The Kim Newman & Eugene Byrne


The Matter of Britain

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- British Fascist Movements

- Special Agent Smedley

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The Matter of Britain Series
Agent Smedley Saves the Day

This needs some explaining ... In October 1998, Kim, Eugene and a number of other people got together and spent a weekend having a roleplay game in which Special Agent Smedley, one of the British Government-in-Exile's greatest assets, is sent into German-occupied Britain. His mission: To organise Resistance and sabotage in the Somerset area. The game, which gets very silly, has no relevance whatsoever to any of Kim & Eugene's novels, except that it uses all the research we've done.

Kim and Eugene, who were refereeing the game, accept no responsibility for the spectacular lapses of taste and common decency which follow. We apologise unreservedly for any offence which may be caused, but would merely observe the 'Lord of the Flies' type endency of perfectly decent people to act appallingly when they're pretending to be Nazis and when "it's only a game".

The various different roles were played by a number of people who'd probably prefer not to be named here in view of their genrally appalling conduct. They include, among others, a leading British sf author (General Diffring), a Ministry of Defence scientist (Cuthbert Calculus, Oberst Senf), a distinguished socialist politician (Special Agent Smedley), a corporate IT director (Lemuel Blake), Europe's leading authority on medieval German literature (Judge Bratpfanne) and a senior executive of a major comics chain (Hauptsturmfuhrer Voller).

Other roles were taken by people so appalled at the outcome that they would prefer not to be even slightly mentioned.

All characters are fictitious, apart from the obvious ones (e.g. Hitler, Churchill, Princess Margaret). The Somerset towns named in the story really do exist.

Pictured above: Lemuel Blake and Special Agent Smedley at a friendly cricket-match, taken in happier times before the war.

October 2 1941, 8pm. Special agent Smedley and is put ashore by Free British submarine HMS Cockleshell on the shore of German-occupied England at Hinkley Point, Somerset, along with two canisters of weapons and explosives. He buries the canisters and sleeps in the barn of a nearby farm.

For a full biography of Agent Smedley and why he is so important to the Resistance effort, click here.

October 3. Smedley goes to the home of Cyril Braithwaite, a local iris farmer of his acquaintance from pre-war days. Braithwaite is sympathetic to Smedley's mission and gives him the three fried breakfasts he demands, even though his own food supplies are limited. Smedley then seduces Braithwaite's daughter Elsie and enlists her as the first member of his Resistance cell and tattoos the location of his secret arms dump on her left buttock.

Smedley and Elsie then cycle into Bridgwater on a reconnaissance mission, Smedley using the bike of Elsie's late brother Matthew, who recently died of bullets in tragic circumstances.

In Bridgwater, Smedley leaves Elsie standing on a corner keeping lookout for him while he goes to Alan's Record Shop where, after establishing his credentials, he is given a 78rpm gramophone recording, which turns out to be a message from his controller, Gladys, who tells him to "form a band" and make contact with other local resistance leaders. Smedley asks Alan, the owner of the record shop, to help him form a resistance organisation. "Orright, Smedders," replies the genial shopkeeper, "but only on condition that nobody gets killed."

Outside, he is about to meet up with Elsie once more when he is stopped by a policeman who notes that he has not seen Smedley around here before and politely requests to see his identity papers. Despite the fact that Smedley has perfectly good forged papers and that the police constable is the very model of politeness, Smedley gets cocky. Provoked, the constable tries to arrest him, but Smedley pulls out his pistol and shoots him in the stomach.

He then runs back to Alan's record shop where Alan thinks there is nothing at all unusual about Smedley taking off a blood-soaked overcoat, putting it in the grate and busily striking matches and applying them to it.

Having potentially led the police to Alan's record shop, Smedley now runs to the offices of the Lemuel Blake & Co Shipping Line, workplace of the leader of the British Patriotic Resistance.

Lemuel Blake is horrified at all the trouble that Smedley has already caused and believes him to be a lunatic. He takes Smedley's gun in return for a piece of paper promising to give it back sometime and puts him up for the night in an attic room at his house. Smedley compounds his spectacularly incompetent performance to date by telling Blake where his secret arms dump is. He spends the evening making a banjo from an egg-slicer and an old biscuit-tin. .

October 4. Blake has decided that the best thing to do with Special Agent Smedley is get him off the scene for a while. Having had word from South Wales that some precious cargoes of coal await, Blake puts Smed on one of his ships, The Clarabelle, under the command of Captain O'Hab, a rough, tough, salty, plain-spoken Irish seaman.

