given the Boches’ vigilance…. »

Cabanier did not finish his sentence. In his opinion, Rubis was on her own, as submarines always were. She had sailed off Brest the week before with her sister-ships Saphir and Perle. A fourth submarine, Diamant, should have sailed with them, but she had not returned from her last operation, and was now presumed lost with all hands. The remaining three subs were part of Operation Pip – which the French sailors, unable to resist a raunchy joke, gleefully referred to as Opération Pipe, much to the dismay of their ship’s chaplains who knew full well the various meanings of that word. Operating in conjunction with other Allied warships, including the “Free Polish” submarine Orzel that in a daring voyage had managed to slip off the Reich-controlled Baltic, the French boats would lay minefields off several German ports. The admiralties in Paris and London had decided to limit, if not entirely sever, the Reich’s access to overseas resources, notably oil, ores and rubber. A secondary effect of the plan, it was hoped, would be to discourage neutral commerce with the Third Reich. While the original Allied planning had relied upon a large show of strength, and the deployment of a continuous « death wall » of mines to seal off the German balcony into the North Sea, the Franco-British admirals soon had to change their plans. Though out-numbered and out-gunned, the Kriegsmarine had proven a very able and audacious opponent, which had soon meant the mine-layers vessels would need stronger escorts. But it had also rapidly become apparent a seizable part of Raeder’s forces, far from being bottled up in Hamburg or Kiel, was actually running amok in the Atlantic, chalking up new victims every day. As a result, many French and British destroyers and light cruisers had been redeployed further West to organize convoys that currently stretched from Canada and the American East Coast to the Antilles and Cuba, and then to London and Le Havre.

The developing situation had led the British Admiralty to rewrite Operation Pip. Instead of laying a large, continuous minefield, Allied warships would lay several smaller ones, sufficiently far from each other that the German auxiliary minesweepers would still need several sorties to check the approaches of the Reich’s ports, and to get rid of the deadly devices. In the meantime, new minefields would be laid elsewhere. The operation was supposed to gradually exhaust the Kriegsmarine auxiliary services before it exhausted the Allied crews, which would have to replenish and redeploy on an almost constant basis. The uncertainty about the location and number of Allied minefields was also supposed to be a strain on neutral shipowners, who, it was hoped, would at some point deem the risks their ships ran far outweighed the potential gains from trading with the Reich.

Lieutenant Rousselot, it is time to prepare our weapons” said Cabanier. He usually didn’t call his XO by his formal rank, but he felt the need to impress to his crew the solemnity of their first “real” war mission – so far it had just been submarine patrols in the Channel. Rousselot saluted sharply and, having just as formally requested to be authorized to leave the bridge section, hurried through cramped corridors towards the fore compartment, struggling to get his tall, lanky frame through the small compartment doors.

« Hydrophones ? » asked Cabanier.

« Several ships south and north of us » replied the on-duty sailor, straining to identify the muffled sounds that came through his headphone. « Loud but…. slow-moving, sir. »

« Coming our way ? »

« Hard to tell, commandant» said the sailor with a grimace of exasperation. « There are too many of them to be sure, but I don’t detect anything rushing towards us. The area sure sounds busy, but not aggressively so. »

« Depth ? »

« Eleven meters, sir » said the sailor to Cabanier’s right, automatically. That was the extent of the Rubis’ periscope, and Cabanier was known to his crew as a methodic, and cautious captain.

« Bring us to sixty meters. Full speed ahead. »

“Periscope down, full speed ahead” barked Premier Maître Bergeron into the boat’s intercom. Next to him, a seaman so young he still had pimples grabbed the wheel commanding the diving plane and turned it vigorously. “Stern minus five, bow plus five. Dive, dive, dive!”

A loud rumble signalled the rush of seawater into the ballast. As the entire submarine took a nosedive, Cabanier grabbed one the iron handles welded into the submarine roof and waited for the ship to finally stabilize. As Rubis plunged deeper into the North Sea, the sailors felt the atmosphere turning colder. When the depth jauge finally reached the 60-meter mark, a cold spell ran among the boat, prompting a few sailors to roll back the sleeves of their sweaters.

“Speed?”

“Six point nine…. Seven knots, commandant” replied Bergeron, glaring around as if to dare any sailor to disagree. As one of the only non-Breton sailors onboard, the Provence-born little man felt the need to be twice as demanding with sailors as other midshipmen. He certainly was twice as feared, and thrice as detested, though none of the men would have doubted his seafaring skills.

“General report, Premier-Maître?”

“Green board, sir!” said Bergeron, his eyes checking on half a dozen key gauges and meters. Rubis was indeed running fine, or at least as fine as any piece of man-made machinery could run at such depth: there probably were a few minor leaks here and there, and sooner or later one of the engines or electric boards would test the chief mechanic’s patience.

“Very good. Clear the bridge! Battle stations! I want everybody not on duty out of the way” ordered Cabanier, unfolding his operational map as he ran some calculations, his lips forming out numbers in a quick mumble. When he was on a good mood and wanted to make an impression on his subordinates, Cabanier liked to challenge them at mental calculus, usually asking them to compute a torpedo’s optimal firing angle on a moving angle, from a moving submarine. Until now, not one of his executive officers had managed to keep up with him. Today, though, Cabanier wasn’t putting a show for his crew. Oblivious to the blaring “battle stations” klaxon that to most of Rubis’ crew evoked a wheezing uncle coughing up phlegm, Cabanier seemed lost in arithmetical prayer. He was genuinely worried the German destroyers had pushed Rubis too far from her secondary objective to accomplish her mission, and wondered if he should attempt another approach. From the corner of his eye, Bergeron watched his commandant, ready to rely any corrective order. Finally, Cabanier flicked the map onto the nearest console and grabbed the phone linking the bridge to the weapons room. Rousselot came on line immediately.

“Weapons room, Lieutenant Rousselot”

“Rousselot, this is the captain speaking” said Cabanier. “Are the weapons ready to deploy?”

“Armed and ready sir” replied Rousselot “we’re ready to open the external doors”. He was standing in the middle of an exiguous room, made all the more cramped was by two rows of vertical tubes and large tanks of pressured oxygen.

“Open outer doors” the captain ordered. As Rousselot relayed the order, the men in the weapons room rushed to manoeuvre a series of wheels set near the base of each tube. In under a minute, all outer doors were opened and water rushed in, forcing Cabanier into another round of mental calculus to take the added weight into account. Picking up his map, Cabanier spread it on the electric board next to him. He fished a stopwatch out of his uniform’s pocket and picked up the weapons room’s phone again.

“Rousselot, one tube at a time, ready to launch at sixty. Tube one, ten, twenty, thirty, fourty, fifty, launch!”

On Rousselot’s shouted command, the sailor standing next to the farthest tube pulled a lever. A shot of compressed air rushed through the tube, ejecting one of Rubis’ naval mines. It surged from the submarine in a flurry of bubbles, and rushed towards the surface. When it surfaced, the weapon swirled a little before its 200-kilograms warhead finally stabilized it. It was a black sphere the size of a small stove, with a curious crown of protuberances that served as contact detonators. Half submerged, with only the detonators’ tubes rising above sea level, the mine looked like a deadly and nearly-invisible urchin. One by one, each a few dozens meters apart, Rubis’ thirty-two mines emerged and waited. Half an hour later, having carefully charted the small minefield on his map, Cabanier ordered Rubis to turn west and head for the safer waters of the Channel and for her Brest mooring. Ten minutes earlier, unbeknownst to Cabanier, Perle had done the same.

Operation Pip claimed its first victim five hours later, when a Turkish trawler carrying leather and textiles, brushed one of Perle’s mines shortly before noon. It was a chance thing, the trawler hitting the mine as it was making a wide turn south towards the German coast. Struck near the boiler room, the ageing ship immediately lost power, and started embarking seawater through its ripped hull. Its pumps useless, the trawler went under within minutes, in the middle of a panicked SOS. The rapidity of the disaster allowed the minefield to remain undetected for six more hours, when another mine punched a hole through a recently ‘Germanized’ Polish freighter. This time, the freighter was able to send a distress signal, and limped south towards shallower waters. The now-alert Kriegsmarine immediately dispatched a small Arado seaplane to scout the area, and soon enough six minesweepers steamed towards the area, escorted by two destroyers, to probe the minefield and open a clear channel towards Bremerhaven. As merchantmen were ordered to either wait at sea or to divert to Wilhelmshafen, a late-running tanker ventured right into the middle of Rubis’ floating ribbon of mines, detonating two of them and catching fire. Within hours, the alarm was sounded on every German port, filling the ether with Enigma-coded messages: war had also come to German shores.

Operation Squeak : KMS Eupen, september the 22nd, 1939

The shot passed over Eupen’s bow with a loud wail, exploding amidst a geyser of seawater two hundred yards away from the German tanker. On the bridge, the radio crackled again.

