Author's note: Others own the Hogan's Heroes characters. All other characters are my creations. This story follows from the events of Episode 82: Sticky Wicket Newkirk, written by Richard M. Powell.
Accident of War - Part 1
By Diane Maher
"That was a great explosion, eh Newkirk?" Carter asked.
"Yeah mate, it was. Where's the Colonel?" Newkirk responded as they paused just outside the tunnel entrance.
Carter looked intently into the forest and saw Hogan's cap coming through the forest towards the tunnel. He also heard his CO's puffing as he paused to catch his breath. "The Colonel's over there, he had to stop and catch his breath."
Newkirk grinned wolfishly. "Again? The Colonel's gettin' too old for this kind of thing, mate. We better hope the war ends soon."
Carter nodded his agreement and added, "You better hope that he doesn't hear you say that." He then pulled up the top of the tree stump covering the tunnel entrance and went down the ladder with Newkirk following.
In the tunnel below, Carter and Newkirk looked up as the lid above them slammed shut. They stared at one another, aghast, as they heard the shrill ringing of the alarm bells. Colonel Hogan was still out there. Carter and Newkirk ran down the tunnel, climbed up the ladder, and ran to the door.
"What's going on?" Kinch asked as Carter and Newkirk raced up the ladder.
"The Colonel's still outside the wire!" Carter exclaimed.
Kinch stared in shock and followed Carter to the door. They watched anxiously as Schultz brought Colonel Hogan back into camp and they headed for Klink's office.
After blowing up an important bridge several miles from camp, Colonel Hogan followed two of his men as they swiftly made their way back to Stalag 13. The two younger men had made it back much quicker than he did and this made him think more about staying in shape. Despite the awful food that Klink gave them, he realized that he had managed to put on a few pounds. He was about ready to climb down into the tree stump when a searchlight from the nearest tower caught him in its beam for an instant. Hogan slammed down the lid to the stump just as the light came back and remained on him.
"Halt!" shouted one of the tower guards. To emphasize his point, the guard fired several warning shots into the ground.
Hogan froze and raised his arms over his head. A minute later there were barking dogs and guards surrounding him as he stood with his hands over his head. Schultz arrived panting on the scene and looked surprised when he saw who the escapee was.
"Colonel Hogan?" Schultz asked as he caught his breath.
Hogan looked wearily at Schultz and replied, "Yeah Schultz."
"Return to your posts. I'll take him to the Kommandant's office!" Schultz ordered. After the guards left, Schultz asked, "Colonel Hogan, what are you doing here?"
"Would you believe I was just going into town to get Klink a gift? I would have come right back," Hogan replied.
"No," Schultz replied as he pointed his gun at Hogan. "Raus!"
Hogan shrugged and headed back to the gate, with Schultz following. When they entered the administration building, Hogan went straight to Klink's office. Looks like I'm staring at thirty days confined to the barracks, Hogan thought.
Klink was calmly sitting behind his desk. He seemed unconcerned that someone had tried to escape from his camp.
Uh oh. Klink is way too calm. I have a bad feeling about this, Hogan thought.
"Well, Colonel Hogan. Trying to escape, were you?" Klink asked snidely.
"No, I was just out for a breath of fresh air," Hogan replied, his tone sarcastic.
Klink laughed at his witticism and this unnerved Hogan even further. What's his game? Hogan wondered.
Klink stood and walked around the desk. He said, "You may remember a few months ago, Colonel Hogan, I instituted a policy of automatic transfer for any infractions of the rules."
"Yes," Hogan said. Newkirk had almost been transferred to Stalag 6 because of that policy.
Klink strode over to the window, glanced out at the now dark and silent compound. When he turned towards Hogan, he continued, "I've decided to reinstate this punishment and attempted escapes fit the criteria for transfer."
"But sir?" Schultz interrupted.
"Silence, Schultz," Klink ordered.
"But Herr Kommandant, didn't Major Hochstetter and some General order you not to transfer prisoners again after that fiasco?" Schultz asked.
Klink ignored Schultz's question and continued, "Therefore, my dear Colonel Hogan, you are to be transferred to Stalag 7, which is located just outside the town of Heidelberg, effective first thing in the morning after roll call," Klink finished triumphantly.
Hogan gaped at Klink. How can I talk him out of this when he caught me outside the fence? Hogan thought. He then noticed the satisfied smirk on Klink's face, which made the situation even worse.
"Nothing to say, Hogan?" Klink chortled with a smug grin.
"What can I say?" Hogan sighed resignedly. He turned to leave Klink's office.
Behind him, Klink said, "Colonel Hogan, please be ready to leave promptly tomorrow morning after roll call."
Hogan looked back at Klink, and then replied, "Yes, sir."
Closing the door to the office, Hogan heard Klink say, "I got you Hogan! I finally got you!" Hogan closed his eyes as he heard Klink's triumphant laugh.
As Hogan entered the barracks a few minutes later, his crew followed him to his office.
"What happened, Colonel?" Carter asked.
"Didn't you listen?" Hogan asked.
"No, I haven't finished rewiring the coffee pot," Kinch replied.
Hogan sighed. "After Carter and Newkirk entered the tunnel, one of the tower searchlight beams swept over me. I had an instant to prevent them from discovering the tunnel entrance. I had no choice but to surrender to them. I couldn't expose the operation just to save my own hide."
"So what did ol' Klink 'ave to say, guvn'r? What's your punishment, the usual thirty days in the cooler for attempted escape? Or you're confined to the barracks for thirty days?" Newkirk asked.
Hogan glared balefully at the Englishman and replied, "Klink's reinstated his policy of transfer for infractions of the rules. I'm to be transferred to Stalag 7 outside of Heidelberg."
