One of the really enjoyable moments in the book-writing process is when the first draft of a new jacket design is emailed through. This one arrived yesterday, and while my editor has concerns that it’s too static, I’ve got to say I think it looks terrific. It’s nicely gritty and moody and less obviously Commando-comic-ish. Tanner is now a captain in Devil’s Pact, so some tabs need adding to the epaulettes, and although officers would not normally carry a rifle into war, Tanner has been carrying his specially adapted SMLE around since the beginning of 1940 and no-one’s going to tell he can’t continue to do so.
Anyway, do let me know of any thoughts, good or bad. I’d love to hear them…
In the meantime, here is a little extract about the weaponry he takes with him to Sicily:
It was certainly true that Tanner had accrued more personal weapons than most. There was his rifle, which, now that he was an officer, he was not expected to carry; on the other hand, he had carried his rifle, one of the pre-war Short Magazine Lee Enfield No1 Mark IIIs, since before sailing to Norway back in April 1940. He had had it specially fitted with mounts and pads for the Aldis scope his father had used in the last war. Having the option to snipe with accuracy from a half-decent distance had been a life-saver on numerous occasions, and he was damned if he was going to give it up now. So far, he had been careful to keep it out of sight from Colonel Creer – he felt sure that an officer carrying a rifle would be exactly the kind of thing Croaker would take exception to. Fortunately, he reckoned there was little chance of Creer being anywhere near the frontline action, so once ashore, he could carry it on his shoulder without fear of being caught out. Until then, he had Trahair; he still felt uncomfortable having a batman, but having a servant, he had to admit, certainly had its uses.
He was also loathe to leave his MP40 behind. This was a German sub-machine gun he had picked up in Crete. Firing the same ammunition as the British Sten, it had been easy to maintain, and because the magazine could be simply removed and the metal butt folded back on itself, it was something that could be stowed away in a rifleman’s pack; or, to be precise, Trahair’s pack. He had thought of putting it in with his personal kit, which was wrapped up and tied with leather straps and kept with the B Echelon Administrative Platoon. Presumably, he thought, it was somewhere in the hold of the ship; somehow, it would catch up with him eventually. But since they were heading into battle, what was the point of having weapons if they couldn’t be used? So it would, for the time being, be looked after by Trahair.
The rest, he would carry himself. He had a small semi-automatic Sauer handgun, also German, which he liked for the ease with which the magazine could be replaced, and for its solid but light feel in his hand. That would go in his haversack. On his belt in its holster was an American .45 Colt. When he had been with the Americans in Tunisia, he had been amused by their seemingly endless fascination with German Lugers. To his mind, the Luger needed to pack a far bigger punch if it was justify its size. It baffled him that they should be so desperate to get their hands on these German pistols when they had such a fine handgun themselves. The Colt was a little heavy, but packed one hell of a punch. When Tanner used a pistol, it was at close quarters and when he fired, he wanted to make sure the enemy never had a chance to fire back. To his mind, there was no better handgun out there than a Colt for killing people. He’d managed to get two more – one for Peploe and another for Sykes; he now wished he’d got one for Fauvel too. The British issued revolvers were hopeless – the last thing anyone wanted to do was fiddle about hand-loading every bullet into the chamber in the middle of a battle. Adrenalin, fear and anxiety made fingers shake. A simple, easy-release magazine was far better.
Finally, he had his Italian Beretta. There was not a lot to choose between that and the MP40, but the Beretta did not pack away so easily, and Tanner preferred the more solid and comfortable wooden butt. Like the MP40 and Sten, it also used 9mm rounds, so getting enough ammunition was not a problem. This he would wear slung on his shoulder as he stepped into the LCA, and would then reclaim his rifle from Trahair the moment they were lowered onto the water. All were polished, oiled and very, very clean.