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N THE SUMMER OF 1920, LESS THAN TWO YEARS AFTER THE END OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR, THE BELGIAN CITY OF ANTWERP HOSTED THE SEVENTH MODERN OLYMPIC GAMES. HOWEVER, SAILING EVENTS TOOK PLACE AT THE POPULAR COASTAL RESORT OF OSTEND, WHERE LARGE CROWDS GATHERED TO CHEER ON THE COMPETITORS FROM DIFFERENT COUNTRIES.

I

MY MONEY’S ON THE DUTCH CREW. THEY KNOW THESE WATERS BETTER THAN THE OTHERS.

I SAY THE BRITISH CREW WILL WIN THE GOLD MEDAL. THEY’RE MORE USED TO OPEN WATER THAN THE DUTCH.

STORY ALAN HEBDEN ART KEITH PAGE COVER KEITH PAGE


4 THE BRITISH DINGHY WAS CREWED BY RUSS WYNN, A FORMER CAPTAIN IN THE ROYAL MARINES, AND DAVE “BUNNY” HARE, WHO HAD SERVED AS A SUBALTERN ON THE WESTERN FRONT DURING THE FINAL YEAR OF THE WAR. BOTH MEN WERE ACCOMPLISHED YACHTSMEN AND FANCIED THEIR CHANCES OF WINNING GOLD.

LAST TIME I WAS OFF THIS COAST WAS DURING THE ZEEBRUGGE RAID.

I DIDN’T KNOW HE’D TAKEN PART IN THAT SHOW.

THE TWO HAD MET AFTER THE WAR, AND SO FAR RUSS HAD REVEALED VERY LITTLE ABOUT HIS WARTIME EXPERIENCES. THE SLEEK DINGHY SPED ALONG, MAKING THE MOST OF THE OFFSHORE BREEZES. SLOWLY BUT SURELY THEY PULLED AHEAD AS BUNNY KEPT A SHARP LOOK-OUT FOR ANY FLOTSAM OR JETSAM THAT MIGHT DAMAGE THE HULL IF THEY STRUCK IT.

LET’S HOPE IT’S NOTHING. IF WE HAVE TO MAKE A SUDDEN COURSE CHANGE WE’LL LOSE OUR LEAD.

SOMETHING UP AHEAD, SKIPPER. CAN’T MAKE IT OUT YET. MAY BE NOTHING.


5 SUDDENLY THE OBJECT BECAME ALL TOO CLEAR.

IT’S A DRIFTING MINE! HARD TO PORT!

HECK!

AT THE SAME MOMENT THE BREEZE DROPPED TO A MERE BREATH OF AIR. WITHOUT ITS DRIVING FORCE THE DINGHY WAS ABOUT AS MANOEUVRABLE AS A FLOATING BATHTUB. WE’RE GOING TO HIT IT!

BALE OUT!


6 THEY BARELY MADE IT INTO THE WATER BEFORE THE DINGHY DETONATED THE MINE.

GRIEF!

RESCUERS WERE ON THE SCENE IN MINUTES, THOUGH THE MAN WHO HELPED RUSS INTO HIS BOAT GOT A NASTY SHOCK. MON DIEU...YOUR LEG!

NO NEED TO WORRY. I LOST THE REAL THING AT THE END OF THE WAR. IT’S MY WOODEN ONE THAT’S GONE MISSING!


7 FROM A NEARBY BOAT BUNNY GAVE A YELL AND TRIUMPHANTLY BRANDISHED WHAT RUSS HAD LOST.

I BELIEVE THIS BELONGS TO YOU, SKIPPER! WELL RETRIEVED, BUNNY. I’LL PICK IT UP ASHORE.

