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Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Bizarre Punishments No 7 (cont) - The Desert Rats Story

Two members of the 'Desert Rats' combat unit have be sent on a routine, reconnaissance mission behind the enemy lines. Sergeant Drummond, a man with considerable combat experience is accompanied by a recent recruit, Private Jenkins, whose mettle is as yet untested. That is about to change. The two men are surprised by the enemy and taken captive. They are soon handed over for interrogation and their nightmare begins as they are led into a deep, dark dungeon.


 Sergeant Drummond knew the questioning would be aggressive, but he was bemused and horrified when his captors forcibly undressed him. All of his uniform was taken from him, except for his shorts. They had begun removing them too, but the Corporal in charge had stopped them, rebuking them for their indecent, over-enthusiasm. Drummond was strung up by his captors, suspended in the air with his ankles tied below to an ancient winding mechanism from a desert well. It created an improvised 'Rack', a medieval torture device he had heard of at school. He'd never imagined then, that one day he'd experience it's horrific capabilities himself. One particularly muscular guard stood below him and stripped off his own shirt. He started to tighten the wheel and Drummond felt the ropes tighten, the tension in his arms and legs increasing. At that moment the Commandant arrived.

Mitchell - Desert Rat 1, Sgt Drummond Captured

The Commandant wasted no time in trying to extract information, but Sergeant Drummond was a mature and experienced soldier and had no intention of giving any. The tension in the ropes gradually increased as the wheel was turned by the torturer, pitting these two men against each other in a sweaty, crude test of physical strength. Drummond's joints seared with pain but he resisted the relentless questioning of the Commandant.

After twenty minutes or so, the Officer paused and turned to Private Jenkins. He had been forced to stand and watch this terrible treatment of his NCO*, a man whom he admired and respected as a mentor. Now his turn had come, but he resisted as the guards began to strip him too. Some well-placed body punches quelled this resistance and he too was soon strung up facing the Sergeant, feeling the tug of the ropes as the muscular shoulders of the torturer addressed his wheel........

*Non-Commissioned Officer, men promoted from the ranks to command small units

The Commandant surveyed Jenkins' tensioned body with interest. Drummond's bulky physique was a fitting subject for his Rack, but this slender, young man's torso, though prettily shaped, would quickly break like a twig under it's harsh leverage. Jenkins didn't even have the information the Commandant wanted, but the threat to him would make Drummond talk eventually. However, the Sergeant was a proud and wily soldier, so he would resist as long as possible. It wouldn't do, to break the boy and let Drummond off the hook, before it could happen. He motioned the torturer to stop winding and a deep silence settled on the dungeon, broken only by Jenkins' mournful whimpering and Drummond's soft, more manly groans as he sought to endure the agony in his own limbs. 
Mitchell - Desert Rat 2, Private Jenkins Captured
These interrogations were sometimes long affairs and this looked like being one of them. It was necessary to pause from time to time in cases like this, to impress on the captives how hopeless their resistance was. He and his men could have a coffee and rest or catch up on what was going on outside the dungeon. He was about to leave when something caught his eye. The guards had left both men's shorts undone at the waist and the writhing of the bodies inside them had caused them to drop below waist level, where they were kept in place only by the bulk of the men's thighs and the spreading of their legs by the pull of the winder ropes. A patch of dark hair was just visible in the 'V' of Jenkins' open flies. Below it was an intriguing bulge. Perhaps there was another way to make Drummond talk. He gave the order to strip them both naked.

It was some hours later when the Commandant returned. Night had fallen and the gloom and chill of the dungeon had deepened, relieved only by the warm glow of a brazier which the guards had lit to warm their hands. During his absence, the torment of the two men had continued but with the worst levels of the rack kept in reserve, in the hope that Drummond might be persuaded (but kept intact) by relentless but relatively moderate pain. The bodies of both suspended men were coated with sweat which gleamed in the light of the fire and the candles overhead. Drummond in particular was a magnificent sight. Despite his comrade's agony (which was only too apparent now) he still hadn't cracked. It was not entirely unexpected but the Commandant's patience had waned now and so he addressed Drummond more bluntly.

Mitchell - Desert Rat 3, Sgt Drummond Naked
The Commandant's words chilled Drummond to the marrow. He was being given a choice between new sources of unimaginable pain and an equally unimaginable ordeal in the tempting comfort of the Commandant's bed. Drummond was a career soldier, a man's man. He understood pain but not this. He had no knowledge of the (to him) dark and sinister world of men who furtively sought intimacy with other men (though he suspected other men in his unit did). Brave though he was, the unknown terrors of a night of intimate contact with the cruel and sadistic Commandant, as a captive in his bed, scared him more than any amount of pain. His response should have been defiant, but instead he had resorted to bleating about the Geneva Convention like a pathetic, barrack room lawyer. As if these torturers cared anything about the Geneva Convention!  It was a measure of how much the words had shaken him. Jenkins had lifted his head and was looking at him and he felt ashamed.
Drummond's confusion did not go unnoticed by the Commandant. He ordered a fierce twist of the wheel to remind him that there was still worse to come for him. Drummond cried out involuntarily as the sudden escalation took him and his seared muscles by surprise. Thankfully it also drove the nightmare imaginings out of his mind temporarily and he shook his head when the offer was repeated. The Commandant pursed his lips, as though bored with the game. He turned to Jenkins and surveyed his taut body with obvious appreciation.

Mitchell - Desert Rat 2, Private Jenkins Naked

 Even after all he had suffered that long day, the Commandant's contempt for his manhood still had the power to sting Jenkins and it showed. As if sympathising, the torturer spoke up for him, pointing out that it was only the pain that was responsible for his diminishment. The Commandant snorted that Drummond did not seem to have the same problem, momentarily forgetting to reprimand the underling for his unrequested intervention.

The exchange made Drummond feel guilty. His intransigence had put pressure on an inexperienced subordinate and now he was exposing Jenkins to a terrible exploitation that words could not describe. (They could actually, only Drummond did not have them). Given what had happened to them already, their outlook was bleak anyway. Torture was a war crime, so the Commandant would probably have them both executed as an insurance against repercussions. He had managed to delay the questioners long enough to know that his unit would have moved to a new location by now, as a precaution after realising they were missing. He knew his duty lay in a different direction now.

Drummond called out to the Commandant. "Let Jenkins down and I'll talk" he whispered hoarsely, the craven words sticking in his throat, "but not here".

The Commandant turned and smiled at him, knowing exactly what he meant. The burly oaf would probably never understand the genuine warmth his manliness had kindled in a cruel man's breast. If the evening went well he might have a difficult decision tomorrow.


The 'Desert Rats' was the nickname given to part of the British 8th Army during WW2. They were credited with turning the tide of the war in North Africa defeating both Axis armies in 1941 and 1942 and driving them out of the continent. Their exploits inspired one of my earliest short stories in which a Desert Rat scout is caught by the enemy and tortured. The picture below depicts the moment when he is taken by surprise and captured. His persona here seems to fit Jenkins better than Drummond.

Mitchell - Desert Rat Captured

You can read my 'Desert Rat' story at the mitchmen archive at Adonis Male. 

Read previous instalments of Bizarre Punishments 7 (The Rack)  

This is No 22 of the 'mitchmen at war' series,
to see the rest click on the 'War Comics' label below.

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