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First episode taken from Adventure No. 1052 - April 11th 1942.

The adventures of the V. Man of the V campaign.


In the luxurious Paris hotel which he had made his headquarters, Dr Karl Kruke, chief of the German Gestapo in occupied France, ground his teeth and stamped his foot with rage. “It is intolerable!” he grated. “Those French pigs must be taught a lesson. They must learn that we, the Herrenvolk, are masters here. They must not make fun of us. Donnerwetter! No!” That day Dr Kruke had seen something that was enough to set the teeth of any Nazi on edge. Marching up the street abreast forcing all French into the gutter, four Boche soldiers came swaggering, heedless of the curses and black looks of the pedestrians. But as they marched past the anger of the French had turned to mirth. They looked after their insolent conquerors. Their scowls turned to smiles, their curses to jeer and ribald laughter. “Ha, ha, ha!” they mocked. “Ho, ho, ho! V for Victory!” “Fools! Dolts! Imbeciles!” the Gestapo chief had snarled at them. “It is such brainless louts as you who will lose the Fatherland to war if we do not watch out. How dare you walk through the city with the V sign—that accursed English V—on your backs!” Then he had walked up behind them and tore the offending symbols from their backs. Now he flung himself into a luxurious chair by the fire. As quick as a flash he jumped up again as if suddenly stung by a mad hornet. A crashing German oath broke from his mouth. For, from the chair, a musical series of notes had begun to sound. “Dot-dot-dot-dash! Dot-dot-dot-dash!” “Thunder and lightning! In my own office!” Dr Kruke bellowed. Whipping out a knife, he drove it furiously into the cushion of his chair, ripped it to pieces, and revealed the source of annoyance. It was a tiny instrument, sewn into the cushion, and so constructed that pressure on the cushion released the spring that set the clockwork in motion. “Dot-dot-dot-dash! Dot-dot-dot-dash!” it went on chiming, until Kruke flung it on the floor and ground it to pieces under his heel. “In my own office!” he raged. “Feuerblut! It is too much. Donnerblitzen! I will be revenged. There is a spy in my own office. Sturmwetter! I will—” Furiously he rang the bell. In came the Hauptmann Schlyme. Tall and lean, with a thin slit for a mouth, and blazing, fanatical eyes, he was Kruke’s right-hand man, ready to carry out any command however ruthless. “In my own office, Schlyme!” Kruke raged. “There is a spy in my own office. Everywhere are the agents of the V, even here. Storms and blizzards! Nowhere can we move without seeing the V sign. Our brave soldiers daren’t move after dark unless in large bodies. Every day the agents of the V become boulder. They are inciting the population to rebellion. They may rise at any moment, and with the best of our troops in Russia we cannot risk a rising. Donnerwetter! The leaders of the V must be crushed, exterminated.” “I have bad news for you, Herr Doktor,” said the corpse-like Hauptmann as his boss paused for breath. “The leader of the V himself is here in Paris.” “How do you know he is in Paris?” “By the infallible sign, Herr Doktor. Early this morning, when General von Krass was returning from a dinner party at the Hotel Metropole, his car was held up. The General’s brow was branded with the sign of the V.” “The General’s brow branded?” Kruke gasped in horror. “The brand of the V himself,” Schlyme replied. “He carries a kind of electric torch. Instead of a light bulb it has an arrangement of wires in the form of a V. When the switch is pressed the wires glow red-hot.” Dr Kruke strode rapidly backwards and forwards with a worried frown on his face. “We must do something, Schlyme. We must do something at once. We are in the greatest peril if we do not crush the V like a viper under our heel. Wait here a moment. I have something in my bedroom to show you. The Gestapo chief’s suite of rooms were all on the same floor. He strode through a connecting door, through a cosy sitting-room, and into his bedroom. From a locked cupboard he took a small attaché case, and fumbled at the lock with his key. As he bent over it a hand, long and lean and powerful, reached out from under the bed. It clamped like an iron vice on Kruke’s ankle. It heaved, and down came the Boche on his nose with a crash that shook the building. Before he could recover the man under the bed was on him. Kruke had a glimpse of cold, merciless eyes, and a lean, hawk-beaked face. He saw an object like an electric torch, a red-hot glowing V. He felt the burning brand on his brow, heard the sizzle of the flesh. A piercing scream broke from his lips. The Hauptmann Schlyme heard the thud of his chief’s fall. He heard the scream. Even as he rushed through the connecting door, he heard the slam of another door. When he reached the bedroom Kruke was alone, the sign of the V livid on his brow. “The brand of V!” the Hauptmann cried. “V himself is actually in this building. He must not escape. We have him trapped!” He rushed to the telephone. “Not a man to leave or enter the building on any pretext whatsoever,” he screeched into the mouthpiece. “The order is absolute. No one, not even if he were the Fuhrer himself. Heil Hitler!”


