Chapter 1-Arrival Edit
“Overnight American bomber squadrons heading to Romania over Smeredevo were shot down by the Luftwaffe and our brave boys of the State Guard on the ground. Our Romanian allies in turn were saved and we hope the best for them and their war against the Soviet dog. Živeo Nedić i naše spasenje!” read a Serbian Nazi propaganda speaker on state radio. The prisoners were waiting to see if there would be any new arrivals. “Stanimir do you expect anyone to come by” asked Group Captain Stone “It was Americans wasn’t it?” Stanimir responded “Yeah, why?” replied Stone. “Americans have a tendency to run and there was that thing Jackson said about the Chetniks” said Stanimir “Oh yes they think you can trust them”. Stanimir and Stone were head of the camp’s escape committee, Stanimir was a Serb from north eastern Croatia and Stone was from Yorkshire. “There’s a truck” said Stanimir after a brief silence. The guards brought a man out of the back of the truck and he was in an US airman’s uniform. “They’re bringing him to Dietrich” added Stone.
The guards brought the airman to the commandant’s office. Commandant Dietrich was speaking to the local Chetnik senator and his main commander. “Herr Commandant we have found this American airman” one of the guards told Dietrich. “I’m sorry gentlemen but we must speak again” said Dietrich leading the Chetniks out the door. One of the guards gave Dietrich the airman’s personal effects which included an ID. “Welcome to Camp 10 Captain Boris Novak from San Diego, California, parents Ivan Novak and Maria Santos, languages Spanish, English and Croatian. Croatian, you are a Croat therefore you’ll be treated as such…” “My mother is from Mexico if that makes any difference” interrupted Novak “YOU ARE A CROATIAN DOG AND YOU WILL BE TREATED AS SUCH IS THAT UNDERSTOOD CAPTAIN NOVAK” shouted Dietrich “In this camp we have barracks A, B, C, 1 and 2. The numbered are reserved for the Yugoslavian prisoners while the lettered for other. You may mingle with your fellow Americans if you wish as all five barracks are in the same compound. Go speak to Deputy Commandant Becker in the next office. Dismissed Captain” Dietrich then added. Novak spoke to Becker “I’m the new prisoner” he said to him “But you’re an American” replied Becker and Novak told him that he was told to speak to him because of his Croatian heritage. Becker then led Novak to his new quarters.
“Marijo did a new prisoner arrive here?” asked Cvita and Marijo replied to her “An American according to Stanimir”. It was Sunday, the only day the Yugoslavian prisoners got off work and most of them were passing the day as best they could. “Marijo is that him there?” Cvita asked again “He’s in an American uniform, most be from here originally if he’s with us”. Marijo was from Dalmatia and Cvita was a Croat from the same town as Stanimir and both of them had tried escaping on more than one occasion. Cvita also doubled as the camp’s medic when needed.
Chapter 2-Day One Edit
From Monday to Saturday the Yugoslavian prisoners were taken out by Becker to a bombed railway bridge to repair it. Two prisoners, O’Grady and Dyfodwg, a Canadian and a Welshman respectively. “Who’s the girl?” said Dyfodwg “Her name is Cvita or something” answered O’Grady. Dyfodwg was the last prisoner to land in Camp 10 only having been in there a month and a half after escaping from a prison camp in Germany and even that wasn't his first. “I’m going to talk to her a bit, maybe escape” Dyfodwg told O’Grady who replied “Good luck, hope you can speak her language”. Dyfodwg snuck up to Cvita “Zdrava” he said to her, Cvita just smiled at the Welshman. “Cap” said Dyfodwg pointing at another prisoners Titovka then pointing to her and then to himself. She understood him and she gave him her cap. Becker checked his workers then spotted Dyfodwg. “Fy gair” said Becker before pulling Dyfodwg. “Welshman I’ve been very light on you despite your stupidity but you really thought I wouldn’t recognise you” Becker told Dyfodwg taking off the cap and giving it back to Cvita “It’s the cooler this time Welshman, guards take him away”. As the guards started walking Dyfodwg away to the cooler Becker turned to Cvita and smiled “Cooler” and again the guards took her away too as the rest of the partisans headed out to work.
