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“Ajax Arsenal of Democracy”

(Book II of “The Blake Grey series” trilogy)

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Excerpts from the book:

Ajax Arsenal of Democracy

Berlin, Germany
Office of The Chancellor, Adolf Hitler
Fall 1943

"I believe you will be pleased with this information, Mein Führer." Canaris remarked. Regaining his customary poise, he continued cautiously, "However, these are matters of unusual sensitivity, Sir. Perhaps the Führer…"

"Perhaps what, Admiral?" snapped Adolf Hitler in exasperation. "Perhaps what?"

Leaning forward, Canaris whispered conspiratorially, "Perhaps the Führer, um, would wish to dismiss the guards…." The wily, white-haired master of intrigue sat back, awaiting the Führer’s reaction.

"Becoming a trifle paranoid, are we, Canaris?"

Wilhelm Canaris silently contemplated the richly detailed Turko-Persian carpet on which his immaculately-buffed black Oxfords rested. 'Adolf Alois Hitler, the crown prince of paranoia, is accusing me of obsession?' Looking up, with a virtuous smile, he added, “Simply precautions, if you will, Mein Führer.”

"Very well. The guards did conduct a thorough search for concealed weapons when you arrived. No?" Hitler queried, smiling faintly. Pressing an intercom switch beneath his desk, he issued an order, concluding curtly, “… and no interruptions. Understood?” Within seconds, an impossibly perfect specimen of Aryan maleness, a captain of the Führer’s personal SS- Liebstandarte (Lifeguards) entered. Saluting his Führer in the approved Roman manner, the SS man turned smartly and exited silently, the two SS-Liebstandarte sentries at heel.

"Now, Wilhelm. Satisfied?"

"Thank you, yes, Mein Führer."

"Very well, proceed. Are you now going to announce that the Allies are about to launch a second front in Italy, perhaps? More tea? I must confess that I’ve grown quite fond of this blend. It is specially imported from Venezuela: The Caracas Tea Company. Are you quite sure?"

Gracefully declining, "Thank you, no,” Canaris plunged ahead. “Mein Führer, the issue at hand is…”

“There is something that troubles me,” interjected Hitler. Removing his breast pocket handkerchief, he proceeded to swab a few miniscule droplets of tea from the top of his desk. Satisfied, he continued. “I find it most upsetting.”

“Mein Führer?” His heart pounding, Canaris waited for the announcement that Kaltenbrunner had discovered his most recent peace overtures to the Swiss authorities.

“Your interference with the SS in the performance of their duties!” Hitler bellowed, standing.

“S, sir?”

Stalking back and forth behind his desk, the Führer railed, “Be quiet! Quiet! Listen, damn you! You know very well what I mean! Reichsführer Himmler tells me that you were caught red-handed.” His hands clasped behind his back, Hitler paused, his body visibly shaking. Turning, he confronted Canaris, forefinger wagging accusingly. “Admit your treachery!”

Dumfounded and terrified, yet having no idea to what Hitler was referring, Canaris averted his gaze and waited for the next volley. It was not long in coming.

“The seven SOE criminals!” Hitler screamed. “You, Canaris,” he sputtered, his mouth foam-flecked, “Yes you! You, Canaris, actually had the gall to lie straight-faced to SS-Lieutenant-Colonel Eichmann that all seven of them were Abwehr agents. Unbelievable!”

Without looking up, fearing that his face would reveal his lie, Canaris responded evenly, “Begging the Führer’s pardon, but in fact that there were, er, are!”

“And so you demanded their release?”

“I did, Sir. It was all quite legal. I was only protecting my people, as I believed you would have expected of a diligent and responsible head of a department, Sir!”

“And where are these so-called ‘agents’ now, pray tell? In Washington?”

Regaining his capacity to invent fiction on-the-fly, Canaris continued convincingly. “Washington, yes. Two. Correct, Sir. The other five are serving undercover in New York City, and Toronto, Canada, I’m pleased to report. Much useful intelligence comes down the wires from them, almost daily,” he stated assuringly. In fact, the seven prisoners bore no connection whatsoever to the Abwehr. Bound by cattle car for execution at Buchenwald Concentration Camp from Gestapo HQ in Berlin, Canaris had brazenly claimed them from SS custody, over strenuous objections and threats, taught them a few outdated German codes, and then spirited them off to the obscurity and relative safety of Portugal. As a future bargaining chip, Canaris had ensured that London was informed promptly, “through the usual channels.”

