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This episode, taken from The Wizard issue: 1005 August 22nd 1942.



A guard of honour was drawn up inside the gates of Le Bourget aerodrome on the outskirts of Paris. They snapped to attention and presented arms as a long Mercedes car emerged from between the buildings and headed for the exit.

The big steel gates had been thrown open. A number of Nazi motor-cyclists waited the word to race through the streets with wailing sirens to clear the way for General Henkell, the newly-appointed military governor of Paris. An armoured-car stood to one side, ready to close in behind the Mercedes and give additional protection. If General Henkell noticed all these precautions he showed no sign of it. His hard, ruthless face was expressionless. Even before he had swept out through the gates into the main road beyond, he had heard a first-hand report from the Gestapo official at his side of the recent murders of Herr Leben and General Konrad. It was to fill the vacancy caused by the sudden death of General Konrad that Henkell had been flown from Strasbourg. He was a man who had used the principle of the iron hand in Alsce, and he had been given instructions to apply it in the French capital. “The first thing is to round up another five hundred hostages,” he growled, as they turned sharp right to head for Paris. “Then—” A long burst of machine-gun fire came from the shabby café at the corner. At that short range it was impossible for the hidden marksman to miss. General Henkell’s car was riddled all down one side, the driver fell forward clutching frantically at the wheel, the vehicle climbed the kerb and crashed into a tree. The machine-gunner was not yet satisfied. More bullets smashed the general’s car before the shooting ceased. When the horrified escort rushed to Henkell’s aid, they found both he and his companion dead. There was a roar from the engine of the armoured-car as it swerved across the road, charged over the low pavement, and drove its blunt nose into the doorway of the café. Men in uniform were leaving their motor-cycles and rushing to surround the place. Many of them had tommy-guns. Beside the café stood a battered lorry filled with empty cases. For a moment it screened the man who swiftly glided out of the rear room. He limped badly, had a bent back, and was dressed in grey from head to foot. Grey gloves covered his hands, there was a grey leather mask over his strangely flat face, and a hat of the same colour was pulled well down. A Nazi soldier glimpsed him as he dodged behind a tree at the entrance to an alley-way, and bellowed the alarm. A dozen Germans sped in pursuit. The grey man started to run, still limping badly. He went straight down the narrow alley-way. A group of Nazis arrived in the entrance together. Seven or eight of them were bunched together, yelling excitedly when they saw the sinister figure within thirty yards of them. A corporal raised his rifle, but before he could pull the trigger something flew from the fugitive’s hand and landed in their midst. The explosion shook the neighbourhood. Where the seven Nazis had been there was now a crater. When the smoke had cleared the limping man had vanished. Meanwhile other German soldiers and police poured into the rear room of the café, from which the shots had been fired. It had been used as a store-room, but upon an upturned box near the window facing the light was a light machine-gun. Fastened to the still warm barrel was a slip of paper headed by a blood-red letter V about two inches high. Underneath this was printed in German:

“V For Vengeance.

“The Free Peoples of Europe strike again.

This rat is only one of many who will die.

The oppressed peoples of France, Poland, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Greece and all the other occupied countries have cried aloud for vengeance for a long time.

They have not cried in vain.

The Deathless Men are answering their heartrending cries. It is now the turn of the tyrants, the murderers, the torturers to tremble.

Before long all the undermentioned will share the fate of this rat.

They cannot escape us.

Their time is coming.”

Then followed a long list of names of gauleiters, police officials, commandants of concentration camps, German governors of captured cities, notorious members of the Gestapo, the S.S., and the S.A., and of Nazi officials of various ranks in both the occupied countries and Germany, finishing up with the final three—Goebbels, Goering, Hitler. “Look!” gasped one of the young officers who was holding it. “Three names crossed off now—” Through the names of General Konrad, Herr Leben and General Henkell ran a thick red line.

