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S.M.

Deeming

ME290

AUSTIN

MACAULEY

Copyright S. M . De e m i n g

The right of S. M. Deeming to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with section 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers. Any person who commits any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages. A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library. ISBN 978 1 84963 156 3

www.austinmacauley.com First edition published by Austin & Macauley (2011) Revised edition published (2011) Austin & Macauley Publishers Ltd. 25 Canada Square Canary Wharf London E14 5LB

Printed & Bound in Great Britain

The dimly lit corridor seemed to stretch on forever. Four people walked purposefully in a two by two formation; at the front, a man and a woman wearing white disposable coveralls, closely followed by two stoic security personnel. Eventually the group reached a solitary doorway set in the endless expanse of carved granite. The man stopped first and the rest followed, turning to his female colleague his height meant he had to look under his glasses to make eye contact. Are you ready? She nodded yes in silent agreement. Finally he turned towards the security personnel. Thank you gentlemen, thatll be all. One of the guards nodded in silent obedience and both men turned on their heels and marched away into the distance. After watching their escorts leave, the man quickly typed a series of numbers into a keypad next to the door, and with the commencement of a series of mechanical clicks the heavy door began to unlock. The woman had watched the elderly gentleman step back as the process continued. Tall and elegant, his refined, almost aristocratic, features made guessing his age difficult to say the least, and his natural air of authority made following his instructions less of an effort. The mechanical unlocking process stopped and the door seemed to vibrate in its frame. Dont worry he could see a look of apprehension on her face. The pressures equalising in the next room, thats all. There was a rush of air then silence. The door finally moved and began to slide into the wall. The man leant in and operated a light switch, illuminating the room ready for their arrival. Standing back, he gestured for her to enter the room, she looked in, tentatively, before moving into the room, he followed closely behind. Once they were in the room the door slid shut again followed by the locking noise. She watched as he walked over to a small office space annexed from the rest of the room. She only knew him as The handler. Involved with the programme from its conception and with impeccable credentials in his field of expertise. A brilliant engineer, whose judgement

determined the level of security clearance bestowed on new contractors. What she was about to see required ultra top secret clearance something even the president of the United States didnt have. The handler called out from the office, Would you like a coffee Miss Smith? No thank you, she replied and moved slowly towards a part of the room that hadnt been lit. Somewhere in the darkness was her reason for being there, something hidden from prying eyes and known to only a few. The handler had joined her, hearing him sipping his coffee reassured her a little in readiness for what she was about to see. The handler smiled and moved away to another bank of light switches. Here we go. As the remaining lights flickered into life, the areas true size became apparent it was clearly a space designed to hold several large aircraft, though for all its size there was only one object situated in the centre of the hangar. Karen was a little under-whelmed. From her position the object lacked any real surface detail, and unlike a conventional aircraft the object looked as if it had been cast in one piece. There were no joins between panels, or rivets, and the most obvious difference was a lack of air-foils or wings. Welcome to Hangar 18 Miss Smith. The handlers words seemed a little dramatic, but she knew she was in a place where dramatic was an everyday occurrence. Karen walked towards the object and it was only after several paces that she realised the handler wasnt walking with her. She turned to him and he indicated for her to continue on. Once she reached the object it became more apparent how featureless a form it was. Even under the powerful lights there was no evidence of panelling or joins just a smooth, even surface. What was even more fantastic was the absence of landing gear. In fact there was nothing. No wheels or hydraulic struts. The object appeared to be floating its undercarriage several feet clear above the concrete floor. At equally spaced intervals there were four heavy concrete anchoring blocks with tethering straps leading from them to the fuselage. Karen noticed how the straps were hanging limp, clearly

showing that the craft was hovering under its own power. The handler joined her side. Even after all this time the power of the craft never fails to impress me. Karen looked at his expression, his eyes betraying a look of pride that echoed in his words. He tentatively placed his fingertips on the object and she felt compelled to do the same. As her fingertips made contact there was an initial shock similar to static. The handler had clearly experienced the same sensation and she half expected him to pull his hand away as shed done. No, leave your hand there. The shocks only momentary. Karen placed her hand on the surface again and once she got past the initial shock, the sensation was replaced with a feeling that took her by surprise. A gradual tingling began to move down her arm from her fingers on the objects surface, soon overwhelming her whole body, as if she was becoming one with the object. This made her feel a little uncomfortable and she pulled her hand away from the surface. The handler saw her reaction and did the same. He could see that the experience had unsettled his new recruit. Dont worry, its quite normal. It felt like an electrical shock. The handler smiled. Yes everyone says that. What you actually felt was the crafts energy field encompass you. As Im sure youve noticed, the crafts drive systems are powered up hence the lack of any landing struts. With the crafts systems active it emits a protective field. A force field? An elementary term, but yes. Karen stepped back. You leave the drive systems active why? The handler was surprised at her statement. Miss Smith, try and think of the craft in a similar way to one wed build, possibly a nuclear powered sub or aircraft carrier. Most conventional marine reactors can run without refueling for five to six years, the only limitation being the human factor. This crafts reactor utilises similar principles with regards to refueling, the main difference is its size, phenomenal output and the exceptional efficiency attained. My point being, once

