Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling writes:
The last remaining New Zealand World War I veteran has just passed away, but the whole thing, and the second one, might never have happened at all...
The War Office in Whitehall, 1913
In a war room with maps, charts of Britain, with markers all over them etc are GENERAL CHAPMAN, C-inC of the army and LORD RAGLAN, Chief of the Imperial General Staff. The door opens and ADMIRAL OF THE FLEET JEFFERSON enters.
RAGLAN: Ah, Jefferson, glad you could get here...something pretty big's come up...sit down.
JEFFERSON (sitting): What's the problem Archie?
RAGLAN: Well...we think the Germans may be trying to start the war a year early...
JEFFERSON: God! (He looks aghast.)
CHAPMAN (equally shocked): I thought they were the only nation we could trust.
RAGLAN: We all did Harry.
CHAPMAN: Dammit all, it's not as if we're short of people to have a war against.
RAGLAN: Well, suppose this damn rumour's true!...are we ready to start a war now?
CHAPMAN: Well, I don't know about your boys Jefferson, but we need at least another six months - we're still short of heavy cannons, two-point-five mortars, trestle tables.
RAGLAN: Trestle tables?
CHAPMAN: For the catering! We've only got six. You can't expect to train a man to the peak of military acheivement and then ask him to eat off his lap. I mean if you spill things on some of those uniforms...
RAGLAN: What about the Navy, Jeferson?
JEFFERSON: We're short on spoons mainly.
RAGLAN: No, I meant weaponry.
JEFFERSON: Ah well, we have fifteen Dreadnoughts at seas and twelve under construction.
RAGLAN: And the Germans?
JEFFERSON: Oh they've got everything: spoons, forks, knives, complete condiment sets...
RAGLAN: Ships Jefferson! Destroyers, Dreanoughts?
JEFFERSON: Ah...er...well, the last they told us...it was twelve at sea and nine under construction...
RAGLAN: When was that?
JEFFERSON: Well I spoke to old Tirpitz at a sherry party about a month ago.
RAGLAN: Since then?
JEFFERSON: I haven't heard anything.
RAGLAN: Well, this is what worries me. Intelligence think that the Germans are up to something very underhand.
CHAPMAN: Bloody Intelligence, they never did like the Germans.
RAGLAN: I'm afraid, gentlemen, they're pretty certain that the Germans have somehow opened hostilities without letting us know.
Looks of astonishment all round.
JEFFERSON: How the hell could they...?
RAGLAN: I don't know how, or where, or when, but we must find out and put a stop to it before...(a sharp crump as of a distantly exploding shell)... what was that?
CHAPMAN: Sorry, it was my stomach.
RAGLAN: ...Before the whole bloody country starts to panic ... (He stands up very straight, and gazes heroically out towards the Houses of Parliament.) We can save this war and it can still be a Great War, but if we should fail ... (He looks round significantly.) I need hardly say gentlemen, it could jeopardize our chances of ever having a war with the Germans again ...
Real Groovy tells me that Ripping Yarns will be instore on the 12th of December. Joy of Joys.