The Nazis looked at each other with horror in their eyes. All these men had died during the past twenty-four hours, and in each case one of these proclamations of the Deathless Men had been found at the scene of the killing. Who and what were the Deathless Men was the problem that was occupying every German mind in Paris. One of these grey-masked figures had been killed in the street after the death of General Konrad, but he had proved to be a Czech named Kouniz, who had died and been buried in the notorious Buchenwald concentration camp, where he had been tortured so severely that he had been crippled for long months before his miserable end. Already it was being whispered round the garrison of Paris that the dead were coming back to life to avenge themselves on those who had tormented them. Within half an hour a thousand Nazi soldiers were in the Bourget region, forming a cordon round the area, searching every house, shop and building, making hundreds of arrests. They did not look in the right place. During the confusion which had followed the explosion of the bomb, the limping man in grey had dodged through the barrier into the aerodrome. Once amongst the hangers and the numerous German planes lined up ready for use, he had plenty of cover. Most of the workers had rushed to the gates to find out what was happening. The man in grey studied the nearby planes through the slits in his mask. He selected a big Junkers which the mechanics had been preparing for flight, and which had its motors already ticking over. He crawled towards it, keeping as low as possible. He climbed in through the open door of the plane, which was evidently used for passengers and light transport work. The pilot’s compartment was as yet unoccupied. A pile of mailbags was heaped in one corner. He squeezed under some of these and remained hidden. Ten minutes later mechanics reappeared and finished their adjustments to the motors. Then a flying-officer and a wireless-operator arrived on the scene, snapped orders to the mechanics, and entered their forward compartment. The sliding door was closed, the motors roared, and the Junkers was speeding down the runway for the take-off. In a matter of seconds they were in the air, rising steeply, heading westwards. Those official mailbags had to be delivered in Germany in the shortest possible time. The hidden passenger emerged from cover when the plane was about six-thousand feet up. Silently on his grey rubber-soled shoes, he went forward to the pilot’s cabin, the sliding of which was wide open. In his hand he had a small automatic. His eyes were almost fish-like in their coldness as he regarded the backs of the two men. The wireless-operator had donned his ear-phones. The limping man put the end of the automatic close under the metal strap that passed round the back of the man’s head and pulled the trigger. The German died instantly. The sudden roar of the weapon at his side made the pilot swing round. A look of horror came over his face when he saw the grey-masked figure looming over him, and the huddled body of his comrade slumping sideways. Even as he opened his mouth to scream, a bullet hit him in the side. As he died one of his flailing hands clawed the mask from the grey man’s face. Even in his death agony the Nazi pilot could not restrain a groan of horror at the nightmarish vision which he glimpsed. The man in grey had no nose; it had been torn or cut away. His cheeks were so scarred and battered that they scarcely resembled human flesh. His mouth was crooked, for his lips had been split in a dozen places and had never properly healed. Scars crossed the forehead, and looked as though they had been made with hot irons. So much the Nazi pilot saw before oblivion came. The Junkers screamed downwards in a steep dive as the slayer readjusted his mask and dragged the airman’s body to one side. Slipping into the pilot’s seat, he tugged at the controls until he managed to pull out of the dive. At 250 miles an hour the plane went screaming across the countryside. It was not under control. The man who had charge of it was no airman. He was fighting desperately to avoid a crash. He did not even know how to cut off the motors. Lower and lower dipped the machine. It was over one of the main roadways leading to the German frontier. A long column of German infantry showed ahead, marching towards the frontier. “May as well take a few more of the swine with me!” snarled the man in the grey mask, and deliberately sent the Junkers nose-first into the massed ranks below. His words were Polish, but no one could hear them, for the nerve-racking impact of the machines in the road was simultaneous with the death cries of mangled German soldiers.


Armoured-cars and tanks patrolled the streets of Paris. A curfew had been proclaimed. It meant death for any French citizens to leave their homes. The Germans were in a panic, and were striking out blindly. News of what had happened to General Henkell had chilled the hearts of those in authority.