activated the reactor can run indefinitely something our reactors are some way off. Karen shook her head in disbelief. Its unbelievable the power required to duplicate this stationary levitation position is vast. Weve replicated it with a balsawood and aluminum frame hooked up to the power grid but the energy requirements are huge. Yet, this hovering function must account for only a small percentage of the crafts total output. Like you said MrIm sorry sir, I dont know your name. Simmons. Like you said Mr Simmons, the output of this crafts reactor must be phenomenal suppose you tell me where it came fromand how you acquired it. Simmons smiled at her candid request. I thought youd never ask I suggest we grab a coffee, and then Ill tell you everything. Simmons and Karen walked into the small office area that was annexed from the hangar. It was noticeably warmer once inside and surprisingly, quite inviting. At the far side of the room there were tea and coffee making facilities, a small table with six chairs placed around it and some magazines piled neatly on the table. To all intent and purpose this couldve been a rest room in any office building anywhere on Earth. It just so happened to be in this nonexistent facility buried beneath a mountain range. Karen went to sit down; as she did she noticed something that surprised her. For all the normality of her surroundings in the small room one thing set it apart on the walls there were several framed photos. What she noticed was that the photos were of the craft shed briefly inspected, and several others of similar design. All in free flight and clearly taken by aircraft gun camera. Simmons saw her look at the pictures; he took a sip from his drink and placed hers on the table. Theyre not bad are they She couldnt help but like his matter-of-fact statement. They look like theyre photos of the craft here. Simmons sat down opposite Karen, sighing with relief as

he took the weight off his feet. Once hed settled he sipped from his drink and looked directly at Karen. She sensed he was about to make good on his promise and tell all. Simmons took a deep breath. So what are your initial thoughts? She thought the question a little vague. Well, if youre referring to the craft; from the glimpse Ive had my initial thoughts are ones of trepidation. Trepidation? Ill put it another way: in your possession is a piece of technology that defies our current understanding of physics and engineering. The various components that make the craft function are fantastic in their individual rights. What they converge to produce is nothing less than staggering. My caution stems from a concern about how effective my abilities will be. It might come across as negativity but I promise you its well, I suppose Im a bit scared. Simmons felt a sense of warmth, generated by the brilliant engineers humble opinion of herself. Can you imagine how we felt when we first began the programme to back-engineer the technology? Ive got a good idea. Like I said, its not negativity Simmons produced his wallet from a chest pocket under his coveralls. He opened it and after several seconds produced a very worn black and white photo. He placed it on the table in front of Karen. She looked at the picture although it was of a young man; there was no mistaking that it was of a much younger Simmons, in an RAF uniform and looking not too dissimilar to Dan Dare! Karen suppressed the smile she felt developing joking aside she thought that he looked rather handsome looking in the picture. When was this taken? The day after I received my commission the eighth of May 1940. I wont tell you how old I was though. Karen laughed at his mock vanity and handed him the photo back. Yes, 1940 was, for me at least, quite a year. Id wanted to become a pilot but my eyesight was deteriorating even as a young man. However desperate they were for pilots, there was

no chance Id be able to fly. So, armed with my degree in engineering that Id achieved just before the war started I became one of the chaps from air-intelligence who pore over reconnaissance photos. Without boring you with my early war record, my time spent on this work lent towards seeing some pretty sensitive stuff. Hence a fairly steep ascension in my security clearance, and with an engineering background I was detailed to a small group SV32. Simmons laughed to himself as he recollected the past. My God, when I think back. There were eight of us all tasked with looking for any evidence of advanced aircraft technology. Im sure youre aware of the Nazis superior technical abilities, and whatever else Hitler was, he certainly didnt believe in constraining his engineers and scientists. Simmons settled back into his chair. SV stood for Special Vehicle. We were looking for signs of anything that would give the Third Reich an advantage against us, and with good reason. Our bombers were flying deeper into enemy territory and there were increasing reports of strange lights in the sky and allegations of enemy aircraft that performed far in excess of our own. They had to come from somewhere. There had to be facilities and airfields where these craft were being launched from, SV32s job was to find them. After a while I was promoted and I began to head our little group. From our nest of offices in Whitehall I began to order recon-flights over occupied Europe, with the specific intention of finding these sites. To our credit we were responsible for discovering both the V2 and V1 programmes, though the latter was a little easier. So, with the majority of my war spent out of harms way I was looking towards a post-war future in one of the intelligence services. SV32 was close to being disbanded or merged with one of the larger organisations and our little group of eight began to wind our operation down. With the war over, and a huge collection of classified material to catalogue, SV32s existence was temporarily prolonged. I dont know, maybe it was fate, if you want to romanticise proceedings, but as the Americans and Russians began to pilfer the Nazis rocket technology, British

intelligence saw that we were being dealt out of future proceedings. You mean the development of the rockets? And far more. Although we had the know-how, in many ways equal to the German engineers, as a bankrupt former Super Power we needed an edge. There had been intelligence with regards to other Top Secret programmes the Nazis had been working on. As with the majority of them, their failing war effort meant that they had neither the time nor materials to utilise some of their more exotic creations. We were under more pressure than at any time during hostilities. With American and Russian interests focused on sacking Peenemunde and the other rocket installations our little group focused on investigating other sites of interest. For a while our efforts were fruitless. With the exception of discovering several facilities developing jet engines, our group found itself chasing phantoms false trails, some of which we found out later were false trails set by our American Allies, heaven forbid wed find something before the Yanks! So, SV32 was eventually disbanded. Wed outlived our usefulness and with the embarrassment of knowing the Americans had been misinforming our group to subvert our chances of finding anything useful, I began to work for British air intelligence and the rest of my team dispersed throughout the intelligence community. Then, in the winter of 1946 I was summoned to a meeting held, strangely, in one of our old SV32 offices. I had no idea what I was walking into. The meeting was with a group made up of high-ranking British intelligence personnel and several American opposite numbers. Without sounding too melodramatic, it was possibly my lifes pivotal moment. Our British arrogance hadnt allowed for the possibility that the Americans were as smart as us they were certainly far less devious; after all, theres no way wed have shared a secret of the magnitude they were privy to. What they actually conceded was their admiration for SV32s achievements. They made it pretty clear that theyd been well aware of our mandate, to locate sites ear-marked as probable facilities