“Good lord! Will wonders never cease? British Intelligence agents of the Third Reich!” Hitler fumed. To Canaris, as Hitler looked skyward, hands clenched, his mouth now rimmed with spittle, the Führer had the appearance of the mad Russian monk, Rasputin. “I would order you shot in a minute for insubordination, treason, and God knows what else, Wilhelm, if I had even the slightest suspicion that this was another of your double-dealing schemes!” he raged. “Be advised, you are on very shaky ground. Be assured that I will pursue this matter all the way with Kaltenbrunner and Himmler. Count on it!” he concluded grimly. Sitting down again in his armchair, composed, Hitler steepled his fingers and calmly asked, “You were saying, Admiral?”

His heart pounding like a trip hammer, Canaris carefully measured his next words. “Thank you, Sir. This intelligence is closely associated with the Allies' long-term strategic objectives. It concerns a disturbing development at their major armaments production facility, in Ontario, Canada, to be precise...”
"Quite so, Mein Führer. Gruppenführer Kaltenbrunner is that. Assuredly so. Only yesterday, I have learned that the Canadian Government's Minister of Defence issued a diktat ordering that the production of war materiel at Defence Industries Limited must be increased by twenty percent, effective immediately or heads will roll."

"I rather admire the Minister's style," Hitler commented wryly. "And so, Canaris, tell me. You will be taking precisely what actions to prevent this from happening?"

"As always, the foreign branch of the Abwehr is two steps ahead…of the enemy, Mein Führer." ‘God help me. I have no idea,’ Canaris reflected privately.

"Yes, yes, of course, Admiral. But I want to hear the basic elements of an operational plan, not hare-brained theories concocted by your backroom wunderkinder academics. God knows, Canaris…"

"Of course, Mein Führer.” He paused to clear his throat. “It is my intention to nip this initiative in the bud completely and ultimately destroy DIL," he bluffed.

"How so? With dynamite or have we a new long-range secret vengeance weapon at Peenemünde on which I have not been briefed?"

Ignoring Hitler’s sarcasm, Canaris continued, "Begging the Führer’s indulgence, may I outline the steps which I have already undertaken? The initial phase of Case Fafner, as it is named, was put into play two weeks before the official announcement came down from Ottawa,” he lied. “And, incidentally, Herr Williamson’s espionage base STS 103 is targeted for obliteration, as well.”

"Really? Now that would be a most welcome bonus. Perhaps we could remove the Kommandant, Findlayson, at the same time and bring him here for interrogation. The man for the job is Himmler’s favourite SS-Sturmbannführer, Otto Skorzeny. Skorzeny has proven to be an accomplished ‘removal agent’. I'm sure Herr General Findlayson has a considerable store of interesting insights to spill regarding the inner plots and schemes of that gang of SOE and BSO hoodlums. However, those cretins can wait for the moment!

“Our U-boat fleet is being decimated, Admiral, as if you, a navy man, don’t know. The Allied convoy escorts are creating havoc. Their merchant ship convoys slip through our nets with impunity. It’s as though they can anticipate our Wolf packs’ every movement.” Hitler rose from his chair, pounding his desk in rage. “I demand that they be stopped!” Sitting down he resumed, calmly. “Case Fafner. Very good, very good indeed. The fire-breathing dragon of Wagner’s glorious Ring Cycle. Perhaps Kaltenbrunner still has a lesson or two to learn from you, Canaris.

“A sweet biscuit, perhaps? With the slightest hint of bitter almond, for balance. My favourite. Here. Continue. And spare me no detail, Wilhelm.”

“Thank you, Mein Führer. With my plan, the convoys’ destroyer escorts will be reduced to useless, floating hulks of metal.”

“Do tell. How?”

“Mein Führer, what good are a Spitfire’s cannons without shells, or a Lancaster without bombs? Similarly, Sir, what good are the Allies’ naval guns, torpedoes, and depth charges without explosive charges?”

“And you say your Case Fafner can accomplish this miracle?” demanded Hitler sceptically.

“Yes, Mein Führer, it can and it will,” Canaris responded earnestly. ‘Or God help me and the Abwehr!’ He shuddered at the thought of the gigantic and brutal alcoholic, Dr. Ernst Kaltenbrunner, usurping the reins of his beloved Service.

“For how long can this be extended, Wilhelm?”

“Six months definite, perhaps more, Mein Führer.” Canaris waited as Hitler leaned back, fingertips steepled, eyes closed. Silently, Canaris started counting to ten, in anticipation of a torrent of abuse.