The two were thrown into the cooler. “Cvita, you speak Welsh?” asked Dyfodwg “No, good enough English can speak not write” Cvita replied and then she added “You Croatian or Serbian, maybe Slovenian or Italian” and Dyfodwg responded “Just Welsh and English”. “Cvita how come you’re here?” asked Dyfodwg “I’m a partisan” she answered “No the cooler, shouldn’t you be getting something worse or being embarrassed?” he responded and she replied back “For trying to help airmen escape we get cooler” she continued “I’ve gotten worse like the time I was stripped for trying to escape with Marijo”. “Who’s Marijo?” asked Dyfodwg “A friend” answered Cvita. “Are you the only woman here?” asked Dyfodwg “Other than the German nurses yes but there was three others who came with me, two were sold to Četnici and the other was a few years younger than me she was killed because of her age”.
Out at the bride the partisans were working. Novak was approached by Ioannidis, a Greek immigrant who had lived in Belgrade prior to joining Tito’s partisans. “Zdravo” said Ioannidis and Novak said likewise. “Commandant Dietrich is a weird man Novak, you’re an American officer put here because you’re half Croat and I should be back in the camp because I’m a Greek officer with a military history with the army but because I’m with the partisans I’m rebuilding this bridge”. “Hey who are?” Meízon Marinos Ioannidis Greek Army and NOAPOJ…” Ioannidis went to say before Novak interrupted “Look Major I don’t plan on staying that long”. “Greek, American get back to work” shouted one of Becker’s guards and Ioannidis told Novak “Meet me at barrack B tonight”
Chapter 3-The Escape Committee Edit
"Well gentlemen are we all set" said Stone at the top of Barrack B's main room "Our plan is to dig a tunnel and a simple one nothing big". "Where to?" asked Campbell, a Scottish RAF man "As near enough the exit of the camp" answered Stone. Stanimir was translating everything Stone said into Serbo-Croatian and a partisan then said “This entire area is surrounded by Nazis and traitors our only escape will be across the Danube”. Stanimir translated the quote for Stone who then said “This dose raise a concern, the Nazis, Nedić’s troops and the Chetniks patrol this area heavily, Ioannidis when is the bridge to be finished?” and Ioannidis responded “A couple of weeks why?” Stone told “We’ll find out nightly timetables for the train, when it stops at the checkpoint we sneak onto the cargo trucks”. An American airman, Franklin stood up and asked “But Stone the Chetniks are our allies are they not?” and Campbell quickly replied “You Americans watch too many movies! Most individual escapes were successful until they ran into those yokels, I mean if it was the Germans or Nedić’s lads they would be likely in this room instead of being under the camp or wherever the Krauts put ‘em when the Chetniks handed in their bodies”. “Anyway leftenant we start work tomorrow night and we’ll get Dyfodwg to find out the exact position of enemy positions in the radius. Goodnight gentlemen” marked Stone drawing the meeting to an end.
Chapter 4-Through the wire Edit
Dyfodwg and Cvita were being let out of the cooler after spending two days in there. Dydodwg went into the kitchen area of his hut where he met Stone with another senior member of the committee, Wing Commander Richards. “Ah Dyfodwg we were wondering if you could maybe sneak out of the camp tonight, could you do that?” Stone asked “I plan on doing that anyway, tried it two days ago” answered Dyfodwg. “Well you see Awstin we need you to escape and be captured again as we need to know the placement of German and collaborationist positions” said Richards and Dyfodwg replied “What’s the catch?” and Stone told him of the escape. “I’ll do what I have to” said Dyfodwg and he told the two members of a barely covered area.
That night Dyfodwg was outside with a pair of wire cutters when Cvita came up to him “Dyfig are you escaping” Dyfodwg nodded and then told Cvita the pronunciation of his name. “Are you coming too?” he asked and she nodded. Dyfodwg cut through the wire and he and Cvita crawled through it. They were both chased by German patrols until eventually surrendering.
The next morning the two were brought back to the camp by German soldiers “Herr Commandant we found these two trying a few miles away”. Dietrich who was inspecting the prisoners at roll call said then to the two prisoners “A month in the cooler might do both of you good” and ordered two guards to escort them. Back in the compound Major Webber of the USAF asked Stone “Can we really trust them?” “Who Webber?” replied Stone and Webber said “The communists” Stone quickly replied “Of course we can trust them, the people of Yugoslavia are hardworking and determined and these partisans are no exception”. After Stone walked away Webber said under his breath “You’re blind”.
