Tuesday 9 November 2010

Extracts from ‘1938, Somerset’s Secret War’ By Dick Skeggs, part 2

… I returned from my adventures to an England full of uniforms. I was met off the boat by men in uniform, not just Customs men but men in black uniforms with lightning badges. It felt very strange, I’d seen it on the news reels, but to be part of it that was just odd.
I travelled down to Somerset to see CT, he met me at Frome station - he did not come alone, but had a man with him he introduced as Wally. Wally had a pistol under his jacket. He drove me back to his farm in silence. We drove down a number of back roads, when we got to the farm I asked about the scenic route but CT just said it was to avoid the BUF checkpoints.
After a good meal CT, Wally and I sat down with a whiskey each, Irish of course. CT explained what had changed and how the Somerset Freedom Fighters were now preparing for a war, a civil war.
I just said ‘What can I do to help?’
‘We need arms and someone to run our intelligence section.’
I just smiled.

I travelled back to the Bahamas and took the time to formulate my plan. First I found some of my old gang and got them working, I wanted a schooner and at least 3 speed boats. The schooner would need hiding places for the arms I was going to get.
I then went to America to set up some of my old network, I planned to buy or steal arms from the National Guard and then smuggle then out of America and across the Atlantic using the Florida keys as the gateway.
My gang of smugglers would need to be paid, so as well as arms and ammunition I loaded the ship with whisky, cigarettes, tea, coffee, sugar and tins goods. These I felt would bring a price on the black market in England.
The crossing was terrible rain and huge seas. All 3 of the speed boats were damaged in the crossing. We made land fall at Cork in the south of Ireland to make repairs and recover. I had to bribe the Harbour Master not to look too hard around the ship, after getting this he was very helpful. He told me that the Isles of Scilly were a nest of pirates and we should stay well away and that there was fighting in England. This last bit came as no surprise.
After making repairs and a long talk with my second in command Andy Bell, we set sail for the Scilly’s, I didn’t think there would be pirates, but it might be somewhere to base ourselves for later smuggling operations.
The Scilly’s were not full of pirates, just men and women looking for a way to stay alive. Andy Bell and I want ashore and talked to the islanders. We traded some of our goods with them. I was looking long term, looking for a base to start the last leg of our gun running journeys across the Atlantic. It was agreed that if we were given a safe harbour we’d bring in goods for the islanders.
I took on a local fisherman as a pilot to help navigate around the islands and up the Bristol Channel. When everything was ready we set sail for Somerset.
..The BUF officer on board the fishing boat the ‘Mary B’ was shocked at what happened ( I know I read the report 24 hours after it was delivered). He was on patrol to the south east of Lundy when a lookout spotted 3 sets of lights heading east. He moved to intercept them when to his surprise the lights speeded up and moved towards him. The next thing he know was his boat was being raked with machine gun fire from 3 speed boats. No one was killed but 4 men were wounded. The Captain turned away and soon afterwards the civilian crew nearly mutinied…
We had ’acquired’ our first arms shipment and crossed the Atlantic.

1 comment:

  1. I travelled back to the Bahamas and took the time to formulate my plan.

    This is such a cool sentence in so many ways, my favorite line in this ripping yarn. Inspirational.