I don't own any Hogan's Heroes characters or settings mentioned in this, and I'm not earning anything from this.
Many thanks to Clarence from It's a Wonderful Life and Wupsy from the Treasure Box Books, for providing the inspiration for Godfrey.
Labour of Love: An Uphill Struggle
We all know there's a war on.
Many people have difficult roles to play in the various theatres around the world. Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Charles de Gaulle are just a few names on the large scale. Then there are those with difficult roles on a slightly smaller scale, too. Individual officers in all branches of the forces, spies, or anyone who has to make important decisions that could cause the difference between life and death for another human being. Colonel Robert Hogan is one, and Oskar Danzig and Marie Monet are two others. But I think I'm in the running with all of them for Most Difficult Job of The War, perhaps even of all time.
I don't think we've been introduced. Hello, my name is Godfrey. I'm Rodney Crittendon's personal guardian angel.
I'll start at the very beginning. A guardian angel gets only one person, ever, to guard. We're non-recyclable. Everyone has their own guardian angel. So when I was first assigned to Rodney, I was very excited. The first nine months were a song. My charge gave me no trouble at all. And then he was born.
From that moment on, I realized that Rodney had an unhealthy magnetism to disaster.
Two days after his birth, his nanny was carrying him down the stairs nearly dropped him. Or at least, that's what she thought. In reality she did drop him, only I was there to catch him and quickly deposit him back in her arms.
Learning to walk: for Rodney, it was an adventure; for me, it was a nightmare. I was at work constantly, pulling him out of harm's way as he traveled from one misadventure to the next. Once he was toddling around the pond in his parents' garden, when he tripped. I only grabbed him just in in time. His mother noticed what was happening and pulled him away from the hazard after the incident was over and done with. If anything posed a threat to a small child, Rodney would totter his way towards it with the utmost determination. I won't even begin to count the numerous fires, angry dogs, moving vehicles, poisonous substances and other such perils that Rodney and I encountered in those years.
As he grew older, it became obvious that my charge was not the sharpest tool in the box. That never stopped him from wanting to do absolutely everything he could (or couldn't) accomplish. In first form of school he led an unwary group of fellow formers on a nature ramble. He marched them across a bog and through a thorn thicket before finally announcing:
"Funny, I could have sworn the school was here. Chaps, I do believe we're lost!"
Rodney was the only one who returned unscathed. I'd had more experience than the rest of the guardian angels on that ramble, and I was prepared to haul him away from marshy pools and pull the thorny branches out of his way. After all, that's what I'm here for.
He moved from one hobby to the next over his young life. His parents, though of no greater brain power than their son, were adoring. They gave him whatever he wanted, so he was easily able to take part in more eclectic activities.
He worked with chemicals until he blew up his workshop. That time, Rodney was not so lucky. I knew the stuff he was mixing was going to explode before it actually did, but there was not much I could do except protect him from the flying pieces of glass from the broken phial and most of the flames. He emerged from the incident with a blackened face, torn clothes, but basically unhurt and with the same solid determination to do all.
The next craze was Killer Judo (1). Six months of trying to preserve him from injury at the hands of his instructor or fellow pupils. I didn't succeed every time, however. Once, in trying to stop him receiving what could have been a critical blow to the head, I caused him to be clipped in the shoulder, resulting in an enormous bruise, which took weeks to heal. Never the less, Rodney passed the course, to everyone's surprise. I think the instructor probably didn't want him back for the next six month round. He was a liability.
In 1923, at the age of nineteen, he joined the RAF. Both basic and officer's training were a guardian angel's hell (metaphorically, of course). Then pilot's training. Rodney passed with a good score, but I had been there the whole time, guiding the plane away from disaster.
His unfortunate escapades as an RAF officer are too long and too many to recount in full. Rodney went through a weekend of commando training and a weekend of sabotage training. I'll leave you to imagine what happened during that time. Just picture everything that could go wrong going wrong, and one man sailing up the middle, happily unaware of the destruction he was causing all around him and leaving for me to clear up.
A few things can be said in my charge's favour, however. Despite his lack of brains, Rodney is unfailingly enthusiastic (though that in itself can cause problems). He always wants to be of service, and has a strong sense of duty. Those qualities impressed his superiors in the Air Force and were the main reason for his promotion to Group Captain in 1930.
Then came the war. War is a stressful business for any guardian angel. But when you've got a charge who attracts trouble to start with, coupled with trouble that's impossible to avoid, then you're really in for a rough ride. For the better part of two years I was able to keep Rodney up and flying in the war-torn skies. I felt sorry for the men under him at times; he was very stubborn and his plans were idiotic verging on ridiculous. I tried to keep them safe as well, but they have their own guardian angels, and I have my hands full. I often wondered why I kept him flying so long, but I was taking instruction from The Man with the Plan Upstairs, so I didn't worry too much.
Then one day, it happened. Rodney was shot down while flying a bombing mission over Dusseldorf. He was trying out a new formation with his bomber group, which sadly (but not surprisingly) was a complete failure. He almost left the crashing plane without his parachute, but I whispered a reminder in his ear. He was captured by the Germans and placed in Luftstalag 18. Despite the barbed wire fences, guards, and dogs, my troubles were far from over. In fact they were increased. Rodney's motto became "Escape, Escape, Escape!" and I spent my time saving him from tunnel cave-ins, angry guard dogs, and machine gun bullets.
About a year later, Rodney was transferred to Stalag 13. He was to replace Colonel Robert Hogan as senior POW officer. When we arrived, he was placed in the cooler, and I had a moment to meet with Robert's guardian angel, Edward. He informed me of a top secret operation going on under Stalag 13, which Robert was running, and which, if discovered, could mean the worst for the colonel and his men. I somehow knew that Rodney would unknowingly sabotage anything of the type, and so I agreed to keep him away. Even if it meant letting a wrench fall on his head, or being transferred back to Stalag 18.
During the war, Rodney made a long series of unsuccessful escapes. We ran into Edward and Robert a few times on the way. Many people attribute Hogan's success to brains and good luck. The brains part is correct, but I have to tell you, when those fail, Edward always there to cast in his bid. He's one of the main reasons Papa Bear has survived so long.
I know better than anyone else that Rodney Crittendon is seriously lacking in the area he likes to call "the old brainbox". And it has been difficult running after him all these years. I've had my share of failures. But I could be a lot worse. I know that Wolfgang Hochstetter's angel works hard too, but in a different way. He whispers constantly in his charge's ear, hoping that one day Wolfgang will hear and make himself a decent person. I hope he succeeds.
I'd rather spend all my time running around after a bumbling fool with a good heart than a clever creep who's evil clear through.
1. Crittendon mentioned learning "Killer Judo" in Hogan's Trucking Company...We Deliver the Factory to You
See? Crittendon does have friends! Please review!