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LL PRIVATE JELLY JAKES EVER WANTED WAS A A QUIET LIFE, MAYBE WITH THE CHANCE TO BLOW AN OCCASIONAL SAFE OR BURGLE A JEWELLERY SHOP NOW AND THEN. NEVER IN HIS WILDEST DREAMS HAD HE IMAGINED CLINGING TO A ROCK FACE ON GRAN SASSO HIGH IN THE APENNINE MOUNTAINS OF ITALY AND IN THE MIDDLE OF A HIDEOUSLY DANGEROUS MISSION. DON’T MOVE! DON’T MAKE A SOUND!

I...I CAN’T ‘OLD ON!

STORY ALAN HEBDEN ART BENET COVER BENET


4 THE ROCK FACE WAS BADLY WEATHERED BY THE FIERCE MOUNTAIN CLIMATE AND IT DIDN’T TAKE MUCH TO DISTURB IT. A TREMBLING FOOT INSIDE A BRITISH ARMY BOOT FITTED THE BILL PERFECTLY.

JELLY, UNBALANCED AND WITH NOTHING TO GRAB AT, STARTED TO TOPPLE BACKWARDS TOWARDS CERTAIN DEATH.

I’M GOIN’ TO DIE... HUH?

I’M LOSIN’ IT!

IMMEDIATELY ABOVE HIM A PAIR OF WHEELS HAD APPEARED…


5 …AND INSTINCTIVELY JELLY LUNGED FOR THEM, HIS HANDS GRIPPING ONE TIGHTER THAN ANY VICE.

I’M SAVED!

THE LITTLE MAN WAS FAR FROM SAVED, HOWEVER. WHAT HE HAD GRABBED WAS THE UNDERCARRIAGE OF A FIESELER STORCH TAKING OFF FROM THE PLATEAU ABOVE. ALREADY HEAVILY OVERLOADED, THE ADDITIONAL WEIGHT TOOK THE AIRCRAFT INTO A TERRIFYING DEATH PLUNGE.

MEIN GOTT!

GRIEF!

YAAAARH!


6

EVENTS OF SEVERAL WEEKS EARLIER, IN JULY 1943, HAD BROUGHT JELLY JAKES TO THIS LATEST PREDICAMENT. AS THE ALLIES OVERRAN MORE AND MORE OF ITALY, BENITO MUSSOLINI, THE COUNTRY’S FASCIST DICTATOR WAS FIRST DEPOSED THEN ARRESTED ON THE ORDERS OF THE ITALIAN KING.

YOU MUST COME WITH US, SIGNOR.

YOU CANNOT DO THIS TO ME. I AM IL DUCE!


7 THE FOLLOWING DAY THE PRISONER WAS TAKEN TO A SMALL HARBOUR SOUTH OF ROME AND PUT ON BOARD A LAUNCH HEADING FOR AN UNKNOWN DESTINATION.

IT WON’T BE LONG BEFORE THE GERMANS COME AFTER HIM. HE HAS TO BE HIDDEN AWAY BEFORE THEY DO.

THE ITALIANS WHO HAD DEPOSED MUSSOLINI HAD GOOD REASON TO FEAR THE GERMAN REACTION. A THOUSAND MILES AWAY IN THE SO-CALLED WOLF’S LAIR IN EAST PRUSSIA ANOTHER DICTATOR DEMANDED ACTION. I WILL NOT STAND BY WHILE MY FELLOW LEADER AND ALLY IS HUMILIATED AND IMPRISONED. HE MUST BE FOUND AND RESCUED!

THEIR COULD HAVE BEEN MORE THAN FELLOW FEELING BEHIND THIS RAGE. THE LOSS OF AN ALLY WOULD HARM THE AXIS WAR MACHINE AND IF THE ITALIANS WERE SEEN TO BE ABLE TO REMOVE THEIR DICTATOR PERHAPS THE GERMAN PEOPLE MIGHT BE TEMPTED TO DO THE SAME.


8 A MONTH LATER IN MALTA, THE LONG SIEGE WAS FINALLY OVER AND THE BOMB-DAMAGED STREETS OF THE CAPITAL VALETTA THRONGED WITH ALLIED SERVICEMEN. AMONG THEM WERE JELLY AND TITCH MOONEY, TWO OF THE JAILBIRDS RELEASED TO BECOME “CONVICT COMMANDOS.”

SICILY. I SHOULD HAVE LIKED TO HAVE TAKEN PART IN THE FIGHTING THERE.

THE BAR JELLY POINTED TO WAS CROWDED WITH SOLDIERS FROM MANY ALLIED NATIONS. AT A POKER TABLE, CORPORAL SMILER DAWSON — ANOTHER CONVICT COMMANDO — WAS JUST RAKING IN A LARGE POT. MINE I BELIEVE, GENTLEMEN.

BAH, HOW DOES HE ALWAYS WIN AT CARDS? COS ‘E ONLY BETS ON A SURE THING.

SPEAK FOR YERSELF, TITCH. C’MON, LET’S FIND SMILER. I THINK ‘E’S INSIDE.


9 AS THE LITTLE SAFE-CRACKER EXPLAINED WHAT HE MEANT STRONGMAN TITCH LOOKED SHOCKED.

SEE THAT MIRROR ON THE WALL? ‘E CAN SEE WOT AT LEAST THREE PLAYERS ARE ‘OLDIN’ IN ITS REFLECTION. ALSO, ‘E’S PROBABLY MARKED SOME CARDS WIV A LITTLE SCRATCH OR CREASE SO ‘E CAN KEEP TRACK OF ‘EM.

YOU MEAN HE CHEATS?

JELLY SHOOK HIS HEAD SADLY. I DUNNO, TITCH, SOMETIMES YOU’RE LIKE A LITTLE KID OO’S JUST LEARNT THAT THE TOOTH FAIRY DON’T EXIST.

IT DOESN’T? BUT I THOUGHT...

YOU PALMED THAT ACE, YA CHEATIN’ LIMEY RAT!


10 THE OTHER PLAYERS SCATTERED AS SMILER — THE COMMANDOS’ KNIFE EXPERT — SPRANG TO HIS FEET TO CONFRONT HIS ACCUSER, BLADE IN HAND.

NO-ONE CALLS ME A CHEAT, YANKEE DOODLE!

BUT HE IS.

YEAH, BUT MAYBE YOU’D BETTER BREAK IT UP BEFORE SOMEONE GETS ‘URT, LIKE THE YANK! BEFORE TITCH COULD MOVE, A BLADE FLEW THROUGH THE AIR. WITH UNERRING ACCURACY IT CUT THROUGH SMILER’S SLEEVE AND PINNED HIS KNIFE ARM TO A WOODEN POST. THE THROWER, A GRINNING WHIPPET-LIKE FRENCHMAN, CALLED OUT ACROSS THE BAR. WHAT THE...? STOP ‘IM, TITCH!

KNIFE AGAINST FIST IS NOT A FAIR FIGHT, MON AMI!

GIMME THAT. I’M GONNA BRAIN THE LIMEY CHEAT!



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