Professor Dirk Scholz asked politely if he could sit down. Jinnie saw he was standing awkwardly and said, “Yes, of course.” Dirk put both his crutches into one hand, pulled out a chair with the other and sank slowly onto it. It was only then that Jinnie realised that his left leg was in plaster. Dirk accepted her invitation to join her in a cup of coffee and while she was at the counter purchasing it Jinnie’s head was spinning, she couldn’t for the life of her understand what Dirk was doing in Cambridge.
Rejoining Dirk, they both started speaking at the same time, both stopped and burst out laughing. Dirk then started to explain what had happened to him and why he was now in Cambridge. He told her that when the Allied forces had rolled into Northern England his small resistance group in Berlin had been tasked with causing as much interference and delay to reinforcements travelling to England as possible. They had done their best by destroying railway lines, road and rail bridges and power lines. The Allies had seemed able to supply a virtually unlimited volume of arms, ammunition and explosives, as well as more advanced equipment such as night vision glasses and digital radios. Dirk’s problem had been manpower. His small group all had daytime jobs, or were students who were still away on Christmas holidays, so were mostly limited to weekend or evening attacks and were unable to carry out as many as the Allies sent them information on.
Dirk continued his tale, explaining that by February the Germans were getting desperate to reinforce and resupply their armies in England and Wales. The Allies were pushing them hard on land and had a stranglehold in the air and on shipping in the channel. Agents had discovered that the Germans were planning to try to get reinforcements and supplies into some of the West Country ports and to this end were gathering ships in Roscoff and Brest. The RAF were tasked with attacking the ports and all resistance units were detailed to stop the troops, armaments and supplies from getting there. So on one dark icy late February evening, Dirk was driving to a coordination meeting with one of his neighbouring group’s leader at a country restaurant, when he lost control of this Audi on black ice.
Dirk’s car left the road, crossed the grass verge, entered a mixed wood and was only halted when it hit a large chestnut tree. The crash trapped Dirk’s left leg and the airbags going off saved him from serious head injuries but he suffered superficial facial burns and a couple of broken ribs. Trapped in the Audi, Dirk had managed to get to his phone and call 112 for the emergency services. The fire brigade and ambulance, with German efficiency, arrived quickly and he was cut out and he was about to be transported to hospital when the traffic police arrived. They, of course, breathalysed him. As he was on his way to his dinner meeting, he passed and when the police realised they weren’t dealing with a drunk driver their attitude changed and they became almost friendly.
When Dirk had explained he was heading to a dinner date, the police volunteered to drive to the nearby restaurant and explain he had been in an accident. Realising that to refuse would look suspicious he quickly agreed. Fortunately, the leader he was meeting was a rather attractive married female lecturer at another Berlin University and it looked like he was having an affair, which caused a few sniggers from the emergency services. The adrenaline was beginning to wear off and the paramedics administered some strong painkillers. As he drifted into unconsciousness Dirk told Jinnie that the last thing he remembered thinking was thank goodness he had not brought a gun with him that evening.
Hanna Brant was getting worried that, unusually, Dirk was very late for their meeting. She was considering leaving when the police walked in and spoke with the owner. Not wishing to draw attention to herself she stayed at the table and continued to study the menu. Over the top of the menu, she saw the owner point her out and her heart missed a beat. However only one of the police officers walked over to her, while the second stayed chatting to the owner who was making him a coffee. The officer asked if she was Hanna Brant and when she confirmed it he explained about Dirk’s accident, that it looked like his left leg was pretty badly mangled and that he was on his way to the expensive private Bundeswehr Academic Hospital as his university post carried excellent medical insurance. He suggested that it would not be worth checking on him that evening as he would almost certainly be in surgery all night. Hanna thanked him and said she thought she better go home. As she settled her bill for the bottled water she had been drinking while waiting for Dirk, the policeman rejoined his colleague and he too accepted a coffee. Once in her car, she used her emergency contact number to report Dirk’s accident to her controller. He promised to let Dirk’s second in command know and to pass the news up the chain.