If these Deathless Men had no fear of death, no German official would be safe. Death could strike at any time, anywhere. Men jumped every time there was a sudden noise, and kept their eyes on the doors of the rooms in which they worked. Telephones to Germany were working overtime. It was rumoured that Himmler himself was coming to take charge of the situation. Meanwhile no other hostages had been arrested. It had been suggested directly after the latest outrage, but a tall, bronzed man, with curling eyebrows and short, bush moustache, occupying one of the most palatial suites in the Hotel Crillon had refused. He was Von Reich, second only to Himmler in the Black Guards, now in Paris on a visit. As the two leaders of the Paris Gestapo had both died during the past twenty-four hours, he had taken over temporary control. “Arrest no more hostages, but hunt down this organisation signing itself the Deathless Men!” he snarled. “Find out who and what they are, I don’t want to be told they’re dead men. I want to know who is behind them, and who runs them, where they operate from. Find out that before Herr Himmler arrives or some of you will feel the weight of his wrath!” As he gave this order he pounded the desk on which lay a copy of that proclamation headed by a flaming letter V. His own name was in the centre of the list of victims! It was as he marched up and down the apartment after this outburst that a messenger arrived with a confidential report just brought from a place seventy miles east of Paris. It was from the local commandant of one of the occupied areas along the Marne River, and told how a Junkers 88 had at 1.25 p.m. dived into a column of marching German troops, killing many of them. From the wreckage had been pulled the bodies of two German officers, both shot through the head, and a third mangled body which was impossible to identify, although it had been clothed entirely in grey with a grey mask over the face. The local commandant who sent in the report added that he was making the fullest inquiries. Not a muscle of Von Reich’s face changed as he read this message, but his fingers played a tattoo on the top of the chair beside him. He stared out of the window, across the Place de la Concorde, with its array of tanks and armoured cars, across the Arc de Triomphe, where France’s Unknown Warrior was buried. “The tide is turning,” he whispered, and strangely enough the words were in English. He went to his desk and for the next few minutes busied himself writing a message on a thin slip which he afterwards put into a tiny waterproof  envelope. This done, he screwed it up as small as possible, put it in his waistcoat pocket, and rang the bell and demanded coffee. “Tell them I want it extra black!” he snarled at the orderly. Five minutes later it appeared on a tray, which the orderly set down on a table. Von Reich stepped across to the coffee and poured himself a cup, but he did not drink it. Into the cup, he dropped the tightly screwed-up ball of waterproof paper and watched it sink to the bottom. Then he rang the bell again. The orderly found him with his face convulsed with passion. “I said I wanted this coffee black, but I also wanted it hot!” he bellowed. “It’s half-cold. Who made it?” “The—the French chef who always waits on you, sir,” faltered the orderly, trembling at the knees as he reached for the tray. “Leave it!” thundered Von Reich. “Send that French dog to me. Make him come here and get the tray himself. They give me cold coffee on purpose. I’ll teach him!” He picked up a thin riding-crop and the orderly fled from the room, to reappear soon afterwards with a stout little Frenchman who wore a white jacket over his greasy dark suit. “Pig, didn’t I ask for coffee?” “Yes, m’sieur!” faltered the trembling chef. “Then what in the name of sacred blue do you mean by bringing me half-cold dish water?” He struck the man across the face with the whip, sending him cowering into a corner. “Get me another cup, and a good one this time, or I’ll have you arrested as a hostage.” “Yes, yes, m’sieur, immediately!” gasped the unhappy man, but that did not prevent him getting another cut across the face as he grabbed for the tray and carried away the offending liquid. Von Reich returned to the window. He was still tight-lipped, but he felt more satisfied, for he knew the secret note which he had so unceremoniously delivered into the hands of the Frenchman would be duly delivered to a certain Pierre Michenot who ran a garage in the Bois de Bologne. Pierre Michenot was one of the few men in Paris who knew Herr Von Reich was a British Secret Service man who had been planted in the Nazi party long before the war! His real name was Aylmer Gregson and it was he who was running the V for vengeance campaign. Michenot would know how to carry out the instructions written in code on that message dropped into the coffee. The French chef was a trusted intermediary. He would not mind the two cuts on the face if he could serve his country and help to punish the callous brutes who had overrun it. Somehow the British agent did not believe Himmler would venture into the French capital at the present time. He would send someone else to try and clear up the mystery of the Deathless Men, and when that happened the grey figures would be on longer seen in Paris, but somewhere else where victims awaited them. He did not omit to hand the report received from the Marne to the high officer who was temporarily occupying the place which General Henkell should have filled. The officer turned pale, and dropped his monocle. “Mein Gott, does this mean it—that aeroplane left Le Bourget a short time before! The killer of the general must have been aboard it.” “Precisely,” said Von Reich coldly. “It shows how careless your men were down there.” “But—but do you mean to say the—the scoundrel was the same one we shot—who died in the Rue de Chaume, and that he deliberately plunged that plane into the troops in order to kill as many of them as possible when he died again?” Von Reich shrugged his shoulders. “I’m not given to believing in miracles,” he said, “but it is very strange. I don’t mind telling you I have donned a bullet-proof waistcoat under my jacket to-day.” He hid his grin as he left, for he knew he had thrown a big scare into the heart of that particular officer, and that the man would jump at sight of his own shadow after this. A little later there was an outburst of firing in the Rue de Rivoli. Armoured-cars raced to the spot. Storm Troops travelled there in lorries. When things had quietened down it was reported to Von Reich that a member of the German Economic Mission, when leaving his hotel clad in a grey suit and wearing grey gloves, had been pointed out to a young Nazi soldier as a suspicious figure. The youth had lost his head, and had fired at the man in grey, who believing himself attacked by French terrorists, had fired back, killing both the soldier and another who went to the rescue. Before the mistake was discovered, the German official had been riddled with bullets. It showed the state of the nerves of the Nazi garrison in the French capital and Von Reich found it hard not to smile as he pretended to storm and rave. Ten minutes later, there came a phone call for him from Berlin. It was to summon him back to Germany to make a personal report on recent events in Paris to Himmler. The Chief of the Gestapo had funked making the trip to Paris after all! Although the patrols in the streets of Paris did not know it, the menace of the Deathless Men was leaving them for a little while. The vengeance trail was shifting to Berlin itself!


