Tom Riddle's War
Chapter One: A Call to Arms.
DISCLAIMER: JK Rowling created Harry Potter and its characters; I didn't. I don't own the characters or their surroundings; JK Rowling and Warner Brothers do. I do not want, expect, or deserve financial compensation for my writing. I am writing for my own amusement and ego gratification.
Author's Note: This is an alternate universe Harry Potter story, set in the same universe as my Daria Ravenclaw (Harry Potter/Daria Morgendorffer) fan fiction series. As Daria Morgendorffer does not appear until very late in the story and decades after the main action, it is posted here with Harry Potter stories.
The idea behind this story is what might the consequences might have been if Tom Riddle, Senior hadn't been home at the Riddle Manor when the future Lord Voldemort came to call in July of 1943.
This story is rated M for violence, cruelty, adult situations, and coarse language. If you are looking for a cheerful Harry Potter fan fiction with good values and moral uplift, read no further. This is NOT that kind of story.
Tom Riddle's War*Tom Riddle's War*Tom Riddle's War
Tom Riddle sat with his father and his mother and listened to the wireless. The King was giving a speech, a speech which in so many words said that the British people would band together, stand up to tyranny, defeat the Nazis, then go on to create some post-war utopia where all would live in peace and plenty.
Bollocks, thought Tom. His world was going to Hell and the future belonged to the bloody socialists.
He thought it was a shame that that Hitler fellow had taken leave of his senses somewhere between 1937 and 1938. The man had done miracles for Germany. He'd restored order, gotten the Fritzs' economy running again, and put down the Bolshies. Britain could use a bit of that; Mosley had some good ideas, but he was a joke, not a leader.
It had been some years since his disastrous marriage to that tramp's daughter. He'd thought about marrying again, but none of the women he'd courted had shown any interest in marrying him. At least none of suitable class. Not that he was celibate. He did see a woman about thirty miles away. He supported her, he slept with her, but it wasn't anything like a real romance. He wasn't about to marry her; she was totally unsuitable.
The years passed since his wife left and the war clouds he and his parents had noticed forming over the horizon burst on September, 1939. Britain was now at war with Germany. At first, he thought he'd be immune: the Allies and the Nazis would negotiate a peace deal, and everyone would go home. He could care less about the Poles or the Czechs, and his few friends didn't care either. The German attack on Denmark and Norway, followed by the fall of France cured him of that notion. He cursed Winston bloody Churchill for not doing the right thing and calling off the war.
He began to worry that the war would affect him personally, and not simply with the rationing and multitudinous regulatory pettifoggery the bureaucrats down south could dream up. Conscription had already started. Thus far it only affected younger men. He was in his late thirties and didn't have to worry about it yet, but he could see it coming, particularly if this war was going to be as long as the last one. They'd conscripted men his age in what they used to call the Great War.
He did not want to go into uniform. The Riddles no longer had the power they'd once had to bind and to loose in the district, but they were still a presence to be reckoned with, at least within the Conservative Party. He decided to make an appointment to see Johnson, their local MP. He thought that his MP could give him some sort of exemption as an essential worker. To his dismay, the MP was totally unsympathetic.
"I'm not about to give you any sort of exemption," he said. "There's a bloody war on, and you're not too old to serve King and Country. Our country is in mortal peril, and it is time for every able-bodied man to step up and do his duty."
"Why should I?" Tom began, but Johnson cut him off.
"I suggest that you shut up and listen, Riddle," he said.
"I've got something to show you. I want you to take a good look." The MP got out of his chair walked around, then sat on his desk. He lifted the right leg of his trousers. To Tom's horror, the MP had a wooden leg instead of a real one. Tom realized that he'd put his foot in it; he knew that the MP limped, but hadn't thought about the why. "I got that at the Somme," said Johnson "and I have no use for bloody shirkers."
"The most I'm willing to do is get you into an officers' training program. I have enough pull with the War Department for that. Otherwise, I'll sit on my arse and let you get conscripted somewhere where the Boches can shoot your arse off."
Tom frowned at the MP. He tried to think of a riposte, something to make Johnson change his mind.
"Can I think about it?" he said.
Johnson decided to twist the knife with a show of magnanimity. "You can, but not too long."
Tom returned to the Manor in a foul mood.
"So how did it go with Johnson?" asked his father.
"He's not going to let me stay home and help with the estates. They gave me a choice: I can either stay here and wait to be conscripted or enlist in an officer's training program"
"Won't Johnson do anything, after all that money we've given to the party over the years?" said his father.
"No," said Tom. "He said that I'd have to go in, although he bent enough to say that he'd get me into an officer's training program."
"No way of changing his mind?" asked his father.
"No," replied Tom, "he was in the trenches during the last war. He doesn't like what he calls shirkers."
He thought about Johnson's alternatives later when he'd turned in for the night. The war was affecting the Riddle household; a couple of servants had left the family's employ to seek higher-paying war-work. Ingrates, he thought. He wouldn't hire them back if they came by cap in hand looking for work after the war. Some hours into the early morning, he decided that he'd take up Johnson's offer to help him into an officer's training program. If he had to go into the Army, he had no intention of doing so as an enlisted conscript. He didn't hold with socialism or the classless state. He wanted to go in as a squire, not a peasant.
The Battle of Britain had ended and the threat of imminent German invasion had ended by the time he reported for induction into the British Army. He knew he could be sent someplace where there was active shooting, but he didn't think it likely. A new lieutenant crowding forty leading a troop of infantrymen against the Germans or Italians? Not likely. They'd probably use him to sort papers well behind the front. It wouldn't be a glamorous or heroic war, at least not for him, but he could live with it.