“They say next shot will be on target” said the radioman nervously, “unless we stop our machines and allow a prize crew onboard Eupen

On Eupen’s bridge, all heads turned towards the captain. Emil Nordmann was an old HAPAG hand, a veteran of the Hamburg-Amerika line who in his heydays had held officer commission on luxury liners before settling for shorter routes and smaller vessels. In August, 1914, he had served aboard SS Amerika, the great HAPAG liner which had been immobilized in the United States to prevent her capture by British forces. Using his many pre-war connections in the United States and in other neutral nations, Nordmann had managed to return to Germany in the fall of 1915, and had immediately taken command of Arminius, a fast freighter. Under Nordmann’s command, the blockade-runner had brought much-needed iron ore and whale oil from then-neutral Norway to Imperial Germany, evading British patrols. After thirty months of cat-and-mouse games along the perilous Narvik-Bremerhaven route, Arminius had been fatally damaged by a roving British cruiser, and had only managed to reach Kiel because of Nordmann’s skills and determination – and because of a sudden squall that had forced the British captain to let go of the hunt. By far Eupen’s oldest officer, Emil Nordmann was now considered by most of his crew as a fatherly and knowledgeable figure, often referred to as “Opa” behind his back by his younger subordinates.

“Transmit” ordered Nordmann, his mind racing to calculate his ship’s chances. “From Eupen to HMS Frobisher: we advise you again we both are in Dutch territorial waters. Your action is in direct violation of the rules of war. Be advised we are currently emitting rescue signals to the Dutch navy to report your attack.”

The radioman returned to his small compartment and started tapping the morse transmitter frantically. The British cruiser had surged twenty minutes before, signalling its presence by firing warning shots and raising Eupen on the radio, ordering the German tanker it could either stop or be sunk. Nordmann had played dumb as long as he dared, but it was now crunch time.

“Is it a bluff, captain?” asked Second Mate Kotts. Though he did his best to hide it, Eupen’s thirty-five year old second-in-command was shocked. That the British navy – which he had always been told was held in the highest respect by its allies and foes alike – could engage into sheer piracy shocked him. Like many young men, Kotts liked to imagine war as somewhat civilized, with a hint of chivalry - at least when naval operations were involved. Infanterie combat was a brutal affair, where the enemy dropped all pretence of being civilized as Signal’s coverage of the Westwall battles clearly showed, but war at sea was supposed to be an affair of gentlemen, wasn’t it? Particularly when it came to the Royal Navy.

“No” said Nordmann coldly. He was familiar with that kind of equation. “There’s no bluff. Unless that British captain balks at being called a pirate, he’ll sink us before a Dutch ship shows up. Twenty years ago, in neutral Norway, they shelled us. And back then times were more… civilized. More… they were different. That was before. This is now.

Before what, none of Nordmann dared ask. Not that it mattered all that much. What was that before? Before Ludendorff’s calls for a Malthusian Total War? Before there were hunger riots in blockaded Germany? Before the Versailles Treaty’ vengeful redaction? Or was it before the Nazis’ ‘survival of the fittest’ policies? Before the loss of Ruhr emboldened Germany’s enemies? For every man on Eupen’s bridge, there had been a ‘before’, back then, a happier time lacking British warships about to sink their ship. But there now was an ‘after’ everybody had to live in. That ‘after’ included Frobisher’s guns, a full hold of oil, and the very real prospect of being burnt alive at sea.


HMS Frobisher leaving Scapa Flow as part of Operation Squeak

“Message from Frobisher!” called the radio. “Either we stop now and cease radio transmitting, or they sink us. Immediate reply requested!”

“Any response to our SOS?” asked Nordmann.

“None, sir” spat the radio, utterly disgusted. Where were the ships supposed to guarantee the safety of merchant fleets steaming in Dutch waters?

“Fine” sighed Nordmann. “Gentlemen, that’s enough. Steinmetz, transmit : from Eupen, we’re stopping now under duress, repeat under duress. Dutch and German authorities have been notified of this attack. We stand ready to be boarded. Kotts, order the machines to a full stop.”

“But captain!” blurted out Kotts. He felt helpless, and that fuelled a blind, burning hatred for the British warship and its crew.

“My friend, I see no sense in spilling the blood from any of our sailors. We are an unarmed tanker, and with our holds full of East Indies crude, we can neither hope to outrun our pursuers nor to survive any direct hit. There are no ships nearby to protect us. We can only submit.”

On the bridge, every sailor, midshipman and officer was crestfallen. Some clenched their fists in frustration, others muttered swearwords and looked at their feet uneasily. Kotts – all two meters of him – was trembling, tears welling up in his eyes.

“We could scuttle the ship?” he asked, hopefully.

“I wish we could, but we don’t have the time to do it properly” replied Nordmann with a tired smile. “And doing it crudely would only endanger the lives of our men, which have been entrusted to us as officers. I’m sure you’ll all agree with me, they’ve been a good crew. They’ve been good kids. They served Eupen well. They deserve our loyalty.”

There was a sullen silence as the officers reluctantly agreed.

“Gentlemen” said Nordmann. “There is no dishonour there. We’re facing insurmountable odds. If we were an armed vessel, even an auxiliary cruiser, I know each and every one of you would have urged me to challenge the enemy till the very last shell. And challenged them we would have. Alas, fate has denied that option to us. But that does not mean we cannot do our duty as German sailors! Steinmetz, burn the copies of our last messages and smash your radio set. Kotts, disconnect our Enigma machine and ditch it overboard with the codebook. Hoffman, I see no reason to hand them Britischer our precious cargo. Open purge valves and spill as much crude oil as you can – we’ll blame it on faulty equipment. At leat that oil won’t serve against the Reich. Johann, please open the company safe and throw our HAPAG record overboard as well the ship’s diary. Come on, Junge! We have a lot to do, and precious little time before our foreign… guests… arrive. Let’s show them today’s German sailors are their forefathers’ true heirs. Make Opa proud!”

Filled with a new sense of mission, the officers scattered around. Though they all faced lengthy internment in a British or French prisoners’ camp, none of them, at this moment, thought of captivity. They had one job left, and they intended to do it as thoroughly as time allowed.


Operation Wilfred -1 : Norwegian maritime patrol seaplane F-58, off Skrova island, the Lofotens, September the 27th, 1939

“What a bore” grumbled Sersjant Hauge, F-60’s bomber-navigator in the throat microphone. Ever since the Heinkel had left Tromso, Hauge had lamented his bad luck: he should have been on leave, spending time with his girlfriend, instead of bieng locked up in the Heinkel’s noisy, smelly crate. But as luck had it, Arndtsen, who should have flown that day’s patrol, had broken his leg the day before on a sleet of ice just outside the hangar. Hauge, the next in line on the on-call roster, had been ordered to drop everything and rush back to the base. With the ongoing hostilities threatening to spill over the North Sea, the Royal Norwegian Air Service had made it clear it would not let a day pass without extensive maritime patrols.

“Oh, hold kjeft” snarled Loytnant Sagen, the Heinkel’s pilot and flight commander. “You’ll get to see your girl soon enough! So spare us your whining, and just make sure we don’t veer off course. God knows I don’t want to have to endure your foul mood one minute more than is absolutely unnecessary.”

“Yes sir” replied Hauge sarcastically. “Current bearing correct, at this speed we’ll reach waypoint four in just over...”

Loytnant!” interjected Flysoldat Pauss, the observator-rear gunner. “Just south-southeast of us, several warships, one, two, three, four - they look like destroyers!”

“Say again?” asked Sagen, fishing for his briefing notes. Nobody had told him anything about the Marine conducting operations near the Lofoten.

“Four warships, destroyers by the look of it, just off Skrova!” repeated Pauss. “They’re moving in parallel lines, east-southeast”

“Hauge” ordered Sagen. “You heard that? Four destroyers? You’re sure about our position?”

“Yes sir, one hundred percent sure” replied Hauge, all irritation gone. Maybe that patrol wouldn’t be all boring after all. “We are three and a half minutes away from waypoint four, south of Skrova Island. I can catch music from Narvik’s transmittor. No mistake possible.”

“That would put these warships between Skrova and Skutvik then?” asked Sagen, seeking confirmation of his thumb estimation.

“Correct sir” said Hauge. “That’s odd. Nothing on the Marinen frequency. Should I try and raise them on the radio?”

“Not yet. Stay on our frequency until we get an idea of what’s going on down there” said Sagen. “Pauss, we are making to make a pass over them. Hauge, transmit to Tromso : have spotted a group of ships, unknown nationality, possibly destroyers, estimated position sixty-eight point oh-eight north, fourteen point fifty one east. Will move closer to get a closer look.”

There was something odd. No-one had told them anything about a naval exercise. And four destroyers together? Ever since Britain and France had declared war on Germany, most of the Norwegian navy was busy shepherding neutral merchantsmen and conducting “sovereignty patrols” along the nation’s countless fjords. Having four of them sailing abreast, whether for some parade or exercise, didn’t seem right at all. Rubbing his hands together to get rid of the sweat he felt welling up in his palms, Sagen grabbed the Heinkel’s controls and brought the seaplane into a slow, deliberate turn towards the mysterious ships.