housing advanced technology. They also made it clear that our services were required once more. Simmons looked at Karen, gauging whether hed lost her interest. She stared back, clearly captivated with his tale. This is where it gets interesting Simmons stood up abruptly, certainly far more sprightly than hed sat down. More coffee! he declared. Would you like some? Karens mind was still focused on his story, his innocuous question distracting her train of thought. No no, thank you. Simmons helped himself to another drink and returned to his seat, cradling the cup as he sat back in his chair. Where was I? Oh, thats it, SV32s glorious resurrection! He sipped the steaming drink. What the Americans had told me was barely credible, even with everything I was aware of. You see, what happened at Peenemunde opened a can of worms. In what context? Well, the history books dont really do very much justice to the truth of what actually happened. To an unsuspecting eye two emerging Super Powers were racing to collect as much of the Nazi rocket program as possible. The hardware was important, but not as important as the men whod made it happen. Again, to an unsuspecting eye, those scientists and engineers shipped out to the American test sites in New Mexico seemed to have gotten the better deal compared to their colleagues taken to Russia. In reality, the scientists in the States had no more freedom than those behind the Iron Curtain. They werent quite living the American dream; many were denied the possibility of their families joining them, certainly until their work came to fruition which wasnt quite the case. As we all know, the Americans were seriously trailing the Russians until the early sixties, so however the Russians were motivating their Germans, they were doing something right. I digress. As you can imagine, most of the Germans languishing at the White Sands facility werent too appreciative of the endless desert and forty degrees in the

shade! This bred a certain amount of resentment. No one can remember how it started or who started the rumours but certain tales emerged regarding other facilities. No harm done any workplace can be home to rumours. Obviously when youre working on the most highly classified program since the Manhattan Project people get touchy about the nature of certain rumours. The ones that were beginning to piss off the Americans were stories of a far greater prize than Peenemunde an ultra top secret facility that was alleged to house technology far in advance of the V2s and ME 262s. The Americans played things down for a while but in reality the rumours were getting under their skin. They could tell that the Germans were getting a little too much pleasure taunting their hosts, and what information they managed to collate was just too credible to ignore. So, one day they began to question some of the scientists and engineers. The Americans were about to begin the interviews when Von Braun himself demanded a meeting with the bases highest authority. Apparently he was furious for two reasons; firstly that some of his countrymen had been stupid enough to make the allegations. Secondly, because the Americans were actually taking them seriously. After a certain amount of hesitation, and realising the Americans would find out one way or another, he talkedafter ranting about Humanity being ill-prepared for the technology developed at one facility in particular. In actual fact, he didnt know the specifics but he did know the location of the facility, and told the Americans that he prayed to God that usual Nazi protocol had been followed during the retreat and destroyed all trace of the base. That was the first and last time he ever spoke on the subject but Im told he always suspected that the Americans found something. Karen was surprised. Sounds as if most of The Third Reich knew about this secretI mean, from what youre saying, most of the rocket engineers seemed to know something, Christ, Von Braun knew too. I dont wish to sound dismissive but it doesnt sound as though it was that much of a secret. Simmons gave her a look that concerned her, for the first

time his friendly features seemed to morph into a frown, a look of disappointment at what shed said for the first time he actually looked his age. Miss Smith. What youve just said indicates your naivety regarding certain events. Your age means you have neither experienced war first hand, nor have you an understanding of the responsibilities placed on a great many people to cooperate for what each side believes is the greater good. Ive seen it. Ive been part of it, and Im still part of it. To a degree, youre correct. Many of the Nazis top engineers and scientists were aware of what was going onsome of the more sensitive projects and where they were based. Id have been more surprised if Von Braun hadnt have known about this facility. He might not have been involved in those events, but his genius was no less because of that. Youll discover later that much of what happened was down to circumstance rather than applied logic. Many of those working at the secret facility were originally developing the next generation of rocket technology, supposedly with intercontinental capabilities. The scientists wouldve known what certain programs wanted to achieve there wouldve been a sharing of knowledge too anything that would aid the war effort. So if it appears that it was a badly kept secret, it just appears that way, but its far from the truth. After all, the true nature of most of what Germany was working on didnt come to light until after the war ended testimony to the integrity of all those involved. Karen felt her chastisement a tad unfair, but could see that Simmonss passion on the subject clearly hadnt diminished with the passage of time. As hed said, it was something he was still involved with, even after all this time. Under other circumstances she mightve argued her case; that maybe due to the nature of her previous work she wasnt quite as nave as hed made out. For now though her inquisitive nature meant that the need to listen was more important than her making a point. In the brief pause that followed she wondered how much Simmons knew. His involvement from the start made him a prime candidate to know everything. But she questioned

