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Picture Show; February 27th, 1943
Our complete short story
Squadron Leader X (1943)
As soon as he heard Eric Kohler speak, Inspector Siegel knew he had found the man for his purpose.
Siegel did not make many mistakes. As one of Himmler's most trusted men he could not afford to, for the Gestapo was merciless to failure in its officers.
Siegel had a special reason why he did not want to make a mistake this time. The plan that Kohler was to carry out was his own plan, and if it were successful it would put him still higher in Himmler's favour.
He explained the plan to Kohler. The Belgians had too much liking for the British. "When bombs fall on military targets in Belgium the Belgians say British bombers dropped them, but when bombs fall on open towns they say we dropped them."
"I have heard something about that, sir," said Kohler.
They were talking in English, by Siegel's orders for he wanted to test out Kohler's pronunciation thoroughly, and, though he did not pretend to speak the language very well, he was a good judge of one who could.
Kohler had every reason to be able to speak English perfectly. He had lived in England since he was three years old until early in 1939, when he left for Germany with his parents. He had joined the Luftwaffe at once, and was now a lieutenant. He was known as an ace flying fighter, and Sigel knew exactly how he had gained that reputation.
It was necessary for the German people to have plenty of military heroes to instil them with the belief that victory was certain. Kohler had brought down many British planes, but what the German public did not know was that these planes were always crippled by other German fighters before Kohler gave them the burst of fire that sent them crashing.
Siegel went on to explain his plan in detail.
Kohler was to go up in a German bomber that would drop bombs over Ghent. Then it would sheer off and return to drop Kohler by parachute somewhere near the city. He would be dressed as a squadron leader of the R.A.F., and get himself hidden by some Belgians who were only too willing to help any British flyer brought down in their country. Siegel knew there were thousands of them.
Once he had landed and gained the confidence of the Belgians, Kohler was to start his propaganda work, telling them that he and his brother British flyers received orders they dare not disobey - to bomb Belgian open towns - and by this means gradually turn the enthusiasm of the Belgians for the British into hatred for them.
The papers he carried described him as Stanley Houston, a squadron leader of the R.A.F., and there was also a photograph of Mrs. Houston and her baby. He was also supplied with English money - nothing was forgotten.
After enjoying a few week's leave with hi parents Kohler flew over to Ghent. He made a lucky landing on the flat roof of a large house occupied by Monsieur and Madame Berthelot.
He found this couple almost fanatical worshippers of everything British, and quickly learned that they had helped British flyers who had crashed in Belgium.
Kohler decided that the couple would be ideal subjects on which to start his propaganda.
After some food and a talk about places the Berthelot's had visited in England, Kohler got down to his work.
"I want to tell you madame, how sorry I am for bombing your city to-night," he said.
Madame Berthelot smiled, "Sorry? Why?"
"Well," replied Kohler, "we had special orders to bomb your beautiful city hall."
"The Germans are holding an anti-British exhibition there," said Madame Berthelot shortly. "Besides, your bombing keeps up our morale." [c.f. OOOAIM]
"Your morale?" asked Kohler.
"Of course," answered the lady. "We don't want to feel we're out of the war, and the more you bomb the more we feel we are in it. You can tell that to your commanding officer when you get back," she added.
There came a complicated knocking at the door and the butler admitted a young man whom madame introduced as her nephew, Michael Berthelot.
It soon became clear from the conversation that followed that Michael was an active leader of the Belgian patriots with a special job of helping British fugitives out of Belgium.
[Ghent is in East Flanders where the main language is Dutch. Should we presume that Kohler spoke Dutch as well as German and English? or did the nephew speak English for the benefit of their guest?]
He welcomed Kohler cordially, then spoke with military strictness. He asked the lieutenant for his name and carefully examined his papers.
"You will come with me." he said.
Madame Berthelot stood up to say good-bye to Kohler.
"Tell the people of England we pray for them," she said. "And don't forget my message to your commander."
Kohler forced a smile as he thanked her, and promised he would deliver her message.
[Despite that important rôle she plays in the story, "Madame Berthelot" doesn't seem to appear in the cast list]
Michael took him out of the house by a back way and into a side street, where a closed van was waiting.
Michael told Kohler to get in at the back of the van, and he joined the driver at the front.
Inside the van were three young men who introduced themselves as Squadron Leader Drummond, Flight Lieutenant Tucker, and Sergeant Wilson. There was another man in the van, M. Bonsoir, a Belgian patriot.
