Short Stories The Ghosts and the Harleys.

 

In 1945 the US Army buried the entire inventory of crated new Jeeps, Harley Davidsons, and trucks, plus crates of spares at their Devon compound. In 1970 two Harleys are heard nightly across Dartmoor. The riders: two ghosts. One, the Army Sergeant who buried the gear and local farm boy who pinched two before he died during an air-raid. Decades later a newspaper brought the Armey Officer back to see if he could discover where the compound was. Now, a pine forest, industrial site and a new housing development under construction made it difficult. Then, fate takes a hand, his wife’s name he carved an old Oak tree convinced him he was in the right spot.

Chapter 1

John Forster looked completely out of place as he walked around the large building site at Heathfield, near Newton Abbot, South Devon. He looked out of place because he should not have been there without permission that he did not have. John was a retired Army Colonel who was in charge of the US army stores compound on the southern edge of Dartmoor National Park He was here at the request of a newspaper, who traced John and asked him to return to see if he could find just where the compound was in WW2.  Despite the Newspaper and him being denied access by the building contractor, he came anyway at his own expense.

According to records, stored at the compound were: A hoard of new crated Jeeps, Harley  Davidson Motor Bikes and General Motors un-crated trucks, plus crates of spares for these and other Army equipment. A high chain-link fence surrounded the dozens of corrugated buildings, and it was well camouflaged the by a huge established Pine Plantation, and natural heathland. Well out of sight of German bombers’ target, Plymouth dockyard 20 miles south-west.

 

Since WW2, a dual-carriageway, an industrial estate had been built and the plantation had been chopped down, plus other roads had been straightened. Not surprising John had little idea where the compound was originally. Right now he had another more pressing problem. The nearby taxi-driver told him to be quick and said, he had ten minute’s tops, or he would lose his return flight home. John heard the horn sound several times, glanced at his watch, he had eight minutes left. Then he remembered how a young Lt. carved had carved EMILY in the bark. But where the hell is it, has it been chopped down.

 

A JCB Digger stopped alongside him. “You alright mate.’ He shouted above noisy diesel engine. It was the soft Devonian accent he remembered

“You ever dig up anything, wood, iron, and tires?”

“Always mate, large and small, mostly rubber tires and rusty iron, rotting wood panels. “Here look a chunk of metal,” he said as he tugged a 3 by 4 foot battered painted and rusty piece. “I use it to plug that missing window.” He pointed. “You can have it, but don’t walk past the foreman’s hut, otherwise I’ll be out of a job.”

 

“Did any of the trees survive?”

“Yup, as you leave the site entrance there’s Old Bessy, huge tree, they couldn’t chop her down, had a preservation order on her, thank goodness. Here, give me that, I’ll drop it over the fence near her. Good luck.” Gears clunked and he drove amid black smoke belching from the exhaust.

 

John looked at his watch, he had 3 minutes 15 seconds. He dashed as fast as he could to the entrance. The foreman shouted. “Get out of here. You’re trespassing, hop it before I call the police.”

Taking absolutely no notice John reached the road, quickly found the metal, Big Bessy was nearby. He scanned and fingered the bark. There it was pretty clear despite moss and lichen. “Emily,” he whispered as he kissed the grooves and quickly took several photos. Meanwhile, the driver had used some common-sense and driven up. “Mr. Forster, toss that in the boot, you cut things pretty tight.”

“it has some letters on it, Bill, I think I know what it says.” He replied excitedly and he started the battered dirty sign.

“what’s it s’posed to say.”

“Restricted Area, US Army Depot Out of Bounds

R str cted Area

S  RMY  DE OT

ut  f Bo   ds.”

John glanced around, there are hundreds of new houses. This is where ‘his’ depot was. Beneath them was a fortune in old US Army hardware, now lost forever.

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