whether any one person would be allowed to know the whole truth, from the beginning until the present. Also, she was puzzled. Her involvement with the program was fairly recent. Why would a man with Simmons knowledge be so quick to divulge that much highly classified material was it disinformation? An exercise to muddy the already murky waters of such a clandestine project? To Simmons credit she found him totally plausible. Her work on other lesser classified programs had brought her into contact with people who were far too concerned about need to know measures, actually hampering projects purely because you couldnt confer with co-workers. If you were contracted to work on A and B you were forbidden from talking to your colleague working on C and D, regardless of whether your combined efforts would get the job done quicker, that was how security deemed things work. No one person should know too much. You were a very small cog in a very large machine. Simmons was different. Maybe the rumour was true the higher you went, the less those suppressive security measures applied. Was it possible that once you attained the trust of those with the highest security clearance that you became one of them? Maybe for Karen to succeed, Simmons knew that the facts would have to be presented in a full and frank manner. Not reams of paperwork with whole paragraphs blacked out, or guards frog-marching you through work areas with orders to keep your head straight and look neither to the left or right heaven forbid you should see something you shouldnt! Simmons finished his drink; his frown had been replaced with the warm friendly features she preferred. He leant forward. What Im about to tell you supersedes all levels of security you will have been privy to before today. Until now what Ive told you was very real, but in terms of where were going next, more of a background story so that you could understand how things came about, and my involvement. Also youll see why I said what I did about circumstance and how most peoples involvement in the beginning was down to just that. In other words, none of us really knew what we were

getting into. Simmons inhaled deeply, like he wasnt going to come up for breath for a long time. She saw him glance around, almost as if he didnt want anyone else to hear what he was about to say, although they were quite alone. She leant forward, Simmons cleared his throat and he began. My involvement, as I mentioned before, came about because of my time as head of SV32. The Americans had taken the Germans stories seriously enough, but Von Brauns reaction had galvanised their resolve to make a concerted effort to see if there was any truth to the stories. What the Americans didnt want was to attract any attention by searching for the facility. Britains role as faithful retainer to an American master was about to become a reality. They made a request to British intelligence for certain key personnel from the now defunct SV32 to aid American efforts locating the secret facility. My position meant that I was the first to be contacted. The details given were specific and to the point. After all, they really didnt know whether the facility actually existed, and if it did, what theyd find when we got there. SV32 would spend the next few weeks, for that was all the time we had, studying reconnaissance photos of an area on the Czech border, in the Sudety mountains. We couldnt find any conclusive evidence for the existence of a facility. The photos were fairly recent, which meant that anything that had been operational during the war could be hidden from view by the forests. Purely by chance, one of my operatives went back through some of our wartime reconnaissance photos of the area and found an over-flight photo of the same part of the mountains the Americans had been interested in. Dating back to 1943 there was evidence of some kind of construction site working on the mountainside. Wed never paid too much attention to it because we had no reason to. If wed have investigated every construction detail in occupied Europe Id have needed a staff of hundreds! None of our old pictures showed any evidence of it being a development site so they were archived. We expressed our concerns that all involved might have been led a merry dance

by the Germans. We showed them that there had been some signs of activity during 1943, but in our opinion there was nothing worthy of investigation. But, the Americans were adamant the fact that there was photographic evidence supporting some kind of activity was enough to warrant further investigation. And that was exactly what happened. In the spring of 1947 a mission was scheduled for a joint AngloAmerican team to be inserted into the area by British S.O.E. Karen couldnt help but see the irony of Simmons situation. So you manage to get through the war unscathed only to be recalled several years later for a secret mission. Simmons smiled, his mind trailing back to having to train for the parachute jump and the several weeks spent learning advanced survival techniques for their mission in the mountains. Yes it was quite a shock to the system. I dont know what was worse; being made to jump out of a wicker basket perched under a barrage balloon, or freezing my proverbial lower half off in the Brecons! How many of you went? Ah, quite a select little band really. Myself of course, two of my colleagues from SV32 who, like me, had some engineering knowledge. Five members of the SAS regiment, and a dozen Americans. Four of them from one of their intelligence units, two avionics experts and six soldiers. I was in command of the British contingent; a man called Travers was in command of the American team and had authority over the mission as a whole. Although I have to say, I was initially quite impressed with him. I didnt know it at the time but he was the only one of us who had some idea of what we might find, but his style of leadership allowed each specialist to operate freely each of us had been handpicked and he saw no reason to impose his will over our knowledge. We made our drop, and although we werent going into combat conditions we didnt want to arouse any Russian interest after all, they had as much right as us to be there. We had a cover story planned for if we were rumbled but that wasnt really the point. S.O.E did a marvellous job of getting us to within one mile of the coordinates the Americans had. Straight away we

could tell that some activity had taken place, but it was clear from the overgrown state of the area that the place had been derelict for some time. Unlike today, we had no GPS systems. The area covered by the coordinates was quite a decent sized space to be looking for needles in haystacks. We began to search the area and soon realised that all the construction mustve been subterranean in nature. The strange thing was the lack of a proper road. We surmised that this mustve been scheduled for a later date, but they wouldve still needed to get any construction materials for the build to the site. On the fourth day something happened that changed everything maybe with hindsight for the better, but at the time you know when you want the ground to open up and swallow you? Wed found what looked like the entrance to a railway tunnel, obviously some kind of entrance or exit. Its considerable size indicated that something fairly large was expected to go in and out. What kept cropping up was the absence of a suitable road to the site. The American photos hadnt shown anything, and ours from 1943 showed just a rough trail that only tracked vehicles would be able to negotiate. Travers was concerned that without the presence of a road there would be no facility. He decided to try and locate it, his theory being that wed found the exit and the Germans had just run out of time. We moved towards the far side of the mountain Karen cut in, Why didnt you just go in through the entrance youd found? Im sorry, I forgot to say. The tunnel only ran for about one hundred metres. The remainder had been sealed off. At some point the Germans mustve done what Von Braun had prayed for and attempted to destroy the facility. It took us a day to hike around one of the easier passes. As we got closer to what we thought might be the entrance the undergrowth got really dense. It was obvious why the American photos hadnt shown the road and there was a chance it hadnt been laid when we photographed the area in 43. So was the entrance there?

