Dog Robber: Jim Colling Adventure Series, Book I HTML version

Dog Robber
Jim Colling Adventure Series
Book I
Copyright © 2006 Robert McCurdy
Smashwords Edition
All rights reserved.
~ Enjoy the complete Jim Colling Adventure Series ~
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To my wife, Margie, who read the drafts and asked the right questions, and whose support was essential to
tell the story of Jim Colling and Elizabeth Hamilton. I dedicate Dog Robber to her, with my love.
April, 1945
The American officer had been crouched in a depression behind a fallen pine tree since just after midnight.
He shifted his weight as quietly as possible, and winced at the pain in his cramped calves. The pale early-spring
dawn had begun to spread through the northern Italian mountains around him. Light was filtering slowly
through the haze that had not yet disappeared from among the pines, and he resumed his vigil, peering intently
through the tree’s broken branches. Through breaks in the treetops, he could just make out portions of the
logging road that ran along the curve of the slope below his position. Nothing moved, and he felt the
nervousness that had been with him in varying degrees throughout the night become more acute.
He was not a veteran of combat, or even really trained for it. He had experienced his share of shellings and
bombings as his unit had moved slowly northward through Italy, but this was the first time he had actually
found himself this close to the front lines. The insignia on the collars of his shirt under his field jacket indicated
he was a major assigned to the Signal Corps. He was used to being a mile or so behind the lines, his contact
with the enemy limited to eavesdropping on their radio transmissions. The newspapers said that the German
defenses were “collapsing,” but he was astute enough to know that pockets of resistance still remained, and he
was concerned that his small detachment would have the misfortune to encounter some group of diehards,
especially if they were Waffen SS or paratroopers.
The fact that he was able to speak and understand German well enough to be capable of eavesdropping and
interviewing prisoners of war was the main reason he now found himself this far out in front of the advancing
American army. He shifted the carbine in his hands so that its barrel pointed forward. The soldiers who had
been assigned to accompany him were volunteers from the Tenth Mountain, and he took some comfort in their
seasoned appearance and attitude. Lieutenant Schwartz was somewhere to his left, and two enlisted men,
Bergman and Cohn, were to his right. He could just see the olive-drab top of the helmet of one of them. All his
companions had Thompson submachine guns, and he was confident in their ability to use them. He hoped they
would not have the need to test their proficiency.
The faint sound of an engine down the slope and to his left grew in intensity. Its pitch was too high to be that
of a tank, and he guessed that what he was hearing was a truck laboring up the steep rutted road. The driver was
downshifting and pressing the accelerator to get the most out of an over-used engine and low-grade gasoline.
The vehicle passed an opening in the trees, and he caught a glimpse of the familiar shape of a Fiat, painted
Wehrmacht gray. The truck’s engine was roaring as it reached the level clearing where they had arranged for