Book Extracts

Thunder in May


“Room for a small one?” Rommel asked in a booming voice.

The soldiers grinned stupidly back at him.

“Of course, General. The more, the merrier!”

“In – in – in!” The sergeant’s voice began calling the rhythm and the soldiers started digging their paddles deep into the water, propelling the boat forward across theMeuse.

“In – in – in!”

The boat was well into the open water now. Left and right more boats joined them. To their right, a line of tracer arced down from the opposite hillside and stitched a line of splashes across the water in front of a neighbouring boat. One of the soldiers in that boat suddenly gave a surprised grunt and flipped overboard into the water, disappearing into the murky depths of the river.

At the front of their own boat, a single machine-gunner crouched low over the bow and squeezed the trigger of his weapon.


Rommel approved. The man was being aggressive. As the hail of bullets flew up towards the steep hillside on the west bank, the general knew that they probably wouldn’t hit any enemy soldier. But the noise of the bullets was good. Noise scared people; just as the noise of the French guns scared his own men. So, it was good to give something back.


A shell plunged into the river to their left, sending up a huge spout of water that caused Rommel’s boat to rise and fall with a gut-wrenching lurch.

“Are you sure this is a good idea, General?”

One of the privates wielding a paddle glanced sideways at Rommel, a grimace of both fear and elation on his young features.

“It’s going to be a rough crossing I reckon!”

Rommel grinned back at the panzer-grenadier.

“I’ll be fine, thank you; I’ve seen worse.”

The private gave a grunt as he dug his paddle into the water once more then flung Rommel another cheeky grin.

“Perhaps, General; but I’d hate to be accused of getting the Divisional Commander killed! Mind you; we’ll probably all die anyway!”

Rommel regarded the soldier with amusement and gave him a knowing wink.

“In which case, young man, I’ll see you inValhalla!”


“On your feet Number One Company! On your feet!”

Davis scrambled into a standing position as Gallows slowed to a walk and

began stalking up and down the centre of the company column, calling out a

string of instructions, his voice deep and clear above the noise of battle.

“Alright, listen in. The Jerries have got round the battalion’s flank and

they’ve got into the village up in front. At the moment, they’re blocking our

withdrawal route. Battalion Headquarters and Number Four Company are

just about holding them but the Commanding Officer wants us to go and turf

the sausage-munching ******s out of the place!”

The big company sergeant major paused for just a second whilst his

words sank in.

“The Company Commander is going to lead us off to the forming up

point in a minute or two. One Platoon is to shake out as left assault, Two

Platoon right assault; both in extended line. Three Platoon in staggered file

behind the Company Commander as reserve. Any questions?”

There were none. Davis felt his stomach sink. He suddenly needed a p***.

The voice of Company Sergeant Major Gallows cut through the night

once more.

“Number One Company will fix bayonets…” He roared as if on Horse

Guards Parade in London.

“Oh, s***…” Davis murmured as he fumbled for the hilt of his own


“Fix…” Hollered Gallows.

Davis drew his bayonet almost fully out, automatically leaving the tip of

the blade hovering by the scabbard’s lip, as if he were executing the

movement on a Queen’s Guard Mount.

“Bayonets!” Gallows thundered.

“Oh, s***…” Davis muttered again.

With an ominous, metallic rattle, a hundred bayonets glittered in the


Seelöwe Nord: The Germans are Coming


“Stand-by!” Captain Dullman shouted and slid down the ramp into the

hold again. The company commander had been sitting on the main deck,

staring through a small gap in the raised drop-ramp, trying to get a glimpse of

the enemy shore.

“Twenty metres!” Dullman warned them. “Lots of smoke. Don’t worry

about it. Just run like f*** for the cliffs.”

Halder had started praying aloud once more. Nuemark ignored him this

time; he was too busy staring up at the drop-ramp, his fingers flexing

repeatedly around the stock of his rifle, pre-occupied with his own private

thoughts. From behind their squad came a harsh, boorish voice.

“Hey, Bachman. Don’t you seize up on the ramp like you did on the net

or I’ll kick your arse into the water.” It was the unpleasant Schmidt again,

one of the privates in Second Squad.