Chapter 5-The Tunnel Edit
A month had past and Cvita and Dyfodwg were let out of the cooler and gave their information to the Escape Committee. “According to Awstin our number one danger is the local Chetnik detachment and danger is literal” said Stone. Stanimir then stood up and said “We’re going to have to start digging as soon as possible, we’ll try our best to smuggle tools in from the worksite but if needs be we’ll have to steal them overnight or make our own” and repeated what he said in his own language. “Defig stealing wouldn’t be a challenge for you?” asked Ioannidis “No sir and it’s dwide-fog” replied Dyfodwg and Ioannidis said sorry and nodded. “Allow me” said Novak standing up and he continued “The Chetniks, I’ll be able to cause diversions for them as well as the Jackboots” “Go on we’re listening” Stone told him and Novak continued again “Well you see sir I plan on sneaking out during work, attack a Chetnik, steal his gun and fire blindly at a few more of them, hide a bit then get back to the site”. Richards then marked “Seems a bit farfetched…” and before he could say anything Stone spoke out “Now don’t discourage the boy Wing Commander, Chetniks are far from the most intelligent people in the world. I’m sure Captain Novak will be able to annoy them a bit, who knows it might distract the Germans as well”.
Two days later the Commonwealth and American prisoners started working on the tunnel from some tools they acquired from the partisans. “Remember, dig five miles north to where the bridge is at” reminded Stone. “Can you really trust the communists Group Captain?” asked Webber “Of course we can, stop your bickering about them snapped Stone. Outside of barrack A where the tunnel was being dug Richards came up to Stone and asked “Sir what’s Webber’s problem?” Stone answered him “He’s just your pure red blooded American, he would rather have war than peace you know what I mean old chap” “Of course sir” replied Richards. After a brief pause from both officers Stone said “The only thing Webber should be worried about is the tunnel being discovered which is quite unlikely since we’ll have it well hidden” “Yeah” responded Richards and then Stone told him “We’ll have it hidden under a heavy press, it’ll never be seen”.
Out at the bridge a Chetnik courier came up to Becker handing him a letter. Novak decided to sneak from his work post and follow the courier. It was in a dense area of the forest but near the road where Novak brought down the Chetnik and took his SMG. He then came to some more Chetniks and started shooting at them hitting three of them and killing two of those. He then dropped the empty gun and ran. After the Chetniks gave up Novak went back to work.
Chapter 6-From bad to worse Edit
Half a month past since digging began, the tunnel was almost three-quarters done but heavy rainfall caused the tunnel to almost collapse and work was delayed however the bridge would be finished within a few days.
The Chetnik senator and his commander were in Dietrich’s office. “Herr Kommandant, I must warn you neither me nor Pukovnik Vidić have complete control of the detachment” the senator said “Ja, Ja you’ve said it before Herr Senator” replied Dietrich “Aber Herr Kommandant my men were killed with MP40’s” Vidić told Dietrich who quickly replied “Don’t you not use them?” and there was no reply from Vidić. “Not to worry anyway if anything happens to German troops and it is cause by our men they will be punished, Auf Wiedersehen Herr Kommandant” marked the senator “Servus” said Dietrich and Vidić responded “Zdravo”.
During the night an explosion was heard from the bridge. The prisoners ran out. “Get back into your huts” ordered the guards. It was clear the bridge had been sabotaged “All this work and look” said Marijo who had his hands in his face “Gia na kólasi” shouted Ioannidis and Cvita went over to Dyfodwg and started crying. There was much anger with all the Yugoslav prisoners. “Stanimir how long did it take to build?” asked Stone “Two months” answered Stanimir sulking. “Back to your huts all of you” barked one of the guards and so the prisoners went.
In the morning during roll call Dietrich addressed the prisoners that he would be going to the senator’s house to speak about the attack. On the way some Chetniks were blocking the road with a dead horse. Dietrich’s car stopped and a Chetnik came up and killed the commandant.