In Swansea, Smed is sent to the home of one of Blake's distant contacts in the communist Resistance, Jones the Red. Jones, it turns out, is a lunatic, whose idea of 'military manoeuvres', involves posing in front of his wardrobe mirror with his revolver. Smedley, still gun-less, tries all manner of ploys to get Jones to give him his gun, but to no effect. In disgust, he leaves Jones' house and goes and sleeps in the gutter.

October 5: There is, he notices, markedly more German military activity in South Wales, and assumes that the Resistance must be more active here. A passing stranger advises him to get out of the gutter or he'll be arrested. Smedley returns to Jones' house and, that evening, batters him to death with a rolling-pin, using Jones' blood to write "Die you commie Welsh filth" on the walls in Gothic script. He then gets a good night's sleep.

October 6: Smedley leaves Jones' house, setting fire to the sofa and goes to the Docks, hoping to get back to Bridgwater. Blake wants him to stay in Swansea for several weeks, however, and he finds that the Clarabelle has already sailed on the morning tide.

He goes to make contact with another name that Blake gave him - Jones the Butcher. He finds Jones' butcher's shop only to discover that the man is, in fact, an enthusiastic fascist. Smed accepts an invitation to attend a meeting of British Action, the new German-sponsored British Nazi party, that evening at the Saint Hitler Hall. Meanwhile, he spends the afternoon amassing milk bottles and stealing petrol.

There are two armed policemen at the entrance to the hall to protect the members of British Action from being lynched by their fellow-citizens. Smedley throws one of his Molotov cocktails at the policemen, but it fails to ignite. In the ensuing commotion, a number of British Action members spill out of the hall. One of the policemen takes the opportunity to 'accidentally' shoot Jones the Butcher in the knee, while the rest of the Nazis are beaten up by passers-by. Smedley takes advantage of the confusion to make himself scarce. He hides out in the docks for a couple of days, awaiting the return of one of Blake's ships.

October 8: The Clarabelle returns to Swansea. Smedley boards it and returns to Bridgwater, where he is re-united with Lemuel Blake. Blake has recovered Smed's arms dump and returns his gun to him. They discuss strategy.

October 10: At a Quiz Bee at the Lime Kiln Inn, Smedley meets up with Comrade Hackwill, a representative of Canning, the head of the communist resistance in the West Country. Comrade Hackwill is clearly of Eastern European extraction. Smedley and Hackwill agree that now is the time for action and that the British resistance must do everything in its power to assist the Soviet Union, currently engaged in a struggle for its very existence with Nazi Germany. Hackwill and Smedley agree to bomb the Bridgwater Fascist Club (formerly the Labour Club) where the Nazis have been currying favour with the locals by giving away free beer every evening to all those who will give the fascist salute. They plan to ambush the troops of the small local German garrison when they rush into the middle of the town following the explosions.

October 11:  Smedley and Comrade Hackwill meet up with Lemuel Blake to discuss the plan, which they propose carrying out on Saturday night, when the Club is at its busiest. Blake is horrified; he thinks that lots of innocent Bridgwater piss-heads will be killed by the explosion, and that if any Germans perish, the town will be the victim of massive reprisals. In return for all this, he can see no possible gain for the resistance movement.

Smedley and Hackwill spend the whole week trying to persuade Blake to join in their plans, mainly because Blake has got all Smedley's weapons and explosives. Blake secretly resolves to thwart them by getting two of his men to burn down the Club the night before the attack is due to take place.

October 15: The day before the attack is due to take place, and Blake is still refusing to co-operate with Smedley and the communists. Smedley spends the morning and much of the afternoon doing press-ups and chin-jutting exercises. In the afternoon he goes to the cinema. The newsreels are announcing the arrival of Reichsbastard Heydrich in London for the installation of the new puppet 'provisional' government. To mark the occasion, every working man in Britain is to be given a free pair of boots. He then visits the fascist club where he refuses to make the salute for free beer but accepts several pints from other locals who 'buy' them for him.

Later that evening, after the Club has closed, Wilson and Walker, two known associates of Lemuel Blake's, are arrested loitering outside with matches and a can of petrol.

October 16: Wilson and Walker are released from custody in the early hours of the morning. The police believe Walker when he tells them that the petrol is contraband. Walker is a known black market trader. Blake, nonetheless, succeeds in persuading Smedley and Hackwill to call the operation off. Smedley is still living at Blake's house.

October 17: Special Agent X, a longstanding contact of Blake's, arrives at his door late at night and tells him that a very very important person is soon to be delivered to his care. This person must be guarded with everyone's lives until s/he can be moved on by the resistance to a coastal location to be taken out of the country.

