Jinnie parked on the off-street parking in front of her house. She had told the flatmates, well technically now her housemates, that she had rented a four-bedroom furnished house on their behalf. Over the summer vacation, Jinnie and her dad had popped up on several occasions so as to check out the work they were having done and to be there when furniture and furnishings were delivered. She had decided that the avocado bathroom suite had to go and a nice modern white one with waterfall mixer taps had been installed, a shower cubicle squeezed in and new big tiles on the bathroom floor and walls. The kitchen was a bit small, so it had been combined with the dining room, however the kitchen units and worktops had all been in good condition so they stayed, but she had replaced all the cabinet doors which together with new white goods made it look new and spacious. The whole house and been redecorated inside and out. The house had new flooring, carpets in the bedrooms, and living rooms, wooden flooring in the hall and vinyl in the kitchen/diner. New beds, new wardrobes and desks had been put in every bedroom. There was a new extending table and six chairs in the diner and the lounge now had two matching leather sofas and two armchairs. She and her dad had popped into Curry’s to get a big TV for the lounge and they found there was an offer on for 24” sets, so on a whim she bought four, one for each bedroom.
The last time she had been up to visit the house with her dad he had pointed out that the small rear garden was a mess and the grass needed cutting. A quick look at the local trader’s guide, which had come through the letterbox, found her a jobbing gardener who she signed up to keep the grass cut, the garden tidy and he had promised to put in bedding plants in the spring. Jinnie was delighted with how the house had turned out. She thought it not only looked good, but should be a nice place to live for the next two years and she just hoped her housemates agreed. She had given them all the address, had door keys cut for each of them and she planned to distribute when they arrived, which was why she had arrived early, that and the fact she wanted to be installed in the big front bedroom before anyone else had designs on it because it was the only bedroom that was en suite!
Jinnie was sat at the table having a bacon roll for lunch when the new Westminster Chimes doorbell sounded. It was Nigel and he must have passed his driving test in the summer as he had an old Vauxhall Corsa parked next to her Mini. Jinnie thought that the problem of meeting up with Carmilla was fixed. She handed over a front door key and told him to go and pick a bedroom, but not the big front one no.1, while she finished her lunch. He came back a few minutes later and said he would have the room with number 4 on the door. Jinnie handed over the keys for bedroom 4 and told him there was a load of bacon in the fridge if he wanted to join her.
Nigel was buttering a roll for his bacon when the door chimes sounded again. This time it was Carole, Jinnie was just about to ask where Jason was when she realised he was getting their bags out of a taxi. Carole stood on the doorstep looking up at the house, her first words to Jinnie were, “Wow, how did you manage to find this house, it’s lovely.” Jinnie replied that she hadn’t seen inside yet, but she guessed she was just lucky. Jinnie said bedrooms 2 and 3 were for them and handed over the keys. Nigel shouted from the kitchen, should he make Bacon rolls for them and Jason shouted back, “Brown sauce please.”
That evening they were all sat in the lounge enjoying a bottle of Merlot, chatting about their respective summers and what they thought the future held for them when Jinnie asked if they had seen the TV reports of the German Resistance destroying the new fighter aircraft and the factory that made it. They all had, in fact they could hardly have missed it, the media had been full of it for weeks and the powers that be had leaked satellite pictures of the burnt-out factory and offices and the wrecked plane at the end of the runway.
Carole said she admired their bravery and hoped they had got clean away. Nigel agreed and so did Jason who added he wondered if they had any help? Jinnie asked what he meant and Jason said he felt that they would have needed support to have pulled off something so spectacular. He added that during the summer he had learnt that such a major operation would have needed a lot of expertise and planning and he felt sure that one of the allied nations must have helped them. Jinnie refrained from telling him how right he was. But she did ask them did they think they would be that brave if it had been happening in Britain.
Jason said he’s wasn’t sure, he would need to think about it. He had learnt a lot about the SIS over the summer and was amazed what agents were doing he just didn’t really know if he was brave enough. Nigel joined in saying he was sure it had been a British operation as he had seen message intercepts at GCHQ that showed a couple of agents had been involved, although security had been really tight and he knew no more. He continued saying that he didn’t think he was cut out to do that sort of thing himself but he was ready to support anyone who was. Carole said that as far as she was concerned she was right behind anyone who was against the Germans. She had learnt just how nasty they had been and what they had done in Britain while working for the SIS over the summer. She said she couldn’t understand why the general population hadn’t yet been told just how evil the Nazis were.