After hearing of the assassination of Dietrich a new commandant was put in place, an officer of Milan Nedić’s army by the name of Babić. “I am your new commandant” he addressed himself at roll call. “There will be a few changes around here; first German guards are being moved to the frontline however Major Becker will remain, second the waking hour is now 5:30 and third more efficient punishments and I’ll start by finding out who sabotaged the bridge” he marked. Becker then shouted Stanimir’s name. “You are head of the partisans in this camp?” he asked Stanimir who simply said “Da”. “It has come to my attention it was you who sabotaged the bridge, now let’s see how you like it. Gardijska su ga tukli” said Babić and the guards came over and started beating Stanimir in full front of everyone. Babić then marked “This is a lesson to all of you, executions will only be carried out when a member of camp staff is attacked directly, you will be forced to live with pain for everything else and cooler sentences will result in daily or twice daily beatings depending on the offence. Another thing all prisoners will now be forced to work. Dismissed!” but before he could walk away Stone walked up to him “Sir I must inform you by the Geneva Convention it is forbidden for an officer to work” but Babić never listened and simply shouted “DISMISSED”. The guards eventually stopped beating Stanimir, Cvita ran over to him and started to apply to his wounds.
Chapter 7-Novak's Plan Edit
“We cannot suffer this! How even Dietrich allowed you Ioannidis to work is a mystery” exclaimed Webber “The point about me was I went out there voluntarily, as a sort of aide to Becker and no menial labour whatsoever” said Ioannidis. “Look I’ll speak to Babić about this, remind him of the Geneva Convention” said Stone, Richards replied “Good luck, the Nedić or Pavelić regime doesn’t need to obey it as neither states existed” and the Stone responded “I’ll try my best”.
At roll call Stone stood up to Babić however he never took kindly and had Stone thrown in the cooler for a week. Cvita was looking after Stanimir and the other wounded in Barrack C which was converted into a sickbay. Novak was recently confined after a beating for slow work. “Cvita I’m leaving, tomorrow” Novak told her “You escaped and I will too” he continued. “Captain the woods are dangerous how will you escape?” Stanimir asked “I’m a good swimmer I’ll swim across the Danube” answered Novak. Cvita later turned to him and said “You shouldn’t go so soon” and he replied “I will just you watch”
The following evening Novak acquired wire cutters and went through the fence like Dyfowdg and Cvita did a couple of months back. Novak ran towards the bridge and jumped into the river. He could smell the freedom halfway across. When he got ashore again he took off his jacket so that he wouldn’t draw attention. He then found the road and went to the nearest town to look for partisans, he knew he still had to help his fellow prisoners.
Chapter 8-The Irregulars Edit
“Hrvat i Meksički?” asked the shopkeeper and Novak replied “Da, ali ja sam Američki zrakoplovac”. “Look I heard you’re leader of the local Nepravilnosti and I’d like to join” said Novak and then the shopkeeper told him “Well Captain we did lose a man last week, you could replace him but first you need to complete his objective, destroy the most near the POW camp, the same one the Četnici not that long ago” “Understood but the prisoners need it to get over here” Novak replied. The shopkeeper nodded then asked “When to they plan to escape?” and Novak told him “Within a week, when the leader of the Escape Committee is let out of the cooler” and the shopkeeper then told Novak “Very well but it must be destroyed, good luck American”
Chapter 9-The Final Days Edit
Half a week had passed since Novak’s escape and Babić wasn’t happy about it. For a whole two days he had the prisoners stripped of their rations except for breakfast. Most of the prisoners however had a feeling that Novak would return. During the night O’Grady and Campbell were digging the tunnel. “How much more?” asked O’Grady “Here should do” answered Campbell “Good I’ll head back to the hut and tell Richards, start digging up”. Back at the hut O’Grady said to Richards about how they’re going up now. “Very good O’Grady when do you think we’ll be done?” replied Richards “Well we’ll have a good bit cleared maybe a few days, hopefully before Stone gets out of the cooler”
In the sickbay Cvita was talking to Dyfowdg. “Awstin I was going to wait to tell you this after we cross the bridge but I can’t wait” Cvita said to Dyfowdg who then asked “Tell me what?”. There was a brief pause and Cvita looked at her stomach “It’s your” she said and Dyfowdg then asked “What’s mine?” then he seen that where she was looking and he smiled before lifting her. “How do you know?” he asked and she replied “Why else was I getting sick?”.