Blake, meanwhile, has divided his arms and explosives windfall from Smedley between three of his secret rural hideouts, namely: Triscombe Stone, Combwich, Aller.

Smedley has by now resolved to carry on the struggle without Blake, form his own socialist resistance movement, establish safe houses and make contact with the Welsh resistance. Sounding out various members of Blake's cell, he discovers that Mr Fraser, the local undertaker, who is Scottish, is a secret communist sympathiser. Fraser pledges to work with Smedley.

October 18: Agent X arrives at Blake's house again and delivers the very important person, who turns out to be a 14-year-old girl. It's Princess Margaret Rose, the King and Queen's youngest daughter who got left behind when they fled to Canada. She turns out to be a spoiled brat, demanding cake and cigarettes off everyone. Smedley offers to take her off Blake's hands, but Blake has given his word that she will be protected with his life. Princess Margaret insists on going off with Smedley and the two of them sneak off together to Fraser's house for the night.

October 19:  Leaving Princess Margaret at Fraser's house, Smedley and Fraser go off on bicycles to the village of Aller where, Fraser says, some of Smedley's arms and explosives have been secreted by Blake. Halfway across the Somerset Levels, however, they come across a number of local policemen on manoeuvres with the Wehrmacht and decide it's best to turn back and look again another day.

October 20: Communist agents affiliated to Smedley and Hackwill, throw petrol bombs at the Tax Offices at the Manor House in Burnham-on-Sea. The building is damaged but there are no casualties.

October 21: Communists attack a Young Farmers' meeting at Bishpool Farm, but there are few injuries. One of the Commies is captured and beaten up.

At a summit meeting between Smedley, Blake and Hackwill, everyone resolves that the free beer at the Fascist Club threat has to be dealt with. They decide to try and poison it with urine.

Corporal Fritz, a nice young German chap who had been going out with Blake's receptionist, is found beaten up and tied to the Hitler statue in the Cornhill where the Admiral Blake statue used to be. His bum is painted red, white and blue and elsewhere on his body are painted the words BLAKE - REMEMBER THE NAME AND WORRY. Out of town a little on the A38 a farmer finds that his herd of cows have all been painted with the words BLAKE or RESIST. None of this is anything to do with Blake, but is the work of Smedley who is trying to corner Blake into fighting.

October 22: Blake is visited by his old friend the Deputy Chief Town clerk Jack Townsend who tells him that there are suspicions in certain circles that he might somehow be mixed up in terrorism. Blake reassures him that this isn't the case. Townsend gives Blake a friendly warning that he should watch his step.

Smedley is taken to Aller by Fraser, who shows him one of Blake's country bolt-holes. Here, Smedley recovers a third of the arms and explosives he brought into England with him. These they take to Fraser's.

That night at the Fascist Club, the Wurzels are playing and everyone is having a great time. As the beer runs out, Marc the Barman goes to change the barrels in the cellar. The new batch of beer turns out to be urine and the customers at the Fascist Club riot in disgust, killing the Wurzels in the process.

The same evening, a policeman is shot at at Berrow, near Burnham-on-Sea, while a police house is blown up at Bason Bridge. There are no injuries.

October 23: Following the rioting at the Fascist club and the deteriorating security situation elsewhere in the county, Deputy Town Clerk Jack Townsend imposes emergency bye-laws in the tow, including a 7pm curfew and a ban on assemblies of more than three people. All police are armed. Through the day there are a number of minor incidents, in which stones are thrown at police, or local government property and posters are vandalised.

Agent X again appears at Blake's house, trying to find Princess Margaret. Blake stalls him. Agent X says he will return the following day.

October 24: The police station at Bawdrip is machine-gunned. One constable is injured.

Frank Pike, a bank clerk who is also a member of Blake's resistance cell, finds the body of a teenaged girl is found on Sedgemoor with her throat cut. Around the body is tied a sign which reads, SO DIE ALL BRITISH SCUM. Pike takes the body to Blake's house.

Agent X returns to Blake's house, demanding to know there whereabouts of the Princess. Blake has to tell him that he thinks she is dead. Agent X is not very pleased. At the same time, Pike is taken by Smedley's men who torture him to find out what he knows and what Blake knows. Pike tells everything and is released in return for his promise to quit the resistance.

Blake proposes a meeting to Smedley and they meet down by the side of the Canal. Blake agrees to give Smedley some of the weapons he brought into the country. He later discovers that his cache at Aller has been stolen anyway.

Late that night, the bridge at Burrowbridge is destroyed by communists. A number of fires are started around Bridgwater and Farmer Dyson, a notorious Nazi sympathiser, is murdered.