Yesand not only that. We came crashing out of the undergrowth into a detachment of Russian soldiers and engineers. I dont remember who was more shocked, us or them what was obvious was that theyd been there for a while. Their camp was set up and theyd been met with the same scenario wed found on the opposite side of the mountain a sealed off tunnel. Theyd actually begun to excavate the site and were making headways into being able to access the facility. Karen looked slightly surprised. They cant have taken too lightly to your arrival and why were they there in the first place? Simmons considered his answer. His mind still raced with the events that had happened over half a century ago, and they were his memories first hand. Memories that hed recanted more times than he could remember. For someone new, fresh into the fray, all this would seem completely fantastic. His main concern was not forgetting any key points of the story. You see, what no one realised, and there was no way anybody couldve known, was that the German scientists and engineers taken back to Russia had been telling the same story. Secret projects far superior in mandate to the rocket programme. Tales of technology that overshadowed everything the Allies had taken from Peenemunde. Like the Americans, the Russians were curious enough to take the stories seriously. After all, if youre trusting these men to one day get you into space why not take a risk and see if the rumours were true. This is what they did. Now there was a problem. They werent on Russian soil and we werent trespassing. If we had been I doubt any of us wouldve gotten out of there alive. As I said, they werent particularly happy at our intrusion and we werent too happy to have been beaten to the site. One of our special ops chaps spoke Russian and thankfully several of them spoke English, so at least there wouldnt be an international incident due to a lack of communication. We asked them what they were doing and they did likewise. We told them one of our aircraft had gone down in the area and that we were a search party. They said theyd lost a couple of cartographers whod been surveying the area. This was clearly bullshit from

both sides, but there was no way our man Travers was going to march in and spill his guts to the Russians. One of our men came up with the ingenious plan of if you cant beat them join them. We offered to help them find their map makers if theyd help us find our crashed aircraft. They werent idiots. They knew that we were there for exactly the same reason as them the facility. I think if it had happened a few years later thered have been an almighty firefight and none of us wouldve left the site. Since neither group had any intention of leaving we sat down one night and came out with it. We told them about the stories our German engineers had regaled the Americans with. Even mentioned the infamous warning from Von Braun. They loved that. After a bit of arm pulling and a little too much vodka I might add, our Russian counterparts began to tell a similar tale. In fact it was uncannily similar. Well, I suppose we couldve just sat there for weeks, playing mind games and drinking the Russians quite large supply of vodka. Only history will ever be able to judge whether thats what we shouldve all done but instead both groups decided to cooperate and work singularly to try and enter the tunnel. Travers wasnt really happy with the arrangement, but he was sensible enough to know it was the only way forward. The Russians were far better equipped; in both manpower and know-how. Theyd also been told by their Germans that theyd have to excavate to get into the facility. They just didnt bargain for a task on the scale that lay before us. Both groups worked in unison and we made real progress. Without the heavy machinery required it came down to brute strength and determination. After several days wed excavated enough rock and soil to be able to access the rest of the entrance tunnel. You see, the Germans whod fled the site didnt do that good a job of destroying the installation; in fact theyd done quite a poor one. Maybe theyd relied on the facilitys remoteness rather than explosives to prevent the Allies finding it. What was apparent was the true scale of the place it was huge. Tunnels running for hundreds of meters into the depths

of the mountainside. Surprisingly, the tunnels were in excellent order. Wed half expected to find them flooded and impenetrable. In actual fact they were completely dry and it felt as if the air purification system was still up and running. Clearly the whole group couldnt go into the facility. As ever there was a question of security clearance on both sides, so a decision was taken, regarding the team whod eventually try and access the rest of the facility. Travers and I would be going, and our opposite numbers from the Russian camp would join us. Three of our S.O.E. boys would join us and three of their military team too. You can see where Im going? If wed had a chef, theyd have taken theirs, but in the spirit of what we were doing I think we worked pretty well together. In all fourteen of us went into the tunnel with rations for two days. On finding anything of significance one from each side would return and inform the group camped on the mountainside. Like I said, the complex was huge; much of it looked as if it had still been under construction when it was abandoned. Within an hour wed reached the end of the tunnel and were several kilometres inside the mountain. The air shouldve been thick and heavy, clearly there was some form of air purification working, and at the end of the tunnel the electrical power was still running. A very large door blocked our travelling any further. It was huge at least twenty feet square and similar to the door on a bank vault. All the elbow grease in the world wouldnt get us past that, and for a while we thought our journey was over. This is where I can claim some of the credit. The door was obviously meant to be operated from both sides. Two pressure locks looked as though they could be opened manually so we tried turning the circular handles. The wheels were about two feet in diameter and took quite a bit of moving, but eventually they began to turn and the giant door began to move in its housing. Once the unlocking process was completed a series of motors kicked in and the door began to open. It was a staggering site. The door was over six feet thick of solid steel. It mustve weighed over a hundred tons or more, but the main thing was that it was open!