F-58 prepped for its naval patrol


HMS Havock’s command bridge

“Oh, they’ve seen us alright, sir”, said First Mate Hobbs, his binoculars following the Norwegian seaplane as it veered right, losing altitude. “Them’s going to do a fly over”.

“No answer to our radio messages?” asked Captain Villiers. The destroyer had been trying to reach the Norwegian seaplane since the lookouts had spotted the Heinkel, but so far, to no avail.

“No sir” replied the on-duty officer.

Ah, damn thought Villiers. Too bad.

On a nod from the commanding officer, Lieutenant Sinclair picked up the microphone and pressed the button to convey his orders through the ship’s loudspeakers.

“AA battery B-7! AA battery B-7! Three shots, starboard”

On the ship’s forward deck, the Bofors battery sparked into action. The sailors disengaged the loaded clips from the twin 40mm guns, and cleared the breeches to make sure no live round remained inside. No sooner the loader had set aside the old clips that he was handed two new ones, on which a white line had been painted – smoke shells, mostly harmless unless B-7’s gunner didn’t go for a direct hit. Petty Officer Wilkes, the battery commander, eyes glued to his binoculars, was surveying the approaching Heinkel as he barked coordinates for the gun crew. As the turret swivelled to follow the plane, the gunner elevated the guns to keep the veering Heinkel within the web-like visor.

“Aaaand… Fire! Fire! Fire!” shouted Wilkes at the top of his lungs. Almost instantly, the Bofors barked three times.


Aboard F-58

Hel-ve-te faen!” swore Sagen as the Heinkel shook violently. In a split second of panic and disbelief, he brutally brought the seaplane on a westward turn. The shell had exploded near the Heinkel starboard engine, a grey-white flower briefly blossoming in the midst of the blue sky. Two more explosions came in rapid succession, but Sagen’s reflexes and the BMW engines had already put some distance between the seaplane and the British ships.

“What the Hell is going on?” moaned Hauge. The explosion and Sagen’s sudden manoeuver had caught him off-balance just as he has been trying to make himself more comfortable in the cramped bomber’s nose gondola, and he had fallen flat over the visor, splitting his chin which was now bleeding profusively.

“Have you been hit?” asked Sagen, noticing the blood dripping on the navigator’s jacket.

“I’ve jush fallen” said Hauge with a painful grimace. He had bitten his lower lip in the fall, and his mouth was filling with blood and saliva as his jaw got number by the second. “Have we been hit?”

The two men looked nervously at the plane’s various gauges. Altitude, fuel, the engines’ output, Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

“Pauss, report!” yelled Sagen in the throat microphone. His eyes were fixed on the four little dots off Skreva Island. “Are we trailing smoke, losing fuel, anything?”

“God, no” replied the back gunner with some relief. “They fired warning shots – not the real thing!”

“Do we attack? Do we bomb them?” asked Hauge, he taste of blood in his mouth was sickening. Until now, the Norwegian air force’s naval patrols had not been armed. They were mostly search-and-rescue affairs, either coordinating rescue for ships in distress, or helping enforce Norway’s fisheries regulations. Everything had changed with the Anglo-French declaration of war against Germany: now the RNAF’ mission was to enforce the country’s neutrality, and to protect commercial shipping. To achieve these two objectives, Defense Minister Quisling had said, the Norwegian armed forces had to bare some teeth. The Marinen corvettes and destroyers’ rules for warning shots – and direct engagement – had been relaxed. For the first time since 1914 the Navy had been allowed to fire at third-party ships beyond mere self-defense, and the new Heinkel-115s now flew with a light complement of bombs. Torpedoes, it had been decided, would be used as a last resort, if deterrence didn’t keep raiders away.

“Hell no” replied Sagen. “First things first. We sound the alarm.”

With a nod of relief, Hauge grabbed the rope that helped secure the way from the pilot’s cockpit to his radio-navigator compartment.

Marinenkommandoen Tromsho, Marinenkommando Tromsho”, he called in a bloody slur, F-60 reportsh, hoshtile warshipsh currently shteaming off Shkreva Island. Naval incurshion off the Lofoten islandsh, I repeat, naval incurshion off the Lofoten.”

Within two hours, the alarm had been duly sounded all over Norway. All available patrol aircraft were airborne, and all the Heinkels that were not already on patrol duty were being refitted with bombs and torpedoes. Three destroyers were converging on the islands, urging all merchantsmen nearby to make a dash for the nearest port. Behind them, a group of corvettes and auxiliaries were busy trying to shepherd the flock of isolated civilian ships.

At about the same time F-58 got its orders to circle around the enemy formation and keep an eye on their activity, the British ambassador’s car stopped in the honor yard of Oslo’s Slottet royal Palace.


Operation Wilfred-2, Oslo, the Slottet Royal Palace

As the Vauxhall stopped, Dascombe, officially the ambassador’s personal secretary but actually one of Colonel James’ boys, rushed to open the passenger door. Today his charge was not only Sir Cecil Dormer, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to King Haakon’s court, but also Monsieur André Bruère, who held the same billet from the French Republic. The two men laboriously got out of the sedan and rushed under the umbrella Dascombe had opened to protect them from the rain.

“Gloomy weather” mumbled Bruère, watching the Royal flag twist in the light squall. “How befitting.”

“Mmh? Oh, yes, certainly” replied Dormer, who had stopped to look at the half-dozen black and grey sedans parked in the Palace’s honour courtyard. Dormer did not associate rain with any particular omen - it just was, in his opinion. A mere meteorological fact, devoid of any special human meaning. Only the self-conscious or the oddly romantic sort, he thought, could look at rain and link it to their state of mind, and Bruère certainly fit both descriptions.

Still, Dormer understood his colleague’s mood: this was a rather unpleasant mission they both had to accomplish. That’s why the two ambassadors had asked for a joint audience with the King and his Prime Minister– l’union fait la force, as Bruère said. By going together, maybe they’d be able to sway the Norwegian monarch. The two men had spent the morning at the Villa Frognaes, the British embassy, piecing together the various reports and despatches sent by their respective government and contacts. Whether they came from the Foreign Office or the Quai d’Orsay, all the reports emphasized that the ongoing operations, while distasteful, were a strategic necessity if one wanted to shorten the war. It was hoped the Norwegian ministers would take into consideration that the ongoing violation of their country’s neutrality was a temporary price to pay to allow a swift return to peaceful affairs in Europe. Dormer and Bruère were both career diplomats, and fully understood that in that Greatest of Games such words only sugar-coated the harsh reality of might making right. Their nations’ interests would always supersede Norway’s, or any other consideration. That was a given. That was their raison d’être. Still, in the secret of their heart, they felt a pang of bad conscience: in a matter of minutes, they’d all but demand the Norwegian King and government to turn the Nordic kingdom into an Anglo-French protectorate for the duration of the war. Their mission was not to negotiate anything, but merely to tell the Norwegian government it was in their best interest to bite the bullet and hope their hosts would pretend it had been jointly decided all along.

The soldiers on sentry duty at the palace’s main entrance maintained their rigid posture as the two diplomats, guided by one of the King’s secretaries, stepped into the palace. Along the corridors that led to the Cabinet Meeting Room, Dormer noticed small groups of aides sitting on chairs and benches. The importance of that particular audience had not been lost on the Norwegian government, naturally. Most of the were dressed formally, with dark ties around their heavily-starched collars, but a few of them had opted for the drab uniform in vogue with the Nasjonal Samling. Dormer frowned. He had hoped the ongoing Allied operations would have kept Defense Minister Quisling away, leaving the two ambassadors free to plead their cause with the King and Prime Minister Lykke, with whom, it was hoped, some gentleman’s agreement could be reached. As soon as Dormer and Bruère had reached the double door leading to the Cabinet Meeting Room, the King’s secretary rushed in to announce them. The two ambassadors traded a telling look as the ushers opened the doors, and led them inside.

It was a large room, which once or twice a year held a joint meeting of the Norwegian and Swedish cabinets. Except this year, Dormer remembered. The façade of Nordic unity had not exploded yet, but it showed some cracks. Just six months ago, the Reich had offered a non-agression pact to all Scandinavian nations. While Denmark, Finland, and Norway had hurriedly accepted, Sweden had turned down the offer in the name of “true neutrality”. A few weeks later, the Norwegian government had postponed sine die the date of the joint Cabinet session. Officially, it was merely a question of finding a slot when the entire Norwegian government could be available. In Oslo’s salons, though, it was said to be a retaliatory measure, imposed by the Nasjonal Samling in the name of “Nordic solidarity”.