October 25: Badly-spelled graffiti supporting a hitherto unheard-of organisation known as the Blake Revolutionary Army starts to appear throughout the town. The name of the organisation is normally shortened to BRA.

Smedley sends two of his most trusted supporters, Agents Patsy and Expendable, to collect Blake's promised consignment of arms. They get the arms and take them to Smedley without incident.

That evening, someone throws a firebomb through a front window of Lemuel Blake's house.

At the same time, in faraway Swindon, headquarters of the 341st Infantry Division, which is responsible for the security of the West of England, Diana Fluck, the young mistress of the Divisional commander, General Anton Diffring, is jumped upon by unknown thugs and taken to a back-street where she is tarred and feathered. General Diffring takes to his bed and orders an immediate investigation.

October 26: Guards at the Luftwaffe airbase at Westonzoyland catch a boy scout, apparently spying on the facility, which has been denuded of aircraft for the Russian Front and only includes two Ju87 Stuka dive bombers (only one of which is serviceable) and a Fiesler Storch reconnaissance aircraft. The boy protests that he is not spying but is merely an innocent plane-spotter. The friendly Germans take him up for a ride in the Storch, and drop him out of it at 1500 feet.

Monday October 27: For the first day in quite a while, the West country is apparently free of violence. There are no reports of any terrorist activities anywhere and the big news in Bridgwater is the announcement that Reichsbastard Heydrich, an extremely important SS official, is to pay the town a ceremonial visit in early November.

One of Smedley's gang is arrested by the Germans in Swindon on suspicion of having taken part in the tarring & feathering of Diana Fluck.

Tuesday October 28: General Diffring, co-ordinating intelligence from the Bridgwater area, orders a lone Stuka pilot, operating the only working aircraft at Westonzoyland airfield, to bomb Cyril Braithwaite's farmhouse near Hinkley Point, thinking that Smedley might be staying there. Smedley is in the house at the time, and though it is destroyed, he escapes unharmed.

Officially, the Germans deny that this was their work. They say it must have been the Welsh.

Meanwhile, the Smedley resistance have made contact with a prostitute named Sharon who works at the small military brothel at Westonzoyland. They feed her false plans of how they are going to stage a major invasion of Britain.

Wednesday October 29: Morning dawns over Sedgemoor to reveal several sheep happily grazing in the fields with the letters BRA (as in Blake Revolutionary Army) painted on them. Later that morning, one of the Luftwaffe pilots stationed at Westonzoyland is ambushed by armed men and shot in the legs. He is left lying there with a Douglas Bader calling-card. In Swindon, the communist agent arrested for tarring and feathering General Diffring's mistress is executed.

Thursday October 30: Sharon the Westonzoyland prostitute disappears, along with Smedley's false invasion plans.

One of Lemuel Blake's coasters brings in an 18-strong force of commandos from Canada via Ireland and drops them off on the beach at Stolford. They spend the first night hiding out in the charred ruins of Cyril Braithwaite's house.

(At this point in my notes it says that Barbara Cartland is a Nazi sympathiser, but I don't know what this is supposed to mean.)

Two of Smedley's men are seen by German guards near the Westonzoyland brothel later that evening. In the ensuing firefight, one of them dies heroically, while the other is a snivelling coward who tells the Germans everything he knows, including how Smedley has some new commandoes under his orders and how the resistance in Bridgwater is controlled by Lemuel Blake.

Friday 31 October:  In view of the apparently deteriorating security situation in Somerset, Dr Six,  the head of the SS in Britain sends his most ruthless and able lieutenant, Hauptsturmfuehrer Rudi Voller and six handpicked men, to Bridgwater. Voller's orders are to root out and destroy all resistance and to ensure the safety of Reichsbastard Heydrich on his forthcoming visit to the town.

At this point, the opposing armed forces stand as follows:

Lemuel Blake has 29 duffers in Bridgwater
Smedley has 30 men and women in his cells around Somerset, including his commando force from Canada. Of these, about 10 are ordinary patriots, while 20 are communists of varying conviction. Smedley's Headquarters is at Holford in the Quantock Hills, where he has 10 of his most loyal commies. He has 10 patriots stationed elsewhere in the Quantocks, and 10 commies in the town of Bridgwater itself.

As of 31 October, Wehrmacht forces in the Bridgwater area, comprising second line infantry troops and gendarmes from the 341st Division, are disposed as follows:
100 at Hinkley Point
100 at Cannington
100 in Bridgwater
100 in Huntworth
100 at Pawlett
100 at Chilton Trinity

Reinforcements will be coming in when Heydrich visits.

