How It All Began
Today was 21st June 2019 and Jinnie Walsh’s 18th birthday. She had completed her A-level exams and was doing what most girls of her age did in the summer before university while awaiting the results, basically nothing. A few trips to the beach with her boyfriend Hans, a bit of reading, lots of music and TV and numerous parties. Her school friend Gretel had suggested a trip to a Spanish beach resort now that Spain was in the Third Reich. But Jinnie had told her she wasn’t sure that Spain was quite the place to go to as it had only been fully integrated into the Third Reich for two years and there was still the occasional terrorist bomb.
Her younger sister Penny had just taken her GCSEs and like Jinnie was a natural linguist. With Jinnie it was German, but for Penny it was French. The two years between the two girls was not a huge gap but big enough for them to move in different friendship circles. Subsequently, they were close in a sisterly way but didn’t do a lot together apart from the family things, dinners, parties and up to the holidays.
Jinnie had applied to go to the Adolph Hitler University in Berlin to study German as her teachers had encouraged her to and she had been accepted subject to obtaining the grades. She had been interviewed by a couple of professors who had travelled over to London to check out the applicants. AHU was a popular choice as graduates were exempt from the standard two years National Service and instead they attended an annual one-week purity camp in Greater Germany, as Austria was now called. Her teachers had told her that for a girl like her the interview would be a formality. She had sailed through her GCSEs and got 6 A* and 2 A’s. She was predicted to get 3 A*’s in her ‘A’ levels in History, German and English, but only need 3 A’s. Her background was perfect, both her parents were teachers. Her mother taught primary school and her father was a lecturer at a minor British university, so they had both been thoroughly vetted by the state. They could both trace their lineage back as far as it was possible to do and there wasn’t a hint of impurity in the bloodline. But best of all she was extremely pretty and a blue-eyed natural blonde. Those professors had no idea she was about to be recruited by the resistance.
It was learning about the invasion of Britain in history at school that had first piqued her interest and had later got her into contact with the resistance. The school A-level history syllabus was of course highly censored in what was taught and left out many events and there were so many anomalies in the accounts her inquiring mind led her to start probing. Even at a young age, she knew she had to be very careful, she had seen whole families suddenly disappear. As a young schoolgirl, she was unaware of the true events, of the post-invasion purges and only through her own research and talking to older people had she learnt of what had transpired.
Jinnie had racked her brain trying to work out how she could learn the truth. All the books she had access to were obviously only telling the approved story and she knew there was a lot more to learn. She was not so stupid as to use the internet, everyone knew the security services monitored it closely, and if she tried to access one of the sites run by the British Commonwealth of National (BCN) or the North American Alliance (NAA) the Gestapo would be knocking the door down. One of the questions she was keen to get an answer to was why at the beginning of the war the books refer to the King George and Prime Minister Churchill and at the end of the war, it was King Edward and Prime Minister Moseley. What had happened to them to allow the change. Eventually, Jinnie realised that if she volunteered to work with old people not only would she seen by the state to be a good National Socialist but she could get the oldies to tell her tales that the books wouldn’t and this is the story of what she learnt and what subsequently followed.
The Battle of Britain
According to her Government approved school history books the Battle of Britain had been a triumph for the Luftwaffe. The British RAF had been vastly inferior and the Me109’s had shot down Hurricanes and Spitfires for fun. The German bomber fleet then had clear runs at military targets like ports, airfields, factories and military complexes. Cities and towns were never targeted as the battle was with the evil Churchill’s armed forces and not the people. The air battle was over in a few days, clearing the way for unopposed beach landings by the Heer who were welcomed with open arms by the British people.
However, Jinnie learnt from old person after old person this was a very twisted account of what had actually happened. The old people in the sheltered retirement accommodation she volunteered in were all lucid and intelligent. The dim, immobile, sick and poor didn’t live in the home, they just didn’t seem to exist in the manicured part of Hertfordshire Jinnie had been raised in. The residents had all had good jobs, or their partners had, and had paid into the state health and retirement insurance schemes all their working lives to fund a comfortable post-work lifestyle. Most were in their 70’s, 80’ and 90’s meaning that while some had been young children when the Heer landed, others had only heard the stories secondhand from their parents but some had taken part in the fighting.
