You may recall that some time ago I volunteered for a top secret mission, I would like to blame my decision on the impetuousness of youth , but naturally one cannot in all conscience attribute that particular issue to your good son. I can therefore only surmise that I agreed to the task whilst under the influence of some mind altering substance.
To date dearest mother I have kept my own counsel on the matter, as secrecy was key to the success of the mission , but now the task has been completed I feel that the full horror of my ordeal can be divulged; not only for my own catharsis but to warn future generations.
Let me start by introducing the lead players in the drama that was about to unfold. Our commander Colonel ‘W’ is a grizzled old veteran of 13 previous missions. Despite the vast human suffering he has witnessed he has managed to maintain a remarkable level of bonhomie. It was he who recruited me with promises of glory and riches beyond the dreams of Croesus, constantly plying me with unknown tablets to ‘replace the salt’. I now believe these to be nothing of the sort, and he has clearly drugged me to bend me to his will.
Quartermaster ‘O’ was a strange character. Without doubt he belongs in an elite corps, so one wonders why he remains with our rag-tag bunch; I suspect he could be a fifth columnist. There are too many things that were not quite adding up. Where does he go when the rest of the regiment meet on Saturdays in muddy fields for manoeuvres? Why does he never have an explanation for his absence? We need answers.
Sergeant ‘B’ is a pleasant enough cove-clearly he has a fondness for the hop, an urge he claims to have got under control prior to the mission . I had my doubts however, although he managed to complete his mission in an efficient and impressive manner, perhaps it is his love of grog that powered him to such performances. Who can tell what motivates a man under such pressure. I would point out however that his memory may be becoming slightly impaired by his habit. I cannot recall how many times he had ‘forgotten his wallet’, but it did seem to become a well-used mantra.
The mission itself when it was revealed to me on the morning via an anonymous letter slipped under my hotel door was simplicity itself. Assemble after reveille in the Tiergarten, circumnavigate the boundaries of the city and meet 26.2 miles later at Brandenburg Gate. How one was to be sorely disabused of the simplicity of the idea. Nothing can prepare you for the horror that awaits you at the point 6 miles from your objective. Still like a recurring nightmare, one realised that the only way out of this torment was forward. So armed only with Colonel ‘W’s ‘special’ tablets I stumbled inexorably to my fate.
Upon completion I found my merry band awaiting me with tales of derring do, and all seemed in remarkably high spirits. I attributed this either to the Colonel’s medication or a pure sense of relief that our ordeal was over. QM ‘O’ once again disappeared at this point, adding to my suspicions . He did return however clutching a scrap of paper bearing some strange markings and numbers. I think I caught a glimpse of 3:08:34 but sadly the numbers meant nothing to me.
One cannot begin to express the joy at surviving my first mission dearest mother. Despite their obvious idiosyncrasies and foibles my fellow combatants proved to be excellent if eccentric companions. Another mission is planned, of which I can say no more at this juncture.