August 25, 1939. Adolf Hitler launches the invasion of Poland. Supported by tanks and aircraft, more than a million German troops advance towards the border in the dark, ready to attack at first light next morning.
Ahead of the main body, special forces are already crossing into Poland. Men of Construction Company 800, a clandestine German commando unit, are heading for the Jablunka Pass in the Carpathian mountains.
Jablunka is the key to southern Poland. If the Germans can capture the railway tunnel at Jablunka intact, before the Polish army blows it up, their troops will be able to flood into Poland at first light.
Unknown to the Germans, however, Hitler has changed his mind about the invasion. A few hours after launching the attack, he has decided to postpone it until the following week.
Chaos follows in the darkness as the entire German army is recalled to base. It is essential to get them all back before they can cross the Polish frontier. By some miracle, everyone receives the recall order except the men of Company 800.
In Berlin, the staff at the British embassy have been forewarned of Hitler’s intentions. Determined to prevent a war, they have sent Captain Guy Savage to Jablunka to head off the Germans and make sure the railway tunnel is blown up before they can reach it. The British are convinced that Hitler will be forced to abandon the invasion if he knows that he can’t get his troops through the Jablunka Pass in a hurry.
Guy Savage is the right man for the task. He saw action in the Indian Army before joining the Foreign Office as a King’s Messenger. Accompanied by Astrid Lust, a German opponent of the Nazis, Guy crosses into Poland in the middle of the night. Together they conceal themselves in the trees overlooking the railway tunnel in the Jablunka Pass below.
They haven’t been there long when they spot the Germans of Company 800 in the dark. The men are creeping towards the Polish sentries guarding the tunnel. Guy and Astrid intervene to stop them. The tunnel is blown up eventually, but not until five days later, September 1, 1939.
By the author of Five Days that shocked the World, The King’s Messenger is an adventure story closely based on real events.
Nicholas Best grew up in Kenya and was educated there, in England and at Trinity College, Dublin. He served in the Grenadier Guards and worked in London as a journalist before becoming a fulltime author.
His comic novel Tennis and the Masai was serialized on BBC Radio 4 and has recently been a best-seller in the Amazon Top 100. The Greatest Day in History, his account of the 1918 Armistice, was a Waterstone's recommendation of the month and has been translated into many languages.
In 2010, Nicholas Best was long-listed for the inaugural Sunday Times-EFG Private Bank award of...
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