Jinnie said she agreed with them, but wondered how others might feel who weren’t in a position to know about the things they knew? Nigel said he had talked to Camilla and her parents about the attack as he had been at their house when the news broke. They had been all for the Resistance but then her parents were in the military. Jinnie was happy that so far she was learning what people were thinking but so far all the people were associated with either the military or SIS. She needed to talk to her classmates and Able Section as they could be involved in any fighting.
Back in Potters Bar Penny had a huge shock on the first day of term. As she strolled into Dame Alice Owens school she was collared by her year tutor and told that the headteacher wanted to see her in her study immediately. Penny wondered what she had done wrong as she climbed the stairs leading to the headteacher’s office. The secretary greeted her with a smile and said, “Hello Penny, please go straight in she’s waiting for you.”
The head was sat behind her desk as Penny entered and seeing Penny’s worried face said, “It’s OK Penny, actually it’s good news. You are of course aware that with Karen leaving for university we need to appoint a new head girl? Well, the teachers have had a discussion and we have agreed unanimously that if you would like to accept the position it is yours”.
Penny was staggered, although she had been elected a senior prefect the previous year she had assumed that Karen’s deputy, Lucy would get the post. The headteacher explained that Lucy’s family had moved away during the Summer so a whole new top team were required and there was no time for the usual election by fellow sixth formers and teachers. There was also to be a new head boy, Daniel Rowley, who Penny had always rather fancied but he had never shown any interest in her. Mrs Clarke said she was sorry to rush Penny but they had only learnt Lucy wasn’t returning a few days ago and it was normal to introduce the new head girl and head boy at the first assembly of the year when they would be presented with their badges and it was due to take place in 25 minutes at 09:30.
Penny said she would be delighted to accept and Mrs Clarke rose out of her swivel chair and shook her hand, saying that Penny had better hurry to the six form centre for registration and she would see her in the main hall shortly. Penny was utterly stunned and as she hurried to the sixth form block she found herself shaking. Entering the upper sixth it was clear that her fellow pupils already knew as they clapped her and rushed around her as she made her way to her desk. For the first time ever Daniel smiled at her and said warmly that he was really looking forward to working with her as they had a number of formal events to attend and they had the head pupils charity to name and raise money for.
The assembly passed in a haze, Penny barely remembered being called on to the stage and shaking hands with all the senior teaching team before the headteacher pinned the head girl badge on her blazer in front of the applauding assembled school. She was invited to stand next to the deputy head teacher while Daniel went through the same procedure. He then came over and stood next to her and shook her hand, which he held on to for what Penny thought was perhaps just a little longer than strictly necessary. Well, he had definitely noticed her now.
When Penny got home from school her mum wasn’t in yet, so when she hung up her blazer on the coat hooks in the hall she arranged it so the badge could be seen. She was busy sitting at the dining room table just finishing her first homework of the year when her mother got home. Her mum rushed into the dining room and hugged her. Eventually, she let her go and asked Penny why she had not told her she had been elected head girl when the class had voted last year. Penny explained that it should have been Lucy but her family had unexpectedly moved during the summer and she was the replacement. Mrs Walsh said she didn’t care how it came about, the important thing was she was head girl.
Jinnie had a good first day of term her French class was a piece of cake, she was really happy with her progress. Then she spent the afternoon with Cate speaking, reading and writing Italian. She tried asking Cate about the attack on the fighter project but because it happened in France she was not very forthcoming. Jinnie decided she would have to find another way to approach her. Perhaps there would be an incident in Italy they could discuss.
That evening she was on duty at the student bar. One of the barmaids who worked the same shifts as Jinnie had graduated and they were short-handed and the bar manager had phoned Carole to ask if she would mind changing to the same shift as Jinnie as he could get someone to work most of the shifts Carole had been doing but he needed to cover Monday’s and Tuesdays in particular. Carole had jumped at the opportunity. The new house was a bit too far away from the bar to walk and this meant she could get a lift from Jinnie rather than get the bus.