For the meeting with the Allied ambassadors, two long tables had been set on each side of King Haakon’s high chair. On Haakon’s right, Dormer saw faced the familiar figures of Prime Minister Ivar Lykke and Interior Minister Trygve Utheim, his close Liberal ally. To the left of the sovereign sat the two Nasjonal Samling ministers, Vidkun Quisling for National Defense and Justice Minister Johan Hjort. At the far end of the table sat Foreign Minister Birgen Braadland, who represented the government’s second-most powerful formation, the Farmers’Party. The NS ministers’ central position was, Dormer thought, a nice summary of Norway’s current political configuration. Despite of its single-digit performance in the last elections, the Nasjonal Samling exerted considerable influence in the Conservative alliance upon which the Norwegian government depended. Through sheer luck – as well as some clever power-play from both Hjort and Quisling – the NS had positioned itself as the hinge party without which no center-right majority could be built. Naturally the price for Quisling’s cooperation was key ministries and NS-approved legislation. Unused to the kind of blunt bargaining the NS championed, and unwilling to relinquish their position of power, the other members of the fragmented majority regularly tried to appease their uneasy but indispensable partners.

“Your Majesty” began Dormer, after the perfunctory yet uncharacteristically short opening niceties. “Mr Prime Minister, your Excellencies. My French colleague and myself have been mandated by our respective government to discuss an issue of the utmost importance, an issue that is central to the Allied Power’s vital interests, but also at the core of Norway’s values. By that, we mean this nation’s neutrality.”

The King did not react – Haakpon, actually, seemed to pay little attention to Dormer. Behind his chair, a discreet figure fussed about, as if to check the sovereign had not fallen asleep. Bruère recognized the King’ personal physicial, a Dane named Steen if he remembered correctly. While doing his best to show no emotion, the French diplomat was shocked by the King’s appearance. There was nothing regal in the monarch’s attitude : Haakon was slumped in his chair, staring fixedly at an invisible point on the floor. The French diplomat knew it had been a difficult twelve months for the Norwegian King: no sooner had the grief-wrecked widower buried his beloved Queen that Norway’s political situation had brutally degraded. Neither Liberals nor Conservatives found themselves able to build stable coalitions, and, as both Left and Right vied for influence, governments became increasingly unstable, living day by day at the mercy of a no-confidence vote. To Bruère, that brought up painful memories from the Third Republic’s chronic instability. With each passing month, moderate leaders from both sides of the aisle were forced to near-complete immobilism, their governments falling over issues that only a few months before would have been considered trivial. Increasingly, the country’s major political forces proved they were eager to surrender to the demands of their smaller partners, which, in turn, felt emboldened to up the ante time and time again. Quisling’s Nasjonal Samling had not been long in drawing the obvious conclusion: even in Oslo, that quiet citadel of democracy, the old parliamentary system was dying. Power was up for grabs. To Dormer and Bruère, Quisling and the other NS officials were a disease.

There’s so much they prevent us from accomplishing, Dormer thought. And there’s so much they force us to do.

“We stand here before your Majesty to urge Norway to act in favor of European peace. Last months, Nazi Germany’s ability to wage war on neighbouring states has been crippled by a timely offensive into the Reich’s most important industrial basin. It now depends on Norway that the rest of Germany’s factories are made unavailable for the Nazi war machine. Your Majesty, Mr Prime Minister, a mere word from you can perhaps bring this war to an end. Will you let that opportunity pass?”

“Our joint request”, Bruère chimed in, “is for Norway to allow French and British forces to take active, protective measures against the German war effort.”

“Such as?” asked Braadland, looking nervously at Lykke, then Quisling.

“The German Reich has started this European conflagration by attacking Poland, without any formal declaration of war. As we speak, German ships and warplanes transit through Norwegian territorial waters to attack Allied shipping as well as Allied territory.”

“Nonsense” stated Quisling.

“And yet, they are” replied Dormer.

“Please, gentlemen” pleaded Braadland, raising his hands. “What would these so-called ‘protective measures’ entail?”

“Considering Norway’s attachment to peace, and His Majesty’s desire to stay neutral in this conflict, our governments feel that the kingdom could declare economic neutrality as well. In such circumstances, all access to Norway’s waters, resources and infrastructure would be effectively denied to all belligerents. I again have to insist France and Britain would gladly cease hostilities with Germany if that nation evacuated Poland, and offered serious guarantees it seeks durable peace with its neighbours.”

“Absurd!” interjected Hjort.

“To be more specific”, Bruère said, “your Majesty’s government could interdict all Germany-bound shipping, be that conducted by German vessels, or through third-party merchantmen, including, of course, Norwegian ships. As an additional measure, a token force could be allowed to oversee port activities, particularly in Narvik – a vital port, as you all know, for convoying Swedish ore during the winter.”

“Who would be the ‘overseers’ ?” asked Hjort. “You cannot mean an Anglo-French one, surely? That would stretch the very notion of neutrality quite a bit.”

“We stand ready to accept a Swedish or American-led force” said Dormer. “But until such a time either nation endorses such a plan and deploys its inspectors, our governments feel they have no choice but to burden that responsibility themselves. We could spare a token force for that very purpose.”

“How convenient!” sneered Quisling.

“You are asking us to put our entire coastline under Anglo-French authority” said Braadland, shaking his head. “Do you undesrtand it flies against everything we stand for as a neutral, independent nation? Do you understand your demand actually flies against the very notion of independence?”

“We don’t”, Bruère said with a heavy sigh, “live in normal, peaceful times. Not anymore. Europe is at war, a war that pits free countries against the dark forces of tyranny. You might think there is such a thing as neutrality in this war. There isn’t. Sooner or later you will have to choose whether you side with freedom or with oppression. Because if you don’t, others will make that choice for you.”



Bravo!” said Quisling, clapping in mock applause. “I applaud your performance, Your Excellencies. You’re telling us is that if we don’t do as you say, others will decide for us. So to prove to your government we are free we are to submit to them. But tell me, Sir Cecil, tell us? For all their avowed love for freedom, haven’t your two governments already chosen to dictate their terms to Norway?”



As Quisling waved a wad of dispatches, Dormer and Bruère remained silent. They knew well enough what pieces of news the papers held.

“You came to us”, continued Quisling, “offering us peace with honour. We know how Mr Churchill and Mr Raynaud love that kind of rhetoric. Norway could do the right thing, Norway could sacrifice just a little sovereignty, and it will ensure instant world peace. What travesty! Your Majesty, as our two guest spoke of noble sentiments, their governments showed their true colours. These dispatches from our naval and air forces tell it all. At this very minute, French and British ships are laying mines in our territorial waters, and attacking unarmed merchantmen who put trust on Norway’s values, laws, and armed forces. I am glad to say, your Majesty, that our Navy will live up to that trust and are now moving to confront the invaders. I say invaders, because at this very minute French and British soldiers are trying to set foot in our country, uninvited.”

There was a couple seconds of shocked silence before the Norwegian Cabinet stirred. Even the King had sat up, looking at his guest with wild eyes. Lykke had bolted from his chair, facing the two diplomats in disbelief.

“Is that true?” he said. “Are your forces conducting war operations within Norwegian territorial waters? Are they??”

The two diplomats traded a resigned look. Their worst fears had come true.

“As we made clear” said Dormer, “this is a war not between nations, but between freedom and tyranny. Our governments have made it clear it is their duty...”

“To attack us??” asked Braadland, shocked beyond belief.

“To interdict all German-bound shipping and make sure Herr Hitler would not use Norway’s neutrality to his advantage” concluded Dormer.

“Your Majesty!” pleaded Bruère. “However distateful such actions may feel to us all, I urge you to consider that they serve a higher purpose...”

“You are mad” said Braadland, shaking his hand. He was white with fear and anger. “Mad! That’s what you think we deserved? That’s how you thought you could sway us to your side? By God can’t you see you leave us with no choice at all now??”

“Our governments deplore this dreadful...” began Bruère mechanically.

“When this war is over” interrupted Dormer sternly, his face now a stony mask, “I am sure we’ll all agree this was a regrettable necessity. Until then, I have to tell you that the British government will not accept to have its entire littoral open to enemy attacks because the Norwegian government can not - or will not, Mr Quisling - burden the full responsibility of full neutrality. Until such a time the German Reich is forced to accept real, durable peace conditions, it is my duty to warn your Majesty’s government that we will take each and every measure we deem necessary to ensure the safety of our land, our people and our allies. We will do our utmost to preserve Norwegian lives and property, but such considerations will necessarily pale against British lives and Allied vital interests. Your Majesty, Mr Prime Minister, I urge you, along with my colleague, to weigh down the necessities of the times. You can make that choice. You can choose to shorten the war and lessen the destruction it will bring to Europe. You can choose to build a long-lasting peace with us. Or you can choose to aid and support Nazi aggression in Europe, either by your actions or your inaction. Choose, your Majesty! Choose now Mr Prime Minister! Choose freely, and choose wisely!”

On a sign from the sovereign, Dormer and Bruère were escorted to the vestibule, where they stood in silence, trading glances. From the Cabinet room came the brouhaha of a heated discussion, and the diplomats recognized Quisling’s surprisingly shrill voice and Braadland’s low whining tone. Bruère had his eyes closed, obviously hoping for a negotiated solution. Dormer turned towards the nearest window and watched the sky: it had turned lead-grey, and a squall was battering the Slottet’s courtyard.