Dirk said the next thing he remembered was regaining consciousness in a recovery room and a huge sharp pain in his left leg, hip and foot. A nurse had seen he was awake and asked if he was in pain. He had grunted yes and received an injection which had eased the pain but caused him to drift off to sleep again. On waking next time he found he was in a comfortable twin room where his companion had both legs in traction. Looking down he realised that his left leg was also in traction. Now his leg just ached, the sharp pain of earlier was gone, but he guessed it might have something to do with the drip in the back of his hand. Dirk said to Jinnie that at this time his foggy mind was clearing and as he started to remember the details of the accident he hoped he had only spoken German whilst semi-conscious.
Jinnie asked him why would he speak anything else but German and Dirk laughed saying,
“I would have thought you would have realised by now that I am English.”
Jinnie was stunned. Then she thought back to the SAS corporal who had said he would pass her regards to Major Scholz. It had gone over her head at the time as so much else had been going on.
“You’re SAS,” Jinnie said.
“Not any more,” came the reply, “but I’ll explain all that in a while.”
Dirk continued his tale explaining that hospital doctors had done as much as possible in that first emergency operation but only really patched him up, realigning bones as much as possible and ensuring circulation. But he had broken his femur, fibula, tibia, several bones in his foot, dislocated his patella and damaged his hip as well as several muscles and tendons. The doctors warned him he was in for several further operations and may not ever be fully recovered.
While waiting to be fit enough to undergo another round of surgery Dirk had little to do but watch the TV news of the war and chat to his roommate. Big Willie came in to visit him several times but he couldn’t talk resistance matters because of the roommate who was an injured soldier. Dirk discovered that the soldier had injured in fighting near Manchester. As a junior officer, he had been evacuated fairly promptly and been carried on a hospital ship across the channel. The soldier had told how as a German officer he had led a unit made up of conscripts from several of the East European nations and despite the news on TV they simply were not interested in fighting for the Third Reich. The German Army were continually falling back and were desperate for reinforcement by “German” units. This made complete sense to Dirk.
A fortnight or so after his first operation Dirk had a second. The surgeon came to see him a couple of days later and explained that although the operation had gone well he would need at least two more. However, due to the high number of casualties coming in from England they were not going to be able to operate on him for some time. As soon as he was capable of getting around on crutches he was going to be discharged to recover at home with the view of operating again when there was less pressure on the Hospital.
By mid-April Dirk was discharged from hospital. He was mentally recovered but physically unable to return to his full-time University post or more importantly lead his resistance group. British intelligence made the decision to extricate Dirk back to the UK and to complete his operations in an Allied hospital. A plan was hatched to get Dirk to the Mediterranean coast and picked up by a submarine for transport back to the UK. Dirk asked his German doctors if they thought a period of convalescence by the sea was a good idea and they happily agreed to him heading to the South of France for a couple of weeks. Dirk obtain the appropriate paperwork and was soon on a train to Nice and then onto a local train along the coast to the resort of Menton where he had booked accommodation in a rather nice Hotel.
On the third evening of his stay, the local resistance picked him up from a seat on the Esplanade where he was enjoying the warm evening air and delivered him to a fishing boat in the harbour. The fishermen headed out to their normal fishing grounds where it had been arranged for them to meet a US submarine. The submariners struggled to help Dirk onto the hull and down the ladder into the boat, but they managed it after a bit of a struggle. Three nights later the submarine docked in Faslane and an ambulance was there to meet them. Dirk was accommodated in the SAS barracks while the Army medics reviewed his injuries and the surgery that had been done in Germany.
The decision was he was in need of at least two more operations. As fighting was still going on in the South of England, the plan was to fly Dirk to the States for the first one utilising the agreement between the UK and the US for treating injured soldiers. Dirk was flown on a Nightingale flight to California and swiftly operated on. A couple of weeks later he was back in the SAS barracks recovering and building up his strength for his next operation. Dirk explained that it was now that he was called in by his colonel who explained that the doctors were saying that he would never be fit enough to return to active service. Officially the SAS should return him to his base regiment, in Dirk’s case he had been in the Parachute Regiment, where he might be offered a desk job or be invalided out on a pension. But, the Colonel said, in Dirk’s case he had been approached by the Secret Intelligence Service who wanted him to work for them and would he like to talk to them?
So Dirk explained that he ended up resigning his commission, taking an ill-health pension and a lump sum payment, together with an agreement from the military to fund his final operation. In his new position, he was to be appointed as a Professor of German at Cambridge where he was to become a recruiter for MI6 (the Secret Intelligence Service).
In Chapter 3 – Dirk explains his plans for Jinnie.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file