HUGE NUMBERS OF MINES HAD BEEN LAID IN THESE WATERS BY ALL SIDES DURING THE WAR. MOST HAD SINCE BEEN SWEPT, BUT ENOUGH HAD BEEN MISSED TO MAKE THEM A CONSTANT HAZARD. A PITY WE COULDN’T HAVE RUN INTO THE BLASTED THING AFTER CROSSING THE FINISH LINE. WE ALMOST HAD GOLD IN OUR POCKETS.

SUCH IS LIFE, BUNNY. YOU THINK YOU’VE WON THE PRIZE, THEN IT’S SNATCHED AWAY AT THE LAST MOMENT. I SHOULD KNOW!

BUNNY HAD BROUGHT HIS MOTORCYCLE TO BELGIUM, ITS SIDECAR ABLE TO ACCOMMODATE RUSS’S WOODEN LEG. HOWEVER, HIS REMARK ABOUT PRIZES BEING SNATCHED AWAY REMINDED BUNNY YET AGAIN HOW LITTLE HE KNEW ABOUT HIS FELLOW COMPETITOR.

I WONDER WHAT HE MEANS BY THAT? I WISH HE’D OPEN UP A BIT MORE.


8 NO LONGER PARTICIPANTS, THEY HAD TO BE CONTENT WITH BEING SPECTATORS OF THE ATHLETIC EVENTS SCHEDULED TO BEGIN THE FOLLOWING DAY. DRIVING INTO ANTWERP BUNNY WAS SURPRISED AT THE AMOUNT OF DAMAGE THE CITY SEEMED TO HAVE SUFFERED. I THOUGHT THE GERMANS TOOK ANTWERP AT THE START OF THE WAR AND OCCUPIED IT UNTIL THE ARMISTICE. HOW DID IT GET LIKE THIS?

THE CITY WAS BESIEGED FOR A FEW WEEKS BACK IN NINETEEN-FOURTEEN UNTIL THE GERMANS BROUGHT UP HEAVY ARTILLERY AND ALMOST SMASHED IT TO PIECES. WE HELD OUT AS LONG AS WE COULD BEFORE WITHDRAWING.

THEY REACHED THE SCHELDT ESTUARY WHERE THE CITY’S GREAT DOCKS WERE SITUATED. EVEN HERE THE DEBRIS OF WAR WAS STILL APPARENT.

BEFORE THE END OF THE SIEGE WE SANK DOZENS OF GERMAN SHIPS THAT HAD BEEN INTERNED HERE WHEN THE WAR BEGAN. THEY’RE STILL CLEARING THEM AWAY.

WE HELD OUT, HE SAYS, AND WE SANK DOZENS OF SHIPS. DID HE TAKE PART IN THE SIEGE? IT’S TIME FOR SOME ANSWERS.


9 THEY REACHED THE CITY AND WERE SOON TRAVELLING ALONG A QUIET, COBBLED STREET. BEFORE BUNNY COULD OPEN HIS MOUTH RUSS GAVE A SUDDEN GASP AND POINTED URGENTLY AT A MAN HURRYING AROUND A CORNER AHEAD OF THEM. NO, IT CAN’T BE! BUNNY, CATCH HIM UP! HURRY!

WHAT’S THIS ALL ABOUT?

BUNNY GUNNED THE ENGINE AND SWEPT ROUND THE CORNER AFTER THE MAN. HEARING THE BIKE, HE LOOKED BACK AND GAPED WHEN HE SAW RUSS.

GOTT IM HIMMEL, WYNN!

IT’S HIM! IT’S MAJOR FINKEL!

WHO?


10 UNHESITATINGLY THE MAN REACHED INSIDE HIS RAINCOAT AND PULLED OUT A LUGER AUTOMATIC PISTOL. SCHWEINHUND! HE’S GOT A GUN!

HECK!

THE SHOT TORE THROUGH THE FRONT TYRE, SENDING BOTH THE BIKE AND SIDECAR CRASHING INTO A LINE OF DUSTBINS. OOOF!

NOW I’LL FINISH YOU OFF!

WE’VE HAD IT.



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