His crew looked at him, totally shocked. Carter was the first to recover his wits. He asked quietly, "Sir, couldn't you talk your way out of getting transferred?"
"No. I was so surprised, I couldn't think of a word to say. My mind went blank. Klink caught me outside the wire and there's nothing I can do now, except pack," Hogan replied. "Kinch, do we have any contacts in Heidelberg?"
"I think we do, but we've not heard from her in a long time. She may have moved away. I'll try to contact Wolfram in Hammelburg and inquire whether there are any underground units down there that might be able to help you to escape."
"Thanks, Kinch," Hogan replied glumly. "If there's a contact there, he'll know. He helped to set up the underground from here to Heidelberg." He suddenly felt very tired and sat on the lower bunk beneath his bed.
"Is there anything we can do?" Carter asked quietly.
When Hogan looked up, there was no sign of the hope that had always been in his eyes. He replied, "Yes. Contact headquarters and inform them what has happened. They'll have to arrange for another officer to be sent here to take over for me and it had better not be Colonel Crittendon! He would have this operation exposed in no time flat!"
"Colonel, when are you to leave?" LeBeau asked.
"First thing tomorrow morning after roll call," Hogan replied. He smacked the bunk with his hand and said angrily, "I can't believe this is happening! I really blew it this time!"
"Don't blame yourself, sir," Carter said.
Hogan grunted and shook his head. "Who else is there to blame? Certainly not any of you!"
"It won't be the same here without you, sir," Carter said.
"You'll get used to it, Andrew," Hogan said.
"Maybe, but I hope we meet again after the war," Carter said.
"Yeah," Hogan said solemnly. "Let's get some shuteye."
The others went to the next room to try and get some sleep. Hogan crawled up into his bunk and made himself comfortable. As Hogan lay awake, he thought, Is this Klink's way of getting revenge on me for all the scheming I've done under his nose?
At roll call the next morning, Klink made the following announcement, "As of now, any infractions of the rules will result in the offending prisoners' immediate transfer to another Stalag." The prisoners groaned and several made some rude noises.
When the prisoners settled down once more, Klink continued, "The first prisoner to be affected by this newly reinstated rule is Colonel Hogan. He will be leaving on a truck bound for Stalag 7 after this roll call."
The prisoners stared from the Kommandant to their senior officer in shocked silence. The lack of reaction from Hogan made the silence deafening.
"Now you prisoners know I mean business! That is all! Dismissed!" Klink finished.
"Colonel Klink?" Hogan asked. "May I address the men one last time?"
Feeling magnanimous, Klink replied, "Yes, Colonel Hogan. You may."
Before falling asleep a few hours ago, Hogan had considered what he would say to the prisoners before leaving. He realized that he must not become carried away by emotion because he didn't want to endanger the operation, so anything he said would be very brief. It was hard not to think of it as 'his' operation. He walked over, stood next to Klink, and faced the men of his command and the rest of the prisoners. He saw the grim expressions on their faces.
"Although the circumstances have not made it a pleasure, it's been a privilege to have been your commanding officer in this dungeon. Good-bye," Hogan said and saluted them all. Most of the prisoners were shocked at this turn of events, but all smartly returned Hogan's salute.
Hogan turned towards the Kommandant. Klink's mouth hung open as though he had never seen soldiers returning the salute of a superior officer. Hogan grinned at Klink's dumbfounded expression. Klink noticed the smirk on his face and pulled himself together, exasperated with himself for letting his amazement show and angry that Hogan saw his expression.
"Are you ready to leave, Colonel?" Klink asked.
"Yes," Hogan replied.
A truck pulled up in front of the Kommandant's office and Schultz escorted Hogan over to it. Many of the prisoners, including the men who made up his unit, followed and congregated at the back of the truck.
Hogan climbed into the rear of the truck that was to take him to Stalag 7. He had talked to Kinch earlier that morning and found that there was little underground activity in Heidelberg, but he had memorized the address of their one contact there just in case he should be able to escape from Stalag 7. Wolfram, the leader of the Hammelburg underground, had indicated he would do what he could to get Hogan out of this mess. Heidelberg was one hundred and six kilometers southwest of Stalag 13. If Hogan somehow managed to escape and head back this way, it would be a long trip.
The two men who were guarding Hogan over the course of the trip were already situated in the truck. When the man next to him told Hogan to hold his hands out in front of him, he put handcuffs on his wrists. Between the click of the handcuffs, the rumble of the truck's motor and the receding faces of his crew, Hogan realized that he really was leaving Stalag 13.
This wasn't the way it was supposed to happen, Hogan thought sadly as he watched the gates of Stalag 13 close after the truck left the camp. They were lost to sight as the truck headed for Heidelberg.
Kinch and the others in Hogan's unit went solemnly into the empty office at the end of Barracks 2. Kinch finished rewiring the coffee pot so they could listen to what was going on in Klink's office. Nothing was happening there, so he unplugged it almost as soon as he had plugged it in. Colonel Hogan's transfer to Stalag 7 had already shattered morale in camp.
Kinch looked at the men gathered in the room with him, saw their gloomy expressions and said, "Come on you guys, we still have a job to do tonight, in case you forgot."
Newkirk bowed his head and said quietly, "It all seems so useless."
"Look, we all liked the Colonel and will miss him, but we've got to continue the operation the way he would have if he were here," Kinch said with an air of authority.
"Okay, so who is headquarters sending to take Colonel Hogan's place?" Carter asked.
"I don't know. I, uh, haven't informed London of what happened yet," Kinch admitted. "I didn't want to face up to it anymore than you guys have. I thought that maybe we could run the show for a while and see if the Colonel somehow manages to escape and return here."
"What are the odds of that 'appenin' mate?" asked Newkirk.
"As much as I hate to admit it, pretty slim and closer to none," Kinch replied. "I guess I better go below and send the message."