Major Karl Woolfgang was in Berlin on leave, and he meant to make the most of it. He meant to spend his seven days in the most brightly lit and noisiest places in the city. He meant to surround himself with music and gaiety. Perhaps he wanted to shut out the shrieks of the men he had tortured during the past three years at the Oranienburg concentration-camp, of which he was commandant.

Even amongst commandants of concentration-camps he was known to be excessively brutal and vicious. When prisoners were sent to Oranienburg they often tried to commit suicide before they got there, for they knew what awaited them. Yet Karl Woolfgang did not look the part. He was a benign, plump little man, resembling a prosperous Germany family man more than a butcher and a torturer. When he laughed he put back his head and opened his mouth wide. He looked as though he had no worry in the world. Only he knew he kept the lights in his bedroom burning all and every night. But in Berlin he planned to forget the horrors which usually surrounded him. He had got into a well-fitting civilian suit of clothes, and was dining with a friend at one of Berlin’s biggest restaurants, where people high up in the Nazi party could get luxuries even though the rest of Germany was on the border line of starvation. Wines looted from all countries of Europe were obtainable there. Karl Woolfgang laughed a lot over that meal, and he laughed even more at the cabaret show which he afterwards attended. It was two o’clock in the morning when his friend deposited him at his hotel. Even then the foyer was crowded, and several people recognised Woolfgang and nudged each other as he passed. He was pink with excitement, wine, and good food, and humming to himself as he took the lift to the fourth floor, where he had taken an apartment. He bade the lift-boy a cheerful good-morning, and was still humming when he let himself into his bedroom. He was glad the lights had been left blazing, and when he carefully locked the door he gripped a revolver in his hand as he peered under the bed, inside the cupboards, and behind the dressing-table. There was a bathroom adjoining, and he glanced in this to assure himself no one was hidden there. One could not afford to take risks when one had as many enemies as Karl Woolfgang. Satisfied that there was no cause for alarm, and having switched on two extra lights over the dressing-table and a writing-table, he proceeded to undress. Minutes later, in thin silk pyjamas, he made for the bathroom. It was a well-appointed bathroom, with a huge bath, partly sunken, a shower, and numerous other fittings. Hanging from the shower, with its ends tucked inside the bath, was the usual waterproof sheet to prevent undue splashing. Woolfgang did not want a shower at this hour. He wanted to steep in hot water. Having turned on the two taps, he reached for the waterproof sheet to move it aside. His outstretched hand remained paralysed in mid-air, for the waterproof sheet had suddenly parted, a revolver appeared, pointing straight at his heart. In a flash Karl Woolfgang realised he had made a fatal mistake. When he had searched his apartment he had forgotten to look inside the folds of the hanging sheet. A man had been standing there all the time! The figure emerged, driving the horrified commandant to the further end of the bathroom, from which there was no exit. Karl Woolfgang tried to shriek for help, but his vocal cords seemed paralysed with horror. His nocturnal visitor was a tall stooping man, dressed entirely in grey. It was possible to see that one leg dragged behind the other, causing him to limp. The grey clothes, grey gloves, grey hat were made all the more sinister by the grey leather mask which covered the strangely flat face. In one gloved hand was the revolver, in the other the intruder flourished a whip exactly like that back at Oranienburg. “Who are you? What do you want?” yelled the commandant at last, and he realised that even if he shrieked his loudest the noise of the water rushing into the bath would prevent anything being heard in the outside corridor. Without a word the grey man lashed Karl Woolfgang across the face, cutting his cheek to the bone, causing him to clutch his head with his hands to try and shield it with his arms. The cruel thing curled round the Nazi’s body again and again, cutting through his silk pyjamas as though they did not exist, biting deeply into his plump flesh. The grey man seemed tireless. He took