The Polish Officer | Chapter 4 of 6 - Part: 1 of 52

Author: Alan Furst | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 5322 Views | Add a Review

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Fedin laid it out for him. Quite a number of the Russian generals in Paris had never been in anyone’s army, but Fedin was a real general who’d commanded real troops in battle and done well at it. De Milja Furs_0375758275_3p_03_r1.qxd 8/30/01 9:26 AM Page 148

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watched with admiration as he planned the invasion of Britain on a café napkin.

“Twelve divisions,” he said. “Hand-picked. With a hundred thou-

sand men in the first wave, all along the English coastline for, say, two hundred miles. That’s the Wehrmacht thinking—spread the invasion,

thin down the British defense forces, dissipate energy, resources, everything. Lots of refugees moving on the roads, miles and miles for the ammunition trucks to cover, honking all the time to get Mrs. Jones and her baby carriage out of the way.

“For the German navy, on the other hand, the two-hundred-mile

spread is a nightmare, precisely what they don’t want. They need a concentrated beachhead, ships hurrying back and forth across the

Channel, multiplying their load capabilities by the hour, with airplanes overhead to keep the British bombers away.”

“That’s the key.”

“Yes, that’s the key. If they can keep the RAF out of their business, the Germans can secure the beaches. That will do it. They hold out seventy-two hours, twenty-five divisions make the crossing, with the tanks, the big guns, all the stuff that wins wars. Churchill will demand that Roosevelt send clouds of warplanes, Roosevelt will give an uplift-ing speech and do nothing, the governments-in-exile will make a run for Canada, and that will be that. The New Europe will be in place; a sort of hardheaded trade association with German consultants making sure it all goes the way they want.”

“What will it take to get across the Channel?”

The café was on the seafront in Veulettes. General Fedin stared out at the calm sea for a moment, then started a new napkin. “Well, let’s say . . . about two thousand barges should do it. With their bows re-fitted with ramps that can be raised and lowered. They’ll want motor launches, for speed, to get the beach-masters and the medical people and staff officers moved around. About twelve hundred of those. To move the barges back and forth—five hundred tugboats, seagoing or

adapted for it. And two hundred transport ships. That’s for the big stuff, tanks and heavy guns and repair shops—and for the horses,

which still do eighty percent of the army’s haulage.”

“Four thousand ships. That’s it?”

Fedin shrugged. War was logistics. You got your infantry extra

socks, they marched another thirty miles.

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“They’ll need decent weather. They can’t afford to wait for autumn, the Channel will swamp the barges. So, end of summer is the time.”

“And the date?”

Fedin smiled to himself. Flipped the pages of a French newspaper

someone had left on a chair, then ran his finger down a column. “Seventeen September,” he announced. “Full moon.”

They drove into Belgium, into Holland. German occupation made it

easier—northern Europe was more or less under a single government.

In the Belgian ports, Ostend and Blankenberge and Knokke-Le-Zoute, and up as far as Rotterdam, they talked to the dockyard workers, because the dockyard workers were the ones who knew what went on.

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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