As most of you know, my hobby of WWII history has lead me to write and publish novels. My newest one, soon to be published, is Desperate Commands. It's my missive about an Italian Resistance cell I call "Sword of Brescia." It also deals with the Fascists Tenth Brigata Nera, the Blackshirt unit for the city. There's also a girl, of course. Giulia is her name. She is a nurse, and works for the partisans, lead by Marco, whose guerrilla name is Antonio and his second in command, named Matteo, who goes by Giacomo. The main Blackshirt in the story is Riccardo, a platoon leader in the Blackshirt brigade. As always, I like to give you a taste of my story before it's available: Chapter Six 10 July 1944 “He took up arms against the Italian Social Republic.” That’s what it said on the placard around the neck of Gabriele as he dangled from the gallows outside the police headquarters in Brescia. There were four Garibaldi Brigade members alongside him, one of them a woman. As a final bit of humiliation, the five of them were stripped naked from the waist down. Giulia looked at them for a moment as she walked by, setting her face like flint as she saw the man with whom she’d hiked up from Rome. At least, she hoped, he hadn’t talked. A truck convoy was passing by. In front were German trucks from an SS unit. She saw the blond captain. She despised him and his cold stare. Next came the Brigata Nera trucks, and Riccardo was riding in the back of the lead truck with his men. He saw Giulia and waved. She smiled and waved back. She thought about what they had once had, and the feelings of the simpler time before the war. She would eat with him now, and try to take back something for her parents, but she’d made up her mind to have headaches if Riccardo asked for more. It hadn’t come to that yet. Typically, Marco didn’t go on patrols. As the “brains” of the outfit, and with a desertion charge hanging over his head, he usually left the grunt work to the men, and would work with his lieutenants to plan operations. But the South African pilot had struck a nerve with his remarks. Marco had had a soft career up until the armistice, and maybe it made him forget what “hard” soldering was like. So on this night, with his submachine gun in his hands, and a Glisenti pistol in his belt, he went out to the hills east of Brescia with half a dozen of his men. They were barely out for half an hour when the point man whistled. Everyone crouched. Marco crawled up to him. The man pointed to their right. In the dim light Marco could make out about ten silhouettes. Marco squinted to tell what kind of helmets they had. They looked Italian. Marco crawled back five meters and charged his weapon. The Fascist patrol started to pass them. Marco got into a kneeling position and shouldered his weapon. “Fuoco!” His men started firing. Marco cranked off single shots, and the younger men sprayed lead at the enemy. Half of the Fascists never knew what hit them. Marco crouched down and scanned the terrain. Two of the enemy were crawling towards them. They stopped. One shouldered his rifle and the other pulled the pin on a grenade. He prepared to throw it, and Marco shot him. The man cried out, rolled over, and spilled the grenade to his left. It went off, and the other man cried out. Marco walked up to him. He looked barely seventeen. “Mama,” the young man cried. “Mama!” Marco hoisted up his submachine gun, only to see it was empty. He pulled his pistol from his belt. “Mama,” the young Fascist cried once more, and with one shot Marco ended his agony. “How did we do, Antonio?” Matteo asked. “We came out all right, Giacomo,” Marco replied, “We got all their rifles, and their ammo, and five grenades. None of our guys got a scratch on them.” Matteo beamed, “Well, that’s great, sir. This was your first fight?” “It was, and now I know something of real soldiering. You’ve done real fighting, haven’t you?” “Yes, sir. I fought in Spain, I fought in Greece, and I fought in Yugoslavia.” Marco paused, then asked, “Did you ever finish off someone?” Matteo nodded, “In Greece, one of my men was too badly hurt to move, and we were afraid of what might become of him. He begged me to shoot him. I looked into his eyes and…I shot him. Then we had to run.” “Did he call for his mother?” “No, he didn’t. I’ve heard other men do it, but this man didn’t.” “Well, this young Fascist tonight was calling for his mother. He barely looked at me. Maybe…maybe he saw her when he was looking at me.” Matteo put his hand on Marco’s shoulder. “I’m sorry.” After a moment, he said, “I poured some grappa. Would you join me?” Marco looked up, and slowly said, “Yes. I think so.” I'll let you guys know when it's ready for purchase. Thanks.