In addition to these there are the local British police, as well as Hauptsturmfuehrer Voller and his handpicked secret policemen, who have taken up residence in the house of a mad old woman who lives next door to Bridgwater Arts Centre.

Saturday November 1: Four of Voller's SS men enter Blake's house to arrest him. As they do so, the house evaporates in a ball of flame and bits of house and they are all blown to pieces. Investigators later find the corpses of a teenage girl (Princess Margaret) and an older man, whom they assume to be Blake.

Unknown to everyone, Blake has taken one of his own ships to Pill, near Avonmouth. The Clarabelle is only sailing with a skeleton crew as most of the rest of them don't want to have anything to do with him now that the SS are after him. Blake sets up a hideout in Leigh Woods, on the edge of Bristol, with a few of his most loyal men.

Sunday November 2: Voller orders reprisals for the murder of four of his men. The only two members of the Blake family that can be found are arrested. These, along with 38 randomly-chosen Welsh, Scots and Gypsies are to be shot on the Fairfield on the evening of November 5th. To ensure that plenty of local people turn out for the spectacle, Voller announces that free pairs of boots will be handed out afterwards. Bridgwater police Superintendent Paul Reynaud reluctantly rounds up 38 people.

Monday November 3
In Bridgwater, excitement is mounting over the forthcoming visit of the important Nazi dignitary. The bunting is being hung up and a local pro-Nazi movement, comprising mainly of Young Farmers and known as the Shit-Shirts, holds a rally on the Cornhill during the morning.

Smedley responds quickly to this new phenomenon, however, and one of his agents manages to substitute the elastic in Shit-Shirt leader Stan Curran's underpants with cordite. The explosion, in mid-rally which neatly cuts Curran in half, leaves only two Shit-Shirts uninjured and unkilled. These two doughty souls, hold a recruiting drive, playing on the noble martyrdom of Stan Curran, and manage to get 20 new members before nightfall. Later that evening, however, the new Shit-Shirt leader, one Bob, is shot in the head by one of Smedley's Canadian commandos, who is then caught and interrogated.

Tuesday November 4
The first day of Heydrich's visit. Smedlist and Blake-ist graffiti is on walls all over the town.

If you'd like to have a sneak preview of Reichsbastard Heydrich's full itinerary, click here. It's done in the best possible taste.

Heydrich's heavily-guarded train pulls in at 2pm where he is met by a civic reception committee and shags the Carnival Queen.

Later that evening, a glittering civic reception is held for Heydrich at the Town Hall. He makes a speech condemning the British as a defeated, decadent race of inbred subhumans which even the SS Captain Voller considers to be in shocking bad taste. As interpreter, Voller deliberately mistranslates the speech to make it more conciliatory.

Heydrich then inspects the honour-guard of Shit-Shirts and decides to test their loyalty by ordering Silage Shit-Shirt, who has brought an elderly shotgun with him, to kill two policemen. Silage fails to do this and so Heydrich grabs Silage's gun to do the job himself. Silage's old firearm explodes, however, leaving Heydrich with a painful hand injury. He is rushed to the local hospital and demands drugs, and leaving Voller and Diffring to argue about who should kill the policemen. Voller executes Silage Shit-Shirt and the two cops escape quietly. Heydrich later returns to the hall completely out of his head on whatever drugs were left at the Bridgwater Royal Septic Infirmary and Jubilee Horse-Doctoring Emporium and talks rubbish for the rest of the evening.

Wednesday November 5
In the morning, Heydrich is taken on an official visit of the highly-secret German chemical and biological  warfare research and development facility on the site of the old Bridgwater Cellophane Factory. Heydrich is given a practical demonstration of the new biological weapon Todthrax, which certainly seems to work on randomly selected 'volunteers' from the local populace.

Heydrich's afternoon engagement is to visit a local school, Dr Morgan's Grammar School for Boys. Here he watches a rugby match between the school's First XV (West of England Schools Champions) and a scratch team from the elite Wehrmacht Reserve Elderly Filing Clerks' Battalion. The referee, who is Russian, blatantly makes loads of unfair decisions in the Germans' favour. He is not, in fact, a German plant, but one of Canning's Russian agents who is trying to raise anti-German rebellion by outraging the British sense of fair play. It almost succeeds, but then Heydrich decides he is bored by this stupid game and demands to move on to the next item on the itinerary.

He is taken to the main School Hall where he is to give a speech and present the year's prizes for academic achievement. The Prizes for German and for Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Nazi Maths go to a bright young (though rather short) lad named Jerry Toady. Heydrich takes quite a shine to Toady and invites him to join his entourage for the evening.