Depressing, thought Dormer. Damn Bruère! Maybe he was right about that.

Fifteen minutes later, the two diplomats were ushered in again. The choice had been made. It was war. When the car finally stopped at the British embassy, Dormer made a small detour before going to his office. He stopped at what could be best described as a cramped débarras, an utterly impractical space under a staircase, squeezed between the embassy’s mail room and the small lavatory where the secretaries washed the teapots. The rare visitors having to go to that office had to squeeze themselves through a narrow door and try to insert themselves between two old-fashioned filing cabinets, and the small table that was the working space of Mr Walther Nollins. For the past two years, Mr Nollins, a dour, middle-aged man with a permanent frown sewn on his face, had served as the embassy deputy Mail Officer, making sure the embassy’s mail arrived in due time at the various British consulates. It was, in the opinion of most of the embassy’s staff, the most boring job one could imagine – and everybody agreed Mr Nollins, the most boring man they could imagine, was the perfect fit. As one cultural attaché had put it, Nollins was so boring paint probably watched him dry. Mr Nollins was well aware of his colleagues’ disdain, and did not mind at all. If anything, he drew a certain professional pride from it, secretly enjoying the way the rest of the staff avoided him like the plague when he started talking about postage fees or the importance of filling mail receipts properly. It amused him: if the staffers had known the real Nollins – something Nollins made sure never happened – no doubt they would have shunned him just as much, but for entirely different reasons.

“Did they get the message?” asked Nollins as Sir Cecil briskly entered his claustrophobic office, closing the thick door behind him.

“No, I’m afraid they did not” replied Dormer, noting with irritation the MI-6 man had once again adressed him with his usual familiarity. “In fact, they’re going to issue a formal declaration of war within hours.”

Nollins closed his eyes. His frown, for once, was not an act.

“So much for diplomacy” he sighed. “I will send the radio message for the fleet. The rest of the operation must now follow before the Norwegians or the Germans interfere.”

“Any security measure for your… networks?” Dormer asked.

“Obviously” said Nollins. “But none that concern you. I suppose you have to make your own preparations? Burning the codes, letting the local people go, evacuating the staff, that sort of thing?”

“Obviously” replied Dormer, acidly. He felt sadness and anger at the prospect of leaving Oslo, particularly under such circumstances, but now that he thought of it that would mean never having to deal with that man. The idea of getting rid of Nollins – or whatever his real name was – almost brought a smile to the Ambassador’s lips. “But none that should concern you”.

Half an hour later, from a quiet house in Stavanger, a radio transmitter send some Morse signal, that was easily picked by Force M’s flagship. Diplomacy had failed, as Naval Intelligence had feared it would. It was now time for Operation Wilfred-2.


Operation Wilfred-2: A Norwegian MF-11, just north of Narvik.


An unarmed MF-11 as it flies over the Gratangerfjord

As oblivious to the bone-chilling wind roaring at his ears as he was to the pangs of pain in his back, the man sitting in the MF-11’s passenger seat kept his eyes glued to his Zeiss binoculars. Every few seconds, his left hand descended to his thigh, where he strove to keep a small notebook, scribbling next-to-illegible notes. Even without the mandatory rear machine-gun – the seaplane assigned to Fleischer had been undergoing repairs and it armament had remained at its normal base at Stavanger – the MF-11 was not known as a roomy, comfy plane. The Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service seaplane was making a slow turn, the pilot making sure he never lost sight of his guardian angel, an Air Force Gloster Gladiator that kept yiw-yawing to maintain its watch over the slower MF-11.

Beneath the two biplanes, a thin column of marching men were leaving the pebbles beach of Gratangen Fjord, moving southeast. Sunlight was declining rapidly, as could be expected at this hour and latitude. To make things worse, an unexpected cold front had developed over Northern Scandinavia, shepherding rows of thick, grey clouds. Within an hour, General Carl Gustav Fleischer thought, the British column would be near invisible, hidden in the shadows of an early Arctic winter. The newcomers’ nationality was clear enough. Even in the dim light, the Norwegian general could see the two trawlers which were being unloaded next to the beach were flying the Red Ensign. A little further, a destroyer kept a watchful and blinking eye on the fjord, and that one was definitely flying the White. Putting down the binoculars, Fleischer wiped away the tears brought by the cold, and scribbled some more notes. It was exactly what he had come to expect after his hasty briefing with Admiral Gottwald: British destroyers laying minefields off the Lofoten, Royal Marines seizing control of Andoya Island, British and French landings north and south of Narvik. All in the same day. To Fleischer, who considered himself a very unimaginative man, that Oslo briefing had seemed entirely unreal. It still did. And yet, it was true, all of it. Britain and France had invaded his country, violating its neutrality as well as its sovereignty. The proof was there, just before his eyes: earlier that morning, a joint Franco-British force had cordoned off Narvik from the south, no doubt to prevent any reinforcement of the harbour from Southern Norway. And now, he could see British units making their move from the North. Within hours Narvik would be completely blockaded – besieged, even. The village of Laberg could be written off – the only “armed” forces there were half a dozen local constables, whose only combat experience was to settle disputes between drunk fishermen. The same could be said of Brejkvik, a few miles south across the hilly terrain. Once Brejvik fell, British field artillery and heavy mortars would all but interdict maritime traffic in and out of Narvik – traffic that would have to survive minefields and roving Royal Navy destroyers anyway. Another possibility was for the Franco-British forces to move into Narvik – a costlier proposition maybe, but the combined Franco-British force was more than enough for the task. Fleischer knew the importance of Narvik well enough: at this time of the year, it was the only way Sweden’s iron ore could be shipped out of the Scandinavian peninsula. In the past few weeks, the French and British governments had exerted pressure on the Norwegian Prime Minister, urging him to close Narvik to German-bound shipping. Obviously, thought Fleischer, the time for diplomatic pressure had passed, and the belligerents had clearly opted for a more direct approach. Fleischer’s own mission was equally clear: he was to rally Tromso, and organize for the defense of the Narvik-Tromso sector.

With what? Fleischer wondered. Narvik is supposed to be defended by an infantry regiment, but in peacetime it’s little more than a cadre battalion, plus local constabulary forces. I can neither reinforce these meager forces nor redeploy them, not with the enemy controlling both sea and land access to the city. What about keeping them supplied? Blast, what about keeping the civilians supplied? Would the enemy al-

A sudden manoeuver derailed Fleischer’s train of throught, and he cringed as he felt the content of his stomach rush upwards. Dropping the binoculars, the general slapped a hand across his mouth to keep it shut and felt tears welling up in his eyes as he swallowed the vile bile back. When the nausea abated, he glanced around wildly, no longer able to distinguish the sea from the heavy cloud ceiling. Struggling for some visual mark, he searched for the RNAf Gladiator that had escortyed his flight. Fleischer’s eyes caught movement on the right of the seaplane and the general squinted in the cold, chaping wind. But there was a problem.

Am I seeing double? he thought. There were not one, but two Gladiators, both yiw-yawing in sharp turns. Fleischer rubbed his eyes dry and raised his binoculars, trying to keep track of the fast-moving biplane silhouettes. There they were. The lead Gladiator sported the red-blue-red bands of the Royal Norwegian Air Force. It was his escort alright, number 427, piloted by that young Sergeant Fleischer had curtly saluted, barely registering the young man’s name. But it was pursued by not one, but two other identical biplanes. Only these biplanes were not painted in the RNAF colours, no. Through the Zeiss, Fliescher saw they were British planes, aggressively attempting to box in RNAF 427 between them.

They have an aircraft carrier nearby! Fleischer realized – now there was something Gottwald had not told him. They certainly had, and, judging by the occasional streaks of red light illuminating the rapidly darkening skies, the British naval pilots also had shoot-to-kill orders – and tracer ammunition. The RNAF Gladiator was flying erratically, trying to break free of its attackers’ killing box. In a daring manouver, the Norwegian pilot climbed steeply while making a wild left turn. Fleischer could not hear anything, but he felt – as much he saw - the RNAF biplane stall, immediately evading its two pursuers who, prisoners of their own speed, shot past the falling plane and barreled left, losing altitude. Their quarry, in the meantime, was trying to stabilize its altitude, and Fleischer cringed as he could see the biplane’s silhouette become as small as a gnat, then a mere dot on the white background of the Gratangenfjord. The MF-11 veered left, in the direction of the Norwegian fighter, and Fleischer could see the British Gladiator rush in hot pursuit. RNAF 427 had all but disappeared, and the British planes were furiously spiralling downward, in a mad dash to box it in again. The Norwegian General watched, mesmerized, hoping against hope that the young pilot would be able to evade his pursuers. He promised himself that if he did, he’d make it his duty to learn everything about this young man. The RNAF Gladiator had become nearly invisible, even as Fleischer’s seaplane kept losing altitude.