Kohler introduced himself as Stanley Houston.
"Glad to meet you all," said Kohler, affecting great heartiness. "But it's all been so sudden I'm not quite sure what's happening."
"They're going to take us back to dear old Blighty," said Tucker.
[Blighty: British armed services slang for England (or Britain). From the times of the British rule in India (~ 17C) from the Hindustani "Bila yati" or the earlier north Indian (from Persian) "villayati" meaning foreign. One of many words imported into English from that period (c.f. Bungalow, Verandah, Tiffin, Juggernaut etc.)]
Kohler gasped. England was the last place on earth he wanted to see. But he pulled himself together.
"Marvellous," he managed to say.
A few miles out of the city Michael told them to put out their cigarettes and keep absolutely quiet. Presently the van pulled up, and they heard a German officer questioning Michael. Evidently he had the right answers for the van soon moved on.
In the talk that followed Kohler learned that there was a boat waiting for them to take them to England, and he began to sweat with nervous fear. He could only hope that there might be a chance to get away when they reached the coast.
But this hope quickly faded when they arrived at the Channel. The Belgian patriot and Michael urged the airmen to make all speed, as every minute on the shore was fraught with great danger to them and to their rescuers.
They were hustled to a waiting boat and Kohler had not a ghost of a chance to escape. On the trip across the Channel (which was made without any untoward incident) Kohler made up his mind that whatever the risk he must part from the real airmen as soon as the boat reached the shore.
A stroke of luck came his way when the landing was made. It was still dark, and Drummond pointed out that they would run considerable risk of being shot by the sentries if they were not careful. So as soon as they made out the faint outlines of a lot of buildings which looked like military huts, Drummond suggested that they should all yell out to let any patrols or sentries know who they were.
The plan was carried out, and presently they heard a challenging shout.
Drummond felt certain the shout came from straight ahead, but Kohler said he was certain it came from the right, so it was decided that Kohler should go to the right, Drummond and Tucker go straight ahead, and Wilson stay where he was until one of them had found the sentry and explained matters.
This plan enabled Kohler to get clear of the others, and luck was still with him, for when daylight came he found himself in a fairly large seaside town. He entered a large hotel, in which were a number of officers of the R.A.F., with others of the Navy and Army. Kohler noticed that they were all carrying gas masks, and he decided to get one, and also a cap, for he had lost his. Most of the officers were having a hurried meal and had put their belongings anywhere convenient. He picked out a cap and a gas mask and left the hotel.
There was a train leaving for London in ten minutes when he arrived at the station, and he booked a ticket. At Waterloo Station he called a taxi and told the man to drive him to Carver Street. He stopped the cab at the corner of the street and found the place he was looking for - Kretier's Delicatessen Stores - but the place had been bombed and was in ruins.
"There's a Lyons round the corner, sir," said the driver, trying to be helpful.
[Lyons Corner House. A chain of restaurants that spread to most cities by the 1930s. Famous for their "Nippy" waitresses.]
Kohler shook his head. "No. Go to Leander's Bakery in Sommer Street."
This place was standing, but it was empty and a placard in the window stated it was "To Let."
Kohler was now getting nervous. He had depended on finding Kreitier or Leander, whom he had known well in London. They were members of the Nazi party.
There was another chance. Barbara Lukas, who had been a Sister at the Austro-German hospital.
Barbara was a Balkan girl, but she had lived in London practically all her life. Though she had never been a member of the Nazi party she had mixed unknowingly with them, as she had mixed with other foreigners living in London. Kohler had met her when he was in the accounts department of the hospital and she was a Sister there. He got through by 'phone to the hospital and asked for Barbara by name.
The girl asked if she was a foreigner, and then said that she might have been interned. There was a list, and if Kohler rang up again later show would let him know.
Kohler was now in a state of great nervousness. He realised that by this time Drummond and the others must have been interviewed, and they would have given a full description of him. There was a Squadron Leader named Stanley Houston a prisoner in Belgium, and the photograph Kohler had been given was that of the genuine Mrs. Houston and her baby. His papers, and a letter from Mrs. Houston were all genuine and would satisfy any Belgian working for Britain, but it was a different thing to satisfy the Special Branch at Scotland Yard.
The fact that he had not turned up with the other three would make the military authorities suspicious, and doubtless Drummond and the others had been very closely questioned. They could give a very clear description of him, and doubtless the police all over the country were now searching for him.