He soon learned that he hated the Army. He hated the training camps. He hated the calisthenics, the mud, the drills, the marches, and the sergeants' sarcasm. He hated the cleaning and the polishing; his family had had servants for that, at least they did before the last war. He particularly hated being ordered around by men half his age who didn't know what was what and who were more often than not his social inferiors. He hated that arsehole Johnson who'd handed him a Hobson's choice and take one or the other. He had little but contempt for his barracks-makes. Most of them were drunkards and spendthrifts who spent their time chasing skirts. They in turn hated him for being a cold fish and for being tight with his money.
He'd read a bit of Kipling while he was in public school. He'd thought that Kipling was an arse who gave too much credit to the little brown men ruled by the empire. He found that he remembered Kipling's poem "The Eathen," although through the weeks of training camp, he remembered it with loathing. Still, the day came when he could not only march in formation, but he'd learned a bit of basic military etiquette, and finally turned out with a right and proper kit. That was only the beginning; he then had to take officer's training. After more weeks of Hell, he survived the training course and received an officer's commission.
His trainers had words for him while he was taking officer's training. "You're new at this game, Riddle, even if you're nearly as old as I am," said the Captain. "Your men might be under your command, but there's no reason to piss on them. Listen to your sergeants and your senior non-commissioned men. Some of them have been in the service; they know things. Learn from them, even if they're under your command." The Captain was an old warhorse missing his left arm below his elbow back in harness again after years of peace.
As a newly-minted lieutenant, he'd hoped that he'd be posted somewhere in England, someplace where Winston would start accumulating the troops for a cross-channel invasion; not that he expected the invasion to take place. Instead, he was posted to the Eighth Army. He'd read the papers; he knew that the Eight Army was in Africa. As he expected, he was ordered to board ship. Crammed into a freighter that had been converted into a troop transport with hundreds of other men in khaki, he worried about lurking Nazi submarines and being torpedoed. He did go up on deck to take one last look at Britain; it was likely to be his last if the bloody U-boats were lurking as thickly as he thought they were.
Either they weren't as thick as he thought or they were busy elsewhere. His ship didn't get torpedoed. Neither did the other ones in his convoy. After some days he realized that his convoy was now in the Mediterranean. He'd learned that the Axis armies in Africa had capitulated, so he wouldn't be chasing Germans and Italians through the ruins of Carthage.
His ship made it to port and docked in Alexandria. Tom found that he hated Alexandria even more than he'd hated the training camp. The weather was beastly, there were flies all over, and the natives were constantly jabbering in incomprehensible Arabic. Despite his officer's status, he was not exempt from having to attend services and was bored out of his skull by the Charlies' sermons on the trials and tribulations of the Hebrews in the Old Testament. After several days of the Alexandrine heat, Tom wondered what took the Hebrews so long to decide to get up and leave Egypt.
After a few weeks of living in tents, he was ordered to again board ship. The hold was every bit as bad as it had been the previous time and threatened to get worse. It was now full summer in the Mediterranean and threatening to get even hotter. His ship let loose the mooring lines that held it to the pier and it put to sea. At first, he had no idea as to where it was going. He then realized that it wasn't sailing East, so he wouldn't be sailing through the Canal to India. Instead, he and his shipmates were sailing to someplace in the Mediterranean. He soon figured out just where he and his fellows were going: Monty and the Yanks were going to invade Sicily.
The invasion fleet arrived off Sicily on July 10th. Tom managed to get a place at the railing and watched as warships shelled the beaches, men from his ship and other ships climbed down rope ladders into landing boats, then watched the landing boats stream towards shore. He had a couple of scares when a couple of German and Italian aeroplanes slipped through the bunglers of the RAF and strafed and bombed neighboring ships. Despite the fear and the boredom, he knew he was going to get even closer to the war when he went ashore.
He didn't go ashore the first day; instead he remained aboard ship despite the sounds of battle drifting over the water from the beaches. Nor did he go ashore the second. The day after, his commander ordered him and his men to disembark. As Tom Riddle climbed down the netting to the landing craft waiting to take him ashore, he remembered a line from some boring long-ago church service. "And on the third day we got off the bloody ship and went ashore," he thought to himself, complimenting himself on his paraphrase.
The landing craft pushed away from the troop transport and began making its way towards the beach. The water was choppy and Tom could feel the up and down motion as the landing craft bobbed on the waves. Several of the soldiers in the craft got sick as it made its way to shore. Tom felt green around the gills himself: despite England being an island nation, he never liked the water and he'd hated the few times he'd been on boats in his younger years.
Despite the peril of looking over the sides, he couldn't resist looking out at the waves and beach as the landing craft grew closer and closer to shore. Several of his mates had already gotten sick and he worried that he'd join them soon. The boat finally grounded against the sand. The front ramp dropped, and the matelots running the craft shouted "You're now in bloody Sicily! Get off!"
Tom staggered off the boat with the other soldiers. His booted feet sank into water and he cursed. He could hear the sounds of artillery and small arms fire. He hoped that it wasn't too close.
"Move!" beach masters screamed. "Get your arses out of the way!" Tom walked further inland, his stomach still lurching despite the fact that he was now on solid ground. His gut betrayed his intention of remaining calm in the face of chaos: he bent over and was sick on Sicilian shore.