God, let him escape his pursuers! prayed Fleischer. His nausea had disappeared, and he was barely aware of his own body. Neither the wing, howling madly at his ears under the leather cowl, nor the cold registered in Fleischer’s mind. His mind was with the small, near-invisible dot at the center of the deadly spiral downwards, the target of the eerie red flashes. For a moment, Fleischer’s conscience was entirely focused on the Norwegian Gladiator. The minefields, the enemy fleets, the enemy soldiers, everything seemed secondary. If RNAF 427 escaped its pursuers, the rest would follow.

In a way, Fleischer’s prayers were answered. For all their speed and skill, the British Glosters’pilots were unable to keep up with RNAF 427. The Norwegian biplane was piercing throught the skies like a bullet, its nosedive temporarily interrupted by the pilot’s fierce struggle against controls and gravity, before plunging again. Soon the British pilots realized the futility of their own efforts, and pulled up to safer altitudes. Caught in a uncontrollable dive, RNAF 427 crashed a mere hundred meters from the Royal Marines, causing some commotion in the British troops, some of which had slowed down to watch the aerial combat.

“No!!!” screamed Fleischer as soon as he saw the puff of smoke billow up where the Norwegian Gladiator had been. His scream was for himself, a way of getting back to his own fate and priorities. Following the doomed plane’s struggle had been like an out-of-body experience: all of a sudden everything came back to him: the wind, the cold, the noise, the cold realization that his only escort had just crashed fleeing enemy planes, the fact his own lumbering MF-11 was probably next. Fleischer felt a rush of heat and sweat, his palms under the leather gloves got moist. The nausea, which had disappeared for a moment, came back with a vengeance, and this time Fleischer felt too weak to even close his mouth. He turned to his left, and, his eyes closed with the violent retching, did his best to throw up outside the fuselage. What he saw when he opened his eyes was a Gladiator, flying level to the MF-11. The plane was so close Fleischer could clearly see the pilot inside the cockpit. The leather-clad man was like a brown Michelin Man, with only his mouth visible. The British pilot was looking straight at Fleischer, who felt weak as a baby. There was a nod, and a vague sign of the hand. To Fleischer, who at this point wholly expected to be blasted off the sky, the smile felt apologetic, and the handsign, encouraging. Before Fleischer could even react, the Gladiator pulled up and barreled over the MF-11, turning towards the open sea.

A little further, the British planes which had pursued Fleischer’s escort also turned west. As Fleischer looked around, the now-empty skies felt colder.


The Royal Marines’ beachhead, near Labaten

Iesu mawr!” shouted a young man, as he slowly got up. The men of 4th Commando, Royal Marines barely had the time to throw themselves on the icy ground when the Gladiator had bolted from the skies, threatening to decapitate half the section. “What the Hell was that?”


Flight Sergeant Schye's downed Gladiator

Around him rose a collective grumble of exasperation. For the past hour, the men of 4th Commando had been busy unloading cargo from Force M’s auxiliary transports, and their patience was running thin: this was a job for longshoremen, or perhaps the Army, not for Royal Marines. That was bad enough. But doing this with the risk of being guillotined by low-flying planes? That was something else.

“Shut yer gob, Llewelyn!” instantly barked Corporal Duffy. “This is a war operation, ‘member? Just be happy it’s not one of our planes!”

Harold Duffy was glad to be offered an occasion to vent his own frustration. The whole operation had gotten on everybody’s nerves, from the two weeks of complete seclusion in that dreadful base near Nairn to Force M’s missed rendez-vous with the trawlers carrying the much-needed Army artillery regiment. The two flotillas had run in circles until the Neptune’s Seafox had located the erring freighters. That had led to bitter-sweet messages between Army and Navy officers, which had rapidly transpired to the average soldier and Marine. To add insult to injury, it had been decided that to make up for the lost time, the Royal Marines would not only secure the landing grounds, but also unload the matériel for the whole joint force. To the jaded Corporal, it was just another day in Her Majesty’s armed forces – which meant that, until such a time Her Majesty’s Government provided his men with an enemy they could shoot at, any opportunity to rant would be used to the fullest.

Turning his back to the chastised Marines, now checking on the cases they had dropped when Duffy looked at the sea. The sky was already darkening, as lead-grey clouds rapidly accumulated in the North. Near the beach, the immobilized Pomroy and Falstaff were busy unloading crates – guns and ordnance, Duffy knew. Army trucks were lined up on the pebble beach, ready to move as soon as their complement of men and matériel was embarked. A little further, HMS Javelin – which had transported Duffy and his men, along with other squads – was making a dash for the open sea, her signal lamps blinking feverishly at the men on the beach. No doubt the destroyer was rushing to join the protective ring set around Force M’s flagship, the aircraft carrier Courageous. Duffy watched Javelin make her exit with regret – with the destroyer, so went most of the Commando’s direct support artillery. In case of confrontation with the Norwegians, or if the German Wehrmacht popped up, then the mixed Royal Marines/Army unit – Herbertforce, as it had been called – would have to rely on indirect fire from Force M’s cruisers. Additionally – and if the weather allowed it – Skuas from HMS Courageous would provide air support. To Corporal Duffy, that was all nice and dandy but he and his men preferred naval support they could see and shake their fists at.

“That” shouted Duffy, pointing at the downed plane’s wreckage, “is a dead man. Dead men don’t shoot, dead men don’t bayonet. You’ll all be jammy if the worse that happens to you is hirpling because dead men frightened you. Now get off your arses and move these ammunition crates off that goddamn pebble beach.”


Game effects

Norway is now at war with France, England and their allies, and a member of the Axis. Additionally, Germany declares war on Denmark. A lone British division lands in Narvik, with French and British naval forces along the Norwegian coastline.


Writer’s notes

Lieutenant (soon-to-be Lieutenant-Commander) Ian Fleming worked as Admiral Godfrey (OTL/this ATL’s Director of Naval Intelligence). I am not sure he was as difficult to manage as I show him here, but I think a man so accustomed to think outside the box probably was seen by his superiors as both a curse and a blessing.

Rotterdam’s 1939 activity should be something along the numbers provided here. It was Europe’s busiest commerce port in 1939, with 40-44 million tons passing through that year.

Norway had the world’s fourth merchant fleet with over 1,200 ships totalizing 4.8 million tons, and 20 % of the world’s tankers flew the Norwegian flag. The Netherlands had around 900 ships representing a total of 2.7 million tons if I’m not mistaken. In comparison, the French merchant fleet « only » weighed 3 million tons.

Pip, Squeak and Wilfred were the three main characters of an eponymous and popular comic that was published in strips in British newspapers (there also were annual collections). In OTL, Churchill picked ‘Wilfred’ as the name of the naval operation that had the Royal Navy mine Norwegian territorial waters, to attack German and Germany bound shipping off Narvik and other ports (where Swedish iron ore was loaded when winter conditions did not allow the use of Baltic ports). His idea was that nobody would suspect the aggressive purpose of the operation, since it was naùmed after such a cute and harmless comic character.

There also was an alternative plan, called R4, that called for the invasion of Norwegian ports to deny their use to the Germans. In the end, both Germans and Allies raced to invade/support Norway, with the German arriving first (and thus becoming the invaders) and the Anglo-French troops (now considered as defenders of Norwegian sovreignty) fighting bravely in an ultimately secondary theatre of operations. Amusingly enough, the German arriving first in Norway solved all the delicate moral, diplomatical and practical quandaries the Allies could have about bombing, mining or conducting raids in a neutral country, as it opened up the whole nation for military operations. In this ATL, Germany exerts a bigger influence over Norway, both overtly and covertly, as you can see with the palace scene, and cannot spare too many resources for a Scandinavian operation. As a result, the Allies appear as the aggressors, and Norway is pushed towards the Axis.

The Saphir-class was a rather recent (1926-1935) of mine-laying submarines which in OTL served in the French, Vichy French and Free French navies. Rubis was commissioned in 1933, and both Cabanier and Rousselot were her historical CO and XO in 1939. Rubis went full Free French OTL, and laid mines alongside the Norwegian coast (much as it’s doing here on the German coast). OTL’s Rubis sunk 22 enemy ships, worth 21,000 tons and proved the most kill-efficient unit of the Free French Naval Forces, ending the war with the award of Compagnon de la Libération. In respect for what she had been accomplished, Rubis was scuttled off Saint-Tropez in 1958 (1958 was not exactly the most auspicious year to discard a de Gaulle-decorated boat methinks, as it was the year de Gaulle became President of the French Republic), instead of being cut in pieces as is usually the case.

Artimon is the French word for mizzen. When, at the very start of this AAR, I chose to call the French war plan Artois (a much-disputed French province), I played with similar names for the Marine Nationale and the Armée de l’Air. I picked ‘artimon’ for the navy and ‘Artaban’ (a Persian king renowned for his pride) for the Air Force. On much more recent and OTL times, Operation Artimon was the name of the French Navy’s operations in the Gulf War.