Kohler's suspicions were absolutely correct. Drummond and the others had been questioned by Chief-Inspector Milne, of the M.I.5 Branch. What was more, the inspector had managed to get Mrs. Houston to London. She had brought with her a photograph of her husband, and the three flyers told Milne he was not the man who had escaped with them.
Milne could not make out what the false Houston expected to be able to do in England, since he must by this time realise that he was a hunted man, but he dismissed all this sort of speculation and concentrated on finding him.
A Voice from the Past
In the meantime the staff at the old Austro-German hospital had traced Barbara, and when Kohler called at the hospital there was a message for him to say she would meet him at Paddington Station at seven-fifty.
She was now working at a hospital outside London.
The train got in promptly on time, which was a relief to Kohler, who had now got to that stage of nervousness that he thought people were looking at him when they were looking past him.
Barbara came through the barrier and he hurried up to her.
"Barbara!" he said.
He was relieved when she smiled, and she replied: "Erich!"
Then her eyes fastened on the wings on his tunic.
"When did this happen?" she asked.
"Where can we go and talk?" he parried.
Barbara suggested the waiting-room at the station but he said a bus ride would be better. They got the two front seats at the top of the bus, and when Barbara began to ask him questions he said "Never mind about me. What is your news?"
"The most important thing about me is that I am married," replied Barbara - "to Dr. Bruce Fenwick. He's in the R.A.F., a medical officer."
"He used to hang around in the old days," said Kohler.
"Yes, but I didn't care too much about him then. But when the war broke out I was a suspect because of you. Bruce took my part and fought for me. It's only because of him that I'm free now."
"It didn't take you long to forget me, did it?" said Kohler.
There had been a time when Barbara had been in love with him, and Kohler meant to work on that.
Barbara quickly stopped that move. She let him know that though her husband loved her very much, she loved him more, and Kohler went off that track.
Barbara went on to talk about the old days and laughed at the lies that had been told at the Fascists' meeting at the old delicatessen shop.
"Never mind, we all make mistakes," she said, "and I'm awfully glad you realised it. When you disappeared so suddenly I thought you might have gone back to Germany."
Kohler decided that lies would not help him, any more than playing on his love for Barbara in the old days would. He must get her to help him through fear.
"I did go back to Germany," he said. "I've been there for three years - in the Luftwaffe. I arrived here last night."
Barbara rose from her seat. There was horror in her eyes.
"Sit down!" he said, in a threatening whisper. "You were keen on the movement in the old days. Now you have a chance to prove your loyalty."
"I was never keen on the movement," said Barbara. "I was in love with you. I would have gone anywhere with you. I was never a Nazi."
"That's unimportant," said Kohler. "You are going to help me now. If I'm caught, you're caught, and that husband of yours too."
It was then that she saw the real Erich. He had never been in love with her as she had been in love with him. He was a Nazi first and last, and he had used her for the cause of Hitler. With the deadly precise mind of a Nazi he told her that by meeting him she had placed herself in his power. She had been near to internment once, and she would certainly be imprisoned if the authorities found out about their meeting that night. There was plenty of evidence. She had come of her own free will. His telephone calls to the hospital and her call fixing the meeting at Paddington Station would prove that.
"Then there's your husband," went on Kohler. "he vouched for you, didn't he? A nice mess he'll be in."
It was thought for her husband and not for herself that stopped Barbara from calling the conductor and having Kohler arrested. And when Kohler had suggested they should get off the bus and have a talk in a public-house he had known in the old days she fearfully consented.
On the way he told her the true story of how he had been forced to come to England against his wish with the three real R.A.F. men.
They found a quiet place in the back of the saloon bar in the pub, and Kohler began to ask about men who had been prominent in the Nazi party in England.
"What about Siegmund Schultz?" he asked.
"He committed suicide," replied Barbara.
Schultz had been the leader of the London branch of the Nazis in pre-war days.
Eventually he found out from Barbara that Julius Krohn, a Swiss, had not been interned, and they went to his house.
Krohn was not in, but his wife was, and she informed them that Julius was at the Hotel Fossatti, where he was employed as chef. Mrs. Krohn trembled as she spoke to Kohler.
"Telephone to the hotel and get him to come over at once," said Kohler sharply.
"You must have some thought for the poor woman," protested Barbara. "You've made her nervous already, coming here at this hour."
"There's something more than that," said Kohler. "I wonder what?"
He was right.