his time about the flogging of Woolfgang, but he never stopped. Before long it was hard to recognise the commandant. He lay on the floor in a pool of blood, and the visitor tossed the bloodstained whip into the bath. He pulled up the plug, allowing the water to escape with a noisy gurgle, and under cover of that extra noise he moved close to the prostrate Nazi and fired three times. Karl Woolfgang would suffer no more, neither would he vent his spite on the eight hundred poor wretches in his power at Oranienburg. The avenger drew from his pocket a strip of paper which was headed by a blood-red letter V. It was one of the proclamations of the Deathless Men, and on it four names were crossed off, the three of those Nazis who had recently died in Paris, and the name of the commandant Karl Woolfgang. Placing this proclamation across the body of the latest victim, the limping man went through into the bedroom, and listened at the door. Softly, crouching low at every corner, he descended into the yard at the rear of the hotel. There were no lights showing in Berlin, and it was a dark night. All this helped him to reach the ground safely. He stumbled over an unseen box, and pitched head-first against a wall, catching his head a crack which would have knocked most men sick with pain. Without even grunting, he rose swiftly and made his way to one of the side gates for the hotel servants. A moment later he was in the narrow street beyond, and making along the dark side of the wall towards a waiting car which had no headlights. The man at the wheel waited for him to get in, then he let in the clutch and moved off slowly. As they passed into the main road the lights were switched on, correctly shaded as police requirements demanded. They sped towards the western end of the city, the grey man sitting low in the seat to give the impression that the driver was alone. It was a maid who made the terrible discovery in Number 237 in the middle of the morning. She had been given orders to bring the commandant’s coffee at eleven o’clock, and had discovered the bed had not been used. When she had glanced inside the open bathroom her shrieks had roused the entire floor. With true German efficiency the other guests were hustled away from the apartment, and before long a cordon of police and troops did their best to prevent any knowledge of what had happened getting out. They failed in this. Whispers of the vengeance executed on the butcher of Oranienburg were in the streets almost before the occurrence was reported to Herr Himmler himself. Hitler was away at the Eastern Front, so Himmler and his colleagues were spared an exhibition of the Fuhrer’s fury, but Himmler himself was not a pretty sight when he heard the news. Only the previous day he had severely censured Von Reich for not having been more successful in tracking down the terrorists in Paris. Now this had happened on the Gestapo’s own doorstep! Immediate orders were given for double guards to be posted over every Nazi of importance in the city, and the spy organisation was given the task of checking up on every victim who had been released from the Oranienburg concentration-camp. Because he was temporarily in disgrace, Von Reich was not summoned to Himmler’s office that morning, but sat in peace in his flat off the Wilhelmstrasse, watching the telephone until about twelve o’clock it rang. “Is that number 34987?” demanded a voice at the other end. “Wrong number!” snapped Von Reich, and hung up the receiver with a smile of satisfaction. That call for a number which was not his own was all he needed to let him know the grey avenger of the suffering inmates of Oranienburg had reached safety. He could go ahead with his preparations for striking the next blow at the Nazi gangsters.


V For Vengeance 24 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1333 – 1356 (1951 – 1952)

V For Vengeance 11 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1363 – 1373 (1952)

The Voice from Berlin 12 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1494 - 1510 (1954)

M Marks the Spot 12 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1517 - 1528 (1955)

V For Vengeance 15 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1565 – 1579 (1956)

V For Vengeance 24 episodes (repeat of 1951 series) appeared in The Wizard issues 1716 – 1739 (1959)

Red Vengeance 20 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1841 - 1860 (1961)


© D. C. Thomson & Co Ltd 

Vic Whittle 2006