Once inside the next section the real speculation began. The large corridor behind the door was well lit and looked like wed stepped back five years in time to when the facility was a hive of activity. As we continued on we could actually hear sounds coming from deeper within the complex. What sort of sounds? Mechanical. Distant, but certainly some form of machinery. The air purification system sounded as though it was working much harder too. As you can imagine our minds were racing as to what waited for us further on. There was no way the Germans wouldve left everything running once theyd gone even to keep the pumps running that prevented the tunnels from flooding wouldve required a team of engineers to maintain any such system. No, this wasnt just a case of the lights being left on. There was now the possibility that some group had either found the facility and commissioned it back to operational status, which was highly unlikely, or maybe the facility hadnt been abandoned in the first place. Karen looked at Simmons slightly surprised. The war had been over for several years though. Why stay in a facility when theyd have been free to leave? Ah, but they werent entirely free if of course there were people still in there. So there was then? Dont forget, the only means of entering or leaving the facility was via the tunnels which had been sealed. Only the ventilation system had small inlet ports that ran to the outside, but they were only two feet across and ran almost vertically up to the mountain range. Even the uncompleted silos were little more than manicured precipices, and impossible to climb. We carried on and the noises became louder so we knew we were on the right track. I can tell you that even though there were quite a few of us and we were all armed, those were some of the most tense moments of my life. Eventually the tunnel levelled out and we entered a large foyer type area, probably similar in size to the hangar weve just come from. Three of the four walls housed large barn door type entrances that were

big enough to drive a bus through. Two of the three were padlocked; the third was unlocked and slightly ajar. I remember Travers looking at me and the Russian officer. From what I can remember we all moved to look at the same time. Simmons chuckled, Something of a Marx brothers moment Travers and one of the Russians took a peep and simultaneously grabbed a door a piece and began to pull them back on their rollers. As the opening widened we saw something thatll stay with me for the rest of my life. Simmons closed his eyes, as if the darkness would make the memory more vivid. Behind the doors were another set only two metres away, above us the dark granite of the mountain. These doors were closed. On closer inspection there was a gap, only an eighth of an inch, but enough to see that they were latched on the opposite side. There was no reason to think it was different to the one on the doors wed just opened so I passed the Russian officer my comb and indicated for him to slide it through the gap and try to push the latch from its seating. To our surprise, the latch clicked as it moved and it swung back hitting the door. Travers and the Russian did the same as before and using minimal effort they slid the doors back on their rails, and as they opened we got quite a shock. Behind the doors was a large workshop. Well lit and spotlessly clean there were the usual machine shop tools: lathes and millers, several work benches and some impressive looking welding gear. Around the shop there were pieces of dull metal secured to rigs, some were only a foot square, several were ten to twelve feet across. Further along there were other pieces of the metal that had been shaped and formed into quite complex rounded panels. Though closer inspection showed that they hadnt been beaten into shape like ordinary sheet metal and were perfectly smooth to the touch. The workshop led onto another foyer and another set of double doors, both of which were fully open. As we moved into the next room, we could see it was far larger than the machine shop, but as we went to move inside a voice shouted out Halt! There was the unmistakable sound of automatic weapons being primed, and before we could raise our own

weapons we saw that at least six to seven men had their sights aimed at our group. The German voice asked us to confirm our nationality and Travers shouted back. American and British then one of the Russian officers piped up. In a faultless English accent he spoke. Our party is Russian. From behind a large wooden crate one of the sharp shooters moved into sight. Unexpectedly the man wasnt dressed in army fatigues but wore dark trousers and an oilstained work overall that looked as if it had once been white. This was no soldier. He was middle-aged, small and a little plump, though his face sagged a little indicating that hed lost quite a bit of weight. More noticeable was his pallor his face was incredibly pale, almost grey in complexion, and his eyes betrayed not only weariness but the unmistakable look of relief. As he approached us he lowered his weapon and ordered the other hidden gunmen to do the same. It was the first time Id seen Travers at a loss for what to do. He looked blankly at me and instinct told me to meet the little man halfway. As I walked towards him he dropped his machine gun to the floor and collapsed. He began weeping uncontrollably and as I went to help him to his feet he grabbed me by the arms. He was quite a bit shorter than me and as we looked into each others eyes his relief was tangible. He wiped his eyes, shaking his head in disbelief, he kept repeating, Thank God. Thank God Karen stood by the cupboard and made another drink for her and Simmons. He remained seated, seemingly lost in his own thoughts. She walked back to the table and as she sat down she could see that Simmons had tears in his eyes. She hadnt expected emotion. Are you okay? Simmons nodded yes silently and gently wiped his face with his sleeve. He composed himself and took a sip of his drink. Im sorry. Dont beit clearly means something to you after all this time. Simmons nodded in agreement. Even after all this time its hard to forget. The others whod been lying in wait were much like him. None of them were soldiers; one was a young

