“Beware of the Dog”

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Plot Description

This famous psychological story is from Over to You: Ten Stories of Flyers and Flying. Its unexpected and memorable plot twist has twice lent itself to film; first in the feature 36 Hours (1964), and later in the TV-movie Breaking Point (1989). The basic narrative concerns an English World War II pilot who crashes and then finds himself in a very comfortable hospital. Something is wrong though…

Spoiler warning! Pilot Peter Williamson has sustained a massive injury while flying a mission over Vichy France (the name given to the German-controlled areas of the country). He ejects from the plane and later awakes to find himself in a hospital bed in Brighton on the English seashore. Strange things keep happening though – like the time he recognizes the sound of German planes through the window when there shouldn’t have been any nearby. The nurse also mentions that the hospital water is very hard, when Williamson knows the water in Brighton is famous for being soft. Suspicious and frightened, he later drags himself to the window and sees a wooden sign, “GARDE AU CHIEN” (French for “Beware of the dog”). He now knows that he is in Vichy France, and that the nice English caregivers are actually Germans in disguise. When they send in a fake RAF commander to convince him to divulge his squadron’s location, he stares him straight in the eye and says nothing more than “My name is Peter Williamson. My rank is Squadron Leader and my number is nine seven two four five seven.”