Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Catching Up

Men of the 11th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers charge with fixed bayonets
through 'artillery fire' at a battle school in Scotland, 20 December 1943.
As yet another practice round detonated nearby, Lance Corporal Billy Wallace and his section had their heads buried in the dirt, while more dirt showered down upon them.

"Why the bleedin' 'Ell anyone would invade the bloody Highlands of Scotland is beyond me!" Wallace said through a mouthful of Highland turf.

"Ah, it could be worse Corp, ye could be in bloody North Africa fighting flies and Italians!" Private Willis McCutcheon of his Gun Group quipped from nearby. McCutcheon was busy, once again, brushing dirt from his cherished Bren gun.

"Well, there is that." As the last charge detonated to their front, Wallace realized it was time to move, otherwise the new lieutenant would be on his arse again.

"Right lads, up and at 'em! Markus, deploy the gun to that clump o' weeds on our left, it ain't much but it should prevent the baddies from seein' ya!"

Ever since the debacle in France, LCpl Wallace's battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers had been shuffled from one part of Britain to another. After being recruited back up to strength to replace the losses they'd sustained in France, it was off to the Highlands of Scotland for training.

Wallace was now a section¹ leader in the battalion's B Company, the 1st Section of that company's 11th Platoon:
  • Rifle Section
    • LCpl Billy Wallace
    • Private Robert McLaren
    • Private Malcolm Bain
    • Private Alfie Morris
    • Private Teddy Fraser
    • Private Jock McMillan
    • Private Connor McGuire
  • Gun Group
    • LCpl Markus Willoughby
    • Private Willis McCutcheon
    • Private Theodore Brisbane
Billy was somewhat angered at the fact that he was still a Lance Corporal, according to the Table of Organization and Equipment, he should be a full corporal. But the new lieutenant, one Herbert Walker-Jones, insisted that if the Crown wanted Billy to be a corporal, then the Crown would promote Billy to corporal, until then, as the lieutenant put it, Billy should "hold his water."

Which made Lance Corporal Billy (No Middle Initial) Wallace no more happier than being in the Scottish Highlands while the war continued to rage, elsewhere.

"Right then, which one of you is Oskar Olson?"

Olson looked up to see who had called his name, he understood nothing else, only his name. He assumed, as they were in England (as he thought of it, in reality they were in the Shetland Islands, well to the north of Scotland, let alone England) that the man was speaking English.

"Jeg er Olson.²" Olson stood as he spoke, adjusting the filthy blanket which the fishermen had given him after they had picked him up at sea, well off the coast of Norway.

Olson watched as the Englishman (the man was actually from Wales) exchanged words with another man, who turned to Olson and said, in Norwegian, "Welcome to the U.K. Olson, my name is Agnar Eriksen. The British need to check your story before allowing you into the country officially. Seems the Germans have tried sending in spies through this very route, fishing boats from Norway carrying refugees. There haven't been many since last year, you're an odd case."

"Thank you, Herr Eriksen. I'm just glad to be back on dry land. They took my pay book when I came ashore two days ago, I really could use a bath and clean clothing. My uniform is badly soiled and torn. Are you Norwegian?"

"Yes, of course. I'm a captain in the Air Force, I got out with the government when the King left Norway. I want to get back into the fight, but for now they have me here, screening people coming ashore claiming to be Norwegian. It will take a few days to get you processed, do you wish to stay in the Army?"

Olson came to attention, "Of course Sir! The Germans stole our homeland, I came here to continue the fight, to kill Germans. I will fight until Norway is free, or I am dead. Most of my comrades have been killed."

"Right, well, I'll see about getting you cleaned up and get you some better clothing."

"Are there any Norwegian Army units here in England?" Olson asked.

"Well, most of the Army was left behind, there are a number of small units, then there are the commandos ..."

"Commandos?" Olson asked with some excitement.

"Yes, why?" Eriksen asked with a puzzled look.

"I want to be a commando. My resistance unit was trying to make contact with commandos near Litenhavn, we failed and my unit was destroyed. I was captured by the Germans but escaped during a commando raid on that village."

"I will see what I can do Menig Olson." with that, Eriksen left.

Olson had cheered up when the man had addressed him by his rank, at least Eriksen seemed to believe his story.

Now, would the English?

¹ In the British Army of the period what the US Army called squads were known as sections, same size as a "standard" squad, ten men.
² "I am Olson." (Norwegian)


  1. Nice catching up Sarge. Good to see the Muse is warming up.
    Wallace's Leftenant seems to have the same name and "personality" of one KIA by faulty judgement -or is my memory incorrect?
    Boat Guy

    1. Ah, you're thinking of 2nd Lieutenant Joseph Miles-Roberts, other hyphenated name guy. KIA in France, a foolish man he was. I haven't decided if this one is a prick or not, the Muse will let us know in due course. 😎

    2. One can grow out of being a prick. War can be a bad place if you don’t have people who respect you.

    3. Oh so true, juvat! As some of us have witnessed or even experienced.

  2. I can imagine Olson's impatience and concern. Nothing like being trapped in the bureaucracy of waiting, even if for very good reasons.

    1. He's been through an awful lot, I'm not sure if his arm has been properly tended to yet either. He wants to fight the Germans, he's young and yes, impatient.

  3. Back in the story! Way to go!!

  4. One can hear the cacophony of Norwegians, Scots, Welsh, Poles, and who knows what other ethnic groups try to communicate.
    War makes strange bedfellows out of necessity.

  5. Kompany Linge trained five miles from where I now live ve in the Scottish Highlands

    1. https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fc8.alamy.com%2Fcomp%2FEX57H6%2Fmonument-at-glenmore-to-the-kompany-linge-norwegian-commandos-glenmoreaviemorescotlanduk-EX57H6.jpg&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.alamy.com%2Fstock-photo-monument-at-glenmore-to-the-kompany-linge-norwegian-commandos-glenmoreaviemorescotlanduk-84938258.html&docid=d9UlQMQYQaXWKM&tbnid=aAq88XWBr3MPCM&vet=1&source=sh%2Fx%2Fim

  6. I didn't remember how enjoyable your tales are until just now Sarge. Brilliant stuff! I think I met Olson's granddaughter in Stavanger in, oh, '85-'86. At the time I was convinced via family lore that I was Norwegian, but Frøken Olson and the dearth of Evertsons in the phone book disabused me of the notion.

    1. Thanks Shaun.

      My brother did the DNA thing a while back, discovered that we have Scandinavian blood mixed in with all the French, Scots, Irish, English, and even a bit o' West Asian blood. My ancestors must have been party animals.

      Now I feel a need to go a Viking every now and again. Much to The Missus Herself's chagrin.


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