In a tiny room off the dining-room, where a score of uniformed clerks were busy over files and forms, sat the mournful figure of Jules Rapin, nicknamed Rapin-le-Nez, for reasons that will appear. He was a mysterious, drooping-moustached customer from the underworld of Paris. For years he had made a living by an unsavoury profession—by poking his nose into the affairs of the city’s criminal classes, and then betraying them to the police. When the Gestapo came to Paris, Rapin’s services were immediately offered, and, recommended as he had been by the Fascists chiefs of the Paris police, accepted. He had proved his value to his new masters. His moustaches sweeping his desk, he was busy writing one of the reports he was in the habit of sending to Kruke twice weekly when into his room marched Hauptmann Schlyme, with two armed guards at his back. “Search the room!” Schlyme snarled. “The V must be somewhere in the building. Search every corner. If we find the branding torch we find the man. Here, you!” He stamped up to Rapin and jammed a revolver in his ribs. Rapin-le-Nez shook his head sadly. “You are making a mistake, monsieur,” he said. “I am in the midst of an important report. I have made a discovery that will make Monsieur le Doktor Kruke open his eyes. It is worth a double payment, ma foi!” “Treacherous reptile!” Schlyme snarled, as he rapidly went over him without result. Rapin-le-Nez said nothing. But when at last the disappointed Nazis left the room to continue the search elsewhere, a low, peculiar chuckle broke from his lips. For a moment his fingers drummed on the table. A peculiar drumming, which an acute ear accustomed to Morse would have instantly understood. “Dot-dot-dot-dash! Dot-dot-dot-dash!” It was the sign of V in the International Code! Then Rapin settled back to his report. A couple of hours afterwards Schlyme was once more back in his boss’s room. “Everywhere, everyone in the building we have searched, Herr Doktor. No clue. No trace of the man or of the torch.” “It is impossible. Feuer! My brow! I will lose my job. They will sack me. They will say that a man with a V on his brow cannot remain in an official position. Devils and storm fiends! They may even send me to a concentration camp!” His eyes, detecting a curl of mockery on Schlyme’s lips, narrowed with sudden suspicion. “One man had not been searched, Herr Captain,” he rasped. “Ach—me?” Schylme protested. “It is ridiculous, but to satisfy you I will empty my pockets.” He plunged his hands into his pockets and began to display their contents on the table. As he twisted his body to get at the inner pockets, the leg of one of his loose jackboots bulged outwards. The eagle eye of Kruke caught a gleam of metal. “Never mind your pockets, Schlyme,” Kruke barked, a revolver leaping to his hand. “What have you got in your boot?” Schlyme looked stupidly at the gun pointing straight at his brow. He looked stupidly at the grim face of his chief. He looked stupidly down at his boot. “Donner!” he breathed. Incredulously he bent, and drew from the leg of his boot the branding torch of the mystery V. Still keeping his gun trained on his assistant, Kruke rang a furious peal on his bell. “The Hauptmann Schylme is under close arrest,” he barked when the summons was answered. “Take him away and keep him under constant observation.” A moment afterwards there was a meek rap at the door. Rapin-le-Nez softly opened the door and entered. “My report, Monsieur le Docteur,” he said. “I think you will find it of unusual interest. There is much in it that throws light on the V campaign.” “You are an invaluable rogue, Rapin,” the Doktor chuckled, recovering his spirits. “I don’t know what we would do without you. Let’s have a look.” Rapidly he read through the traitor’s report. Every other sentence he rubbed his hands and grunted with satisfaction. “Excellent! Excellent!” he gloated at the end. “If all our agents were like you, Rapin, we’d soon clear the city of all its rebels.” “I have your permission to leave now, monsieur?” said Rapin, with a low bow. “I have many inquiries to make!” “Surely—and take care of yourself,” said Kruke. “Remember that we have many enemies, and your life is precious.” Rapin bowed low again. Dr Kruke didn’t notice, when he left, that the branding torch was no longer lying on his desk!