Biffins : French Army slang for infantrymen (from ‘La Biffe’, which is slang for the infantry).

Opération Pipe : As it happens, in French, ‘une pipe’ can mean several things. It can be that wooden smoking instrument, it can also be slang for a cigarette (that’s outdated now), or it can be slang for, well, oral sex. You can imagine how popular an « Opération Pipe » could be on a warship (even in a navy where, to quote Churchill, it was not all ‘rum, corporal punishment and sodomy’).

Commandant/Mon commandant : In the French Army and Air force a subordinate says « mon » (my) before stating the rank of the superior officer he adresses. In the French navy, one only states the rank.

Sir Cecil Dormer and André Bruère served as ambassadors to Norway for Great Britain and France, respectively. I haven’t been able to find much about either man, so I chose to paint them as professional diplomats, a tad aloof, somewhat jaded, but not entirely unable of personal opinions.

Dr Paul Steen we have met before : the German-born Danish national has become a pawn of Heydrich’s Sicherheitsdienst, keeping an eye on the Norwegian King and using his position as the Royal Physician to make Haakon as feeble as possible. As you can see in this update, that portion of the SD’s operation in Norway has been largely successful.

King Haakon we hadn’t met thus far, but the version you see there is a much weaker one than OTL. Here the German SD has used the King’s recent loss of his beloved wife, and the presence of a SD agent in the King’s inner circle, to wrestle concessions from Norway. For example, the Germano-Norwegian non-aggression pact which has here been accepted in May was, in OTL, staunchly refused by the Norwegian government in April, 1939.

Both Vidkun Quisling and Johan Bernhardt Hjort were members of the Nasjonal Samling, Norway’s far-right party of the 1930s. In OTL, the NS never managed to get more than 3% of the vote in the Norwegian Parliament. It would have been utterly unrealistic to have it win a majority, if only because its core values were, I think, totally foreign to most Norwegians. I have it here fare a little better in the polls, reaching about 7% of the vote. The NS’s real influence, which is far beyond its electoral results, is its position as a “hinge party” holding together an alliance of much more popular formations, namely the Conservatives and the Farmers’Party, that are unable to reach a majority at the Storting without it. In this ATL, that position has allowed the NS to claim both the Defence Portfolio (which, in OTL, had been given to Quisling in the early 1930s as part of a coalition government) and the Justice Minister (with Johan Bernhardt Hjort at the helm).

Norway’s declaration of war on the Allied powers – or, rather, its decision to consider Allied actions as protracted acts of war against Norway, is of course mere fiction. I stacked the odds against the Allies in this chapter : a potentially hostile Norwegian government, an all-but-absent Haakon, and the Allies entirely discarding Norwegian sovereignty. Bear in mind, though, that plan R4 called for no less than naval incursions, mining of territorial waters, and in its most extreme case the occupation of both Norwegian and Swedish territories. So yes, I did stack the odds a tad in Germany’s favor here, but if OTL France and Britain hadn’t quibbled as long as their historically did over Scandinavian affairs, who knows? Maybe this chapter would have been historical canon.

RNAF Gladiator Number 427 was, in OTL, shot down by a German Messerschmidt on April the 9th, 1940. It was piloted by Sergeant Schye. It made sense to me to have the plane, in this ATL, shot down by Allied forces (and it was irresistibly tempting to have it shot down by other Gladiators).

General Carl-Gustav Fleicher was a real Norwegian General – and a damn interesting one to boot. In OTL, he flew to Tromso in 1940 (in a MF-11, as shown here) to organize the defense against German forces. I could not resist having him fly to Tromso in this ATL 1939 to do the same against British and French forces, as Plan R4/ Operation Wilfred develops.
 
Last edited:

AtlanticFriend

Captain
Jan 2, 2018
355
0
Aaaaand it's finally done. Since everytime I pledge shorter chapters, I end up churning longer ones, this time, I'm going to pledge that chapter 126 will be longer, significantly longer, Hell it will be like a damn encyclopedia of everything Luftewaffe-, Paris-, and Jean Monnet-like.
 

roverS3

General
20 Badges
May 24, 2013
1.708
414
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Semper Fi
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
Another engaging update.

Once more your use of different perspectives on the same events really brings them to life. I love the name of the operation, and of course, french sailors would jump on the vulgar significance of Operation 'pipe'... Sailors will be sailors I guess.

The battle of the gladiators was epic, and that Norwegian pilot was quite daring, even though that move killed it, if he had recovered from the stall, he would likely have been home free, or relatively safe for a while at least. A British invasion of Norway makes a lot of sense in that time frame, it's actually something I've done playing as Britain, with the underlying assumption that it would be easier to take Norway from the Norwegians, and then defend it, than to expel German invaders from it. Depriving the Germans of the Norwegian Atlantic ports and it's shipping fleet is definitely a major imperative for the UK, and the Royal Navy especially.

I love all the little Easter eggs, the irony of having Narvik defended from the British by the same commander who attempted to defend it from the Germans, and then having the first Norwegian plane to be shot down by the British be the same as the first that was shot down by the Germans OTL, it's a lot of fun really.

Now you've got me wondering. Will France assist the British in taking over Norway (in the game), or will the British be able to do so by themselves? I guess I'll have to wait for the next update.
 

AtlanticFriend

Captain
Jan 2, 2018
355
0
Another engaging update.

Once more your use of different perspectives on the same events really brings them to life. I love the name of the operation, and of course, french sailors would jump on the vulgar significance of Operation 'pipe'... Sailors will be sailors I guess.
Once I found out about operation Wilfred and the Pip, Squeak and Wilfred comic, this pun was too tempting to ignore.

The battle of the gladiators was epic, and that Norwegian pilot was quite daring, even though that move killed it, if he had recovered from the stall, he would likely have been home free, or relatively safe for a while at least. A British invasion of Norway makes a lot of sense in that time frame, it's actually something I've done playing as Britain, with the underlying assumption that it would be easier to take Norway from the Norwegians, and then defend it, than to expel German invaders from it. Depriving the Germans of the Norwegian Atlantic ports and it's shipping fleet is definitely a major imperative for the UK, and the Royal Navy especially.
That is very true, although I'll admit I had not thought about it. When I chose - like, years ago - to have Norway side with the Axis I wanted to give the Allies something to worry about, and to turn Scandinavia into a real battlefield. I guess it comes from my World in Flames wargaming days, when involving non-historical minors was a guilty pleasure of mine, my late apologies to Ireland, Siam, Norway, Spain, Turkey and Portugal, not to mention every Latin American country which had a plane or ship counter.

I love all the little Easter eggs, the irony of having Narvik defended from the British by the same commander who attempted to defend it from the Germans, and then having the first Norwegian plane to be shot down by the British be the same as the first that was shot down by the Germans OTL, it's a lot of fun really.
They are my guilty pleasures - not to mention great sources of inspiration whenever I am desperately looking for some story-worth material.

Now you've got me wondering. Will France assist the British in taking over Norway (in the game), or will the British be able to do so by themselves? I guess I'll have to wait for the next update.
I will probably land a single French Mountain Division in Narvik to "secure" the Allied position, in the hope that it will encourage both British and Axis forces to commit in Scandinavia. I sure don't want this conflict (or this story) to be a purely Franco-German affair. But so far all of my forces are deployed facing the German Army, with the exception of Indochina (4 Infantry divisions), Syria (Infantry forces plus 1 Light Armoured division), and token forces in Algiers, Marseille, Bordeaux and Paris (one Infantry or Garrisons div each, mostly as a tripwire in case of a surprise landing). Next update I'll include a picture of the current French forces in Germany.
 

El Pip

Lord of Slower-than-real-time
40 Badges
Dec 13, 2005
7.092
504
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Sword of the Stars
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Semper Fi
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Prison Architect
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Divine Wind
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Heir to the Throne
“Mmh? Oh, yes, certainly” replied Dormer, who had stopped to look at the half-dozen black and grey sedans parked in the Palace’s honour courtyard. Dormer did not associate rain with any particular omen - it just was, in his opinion. A mere meteorological fact, devoid of any special human meaning. Only the self-conscious or the oddly romantic sort, he thought, could look at rain and link it to their state of mind, and Bruère certainly fit both descriptions.
If a British gentlemen started seeing omens every time it rained he'd never have time to get anything done.


Sad to see King Haakon so reduced, poor lad needs some Herring and a trip to the Fjords. Something he may well get as I doubt he's staying on as puppet leader after the invasion. A 'well earned' retirement and abdication is on the cards, let Olav V take over as he's someone the British will be more comfortable with - born in the UK, educated at Oxford, very anti-German and not an idiot.