On ‘nine’, Hitler leaned forward, hands gripping the arms of his chair, his eyes ablaze. “Case Fafner will proceed, Canaris. Take note that I will not accept failure, lame excuses, or administrative obstructionism,” he snarled. “Moreover, I will expect reports, from you personally, written or verbal, as I decide. They will be concise and to the point. Daily. No questions?” he asked rhetorically. “That is all, Admiral! You may see yourself out. Send in the guards.” Hitler indicated the door with a dismissive wave of his hand.

“Thank you, Mein Führer. All will be carried out as you have ordered.”

“See that it is, Canaris. See that it is. You alone will be held accountable.”
South Pickering Township, east of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Rinsing his coffee cup, James Montgomery looked out the kitchen window. A light snow had just begun. He and Lillian lived in a second-hand twenty-five foot trailer located on an otherwise bare patch of land at the northwest corner of Harwood Avenue and the King’s Highway Number Two. It was, they vowed, just temporary, and conveniently near their workplace.

“It’s beginning to come down. Likely be snowing with a vengeance when we get out of church. What shift are you on next week, dear? I know you told me…”

“Days,” Lillian replied. “It’s marked on the calendar. Why, Jim?”

“So it is. Just trying to keep track of whose turn it is to make dinner tonight. You’re on days, I’m graveyard, so that means that it’s mine.”

“That’s right, Jim, which also means that we’ll likely be eating your famous Sunday roast leftovers stew all week, and roast beef sandwiches in the lunchboxes.”

“Yes, dear.”

“No bother,” Lillian sighed, washing the remaining breakfast dishes. “I’m so bushed when I get home that I can hardly taste food anyway. Put your cup in the suds and go put on your overcoat. I’ll finish up. Oh, dear, look at the time: ten-twenty. If I don’t shake a leg we’ll be late for church.”

“I’ll be out front, Lil, warming up the Buick. I have to check the tire pressure before it runs flat. Noticed yesterday that it was down a bit. Don’t forget the collection envelope!”

“It’s in my purse, on the bureau. My, you do look spiffy, Jim! I’m very proud of you, Mr. Shop Foreman!”

“You say that to all the boys!” he answered, gently kissing her cheek. “Hurry, Lil! You know how the Rev glares at latecomers.”

“Reverend, Jim! I’ll be out in five minutes!”

Our first book review

Loved the book!

I loved this book from the get-go! I could not put it down. A week later I still missed the characters and wanted to read the final sequel right away. This book has it all, adventure, mystery and it is all based on the true story of the men and women of Camp-X and Defence Industries Limited.

A wonderful read, engaging, exciting and a well deserved tribute to the ordinary citizens doing the most extraordinairy things during WWII.

Nancy Haner Strahl
French/History Teacher - Port Perry High School

Our second book review

Ajax Arsenal of Democracy is the best book thus far in the Inside Camp X Series. I couldn’t put it down! The first chapter grabs the reader’s attention when Cliffford Jackson is injured, for reasons and by persons unknown. Ajax Arsenal of Democracy is based upon real incidents that happened during the war, although the authors have classified it as Fiction. One of the main characters is Special Agent Major Blake Gray of Camp–X, who is becoming firmly established in the series as a Canadian hero.

This installment of the Camp X series focuses on WWII’s DIL (Defense Industries Limited). DIL was responsible for making many of the bombs and shells that were sent to be used in the conflict overseas. DIL produced millions of the 25-pounder shells that helped secure the Allies’ victory.

Many of the characters in the book are based upon real people. DIL was a family based company. Mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, sisters and brothers all worked at the plant in Ajax. While DIL was in operation, 9,000 workers were employed to produce 40 million shells. The book also goes into detail about the lives of those were employed at DIL.

An interesting fact in the book is that the town of Ajax was not supposed be permanent. It was only to be temporary until the war ended. After the war, the people of Ajax decided to stay.

This book has something for everyone. There is a romance between Blake and Adara Zekara. There are a few mysterious deaths shall I say, throughout the course of the book.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book as with all the books in the Camp X Series is learning about the history of Durham Region. Hodgson and Longfield did a superb job recounting the history behind DIL and Ajax. There are great black and white photos of DIL and Camp-X throughout book.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the history of Durham Region or if you are just looking for an interesting and intriguing read.

Congratulations to Longfield and Hodgson for writing another great addition in the Camp X Series!

Sherry Spofford
June 2005

Our third book review

Lynn and Alan,

I just finished reading your latest book Ajax: Arsenal of Democracy. As usual I loved it. I have read a number of Canadian Espionage and war stories but your's are the best. I have been a huge fan since your first book in '99. I can't wait for each book to come out and am looking forward the second "Definitive History of Camp-X". I hope you can include more information on Camp-X and the Whitby Hospital.

Thank you again,

John Moore,
Pembroke Ontario

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