Saltz turned to give the loud-mouthed private a blast, but Heyman,

Schmidt’s own squad sergeant, beat him to it.

“Shut the f*** up, Schmidt! Concentrate on your own job.”

There was a loud, repeated, knocking sound on the wooden hull of the

barge and Saltz realized with a start that it was the sound of bullets hitting the

vessel’s side.

“Oh, f***.” He breathed quietly to himself. “Oh, f***, f***, f***ing


There was a sudden judder that ran through the very structure of the boat

and for a heartbeat, Saltz worried that they had been hit by something bigger

and he waited, frozen in fear, expecting the side of the barge to suddenly

implode as an enemy shell broke through in an explosive orgy of death. It

didn’t happen, and then a second later he heard a metallic squealing noise.

He glanced upwards and saw the drop-ramp toppling forwards out of view.

Christ almighty, this was it!

“Okay men,” called Dullman over his shoulder, “let’s go kill some

f***ing Tommies!”

There was the sound of a loud splash from above. The Navy marshal, who

was crouching at the top of the exit-ramp, turned, gave the thumbs-up to

Dullman, and slid down into the hold, out of the way. Saltz watched Dullman

take a stride up the ramp and shout back over his shoulder.



A sad smiled crossed Dill’s features.

“I thought that would be the case.” He said quietly. “As did Newall. Two

entire bomber groups are receiving their orders as we speak. There is a lot of

cloud up north at the moment, but it is expected to clear mid-morning. I

know that the Air Striking Group is already making low level sweeps over

the town but, unless the Prime Minister forbids it at our 0730 hours meeting,

then at 1000 hours this morning, nearly one hundred bombers will flatten

Driffield town.”

Brooke and the Director accepted the information wordlessly. After a

while, the Commander Home Forces broke the silence.

“War is a terrible business. And sometimes, we must do terrible things for

the greater good. We can only pray that God understands our reasons for

such actions.”

Before the Chief of the Imperial General Staff could reply to that, there

was an urgent knock on the door, and one of Brooke’s staff entered.

“Sirs,” he began without preamble, “there are two flash signals from

Northern Command.”

Brooke nodded curtly at the officer.

“Go on, Jamie.”

The staff officer raised the first signal.

“The brigade at Beverley reports that Leaconfield aerodrome has been

successfully cratered, and that they are under pressure on a broad front from

large formations of enemy infantry and light armoured cars, backed by

artillery and mortars. They are withdrawing quickly in order to prevent being

enveloped on either flank.”

He paused, looking up for Brooke’s reaction. Brooke turned the

information over in his mind quickly, before replying.

“What’s the second message?”

The officer flicked to another piece of paper.

“Lead elements of 2nd Armoured Division are now in a screen five miles

south-west of Driffield. They report a column of tanks moving south out of

Driffield on the Beverley road.”

Brooke flicked a worried glance at Dill, then the same at the Director.

“They’re going for Hull, after all.” The Director murmured.

Brooke turned back to the staff officer.

“Draft a reply to Northern Command. I’ll be there in a moment to check it

over. Tell them to get that brigade back into Hull immediately and to ensure

the city is fortified. Also, tell them to find another brigade and get it over the

Humber and into Hull, quickly.”

Brooke paused a moment, his mind working rapidly.

“In fact,” he went on, “tell them to make it the Guards Brigade from 1

Div, and tell them to appoint the commander of the Guards Brigade as the

Hull Garrison Commander. I want that city held at all costs. Do it now.”

Thus dismissed, the staff officer hurried off. Brooke took a deep breath,

casting a serious look at Sir John Dill.

“Tell Newall and the Prime Minister that I fully support the new bombing

strategy. Tell them to flatten Driffield by all means; and the sooner the



Seelöwe Nord is the online home of Andy Johnson, a war fiction novelist. Seelöwe Nord is a war novel that tells the alternative history of Operation Sealion, the proposed German invasion of Britain in 1940. Followed by Thunder in May, and the recently released Crucible of Fate, the trilogy of War Fiction remains a popular read within the genre.

Andy has also started to publish small Leadership and Management Booklets drawing from his extensive experience across many sectors and industries, both military and civilian, the first of which is entitled Captains of the Gate and is now available for download on eReaders directly from Amazon.