On the Fairfield, the big Bonfire Night celebration takes place, but despite the offer of free boots to everyone who shows up, few of the locals arrive to witness the execution of 40 civilians or the burning of Churchill in effigy. Heydrich, however, pronounces himself pleased with his day and retires early to his suite at the Clarence Hotel, taking young Jerry Toady with him.

Pictured: The Clarence Hotel at the time.

Thursday November 6
Heydrich and his young guest remain in their hotel room all day.

Meanwhile, Smedley has been carefully planning a series of attacks which he hopes will lead to an uprising against German rule. He has also managed to entice several former members of Lemuel Blake's Resistance, men eager for decisive action at last, to join his cell. Early in the evening, as darkness is falling and the people of Bridgwater are preparing to hold their annual Guy Fawkes Carnival, a large crater is blown in the A38 at Highbridge. The main London to west Country rail line, which runs through Bridgwater, is also blown up at Highbridge. They also blow up the pumping stations at Aller and Huntspill; these keep the Somerset Levels from flooding, but now water levels start to rise. Within hours, the area around Bridgwater will be inaccessible to wheeled transport.

Smedlists also try to blow up the fuel dump at Westonzoyland airfield. This attempt is foiled when guards spot the saboteurs and chase them off.

At 7.30pm the carnival procession begins. Heydrich has at last emerged from his room to take the place of honour on the Town Hall balcony, along with his young British friend and Nazi Maths laureate Jerry Toady. Next to Heydrich are several civic and German dignitaries.

The star attraction in the procession is the Shit-Shirts' float, a moving tribute to their dead leader depicting Britannia sucking Hitler's cock whilst sitting on a group of comical blacked-up persons meant to represent the benighted peoples of the British Empire who will soon be benefitting from joint British/Nazi rule. It is entitled The Spirit of Stan Curran.

As the cart is about to pass right in front of the Town Hall balcony, it vapourises in a huge explosion which also kills Heydrich and Jerry Toady instantly.

In the resulting confusion, Police Superintendent Reynaud runs forward to help, but is shot at by a panicked German soldier and wounded. People are screaming, calling for ambulances and help, spectators are walking or running off and the roads are jammed with carnival carts. Smedley and ten of his fighters take advantage of the chaos to rush the Town Hall and take possession of  it. They raise the Union flag from the Town Hall roof and take Cuthbert Calculus, the Town Clerk, prisoner.

At the same time, a further group of 10 Smedlists are waiting outside the Girls' Grammar school which is the temporary Wehrmacht barracks. As German soldiers rush out in response to the explosion, they come under Resistance fire. 20 Germans quickly become casualties, while the Smedlists take possession of the School.

At the other side of town, another group of 10 Smedlists encounter no resistance as they seize the Todthrax factory. A further group of 10, who try to seize the Arts Centre, are told by the management that they can't come in as they'll make too much noise. They give up in frustration, and go through the back streets to join their comrades in the Town Hall via the Tradesman's Entrance.

Meanwhile, General Diffring moves quickly to take control of the situation. He immediately despatches 100 men from Chilton Trinity to secure the perimeter of the Todthrax factory. Hauptsturmfuehrer Voller, on the other hand, sees that nothing good is going to happen to his career as a result of the death of Heydrich and an armed uprising, and commandeers a motorcycle and sidecar and leaves to go to Glastonbury, where he will spend the next few days looking for Camelot, King Arthur's tomb and/or Excalibur.

Smedley now appears on the balcony of the Town Hall and makes a stirring speech about how all freedom-loving Englishmen and women should now join him beneath the Union Jack. Diffring orders that the loudspeakers be shot out. Smedley returns their fire but retreats back inside the building.

Few local people answer Smedley's call to arms, judging it to be suicidal. Eight volunteers flock to the Town Hall and manage to get in before the Germans establish a secure perimeter. Meanwhile, the detachment at the Girls Grammar school tries to get through to Smedley and their comrades at the Town Hall with a lorry-load of weapons and ammunition liberated from the German barracks. They are turned back by fire from German troops surrounding the school, however.

Diffring orders that the Todthrax factory be secured and that the Town Hall and Girls' Grammar school be assaulted. He himself sets up his headquarters in an armour-plated train a safe distance from all the noisy fighting.