Mrs. Krohn thought he was an officer of the Gestapo in the disguise of a British airman. She and her husband had for months lived in deadly fear that one of the Gestapo would call on them.
Krohn looked as frightened as his wife had done when he arrived.
"I knew you would come," he said to Kohler. "It must look to you as if I had not done my duty. But I have not been able to do any work since the Link died."
"Schultz!" ejaculated Kohler.
"But all the time the money comes to me, and I know the Gestapo will send somebody when they find out," he added.
"That has nothing to do with me," said Kohler harshly. "All that concerns me is that I have to get back to Germany, and I need your help."
"But how?" asked Krohn helplessly. "I do not know. I never wanted to be a secret agent. It's not my stuff. I --"
"Did you hear?" snapped Kohler. "I want to get back to Germany."
Krohn said it might be possible for him to get to Ireland, but he had no suggestions to make as to how the journey could be accomplished.
"There's one thing they could do," said Barbara - "put you up for a bit."
Mr. and Mrs. Krohn were clearly scared to death at the idea, but at last Krohn said he would put Kohler up for one night.
Barbara said she must get back to the hostpital.
Kohler followed her to the door.
"You'll be here at nine o'clock to-morrow morning," he said. "I shall need your help then."
Barbara flared up and told him he was just like the rest of the Nazis, exploiting people's weaknesses, lying, cheating.
Kohler slapped her face.
Barbara rushed through the door before he could make her a lying apology.
He went back to the living-room in a rage, and grumbled and threatened Krohn and his wife. They made a bed for him on a couch in the sitting-room, which Mrs. Krohn also used to give piano lessons. There was a gas fire burning, and Kohler told Krohn to turn it off.
Despite his fears, he was soon sleeping soundly for he was tired out.
Just as the Krohn's were going off to bed they had another visitor. To Krohn's astonishment and dismay it was Schultz.
"I thought you were dead!" gasped Krohn.
"That's what the papers said," remarked Schultz, with a grim smile. "I'm looking for someone. A man who worked with you in the Austro-German hospital.
"Kohler," said Krohn. "He is here."
He pointed to the door of the sitting-room.
Schultz opened the door gently and looked in. Kohler was fast asleep.
Schultz regarded him with an air of cynical contempt. Then he caught sight of the gas fire. He moved softly across the room and turned on the gas without lighting it, having assured himself that the window was closed.
Schultz then went back into the living-room, advised the Krohns to go to bed, saying he would see Kohler in the morning.
Barbara thought of the dangerous situation that the coming of Kohler had created while she travelled from Paddington to the hospital and made up her mind to tell the whole story to her husband in the morning.
It was her duty to tell the police about Kohler and she was ready to do so at any cost to herself, but she also had a duty to her husband. Any feeling of pity she might have had for Kohler was now dead - killed by his exposure of himself as a ruthless Nazi. But when she saw her husband in the morning he was getting ready to perform a very delicate operation on an injured airman, and she could not, as a nurse, think of upsetting his nerves at such a time.
But he saw she was upset and demanded to know the reason.
"I did not sleep well," she said. "I had a crazy nightmare about the Austro-German hospital."
"The old hospital," said Bruce Fenwick. "That reminds me. There's something in this magazine which was given me by a Canadian pilot which might have prevented you having a nightmare about that hospital."
As he handed her the magazine there came a call from the operating-room to say the patient was ready.
Barbara went back to her office where she opened the magazine. She soon found what her husband had indicated. It was a photograph of Kohler in the uniform of the Luftwaffe illustrating an article which explained how he became an ace flyer of the Luftwaffe - a supposed fighter who was guarded by other fighter planes till they had crippled the enemy plane so badly that he could make the final kill without danger to himself.
"Just a cowardly killer," thought Barbara, as she finished the article.
She wondered what Kohler was doing then. It was past ten o'clock and he must have realised by this time that she had no intention of keeping the appointment at Krohn's house.
Much had happened since Barbara had left that house.
Soon after Schultz had gone Mr. and Mrs. Krohn had been awakened by a sound of falling furniture coming from the living-room.
Krohn rushed down to find Kohler lying on the floor, partially unconscious. The curtains had been torn down by him to get to the window and open it, but a strong smell of gas and the fact that Kohler was not quite conscious told Krohn that his unwelcome guest had had a narrow escape from death.
While he was reviving him a warden knocked and shouted out that the light was showing through the window. Krohn put out the light and rushed to the door. He told the warden that there had been an accident with the gas fire and that in opening the window they had forgotten about the light. The warden moved away giving Krohn a warning.