It took a while for any of the residents to trust Jinnie, as many of the care staff were believed to be paid informers who were willing to pass on the name of anyone not following the true path of National Socialism to the Security Services. One April day a year earlier Jinnie had been in the flat of a sweet old lady called Ethel. She was preparing her tea when she heard her grumbling. Jinnie popped her head around the kitchen door to see what the problem was. Ethel was struggling with the remote control for her 100cm Metz TV. The buttons were a little small for her and she was failing to change the channel. The TV was on ZDF Britain and was showing the annual Hitler Birthday Parade live from Berlin. Jinnie asked Ethel what she wanted to watch and Ethel said, “Anything but this”. So Jinnie took the remote and changed to Das Erste UK that was showing a soap. Ethel thanked her and Jinnie went back to preparing Ethel’s boiled egg and soldiers, slice of Victoria sponge and cup of tea.
When Jinnie brought her tea tray in Ethel asked her to sit down for a moment. Ethel said she wanted to apologise as she really should have known better than to turn off the parade. Jinnie told her that she shouldn’t worry, she wasn’t going to tell anyone and that she would have turned it off herself. She left a much relieved Ethel and moved on to her next resident.
It was a few days later that Jinnie was once again scheduled to do Ethel’s tea. When she let herself into the flat she was delighted to see Ethel happily watching a soap opera. Jinnie presented her with a large button remote she had purchased from the Third Reich internet store Rhine. The rumour in her school was that it was a rip off of an NAA website called Amazon. Once told what it was and set up for her TV model Ethel was grinning from ear to ear and told Jinnie that she could now watch just what she wanted but it was a pity the BBC was no longer broadcasting. Jinnie had never heard of the BBC and asked Ethel to explain. It turned out that the BBC was the British state broadcaster and once the fighting had stopped it had been allowed to put out two TV channels and 4 Radio channels to the UK that were strictly censored. However, it had been too heavily censored and not only had the programming been appalling it had started putting messages into them all. The population started playing a game, trying to predict what the message for the next week would be. Saving water, saving power, buying domestic products, it was becoming a laughing stock and even the Government recognised it, so the decision was taken to close the BBC and replace it with the English language versions of the German channels. A day was chosen in 1957 and on the “day of change”, as it was called, not only was the BBC shut down, but the occupied UK was switched to driving on the right and the Reichsmark became the only legal tender.
Ethel became more and more easy in Jinnie’s company, slowly began to open up to her and tell her tales of wartime life. Ethel, who was in her late nineties, had been a young clerk in a city bank and had commuting into the city of London on the tube when the war broke out. Ethel had lived in Barnet and used the Northern Line to Moorgate daily from where the bank was a short walk. She told Jinnie how when Germany invaded Poland the British and the French came to Poland’s aid and declared war on Germany. But the Germans went around the French defensive line and encircled the British Army who were evacuated from the Belgium port of Dunkirk, abandoning most of their equipment. This was rather different from the way it appeared in her textbook that said that the British under the leadership of the evil Churchill had, with assistances from France, had invaded Belgium and Poland and the gallant Wehrmacht had come to their help driving the British into the sea and rolling over France.
After Dunkirk, Ethel had been allocated to a job in the Royal Army Pay Corp where she met her husband. He had been a junior officer at Dunkirk and had been injured in a Stuka attack on the beach. On recovering he was promoted to a major and posted to the RAPC to make use of his pre-war experience as a chartered accountant. The story of just how disastrous Dunkirk had been kept from the general public but Ethel had learnt all about it through her husband. Dunkirk had occurred at the end of April beginning of June 1940 and the British Army were in no position to defend Britain against the might of Germany. The Royal Air Force were in a better position with quite a few squadrons of Hurricanes and Spitfires and the Royal Navy were virtually undamaged.
Jinnie wanted to know what happened next but Ethel couldn’t fill in the details so she talked with the 3 people who shared her lunch table with her and were all German haters. Bert had been a technician in the RAF, Fred had only been a schoolboy but he had lived near a Jewish part of London called Golders Green and Jimmy had been in the army driving a lorry delivering ammunition to the front line.
Whenever possible they gathered in Ethel’s flat, ostensibly to play whist, but really to educate Jinnie as to what had happened. The RAF reconnaissance flights over the French channel ports had revealed a massive build-up of flat invasion barges but it was clear that until the Luftwaffe had air superiority over the Channel and southern England and the Kriegsmarine had control of the seaways the invasion wasn’t going to happen. This gave the army a chance to organise defensive positions and the navy to put to sea. The immediate fighting started in July 1940 when Luftwaffe bombers with fighter escorts started to attack RAF airfields in the south of England in an attempt to gain air superiority. This proved easier said than done the Spitfires and Hurricanes put up an almighty fight knocking down at least one German plane for every one lost.