“Monsieur le Docteur! Monsieur le Docteur!” The voice of Rapin-le-Nez over the telephone was more excited than Dr Kruke had ever heard it. “Listen, Monsieur le Docteur! I have made a grave discovery. It is urgent that we should raid a certain low-class hotel in the Rue St Antoine tonight. I have learned that the Englishman known as V will be there with his chief agents. They are planning a big V coup. We need a strong party to make the raid. They must be prepared to fight. We will also need five or six cars to take the prisoners away.” “What is the address of the viper’s nest?” Kruke demanded. “Donnerwetter! How can the V be in Rue St Antoine when I have the pig here under lock and key? I discovered that he was my own assistant.” “Bah, Monsieur le Docteur! The Hauptmann Schlyme is only a tool, seduced by English gold. The real V will be in your hands tonight. Listen! Let the cars draw up at the corner of the Rue d’Avril at ten minutes to midnight. They must be left there, for fear of raising the alarm. The V gang have a fine system of spying, and their agents are on the look-out everywhere. The raiding party must leave the cars in charge of their drivers at the Rue d’Avril. They must separate and make their way to the Rue d’Antoine by different routes. The hotel at No. 57 must be surrounded by half-past midnight. I will give the signal for the attack. When I blow my whistle the hotel should be rushed. You understand, Monsieur le Docteur?” “I understand! Heil Fuhrer! If we bring off this coup, Rapin, I will have you presented to the leader himself. He will make you a German citizen—the highest honour that he could possibly give a foreigner.” “What greater honour could the heart of a Frenchman desire?” said Rapin lugubriously, and rang off. Prompt to the minute, six big Gestapo cars drew up at the corner of the Rue d’Avril. Out of it tumbled burly, brutal S.A. men, with revolvers at their belts, and each man with a tear gas bomb in a sack. Drilled in their part, they silently separated, and vanished down dark bye-streets and alleys. The drivers of the cars settled back in their seats, lit cigarettes, and waited. They had not long to wait. A minute passed—two—then a low whistle sounded, and out of dark passages and doorways men came rushing on rubber-soled feet. Before the Gestapo men realised what was happening, the doors of their cars were flung open. Each man found himself with a grim enemy in the seat beside him, with a gun jammed hard into his ribs. In the first car the driver found himself beside a tall, lean, hook-nosed man, whose eyes glittered with a sinister gleam in the faint light from the dashboard. “You don’t know me, Schultz, eh?” the tall man chuckled. “I am Rapin-le-Nez. At least, I have been Rapin for the past three months, The real Rapin—alas!—will be seen no more. He was a traitor—a traitor to France. It was necessary to eliminate him. He will never be seen again. I took his place. You know who I am now, eh?” “You—you are the V!” Schultz gasped, his teeth beginning to chatter. “You can call me that. You know what happens to those who dare to defy me? You do, eh? Well—drive! I will tell you the route! Let’s get going. There is much to be done tonight.” Schultz drove. Stark terror chilling his heart, he sent his big car shooting away through the silent streets. Behind, the rest of the cars followed. There was no challenge from the Nazi patrols. The big Gestapo cars were well known. The S.A. uniforms of their drivers were a sufficient passport. Through the sleeping city they drove, through the silent suburbs, and out by the northern gate. An hour before dawn they came to a halt in a remote, wooded valley. “You can go home now, Schultz,” said the hook-nosed mystery man. “But first of all—” Out of his pocket came his branding torch. Its V glowed red. A scream broke from Schultz’s throat as the brand seared his brow. “Now off you go, if you know the way,” the mystery man grinned. “This way, mes enfants,” the mystery man chuckled. “You have the grease?” “Oui, monsieur,” came the reply from his followers. “But what—” “You’ll see,” the V man replied. “When I was in the Gestapo headquarters impersonating that scoundrel Rapin I learned many things. One of the things I learned is that our V campaign has got the Nazis in a