When Krohn got back he found Kohler standing by the window.
"You turned that out, didn't you?" said Kohler, pointing an accusing finger at the gas fire.
"Yes, I did," replied Krohn, facing Kohler defiantly. "You saw me do it."
Kohler said no more.
When he had dressed, Kohler sat down at the table with the Krohns and had some coffee.
"I've been thinking over what you said last night," he said to Krohn. "Ireland is my best chance."
Krohn was nervous. What would happen if Schultz came and found Kohler gone?
Kohler removed the tension by saying that Barbara was meeting him there at nine o'clock and he was going with her.
He did not intend to return. When half-past nine came and there was no sign of Barbara, Kohler left saying he was going to the hospital to find her. When he arrived there he sent in his name as Squadron-Leader Browning.
"Why didn't you come to Krohn's?" he demanded, as he shoved Barbara in a corner and covered her with a revolver.
Barbara looked at him fearlessly as she said: "I'm free to do as I like."
The Nazi changed his tactics. "I've got my escape all worked out." he said.
"Don't fool yourself," said Barbara. "They'll get you."
"I've been in tighter corners than this," boasted Kohler. "But for this bit of rotton luck I would have been the greatest fighter pilot in the Luftwaffe. You don't know, I've got twenty-two victories to my credit."
Barbara burst out laughing, and to Kohler's amazement, and then anger, she could not stop.
"Single-handed, that's how I got them," said Kohler, when Barbara stopped laughing. "Eye to eye with death, with nothing to rely on but --"
Barbara opened the magazine and shoved the page with the article in front of his face.
"Eye to eye with death," she mocked. "How do you like your publicity?"
Kohler's face went dark with rage. His hands opened as though to spring on her, but then he went limp as she faced him with scorn in her eyes.
The yellow streak in him came out a yard wide.
"I've got a car outside," he said pleadingly. "You will come with me to London and to Holyhead and get tickets for Eire. I've got plenty of money. I got it from Krohn."
Barbara had made up her mind that he was not going to get clear at all. She would have to act without her husband.
What about your clothes?" she said, in a voice that suggested she was ready to help him.
"You're right, I need some civilian clothes," he said. "Can you get me some?"
"I might. From a private ward."
"I'll come with you," said Kohler.
Barbara told him that was impossible, and he had to let her go alone.
She went straight to the telephone and asked for her husband. He was not in the hospital. Then she asked the switch girl for the police.
As she waited for an answer Inspector Milne and one of his men came in.
"You are under arrest, Mrs. Fenwick," said Milne, taking her away from the phone. "Where is Erich Kohler?"
"In the dispensary," replied Barbara.
She led the way, followed by Milne, and opened the door. The room was empty. Milne rushed to the door-keeper who told him that a man in the uniform of a squadron leader of the R.A.F. had just left and driven away in his car.
"You look after this, Marks," said Milne. "Put out a general call."
He turned to Barbara.
"I want a full statement of everything that has happened in connection with Erich Kohler," he said.
Kohler drove from the hospital at top speed. He had heard Barbara call her husband and then the police and he just managed to get clear. He steadied his speed as he made for Krohn's house. Krohn would have to help him get civilian clothes.
When he got to the house Mrs Krohn opened the door, but it was Schultz who met him.
"Schultz!" cried Kohler. "They told me you were dead."
I allowed someone else to commit suicide in my place," said Schultz. "Come in, my dear fellow."
But when they were alone in the living-room Schultz's manner changed.
"Inspector Siegel is not at all pleased with you," he said coldly. "You should not have come to England with those three flying men."
"How could I help it?" said Kohler.
"You should have avoided it," snapped Schultz. "Here in England you are a menace to the Reich. Gas is a silent weapon, but, unfortunately, it is not altogether reliable."
"Then it wasn't an accident?" gasped Schultz.
"It must have been," sneered Schultz. "You are still alive." He whipped out a revolver. "You are a coward, Erich Kohler."
Krohn had come into the room, and Schultz ordered him to draw the curtains.
Kohler seized his chance. As Schultz took his eyes off him to give the order, Kohler drew his revolver and shot him. As Schultz fell to the floor Kohler told Krohn to get him some civilian clothes, but Krohn took no notice of the order.
"That's the only decent thing any Nazi can do - destroy another Nazi," he said, advancing on Kohler.