For all that the baleful story of Norway committing national suicide seems plausible enough, though this version of Hjort seems a bit nastier (and a bit thicker) than the OTL one. He should have split with Quisling years ago and be mucking around with the anti-German Norwegian fascist lot at this point. In fact the whole cabinet seem a bit off, they must have known what would happen if they didn't go along with the plan and that Germany would be far too busy to help. To be shipping anything to Germany they must be doing it on credit (Berlin has no money) so a face-saving, US style cash-and-carry arrangement would satisfy the Allies by effectively cutting German supply lines and preserve Norwegian neutrality and independence. Instead they insisted on standing on a point of honour and getting themselves invaded.

Finally, I obviously approve of Operation Pip and am pleased to see the success of Cabanier and his merry band of submariners. May Corporal Duffy and his Marines meet with similar success as the Norwegian campaign progresses. :)
 

AtlanticFriend

Captain
Jan 2, 2018
355
0
If a British gentlemen started seeing omens every time it rained he'd never have time to get anything done.


Sad to see King Haakon so reduced, poor lad needs some Herring and a trip to the Fjords. Something he may well get as I doubt he's staying on as puppet leader after the invasion. A 'well earned' retirement and abdication is on the cards, let Olav V take over as he's someone the British will be more comfortable with - born in the UK, educated at Oxford, very anti-German and not an idiot.

For all that the baleful story of Norway committing national suicide seems plausible enough, though this version of Hjort seems a bit nastier (and a bit thicker) than the OTL one. He should have split with Quisling years ago and be mucking around with the anti-German Norwegian fascist lot at this point. In fact the whole cabinet seem a bit off, they must have known what would happen if they didn't go along with the plan and that Germany would be far too busy to help. To be shipping anything to Germany they must be doing it on credit (Berlin has no money) so a face-saving, US style cash-and-carry arrangement would satisfy the Allies by effectively cutting German supply lines and preserve Norwegian neutrality and independence. Instead they insisted on standing on a point of honour and getting themselves invaded.
I am terribly sorry about King Haakon, but his fate was sealed a long time ago, when I decided Norway would be aligned with Germany. Having a SD plant as his personal physician ("Ill health through plants and unnatural diets", by Dr Paul Steen), I kinda turned him into a King Theoden of Rohan, complete with his own Wormtongue. Not sure yet what will happen to him later.

I tried to tread lightly when it came to the Norwegian cabinet, but I'll admit it probably is too fragmented while the NS is too united. As it would have been utterly unrealistic to have Quisling exert real power at the Storting, I had to go for relative power in a balkanized environment.

As for Norway entering the war, well, given the harsh treatment it has just received from two Western democracies, I think it's more a question of "we can't let THAT go" than of any geopolitcal or cost/benefit analysis.

Finally, I obviously approve of Operation Pip and am pleased to see the success of Cabanier and his merry band of submariners. May Corporal Duffy and his Marines meet with similar success as the Norwegian campaign progresses. :)
I sure hope Corporal Duffy is going to see a lot of action in this campaign - that would mean the UK AI is realizing there's a world war going on, and Nazi Germany started it, and Norway has just joined the Axis, and wouldn't it be nice if operation Jupiter started NOW!!! ;)

I am now mulling the content of the next update. Beyond Luftwaffe raids (and boy do they love those) and Jean Monnet, I must think about two things : what is France going to make of that rather unexpected success in Germany, and how is the Reich going to withstand that avalanche that has (for the time being) cost Mr Hitler all of Rhineland, plus a big chunk of Bavaria? I'm trying to find the answers in Goebbels' Diaries as well as in a biography of Goering. Other subjects I'm pondering are : US and Soviet reactions, and what happens at Rjukan.
 
Last edited:

El Pip

Lord of Slower-than-real-time
40 Badges
Dec 13, 2005
7.092
504
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Sword of the Stars
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Semper Fi
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Prison Architect
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Divine Wind
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Heir to the Throne
how is the Reich going to withstand that avalanche that has (for the time being) costed Mr Hitler all of Rhineland, plus a big chunk of Bavaria? I'm trying to find the answers in Goebbels' Diaries as well as in a biography of Goering. Other subjects I'm pondering are : US and Soviet reactions, and what happens at Rjukan.
I imagine the German Generals are dusting down their ideas from 1918 and getting ready for Dolchstoßlegende II - This time we blame the Mormons. Because without the Rhineland Germany collapses in weeks due to there being no heat, light or electricity in the rest of the country, to say nothing of the lack of steel or armaments. Of course this is HOI so the German AI will take a small hit to production but bascially be fine ;)

On that basis I think the Soviets are faced with a very interesting option. Without the Rhineland the Germans will be catastrophically desperate, so Stalin can make ridiculous demands about the German-Soviet trade deals and probably get agreement, though he would be well advised to get payment in advance as Berlin's credit is not looking good right now. But plans for every German tank, aircraft, ship, engine and industrial process probably buys a lot of Soviet material to keep the Germany war economy going at some sort of reduced level.

Ideally from Stalin's perspective he can keep Germany going on life support for a while longer, bleed the Allies a lot more and get his dream outcome of most of Western Europe exhausted and unable to resist his moves in Eastern Europe. The worst outcome for him is the Allies quickly getting to Berlin, liberating what they can of Poland and then staring meaningful at his recently acquired bits of Eastern Poland, so maybe even if Stalin doubts he'll get paid it's still worth propping up Hitler.
 

Bullfilter

Old Boardgame Grognard
29 Badges
Aug 31, 2008
6.503
1.225
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 500k Club
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • For the Motherland
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
Great writing and research - I love a good alt-history story that merges and diverges with OTL and you have done it very cleverly and engagingly.

Carl-Gustav was lucky he was not shot down. Some chivalry still exists. Had it been the Germans no such mercy would have been shown, one suspects.

Well worth the wait. Will be interested to see how the Norwegian side-show adventure turns out.
 

AtlanticFriend

Captain
Jan 2, 2018
355
0
I imagine the German Generals are dusting down their ideas from 1918 and getting ready for Dolchstoßlegende II - This time we blame the Mormons. Because without the Rhineland Germany collapses in weeks due to there being no heat, light or electricity in the rest of the country, to say nothing of the lack of steel or armaments. Of course this is HOI so the German AI will take a small hit to production but bascially be fine ;)
I think some Generals might be in the mood for some "Dolchstossing" of their own. In OTL some were eager to depose Hitler, thinking things would turn catastrophically for the Reich early in the war. Well, here that part of the Generals' Klub has been proven right. But now that the fatherland is invaded, would they act? Also, the Nazi bigwigs might want to sacrifice some of the old guards as scapegoats.

For steel and pig iron production, I'm going through the historical production figures to try and figure out what Germany could squeeze from its conquests and allies.

On that basis I think the Soviets are faced with a very interesting option. Without the Rhineland the Germans will be catastrophically desperate, so Stalin can make ridiculous demands about the German-Soviet trade deals and probably get agreement, though he would be well advised to get payment in advance as Berlin's credit is not looking good right now. But plans for every German tank, aircraft, ship, engine and industrial process probably buys a lot of Soviet material to keep the Germany war economy going at some sort of reduced level.
Molotov sure can go for the big prizes now. Technology, as you point out, should be high on the list of Soviet acquisitions. I'm also thinking significant territorial demands at the expense of eastern european minors and adjustements of the partition line in Poland,. Technically, the entire German sphere of influence in Europe is ripe for the taking.

Ideally from Stalin's perspective he can keep Germany going on life support for a while longer, bleed the Allies a lot more and get his dream outcome of most of Western Europe exhausted and unable to resist his moves in Eastern Europe. The worst outcome for him is the Allies quickly getting to Berlin, liberating what they can of Poland and then staring meaningful at his recently acquired bits of Eastern Poland, so maybe even if Stalin doubts he'll get paid it's still worth propping up Hitler.
I agree. And, for the time being, the Wehrmacht is still one Hell of a fighting force. I have one winter to build up and secure my position in Europe. When spring, 1940 finally comes, it will be the real test. If I withstand that counter-attack, I suppose Metropolitan France and its conquests will be safe from any frontal assault strategy. Elsewhere, well, the situation should be more fluid.
 

AtlanticFriend

Captain
Jan 2, 2018
355
0
Great writing and research - I love a good alt-history story that merges and diverges with OTL and you have done it very cleverly and engagingly.
Many thanks! I sure took me some damn long time to churn out this one. Oddly enough, it's the diplomatic part of the chapter that got me sweating - usually it's military actions scenes I struggle with, not "bureaucratic" warfare.

Carl-Gustav was lucky he was not shot down. Some chivalry still exists. Had it been the Germans no such mercy would have been shown, one suspects.
Who knows? You know pilots, there's no waging rational warfare with this lot! ;)

Well worth the wait. Will be interested to see how the Norwegian side-show adventure turns out.
You and me both! May the HOI Gods grant some extra furiousness to the AI! :D
 

J66185

Second Lieutenant
Jun 26, 2018
169
3
Hello? Shall I put up a notice?
 

Killerduck

Corporal
Jan 31, 2018
36
11
Finally noticed and read the latest update. Great stuff, I hope UK AI cooperates at least a bit.

Btw, how did D'n'D went? :)