sweat. They’re terrified of a general revolt—and they’re determined that most of the able-bodied men in France won’t take part in it. “I discovered that for some time they’ve been quietly arresting Frenchmen and packing them off to Germany to work in the danger areas off to Germany to work in the danger areas in the Ruhr. I learned that no fewer than fourteen hundred of them are leaving Paris in a special train at dawn this morning. So, you see! Now, listen.” Rapidly he issued orders that sent his followers hurrying towards the railway line, where they worked feverishly at the gleaming rails. Then they waited for the sound of an approaching train. Clickety-clack! Clickety-clack! Clickety-clack-clack-clack! Through the misty morning the non-stop Paris-Frontier Slave Express came thundering. Two engines drew the train. Behind was a long train of cattle trucks, with the French slaves packed in them like herrings in a barrel. At the end, before the guard’s van, was a luxurious saloon carriage, packed with the singing Nazi guards. Through a tunnel the train thundered, over a viaduct, through a cutting; then, sparks flaming from the smokestacks, crashed on to the steep gradient beyond. The train took it like a bird—until it was halfway up. Then things began to happen. The wheels of the engines lost their grip. They began to skid, to whirl uselessly around. The train had reached the stretch of rails which the V men had heavily greased—and now they struck. They rushed the train from both sides as its speed came down to a walking pace. They leaped on to the buffers. They uncoupled the first truck from the engine. They uncoupled the last truck from the Nazi saloon. The engine, freed from its load, shot away over the greased patch. The saloon shot away back down the gradient, not coming to a halt until it reached the viaduct. The V men jammed the brakes on the trucks. With hammers and chisels they broke the locks. “Freedom, camerades!” they shouted. “Vive la France!” Out of the trucks the astounded French tumbled. The enthusiasm of their deliverers struck answering fire. “Vive la France!” they cheered. “Fling off the brakes!” the voice of the V trumpeted. “Away with the trucks!” No sooner said than done. Slowly, but gradually gaining momentum, the trucks rattled away down the gradient. On rushed the trucks—on to the saloon standing on the gradient. Crash! With a grinding, smashing, thundering impact they struck. Up over each other the trucks piled in mad confusion, for the guard of the train had jammed his brakes hard on. Crash! Crash! Crash! “That’ll hold up German traffic for a bit,” the mystery man chuckled. “Every little helps in this war! Now ready for squalls, lads! We’ll teach those Germans a lesson they badly need.” Bang! Bang! Rat-a-tat-tat! Rat-a-tat-tat! Revolvers, rifles, and tommy-guns blazing, the Germans came racing towards them. “Vive le V!” the Frenchmen cried. “Heil Hitler!” came the answering bellow—and up the gradient the Nazis came charging. Chuckling, the mystery man watched. Suddenly he jerked a whistle to his lips. He blew a blast. In a moment the Nazi charge was halted. On either side of the high embankment four V men hidden there leaped to their feet. In their hands they held the ends of a stout rope. They raced down the slope at full speed. Before the Nazis realised what was happening, the rope, dragging along the rails, had caught them ankle-high. Down they crashed on their noses, their weapons flying from their hands. The morning became filled with their howls of dismay and pain. It was the end of the battle. Before the rest of the Huns knew what had happened, they were captives, their weapons in the hands of the French. “Strip them!” the V commanded. “We may find a use for their uniforms.” When that was done, and the Nazis stood shivering in their shirt tails, he had them lined up. He produced his branding torch and clicked it on. Then down the ranks he stalked, and ruthlessly seared the brand V on their brows. “Take to the forests and the hills,” the V told the liberated French. “Await the call of the V. When the call comes the Day of Deliverance is at hand, and France will once more be free!”!

Vengeance of the V 16 episodes appeared in Adventure issues 1052 - 1067 (1942)


© D. C. Thomson & Co Ltd

Vic Whittle 2007