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Ch 33


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O’Brien heaved something akin to a sigh of relief as the door closed on the last man of no.3 section.

"Well, it seems as though McCallion has a cast iron alibi on this matter," he said.

"Yes. But I will still have to interview him and I’ll have to tell the lad that his girl is dead. Not something I’m looking forward too," replied Broomfield.

"May I ask, what happened to her," stumbled O’Brien. "I mean, not to put too fine a point on it, how was she killed? If you can tell me …"

Broomfield collected his notes and picked up his cap. He brushed the crown lightly.

"Her throat was cut from ear to ear. In fact, whoever did it virtually cut her head off," he said.

In the hospital interview room, McCallion’s shoulders shuddered with grief.

Broomfield coughed: "I’m sorry lad. There was no easy way of breaking this news to you. I’m quite satisfied, having talked to your comrades, that you were back in billets before this murder took place.

"I need you to think hard. Can you think of anyone who may have had a reason to kill this girl? Were you aware of anyone who may have been jealous?"

McCallion shook his head: "I can’t think of any reason why Amanda would be killed. She was just a lovely girl. She did her work in Vincent’s and she was always friendly to the boys. Aside from that, she looked after her mother and her little sister.

"The last time I saw her, she was going in to do some sewing. They took in laundry and repair work from officers to earn a little extra money. She was an ordinary girl sir .. but I loved her .. and she loved me."

Broomfield knew that attempts at consolation would be worthless. He had mastered the art of sensible silence.

McCallion allowed himself to sink into the comforting arms of outright despair. He cried for a long time.

When he raised his head, the policeman had gone.

Author’s note: Major Dennis Broomfield was killed when his motor vehicle was strafed and set ablaze by an Albatros ground attack aircraft just outside Ypres the following day.

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I do wonder if the author has made an error in recording the death of Major Broomfield. Prof. Murphy-Askew notes in the introduction to the Nautical & Medical reprint of "As God is my Witness" Matron Susan Light married "dear steve" after the war; I had always presumed that Steve had served under the pseudonym "Dennis" for family reasons - or are we simply confusing two brothers?

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Prof. Murphy-Askew notes in the introduction to the Nautical & Medical reprint of "As God is my Witness" Matron Susan Light married "dear steve" after the war

NO, NO, Dear Boy - has your brain been addled by too many evenings in the company of your wife's see-through nightdresses? It was Desteve... DESTEVE... Armand Desteve - we met while he was Embarkation Medical Officer at Boulogne, attached to the R.A.M.C. Dear Armand...

Prof. Murphy-Askew would have done better to spend rather more time in the library, and less in the company of a bottle of gin.

Susan Desteve [nee Light]

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He was one of the Pondcaster Broomfields .. we are dealing with Mudcaster branch of the family here. Much better class of person all round.

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My attention has just been drawn to the outrageous comments added to Chapter 30 when it was obviously assumed I wouldn't be looking. I thought that these stories about me had been put to bed long ago, but it seems the blogging papparazi [or it it the 'bl***ing papparazi'] haven't done with me yet.

Yes, I knew Major Broomfield well, but there was never any more in our relationship than that of a deep professional respect for each other. I'm not so green as cabbagey looking as to mistake the man I married.

As for that 'review' - complete rubbish. Was then, is now.

Background - WRONG!

Training - VERY WRONG INDEED!

Wartime experience - LAND OF THE FAIRIES!

And I stand by my comments about the drunken Murphy-Askew.

Oh dear, I feel far too old to tell the true story now. No-one was interested for more than a moment then. Too taken up with Vera Brittain and her misplaced ideas about the status of VADs.

Why couldn't that man... McScallion was it? Why couldn't he just keep quiet...

Why did I have to be called back into service to administer a thousand flu jabs this week...?

Susan... Desteve

Broomfield... NEVER!

Susan

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Dear Mrs Desteve,

Please accept my deepest apologies for having misconstrued what was written so many years ago.

My reaseacher has been sacked and I am now looking at Mr Paul Johnstone for further help with my research.

Now I must go as the bottle of gin waits for no man let alone a woman!

Prof Murphy-Askew.

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Yes, I knew Major Broomfield well, but there was never any more in our relationship than that of a deep professional respect for each other. 

Broomfield... NEVER!

HAH!

A tad too much protestation, I fancy.

Damn shame the Daily Sketch is no more. Story like that would have been right up their street.

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Yes indeed John, the Matron doth protest too much.

Madame Desteve was seen emerging from the offices of Max Cliiford last week, who probably advised the change of her avatar to the illustration which adorns the front cover of "As God is my Witness".

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