Herman Goring, the head of the Luftwaffe, under pressure from Hitler, switched to bombing cities particularly London around the East End docks. But when it was seen to be ineffective, attacks were switched back to the airfields and slowly the Luftwaffe got on top through weight of numbers. Hitler decided that if the invasion couldn’t be launched in September it would have to be postponed until 1941. The invasion came in mid-September with troops being landed at several south coast beaches. The landings at Folkestone and Ramsgate were a success and this was critical to the success of the landings all told. The landing on the beach at Brighton was, however, a disaster and never got a foothold as the fleet from Portsmouth decimated the barges loaded with the second wave troops and heavy equipment that were anchored offshore waiting for the tide to drop. The idea had been a first wave of powered barges where to be supported by a second wave of unpowered barges brought across the channel by tugs, but the tugs needed deep water so the second wave with all the armour had to be left offshore to be unloaded until the tide rose sufficiently. A minefield was sown to keep the fleet in Portsmouth but the large number of minesweepers the Royal Navy had available, quickly cleared a route through for the destroyer fleet who made short work of the anchored barges. Even the paratroop drop on the Southdown behind Brighton had been anticipated and failed miserably.
The landing at Folkestone took the port and meant that the Heer didn’t have to mess about with a second wave of Barges, they could land armour at the harbour. The troops landed at Ramsgate pushed inland and west while those from Folkestone pushed inland and east with the aim of the two bridgeheads meeting up at Dover and capturing the port. Fighting was hard and unlike in Jinnie’s history book the population didn’t greet the Heer with open arms, but with target rifles shotguns, pitchforks and anything else that came to hand. When it looked like somewhere was about to be overrun they fell back employing a scorched earth policy.
The Germans had the bright idea of trying to disrupt the power supply grid by trailing cables from low flying aircraft in order to snag high tension power lines. There were two problems here. Firstly, Britain didn’t have a power grid, but local municipal power companies generated their own power so any blackouts were only local and secondly the aircraft trailing the cables were at great risk. If they succeeded in snagging a high tension line the power could run up the cable and fry the aircraft or even drag it from the sky. This practice was soon abandoned.
The British North Sea Fleet was a huge worry to the Kriegsmarine who were tasked with protecting the beachheads from them. They had already failed at Brighton so they were determined to protect the supply lines to the expanding area they had taken. To this end, the German fleet put to sea resulting in a number of set-piece encounters and the sinking of numerous capital ships on both sides. However, the Germans did manage to stop the British fleet from attacking their supply lines.
The British built a defensive line that ran approximately from Southampton to Reigate to Rochester and initially most fighting was in the area to the south of that line. To protect civilians many from south of the line were evacuated to the West Country or the Midlands and Ethel’s RAPC was moved from London to Glasgow. Bert’s RAF Squadron of Mosquitoes was sent to an existing airfield in Lincolnshire to share with a couple of bomber squadrons, while Jimmy was kept busy delivering ammunition to anti-aircraft guns defending the London docks.
The German advance was halted south of the defensive line but not before fierce fighting had seen the loss of Chichester, Hayward Heath and Canterbury. German advanced units initially took Tonbridge and Maidstone but we’re forced back, as the British forces finally worked out the best ways to attack them. One tactic was to hide troops in underground bunkers who emerged to attack the rear echelons and supply lines, cutting the front line off from the fuel needed for the rapid movement they relied on.
The Germans realised that with the advance stalled something new was needed. This came in the form of more landings, at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight and around Lyme Regis in Dorset. Taking the IoW allowed them to control the approaches to Southampton and Portsmouth, while the landing in Dorset pulled units away from the recognised front line in the South East. The Dorset beachhead was an instant success and motorised units raced inland to take Bristol and threaten Gloucester. The Heer renewed their efforts in the Southeast and finally breached the defensive line at two points, one near Rochester and one at Dorking. Motorised units poured through the gaps and hooked around to the north of London crossing the Thames near Maidenhead and at Gravesend with the aim of linking up and encircling the capital city.
Retreating British troops dropped back to a new defensive line that ran from Gloucester in the west, to St Albans and to Malden on the east coast abandoning cities like Oxford, Swindon and Reading. The Government was withdrawn to Manchester, the Royal Family moved to Scotland and London was declared an open city. The Heer marched into central London a few days before Christmas 1940.
Jinnie was astonished to hear this, it was so different from everything she had been taught at school. She had never thought that it could have nearly all been propaganda and wondered if her parents were aware of the truth and went along with it for an easy life. Perhaps they didn’t know the truth and believed the history they taught their pupils.
In Chapter 2 – Jinnie’s education continues.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file