lady similar in age to you. All of them were similar to the first man. Their faces had a deathly pallor and it was obvious they hadnt been out of the facility for an age. These were people that had clearly been under incredible stress they were nervous wrecks. Following protocol we dispatched our two messenger boys to return to the camp and inform them of our safety, and more importantly, our discovery. We knew that it would take a while for them to reach camp and return so we moved our party into the room and decided to see if we couldnt get to the bottom of things before we carried on. I sat the man down whod made himself known to us first and began to ask him a few questions. His English was perfect, but he clearly didnt want to say too much until we moved further into the facility. One of our S.O.E chaps had medical training and he gave our welcome party a brief check-up. All of them were medically fine, just exhibiting signs of prolonged stress and fatigue. We broke into our rations and one of our boys began to brew up. For the next couple of hours not too much was said. We drank tea, and the Germans sat together and spoke amongst themselves only briefly. They reminded me of boys sitting outside the headmasters office waiting for a rollicking! Eventually our scouts returned, though they werent on their own. In fact, it transpired that our camp had upped-sticks and decided to join us in the tunnels, much to the dismay of Travers. His Russian counterpart was a little more philosophical. Everyone seemed to know that we were on the verge of something big, we just didnt know what. With the whole of our Anglo-Russian-American party shoe horned into the room we decided to set up operations there, and as before the chosen few would accompany the Germans into the rest of the complex. As we walked I tried to gain a little more information from my new German friend. We shared a cigarette and all hed say was that he wasnt permitted to say anything and that once we reached the others, his superiors would enlighten me. Even when I asked him how many more of his colleagues there were, he just repeated his statement mantra fashion.

We didnt have to wait very long. The workshops wed entered through were on the perimeter of a series of smaller hangars placed around one very large hangar. I mean it was huge, easily on par with one youd moor an airship in. The first hangar we went into was empty. No machinery or equipment nothing, except for some boxes in the far corner. Actually, they werent just boxes, they were coffins. Six of them. All hermitically sealed and containing the bodies of two soldiers and four engineering technicians. We moved from there into a second hangar and this contained what looked like a mock-up shop. Mock up? Sorrywhere theyd obviously been building a prototype airframe and the place was littered with wood and sheet metal. In the far corner there was something covered with a series of tarpaulins, but we didnt pay too much attention to it. Our German chap asked us to wait in the hangar whilst he went to tell the others hed referred to about our arrival. Travers wanted to accompany him, which I could understand, but the German was adamant that our barging into the hangar would terrify his colleagues something they didnt need any more of! Several of our S.O.E chaps tailed him at a distance just to make sure he wasnt going to return with a detachment of soldiers. After half an hour they returned just before he did, and he was alone. He made a beeline for me and asked to talk. He was a different character. He looked like a proverbial weight had been lifted from him. Hed spoken to his colleagues. They were as shocked as hed been but would be happy to meet us. It was then that he asked me something that took me by surprise. Calmly, and quite seriously, he stopped and said,Does this mean the war is over? Karen shook her head in disbelief. You mean they had no idea the war had been overfor two years? How the hell did they survive for that long? Easier than you may suspect. These complexes were only successful so long as they could evade enemy detection. There would be no point building a facility close to a major town or city for obvious reasons. Most were built in remote locations

and that remoteness would mean for the facility to operate theyd need to be self-sufficient. No stroll to work in the morning, the engineers and scientists would be required to live and work in the complex for weeks or months at a time. Sometimes far longer. Many of them were in essence citadels small towns in their own right. The engineers would work round the clock to achieve their goals. When we found the complex there were forty people left. The facility originally had a compliment of six hundred. As you can imagine, even with only a small percentage of its intended population, two years in isolation had taken its toll. They were down to the last few weeks of rations and the water treatment plant was on its last legs. Couple that with a serious accident that had killed four of the engineering team and two deaths by natural causes, Id have said that our arrival had been in the nick of time. In all fairness to them, theyd suspected that the war mightve ended and if it had that Germany had been defeated. What they were doing though transcended any individual desire to leave the confines of the facility. Karen still didnt buy into Simmonss explanation. Still doesnt explain why forty, sorry, forty-six people stayed there of their own free will. The other five hundred and fifty-four left the facility so why stay. Even if the retreating German army tried to destroy the complex didnt take you and your team long to get in there, so I dont understand what kept them there. Simmons could see the logic behind her argument. For a short while, when theyd found the survivors, he couldnt understand their position either. Sometimes there are thingssituations that are too important to leave to chance. That transcends the cost of a human life even. Thats what we were confronted with down there. It was only when wed seen everything that all of us fully appreciated the power of the place, and its hold on the engineers and scientists that stayed. As wed expected, the facility had originally been built to continue the work started at Peenemunde. The next generation

of rocket technology was very much in the design and development stages. From the data we found, if theyd have continued to actually build what the blueprints showedwell, lets just say that wed have had a swastika on the moon by the late fifties. Several events diverted the Germans efforts away from this agenda. Firstly, Hitler, as usual, went against his advisors and insisted that the rocket programme remain at the already up and running sites, Peenemunde and the other launch facilities in northern France. Our facility had been built, as I said, for the specific reason of taking that technology to the next step. Theyd actually started building it in 1940, but the nature of what they were up against meant that it remained under construction until the day it was earmarked for abandonment. The mountain environment, and the solid granite, made the facility impervious to allied bombing should it be discovered at a later date, and they had designs on it being the site for any future intercontinental launches once theyd won the war. So it was a work in progress? Very much so. We later found the missile silos that were half completed; the whole setup was incredibly impressive. But, as I said, their attentions had been diverted. None of the hardware from the other sites moved to the facility. More importantly, an event happened that meant that the complex was about to become singular in its function. In the summer of 1943, around the time wed overflown and photographed the site, most of what we found had already been built. Its completion date was supposed to be sometime in 1945, but for obvious reasons that never happened. In 43 though, the facility had more soldiers and construction workers than engineers. The bulk of the technicians who were there oversaw the completion of the workshops and test areas that were being custom built. That was when it happened. One late summer evening some of the soldiers on duty had acquired a consignment of liquor and whilst taking in the night air they decided to get drunk. The nearest village was many miles away and I suppose without the lure of local women there was very little else to occupy their time with.

