The Berlin Beer Lift
Report of X12 Sir Henry Hamilton KBE, 7th Marquess Bamburgh.
I was pottering about in greenhouses on my estate, tending to my prized roses. I have some delightful varieties of Claire Renaissance and Flora Danica which are simply dazzling, but this is no chance occurrence. One must carefully tend to their cultivation in the midst of the winter months to encourage the very best blooms in spring. I was in the midst of some early pruning when I was notified of a call from Star Chamber.
I arrived not more than an hour later at X's office. X12 Sir Rudolph Singh KCMG was already present with X. X informed us that he had received a request for assistance from his mundane counterpart M. It seems that they were just ready to spring a defector loose from the Eastern Bloc, but M had realised from his field agent's report that some help from Star Chamber might be necessary and thus our call to arms.
Sir Rudolph and I were instructed to infiltrate into East Berlin immediately as the defection had been arranged for the following evening. With no time to lose, we flew straight away to West Berlin. It was simply child's play for Sir Rudolph and I to penetrate the Wall in the early hours of the following morning.
Our instructions were to covertly commandeer some vehicle, then to proceed to the Staatsoper on the Unter den Linden. We had little problem liberating a taxicab for the evening. We arrived at our rendezvous about 7:41 p.m. We were contacted in good order by M's man on the scene, James Bond. I'm afraid that his agent number remains unknown to me. Mr. Bond disclosed to us that the defection was to take place at the conclusion of Act I of the evening's performance. Mr. Bond pointed out to us the location of the exit through which he would bring the defector, Professor Kalishnikov. Mr. Bond then left us to enter the Opera House.
The performance advertised on the playbills was Mozart's Don Giovanni. The first act gave us plenty of time to scan the street and to locate suspicious individuals. While we waited, and some time after the performance had commenced, we observed the arrival of Comrade Borodenov, formerly the Soviet Attaché in Britain. He had with him his regular consort, an elfkin. I had not seen the pair of them since the fatal soirée held at X04 Harold Hardwick's estate October last.
Something in Comrade Borodenov's demeanor put Sir Rudolph on alert: the former attaché had tipped the presence of a person unknown atop one of the buildings facing the Opera House. Our angle of view was not favorable for observing that exact area, but it was not beyond Sir Rudolph's skill to determine that the unknown person had a sniper's bipod in place.
I am uncertain whether the performance started before time or the conductor unconscionably hurried the tempo of Mozart's finest opera, but the signal for the arrival of Professor Kalishnikov at the side door came at least five minutes too early. I felt fortunate that I had not tickets for the evening's operatic travesty as I raced for the specified exit.
We arrived at the door just as Mr. Bond opened it to reveal the gaunt frame of the elderly defector. Professor Kalishnikov was hurried into the sedan with the assistance of Mr. Bond and Sir Rudolph. The automobile's rear window shattered into a vicious spray of high-speed glass particles indicating that the sniper across the way had us in view. I depressed the accelerator to the floor. Mr. Bond coolly drew a pistol and gave us covering fire as we sped off.
The East Berlin police had apparently been alerted concerning the attempted defection. A marked police automobile attempted to hinder our escape by halting across the egress of the alley. I was able to counter this by pushing the vehicle aside with the fender of my own vehicle. Unfortunately, the policemen were able to draw their weapons and fire upon the taxicab. The left rear tyre succumbed to the fusillade, which rendered the vehicle no longer acceptable for our purposes.
Our fortunes took a turn for the better as we directly came across a Berliner Weiss delivery lorry. Sir Rudolph transferred the professor to the lorry as I bypassed the ignition. We were shortly underway, but acquired all too quickly an escort of the East Berlin authorities. Sir Rudolph moved to the rear of the lorry. There soon issued a delightful barrage of beer bottles and kegs through the rear doors. The tyres of the following vehicle were decimated by the broken bottles. The driver was not able to maintain control whilst attempting to avoid the bounding kegs, leaving us free of accompaniment.
Sir Rudolph and I had taken the precaution of acquiring a secondary escape vehicle for just such unforeseen events as had overtaken us. I stopped for Sir Rudolph and the professor to debark near that automobile. I then led the East Berlin authorities in a merry chase through the city. I was delightfully surprised at the relatively good handling qualities and munitions-stopping capabilities of the Berliner Weiss lorry, though I cannot recommend the use of such on any grounds but desperation.
I separately returned to West Berlin to rejoin Sir Rudolph and the professor. Though we anticipated some sort of intervention attempt at the airport, nothing untoward occurred. We remained alert and attentive to our situation throughout the flight to Britain, finally being able to relax our vigilance once we had delivered the professor to Star Chamber.
This account is complete and true within the limits of my ability to make it so. I aver that all events have taken place as I have recounted them and that the people named acted as I have indicated.
Submitted the 14th day of February, 1964.
X12 Sir Henry Hamilton KBE, 7th Marquess Bamburgh