Pattern of Shadows – Extract

February 1945
Frank Shuttleworth knows this will be his only chance to kill Peter Schormann. The guard company has been in position long before the February light reluctantly started the day. Now, as dawn thinly arrives, the prisoners stand in lines of five on the road leading up to the camp. In the floodlights the frost sparkles like sugar on the tarmac, emphasizing the dark backdrop of the countryside. A white haze of breath rises above the men. The coughs, the mutterings echo in the stillness as they wait.

On the high ground, ten yards away, Frank also waits. One command starts the roll call that will take all day. Six thousand men in compressed shuffling are counted at various points along the road until, in single file, each steps through the north gate of the compound to be double checked by a Sergeant of the provost staff with his clip board; one tick for each man. Every few minutes the procession halts to allow the crush of men inside the compound to disperse. Chivied by the guards, they sullenly move away to lean against the walls of the buildings. Some sucking on cigarettes, complain loudly about the tedious tallying, and huddle deeper into their greatcoats, others stare with blank eyes towards the distant hills in obstinate rejection of their surroundings.

Frank, squinting into the light of the low sun, leans over his Bren gun and waits for Schormann…