In the nearby village Novak was standing about waiting for his squad. He was holding an old Thompson that was given to him as a “taste of home” and he had a red star sewn onto his peaked cap. His squad came by car. “Drug American, when are we heading out?” asked one of his squad members and then Novak told them “In a couple of days, there are prisoners in the camp who are escaping across the bridge and after they do that I’ll blow the bridge” and then the partisan asked him again “How will you know when they’re escaping?” “They have a vital man in the cooler who gets out on the day they’re escaping” answered Novak and the partisan just nodded his head.
A few nights later O’Grady and Campbell had the tunnel exit finished. Campbell exclaimed “It’s done!” and O’Grady replied “And just a few hours before your Group Captain gets out”.
Chapter 10-Escape Edit
Stone was let out of the cooler after a week of daily beatings and barely any food or water. When he got to the escape committee they told him of their plans to escape tonight. “Tonight you say?” asked Stone “Yes sir” answered Webber and Stone responded “It better well, I don’t think I can spend another twenty-four hours”. “We escape just after lights out, all twenty five men and Cvita” said Richards and then Ioannidis added “Speaking of whom she’s pregnant and it’s only a matter of time before she catches the eye of those lowlifes and they will kill her eventually”. “Then it’s settled we escape here after roll call, tell all the prisoners” said Stone pleased at the fast result.
In Babić’s office he and Becker were chatting and looking at the pictures of the prisoners. “Becker who is this?” asked Babić holding up a photo “Am that is Cvita Herr Kommandant” Becker answered and then Babić told Becker “I’d like to see her, bring her to here after evening roll call” and Becker nodded and pulled his collar remembering the last time a commandant “invited” her when she stabbed him and ran back to her barrack.
Around eight Novak and the irregulars were placing charges on the bridge. “We blow it after they've all escaped” he marked.
After roll call the prisoners met in barrack A. Stone and Stanimir had finished reading out the roll call and removed the cover of the tunnel. A large number of the prisoners had already gone through the tunnel when Becker came in looking for Cvita who was already in the tunnel. “This is the last barrack, I need to get her out of here” he said panting and a prisoner told him “Sorry to ruin your shining knighthood but she’s gone already". Becker made gave a sign of relief before an alarm went off. The inspectors knew something was wrong after they found no prisoners in the huts. A guard knocked down the door to barrack A and shot Becker thinking he was a prisoner before shooting at the remaining prisoners. “Inform Babić” ordered one of the guards.
Chapter 11-The Bridge Edit
At the bridge Webber had acquired a MP40 after killing the partisan who finished laying the explosives he also took the plunger and used it as a threat. “Any Slav who steps on the bridge gets blown up with it, do you commies want to ruin it for everyone?” Webber said loudly. “Bloody hell have you gone mad Major? Step aside and let these people past” Stone said to him. A partisan who didn’t understand English walked up to the bridge and was fired at but was only wounded. Marjio was going to run up to the rest of the prisoners but Richards stopped him and told him “You don’t want to go up there”.
“What is going on?” said Novak looking across the river before telling the rest of the squad to follow him as he approached the bridge. Webber seen the partisans on the bridge and pushed the plunger when they were halfway across, almost killing them.
Babić who had just been told about the escape ordered to get some of the Chetnik detachment down to the bridge after hearing the explosion.
The bridge was badly damaged but was still crossable by foot as the rest of the explosives were connected to another plunger that was on the other side. “How daft can you get?” asked Stone in despair. The Chetniks along with Vidić started to run towards the bridge and fired at the prisoners. Stone was first hit. The partisans got towards the prison shore and started shooting at the Chetniks. Dyfowdg was killed then Cvita ran to his body where she was hit by a Chetnik gun. O’Grady was killed when Vidić’s horse trampled him while he was stumbling on the ground. Marijo ran out towards a dead partisan to take his gun and fight the Chetniks but was shot in the head by Vidić while Campbell was wounded in the ribs and Stanimir and Ioannidis were killed. The wounded Campbell crawled over to a dead Chetnik and pulled his grenade killing himself and a few Chetniks. Vidić was then shot by Novak who was badly bleeding from gunshot wounds. Cvita picked up Novak’s Thompson and shot Webber who was hiding before she died. Webber saw the body of Stone and started shaking his head and saying “I shouldn’t” before falling into the Danube. Eventually the slaughter had ended and Richards stood up shaking his head “Imagine how easy this would have been avoided” he said before crossing the remains of the bridge as the sole survivor.