I didn't get much of a response to the Frenh guest writer... but if this true account from a group of British espionage agents going aboard a moving train in what was then E. Germany, I don't know what will please you...
BRITISH: Dear Lee, Yes, you have my explicit permission to use the excerpt. Best wishes, Peter Williams. 2008 From Maj Gen (retd) P G Williams, BRIXMIS Tour Officer (1981-83) and SO2 Operations (1987-89) - Excerpts from:
THE PRÖDEL INCIDENT: SERENDIPITY AND AN APPLE
A BRIXMIS Incident near Magdeburg – 26th July 1983
...it was at this stage that the Tour NCO said ‘I can get onto the train, if you like, sir! Then we can see the BMP-2 main armament without its canvas muzzle cover. What do you think?’ Without pausing for deep consideration, but certain that the opportunity could only be short lived, the Tour Officer replied: ‘Go for it! I will cover your every move with the camera, but don’t hang about in case the Sovs turn up’.
The Tour NCO sprinted to the edge of the field, scrambled down the slight embankment and then leapt up onto the second flat-car and pulled himself up onto the top deck of a BMP-2, gazing frequently down the train towards the M-wagons and up the train at the locomotive.
New Uses for an Apple
If serendipity had handed the Tour crew an extraordinary opportunity to satisfy one of DI60’s priority intelligence requirements, it was now that ‘Murphy’s Law’ came to the forefront 1 . Having reached the perfect spot at which to establish the calibre of the BMP-2’s main armament, the Tour NCO suddenly realised that he had nothing on him that was capable of providing an accurate scale from which DI60 could make any exact measurements … and time was running out! The locomotive driver could either sees or sense that his train was under attack and he had started sounding his hooter in order to get the attention of the Soviet crewmen.
The Tour NCO’s instant assessment of the situation revealed that his only potential ‘measurement tools’ were his Dictaphone recorder and a Golden Delicious apple. They might not be ideal, but they were the only options open to him and so he reacted accordingly.
Having ripped the canvas muzzle cover off the BMP-2’s main armament, he rammed the apple into the end of the cannon’s barrel, creating an impression of the shape of the flash hider. He then balanced the Dictaphone on the cannon’s recoil mechanism housing to provide a reference for the Tour Officer’s photographs. Finally the Tour NCO clambered onto the top of the turret and pulled off the canvas cover from the anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) launching platform , as the Tour Officer continued to take pictures (in colour slide format).
By this stage it was painfully clear that the Tour had over-stayed its welcome and it was time to go. The Tour NCO jumped down off the train and sprinted back to the safety of the Opel Senator, still carrying the BMP-2 turret’s two canvas covers, his Dictaphone and the badly dented Golden Delicious apple.
Waving a cheery farewell to the by now furious train driver who was still trying to attract the attention of the Soviet crewmen, the Tour crew now sought to put some distance between itself and the area of Prödel in order to allow heartbeats to subside and an assessment of the situation to be made.
Self-preservation becomes the Priority
It was obvious that the Soviets would be angered by this assault on one of their kit trains in broad daylight, but there was no way that the Tourers could assess just how speedy and thorough their retribution would be. Perhaps the Soviet crewmen had radio communications with the Headquarters 3rd Shock Army in nearby Magdeburg?
What seemed to be most sensible was to get rid of the films, the apple and the other booty as soon as possible, preferably by handing them to another BRIXMIS Tour crew, and then for the crew of Opel Senator No. 8 to lie low for a while well away from Magdeburg and the Zerbst Gap.
Finding another BRIXMIS patrol out on the ground in East Germany was always a challenge because Tours had no communications equipment (and this was before the era of mobile phones), but the Tour Officer recalled that BRIXMIS was currently responsible for covering the area immediately to the west of Berlin, known as the ‘Local’ area.
As a result there was a fair chance of encountering the BRIXMIS Local Tour somewhere in the area around the small town of Treuenbrietzen, through which convoys frequently moved between the Jüterbog and Altengrabow ‘polygons’ as well as along the F2 main road from Potsdam to Lutherstadt Wittenberg.
As luck would have it the Local Tour vehicle was spotted and a quick rendezvous (RV) was successfully executed. The films, the apple and the booty were handed over and, fully aware of the sensitivity and urgency of the situation, the Local Tour agreed to return to West Berlin with its precious cargo without delay.
For its part, everyone at the RV agreed that Opel Senator No. 8 and its crew should ‘go to ground’ in East Germany and only go back through Potsdam to Berlin the next morning in order to seem to be behaving in an entirely normal manner. To rush straight back to safety might seem to be admitting some sort of guilt to the Soviet authorities. And so the Tour crew settled down to an evening of observing railway tracks and road junctions from a safe distance and then disappeared deep into the woods to sleep in the normal manner. Things will go wrong in any given situation, if you give them a chance’.
[ii] The BMP-2 ATGM launching platform could mount either the AT-4 SPIGOT (9M111 ‘Fagot’) or the AT-5 SPANDREL (9M113 ‘Konkurs’).