Smedley, meanwhile, invites one of his female volunteers called Karen to join him on the roof of the Town Hall. Here he tells her that it is her patriotic duty to Britain and her historic duty to Socialism, to have sex with him there and then. Supressing the urge to vomit, Karen patriotically agrees to do his bidding. As they do so, a German sniper posted on the roof of a nearby building gets their range and fires. He hits Karen in the arm, which falls off, causing her to bleed to death. Smedley, displaying the devil-may-care defiance of a true hero (and of a man who knows there's not much of a game if he gets killed off too early on), carries on until he's finished. It's what Karen would have wanted.

German troops try to get into the Town Hall by the back way, but are driven off by resistance fire. When Smedley gets back down from the roof he orders that the bodies of Heydrich and Toady be hanged from one of the building's front windows. The man hanging them out, a Blake follower named Sponge, is wounded by German fire as he does so.

Smedley orders another Blake man, a doddering old chap named Godfrey, to go onto the roof waving a placard saying GERMAN POOFS - CAN'T SHOOT US! He is shot in the leg.

A German squad rushes the front of the Town Hall, throwing petrol-bombs through windows before quickly falling back again. They succeed in starting a fierce blaze which is soon consuming most of the ground floor.

Smedley gives Town Clerk Cuthbert Calculus a message proposing a cease-fire to General Diffring. Cuthbert runs out of the building and over to the German lines waving a white flag. General Diffring orders up the regimental band of the 15th Arthritic (Conscript) battalion to the Town Hall and tells them to play 'The Happy Wanderer' over and over and over again. The Smedlists work desperately to douse the fires as they do so.

It is now 11pm on the evening of Thursday November 6.
The Germans finally launch their assault on the Smedlists dug in at the Girls Grammar School. They are driven back and re-group for another attempt.

Smedley tries to break out of the Town Hall on his own, explaining to his followers that he is far more important to the cause than any of them are, and that he wishes he could be there to die with them, but, well, there you go. He rushes out of the back of the building but is driven back by a withering hail of German fire.

Meanwhile, Town Clerk Cuthbert Calculus has been taken to see General Diffring in the latter's railway carriage. He writes his reply to Smedley's cease-fire plea, i.e. surrender or else, and gives this to Calculus and orders that the latter be returned to the Town Hall - tied to a carnival cart loaded with high explosives.

As the cart makes it way along the street, one of the rebels sees it and, suspecting a fiendish German plot, throws a hand-grenade at it. The carnival cart, along with Cuthbert Calculus, whom we frankly expected to have a larger role in this game, is blown to smithereens.

Friday November 7
At 1am, back at the Town Hall, Smedley and 10 of his men attempt to break out through the back of the building, but they are driven back by a withering hail of German fire which kills three of them outright and wounds two. There are now 24 Smedlists remaining alive in the Town Hall, four of them wounded.

2am. German combat engineers working in the basements of nearby buildings succeed in blowing a hole in one of the walls of the Town Hall basement, killing two Smedlists as they do so. An assault squad rushes into the Town Hall basement, but they are held in place by rebel fire and can't get any further up.

3am. Smedley and ten of his men make a third attempt to break out of the Town Hall, this time going out of the front of the building. But yet again, they are driven back by that withering hail of German fire. The Germans decided to take advantage of this by rushing the back door of the building. The Smedlists remaining in the building manage to fight them off however, killing three and wounding two more. Now Smedley sees his opportunity and he and a half dozen others follow the assaulting Germans out of the back of the Town Hall and manage to make good their escape through the back streets of Bridgwater.

Over the next couple of hours, the Germans re-take the Town Hall, and pick up several of the surviving Smedlists. Of Smedley himself there are no reports until a patrol in the Docks challenges a group of four men clambering into a motorboat.

At 5am, General Diffring, exhausted, hands operational control of the crisis over to his top aide Oberst (Colonel) Senf (Mustard). When he hears of the motorboat leaving Bridgwater and apparently heading along the Parrett in the midst of the flooded Somerset Levels he alerts the Kriegsmarine to stop and intercept it.

Meanwhile, Smedley is indeed aboard the Saucy Sue, making a desperate dash for the Bristol Channel and Wales where he hopes that the promised communist uprising is in full flow. With him are only three survivors of his original band of 30; a bloke called Pete, a Canadian commando called Klondyke Arsebandit and Sergeant Wilson out of Blake's army.

The day dawns overcast with occasional showers. At 8.05 Colonel Senf starts firing on the men still holding out at the Girls Grammar School with mortars and anti-tank artillery. It has no apparent effect.

At 8am, General Diffring, unable to sleep after all, phones the Luftwaffe base at Westonzoyland and demands that the one operational Stuka be bombed-up and airborne while the reconnaissance plane should head for the Bristol Channel to look out for the Saucy Sue.