What happened next is rather subjective, in so much as the facts were a little distorted, but we were able to build up a general picture of the following events: At approximately one oclock in the morning on the 31st of August 1943, three craft of unknown origin made a landing half a mile from the complex. The soldiers who witnessed this later said it looked like aerial flack coming down but theyd soon dismissed this because once the lights reached a certain point they stopped midflight and hovered for about 30 seconds. As you can imagine, this sobered them up rather quickly. Thoughts then turned to either a crash landing or an Allied mission. One of the detachment went back to the facility probably the most sober of the group, and the rest went to investigate. This is where details got a little sketchy. We know they found three crafts that had landed and we know that several of the soldiers were killed as they attempted to ascertain what type of craft they were and more importantly who they belonged to. Only much later on, we found that the craft had still been powered for flight. The two soldiers killed had gotten too close to the hulls which were heavily charged with static electricity and had been electrocuted. Fearful for their lives, the remaining soldiers retreated back to the facility. Their main problem now was trying to make their superiors believe the story whilst smelling like a brewery. The fact that two of the detachment had failed to return meant that a group of military policemen went looking for the deserters whilst the others were placed on a charge and confined to the facility awaiting Court Marshal. If enemy craft had come down whilst the men had been drinking theyd have been shot the next day. What actually happened was that some very scared military police returned rather hastily, verifying the soldiers story, having found the two badly charred bodies and three unidentified aircraft. By now it was daylight and not wanting to report to his superiors with wild conjecture the facilitys commanding officer sent his entire complement of soldiers out to determine the nature of the landing. Because some of the engineers on site were experts in rocket and jet propulsion they joined the

party to hopefully determine the design and origin of the three crafts. Now, without going into too much detail, the mission was a success. First and foremost no one else died. The crafts were dormant when the group got there and several of the occupants were actually trying to help the dead soldiers. It didnt take a genius to work out that the beings in front of them werent Allied troops, and that the three crafts werent conventional aircraft. What is a little hard to determine is who made the first move. We know that everyone concerned held onto their nerves and no shots were fired. Unable to communicate, both groups mustve been at a slight impasse. Fortunately, what we are sure of, is the presence of a man called Victor Schreiber. Victor was one of the rocket engineers I mentioned. A brilliant man by any standards and a very close friend of Von Braun. Probably tying in why he had knowledge of the facilitys existence. Schreiber was heading the facilitys programme to design and build the next generation of rockets, utilising a more advanced form of propulsion than their predecessors. He knew immediately what was in front of them, and fortunately he was able to convey this to the soldiers on site. The irony is that this was a seminal moment in human history. Our species was about to make contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence, and the Nazis were humanitys representatives. Thank God that Schreiber was there. Yes, he was a Nazi and a willing servant of the Third Reich but as a person he was ideal for the job of brokering a first contact scenario. It was obvious that the soldiers had been killed accidentally. The scorching on the ground under the craft indicated that fantastic heat had been generated and that it wasnt down to rocket blast. He also witnessed how concerned the aliens had been over the bodies too. He noticed that one of the craft seemed to be damaged. Not badly, but on closer inspection the hull appeared to have been breached, a small hole about the size of a tennis ball had been punctured into the outer hull and this had forced the group to land. Again, were not sure how, Schreiber managed to convey

his willingness to help. Some of the detachment were sent back to the facility and ordered to bring a welding rig and some alloy sheets to try and effect a repair. The aliens understood his intentions and were happy seemingly to let Schreiber and his team try to repair their ship. One of the technicians mustve fired up a welding torch, or something, but the aliens apparently stopped the repair attempt as soon as they saw the acetylene torch lit. For some reason the materials used in the crafts hull werent compatible with the welding process or the alloy bought from the complex. Schreiber knew that the aliens couldnt possibly carry out a repair in the open and utilising a system of drawn symbols he managed to express his desire to move the craft back to the facility. Karen raised an eyebrow. I bet he did Simmons smiled. Are you telling me any sane engineer wouldnt do the same? Like Id said, you didnt need a man with his intellect to work out what was going on. Hed been near enough to see the crafts up close and even his brief glimpse indicated that a level of technology was in use that he and his team could only dream of. The crafts were quite small, only thirty feet in diameter and were a circular/elliptical shape, but not perfectly round. The aliens were also a bit smaller than a human form, both in height and stature. The tallest of them was no more than five feet and if their density was the same as ours they were probably no more than five or six stones in weight. They also werent completely trusting of Schreibers offer to take the craft back to the facility. But if there were no proper roads back to the facility how did he ever hope to get the craft back? This was on the surface at least a very real problem. They had tracked vehicles and a couple of scout cars, but the track was completely insufficient to trailer anything back especially for half a mile. Quite accidentally Schreiber lent on the damaged craft, and to his surprise his weight moved it slightly. Now he wasnt a big man by any stretch of the imagination, but when he tried to move it again he found that he could not only move it but could lift one whole side from the floor. So, in answer to your question, they carried it back.