Chapter Fifteen

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David approached the table bearing a William Evans banner and said to the man who greeted him, "I've a Mauser pistol I took from a German officer. I was told you might stock ammunition for it."

"Which model is it?"

"I don't know, but it has an unusually long barrel and a wooden holster that converts it to a rifle."

"That's the C-96, called the broomstick. High velocity, accurate, a fine pistol. It takes 7.63 millimetre cartridges, which we carry."

"How does the Mauser compare to our Army issue?"

"The broomstick has a much higher muzzle velocity, and it's more accurate without the firing kick that plagues the Webley. It loads from a ten-cartridge clip, rather than having to individually load six chambers in the Webley revolver, so it's much quicker. The only drawback seems to be that it's not as compact."

"The cartridges. You've a good stock of them? You can't reorder from Germany now."

"The Russians also manufacture them, so there's no concern."

David picked up a card from the stack, read it and said, "Thank you, I'll visit you when I'm in London." He looked around and saw the queue had disappeared from the front table. On his way along the line of tables, he paused to peruse at a selection of compasses and binoculars, then thought: Surely we're issued these.

He continued to the front and took a requirements list from the table, then sat to read it through. Why do we need all this? What good will mess dress serve at the Front? Or in my covert activities?

He stood and walked across to the clothiers' displays and stopped at one that had an unoccupied agent. "Good morning. Have you the patterns for the Canadian Pioneers?"

"No, Sir, but the British ones would be similar, though. All your uniforms are patterned on ours."

David pointed to the lace-work on the sleeves of the number twos. "I saw many officers at the Front with unadorned sleeves and their pips stitched on their shoulders. Is that an option?"

 Is that an option?"

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"No Sir. Against regulations. The rank must be clear and prominent."

"So the officers will be more easily identified and targeted by the enemy's snipers, I suppose."

The man stared blankly at him, then said. "No, Sir. You misunderstand. It's so the officer can be easily recognised by the men."

"

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