At 9am the Stuka dive-bombs the Girl's Grammar School, but each of its 100lb bombs misses, meaning that hockey is off the syllabus for the next term or two. However, the 10 demoralised Smedlists, holding out against hope that their leader will come and rescue them, decide to surrender anyway.

At the same time, Colonel Senf leads a detachment into the Todthrax works, having given General Diffring sufficient time to move his headquarters train as far as possible from the facility. In the factory they can find no-one, and they carefully approach the 13th century manor house in the middle of the complex that serves as offices. Senf orders that petrol bombs be made up and the building be torched. As it burns, two very sickly-looking men fall from ground-floor windows. They are shot. Senf reports to Diffring that the factory has been secured.

Over the Bristol Channel, the spotter plane sees the Saucy Sue and radios its position to patrol boats. Within half an hour there are three E-Boats surrounding the Saucy Sue. They signal to the boat to stop, but Smedley refuses. The Boats fire on the Saucy Sue with 20mm cannon while Smedley and his comrades reply ineffectually with small-arms fire.

This is it, they decide, and resolve to commit suicide rather than fall into the hands of the Germans. Pete, Klondyke and Wilson shoot themselves. Smedley tries to shoot himself in the head with Wilson's gun, but it is jammed. As the E-Boats are closing and the boat is now sinking, Smedley desperately tries to get the gun to work, to no avail. As the water envelops him, he reaches into his breast pocket to take out his suicide pill ... but it's not there. His suicide pill has dissolved in the water. Smedley feels the cold steel of a boat-hook on his neck, feels it ripping into his clothes, feels himself being lifted from the water ...

Agent Smedley has been captured.

Sunday November 9
Dr Six, the man in charge of German security in Britain, decides that the best thing to do with Smedley is to hold a big trial in which he is exposed as being a bit useless as a rallying-point for resistance, and then killing him.

The trial will be held at Bristol Crown Court, presided over by Judge Horst Bratpfanne, a highly-respected and independently-minded German jurist whom Six brings in because he is so confident in the case against Smedley, who faces charges of murder, terrorism, carnival-spoiling, failing to stop for an E-Boat and indecent exposure.

Meanwhile, Hauptsturmfuehrer Rudi Voller has returned to Bridgwater from Glastonbury, having failed to find Excalibur, or whatnot, and begins the systematic liquidation of the town's population.

Monday November 10
The trial opens. Smedley's defence is that he was "a serving officer following orders" and the murder of Princess Margaret was justified since, he says "she was practically German." He ends up with a rousing patriotic cry that "you can't make an omelette without breaking necks and there will be others to take my place."

The Judge quickly moves the proceedings toward his summation. He says that Smedley has done humanity a great favour by killing Jerry Toady and by ending the pernicious tradition of the Bridgwater carnival. The judge says that he is not a Nazi and that Hitler is "a ridiculous little corporal with a moustache" and that therefore he is not going to do the bidding of the German government. On balance, however, he says that Smedley is "just about guilty".

Smedley replies that this is a very fair-minded judgement and that he won't do it again and that 10 or 12 hours' community service would be a fair sentence.

As Bratpfanne is about to pass sentence, the side of the courtroom is blown in and half a dozen armed men burst through led by ... LEMUEL BLAKE. They grab Smedley and shoot the judge, who expires on the floor saying that in view of Smedley's caddish behaviour towards Karen, he should be taken from this courtroom to a place of lawful execution and die by having his arm sawn off.

Smedley is bundled into J. Jones Butcher's van and they hare off down the Portway towards Avonmouth with a few dozen confused German troops in pursuit. Blake, however, has cunningly laid explosive charges at the base of Brunel's masterpiece of engineering, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, 300 feet above them. As the butcher's van passes underneath, the charges are detonated, and this priceless piece of Britain's heritage comes crashing down onto the road and river below, making any pursuit impossible. It's a price worth paying for saving the life of Agent Smedley.

Blake and Smedley and their men board the Annie at Avonmouth, and steam into the Bristol channel as night is falling.

At the same time, a massive uprising in South Wales and in the Welsh Mountains means that the SS have to abandon their butchery in Bridgwater and go to Wales.

The Annie successfully RVs with HMS Cockleshell off Hinkley Point some hours later and Smedley and Blake get aboard and set sail for Canada. Smedley tries to persuade captain Hawkins that Blake, the man who so conspicuously risked his life to save his sorry neck, is in fact a German spy. Hawkins, however, does not believe him and they all live happily ever after.

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© Kim Newman & Eugene Byrne 1999.

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Site last updated: August 2006. We figured we'd leave it on the web, but make it look a bit less messy.