Undeterred by this gossip, however, I continued to do my best to keep up the morale of the team and give `birthday parties' on each anniversary of Gustav Siegfried Eins and the Atlantiksender. The P.o.W.s joined in all this with as much zest as our old-timers. So, too, did Father Andreas. " I was prepared for anything at MB," commented one of my delighted American visitors watching the Father at one such party, "but never, never, never did I expect to see a priest in a Conga line!"
Soon I found romance blossoming between the British and Balkan girl secretaries and my new friends from the U-boats, the Luftwa$e, and the Afrika-corps. Young Virchow fell in love with Marianne, a very pretty young Jewess of the Elizabeth Taylor type, and she with him. They announced their engagement. It created a big stir among the prisoners. Another officer reproached Virchow. He was a Bavarian monarchist with a lamily name known throughout Europe as long ago as the fifteenth century. " How can you possibly do this? Your family will never forgive you!" " I am sure they will approve," replied Virchow. "Marianne belongs to a very old and aristocratic Jewish family. Much older than mine or yours!" Oh, that Hitler could have heard them. I do not, to this day, know whether it was due to a natural mischievousness, or whether it was the psychological effect of the work we were doing. But the members of my team were for ever playing tricks either on each other, or my guests or on me. And as often as not these pranks took the form of forgeries in the best `black' manner.
Max Braun they hoaxed with what purported to be a Foreign Office letter warning him that an attempt was to be made on his life. Another victim was an American Marines major of the U.S. Naval Intelligence, who in the autumn of 1944 travelled down to stay with us most nights of the week, partly because he wished to be in touch with our work but also because he wished to sleep undisturbed by the German V. i rockets. My young villains hoaxed Major Dickson into a conviction that R.A.G. was less safe from buzz-bombs than he thought.
Early one morning, while he was still in bed, they catapulted a lump of earth through his window, shattering it with a thud and a crash. When the major came down to breakfast he found the team all earnestly discussing how far off the doodle-bug had fallen. Each man volunteered a different estimate. They told each other how the windows of their rooms had been shattered by the blast, how pictures had fallen, and how the roof had been blown off the vicar's house.
Great was their joy when Major Dickson told them that his window, too, had succumbed to the blast. " I guess Aspley Guise," he said, "is also in the V. i danger zone now." Despite the pranks and the festivities, we all began to feel the pressure of our work and its nervous strain. It was particularly exhausting for Karl Robson and myself. My day began at nine-thirty in the morning, when in my office at MB I would read the latest batch of Foreign Office telegrams and the reports from the Secret Intelligence Service. I also had to attend to a mass of administrative detail even though I did not have to bother with the management of the compound and its affairs.
At ten forty-five the team assembled for our editorial conference in the central operations room. This went on until half-past one or two. For, with the comparatively untutored staff at our disposal, Karl and I found it best to discuss the presentation of each item that was going into the programme. The afternoon was spent getting the news and talks written, the programmes and the music arranged. Nothing was broadcast without having been seen and approved by Karl Robson or myself. And much of it invariably had to be rewritten. In the evening I listened at intervals to the programme as it went out, suggested improvements here and there, sub-edited and `angled' fresh items of news as they broke on the Helschreiber or our British and American agency tapes, and in between it all I discussed new ideas and new campaigns with my team or any visitors who might have come down to spend the night with me at R.A.G.
Never did Karl Robson or I get to bed before one a.m. Let no one, however, imagine that my sleep was uninterrupted. For at three a.m. the door of my bedroom would softly open, a hand switched on the lamp on my bedside table, and a girl's voice spoke. " Mr. Delmer," it said sweetly through my dreams, "Major Glarke's compliments." Standing beside my bed, solicitously offering me a large buff envelope containing a dispatch, I saw a blonde angel, blue uniformed, breeched and high-booted. From under a crash helmet peeped corn-coloured curls. Her slender waist was tightly strapped in a leather corset. There she stood awaiting my command, her cheeks flushed by the icy before-dawn air, her crimson lips slightly parted-the dream vision of a James Bond fetishist. But this was no dream.
She was the dispatch-rider sent over to my bedside from Marylands, as Harold Keeble's printing shop was called, with the page proofs of .Nachrichten fur die Truppe. As my bedside visitor waited, I went through the proofsscanning them, I hope with almost the same critical care I had seen the great master of the Daily Express devote to his productions. If I found anything wrong my rage was certainly no less than his.
And by the time I had put the telephone down again I had pumped myself into such a fury and generated so much adrenalin that it was hours after the blonde leather-strapped vision had departed, before I dropped off back to sleep again. All this soon became too much for Isabel. First she insisted on separate rooms so that she should not be awakened by my dawn visitor. Then she got herself a job as an artist designer for one of the department's productions in London. She went off to live there and only visited us at R.A.G. at remote intervals. That was the beginning of the end of my first marriage.