Kohler rushed at him and hit him with the clubbed revolver. Krohn managed to close with him, and the two fell to the floor. There cam a shot from Kohler's gun and Krohn rolled over - dead.
Kohler rushed from the house. He got to his car and by extraordinary luck got clear of London, for by this time the police all over the country were searching for him, watching especially all roads to Holyhead, for Barbara had told Milne of Kohler's plan.
Kohler drove his car till the petrol ran out, and then he hid until he saw a chance to get in the back of a big lorry. He kept in the lorry till he heard the driver ask the way to an aerodrome, and then he dropped off. That was the last place he wanted to be seen in. But as he crept through the long grass surrounding the airfield he changed his mind. On the tarmac was a Spitfire ready to fly. A mechanic was in the cockpit testing the engine. Kohler removed the chocks from under the wheels and crept up. One blow from his clubbed revolver knocked out the mechanic, and Kohler pulled him from the cockpit.
The luck which had enabled Kohler to get out of London and through the country with the police of every county on the look-out for him still stayed with him.
The huts of the flyers and the ground staff were about a quarter of a mile away from the tarmac runway, and pilots and others were chatting outside their quarters quite unconscious of the big drama which was being enacted in the Spitfire. The sound of the engine tuning up had been going on intermittently for some time, and there was no cause for anybody to look at that particular plane.
As Kohler took the pilot's seat he thrilled with the great joy of an escape as good as accomplished. In a short time he would be over Ireland, and he knew that country even better than he knew England, from a spy's standpoint. There was no danger that he would mistake Eire for Northern Ireland. Having satisfied himself that the plane was in perfect order he started it.
Only as it sped along the runway did the alarm start. The pilot shouted that somebody was pinching his plane, and then the organisation of the aerodrome got working. In a few minutes a squadron of Spitfires was in the air after Kohler.
He was not greatly alarmed.
Apart from his lack of courage as an air fighter he was a very fine pilot, and at seeking refuge in the clouds he had few equals in the Luftwaffe, for safety first had always been his motto.
Luck was still with him, for had he been able to fix the clouds himself he could not have wished for a better setting. But though he felt that he was sure to win through to safety he took no risks, for, like all the rest of the Luftwaffe, he had a wholesome respect for the R.A.F. and especially for its fighters.
But just as he was planning to swoop out of the clouds and make for a landing something happened.
A force of Messerschmitts suddenly appeared. They were making one of their hit-and-run attacks on the English coast.
When Kohler sighted them he shouted with glee.
If there was any danger from the pursuing Spitfires the Messerschmitts would guard him (as they had done so many times when he was playing the game of the ace killer). In his joy he waved to the Nazi machines, clean forgetting that he was in a Spitfire.
At once the leading Messerschmitt attacked the Spitfire, seeing an easy kill.
As Kohler realised what was happening he shrieked with terror, but his cries were drowned by the rattle of the guns of the Messerschmitt that had got him in its sights. As the bullets crashed into his plane Kohler showed that he was yellow all through. He could easily have made a fight of it and stood a reasonable chance of getting clear, but his nerve had gone completely. He was still screaming in terror when a bullet killed him, and as another burst riddled the vital parts of the Spitfire it crashed, carrying with it the dead body of the coward who had been hailed as an ace figter pilot of the Luftwaffe.
The authorities did not press any charges against Barbara. It was through her that Milne learned that Kohler would make for Krohn's house, and the police arrived there in time to arrest Schultz, who was only wounded, and Schultz was a much more important man to the Secret Intelligence Service that Kohler.
Also her story proved that she was in no way to blame, and the girl at the hospital telephone exchange proved that she had just rung up the police when Inspector Milne arrested her.
(Adapted from incidents in the RKO Radio picture --
*** Squadron leader X
From a story by Emeric Pressburger.
Director: Lance Comfort.
British. certificate "A."
Running time 99 minutes.
Sentry at Madame
Colonel in Luftwaffe
Vivid and exciting is this melodrama of a synthetic Nazi flying hero, and how, chosen to impersonate an English pilot to spy on Belgian sympathisers, he unexpectedly finds himself whisked off to England, where all the cowardice and ruthlessness in his nature come to the fore as he tries to get back to Germany. Eric Portman gives a brilliant portrayal of the Nazi, and is splendidly supported by an exceptionally well-chosen cast. The film is packed with suspense and excitement, and there is a spectacular climax which is morally satisfying as well.
Don't miss it.
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