Sunday was the day of the mock invasion. Members of the Home Guard manned machine-guns in the ditches, and soldiers crept behind
hedges with rifles in their hands…
William, filled with enthusiasm, tried to trip up a soldier and was soundly cuffed for his pains.
The day wore on and William became more and more depressed. No one seemed to want his help. He even tried to “immobilise” a soldier’s bicycle by means of a pin but was caught, pin in hand, by the owner, from whose vengeance he narrowly escaped, as it seemed to him, with his life.
- Number: 25.3
- Published: 1945 (1942 in magazine form)
- Book: William and the Brains Trust
- Synopsis: William tries to save the day in an invasion rehearsal.
General Moult has recruited the boys of the village to act as messengers during his spectacularly elaborate ‘invasion drill’ for local Home Guard units (the Nazis being played by real British soldiers). He is offering a magnificent ostrich egg as a prize to whichever boy is most helpful, so naturally William and Hubert vye to be most helpful, less out of concern for national security, less too out of a real desire to own an ostrich egg, and more out of a determination to spite the other.
Then – quite suddenly – the idea came to him. Commandos. Why shouldn’t there be Commandos in the invasion? Probably just because no one had thought of it. The Home Guard surely ought to have a few Commandos to help it. He’d be a Commando… It only needed a tin of blacking and a pair of bedroom slippers.
William’s spirits fall when a volunteer urgently requests maps of the area and he has none to give, as against Hubert’s ten.
But when it turns out a fifth columnist is on the loose, William receives (undue) credit for his quick-thinking and initiative… and an ostrich egg.