That first Monday was a bit quiet and between serving Carole was continuing the conversation with Jinnie about the Resistance in the occupied nations. A couple of students sitting at the bar were listening and joined in the conversation. They said that if countries wanted to be free they should be allowed to be. Jinnie pointed out to them that the Nazis were not inclined to let countries walk away from the Third Reich. They had been integrated into the Third Reich by Germany by being conquered and the only way they were going to be able to leave was by fighting, just as Britain had done. One of the lads thought about this for a while and then said, “Well, I guess they will have to fight then, but they will need some help as there is no way the Resistance in any country is going to overthrow the German military it is just too big and powerful.” Jinnie asked him if he thought Britain should help and one said yes and the other said no. Jinnie pointed out that the Commonwealth and the United States had come to the UK’s aid so perhaps the UK should help others gain their freedom. In any case, she added, the Nazis needed to be taught a lesson over the extermination of so many people. This was news to the students and they asked Jinnie what she was alluding to? Jinnie started off by explaining about Golders Green, the Jews and the “Final Solution”.
The lads listened intently as did another student who had just come in. At the end of her story one of them said, “That’s just a tale, if it were true it would have been on TV.” Jinnie assured him it was true and there were many reasons it was not common knowledge, not the least of which was that the Germans were hardly going to boast about the events of 75 to 80 years ago when they had been running Britain. But surely they remembered how the school books under the Nazis had vilified all Jews, Slavs, Arabs and blacks calling them inferior. The more she talked to her generation the more she realised that the story of the “Final Solution” needed telling far and wide, on TV, in the Press, in new school textbooks, if the prime minister was going to get a public opinion in favour of helping the French and Italian Resistance to free their countries.
Wednesday evening was, as usual, CUOTC night but Able Section were no longer part of the green newcomers, they were entering the second year and there were a load of newbies to laugh at. Jinnie was delighted to see all the section were back as she felt they were coming together like a well-oiled machine. This year they were no longer being taught how to be a team player, how to handle small arms, basic map reading, drill, first aid and other basics but were to move on to things like leadership, man management, giving effective orders and operational planning. Jinnie was beginning to see why Dirk had wanted her to join the OTC.
Being quite a big corp as well as the junior under officers, there were 3 chief junior under officers and a senior under officer. One of the existing chiefs and the senior had graduated in the summer and left the unit. One of the chiefs was made to senior by the instructors, meaning that there were two chief positions up for grabs and Jinnie was delighted to be told she was to be appointed to one of the vacancies. Mike, the orienteer, was made up to the Able Section JUO, a decision Jinnie thoroughly approved of.
Sergeant Thompson told Jinnie that when it had come to appointing the two new chiefs the regular army instructors had a meeting to select them. Her name was the first mentioned and had been a unanimous decision. On that first Wednesday Able Section were more than happy to be having a lecture on planning an attack while they could hear the new section being shouted at by the drill sergeant. The first weekend of the term there were no exercises organised so Sergeant Thompson asked Jinnie to make herself available for an inter-unit shooting competition at Southampton. Jinnie was happy to agree as she would probably have spent the afternoon practising her pistol skills anyway as she had rather neglected them over the summer break.
Following the lecture Able Section adjourned to the bar. Jinnie spent the first ten minutes in the bar getting aquatinted with the other CJUOs and the SUO before rejoining what she still thought of as her section. Jinnie steered the conversation round to the Resistance movements in the various occupied countries and what her fellow cadets thought about fighting with or for them. Once again the view was that if they wanted freedom from the Nazis then they deserved to be supported but whether it should be by supplying arms and materials or with manpower was hotly debated and divided the opinions in the section. Jinnie wanted to know how much her fellow cadets knew about the Nazis’ ‘Final Solution’ and the clearances of ‘New Territories’. The answer seemed to be very little. Jinnie started to tell them about Golders Green and Leeds but had hardly got further than the basics before the bar was closing and she was cut short. The section were eager to learn more and made Jinnie promise to tell them more the following week.
On Friday evening Gretel phoned Jinnie. She had found that amongst her university friends the view seemed to be that they generally viewed the occupied countries favourably but were unaware of them fighting the Germans or of a good reason to fight for them. Jinnie asked Greta if she had told them about Nazi atrocities but Gretel said she didn’t know enough herself to talk about it. Jinnie decided to phone her sister and ask if she was finding the same thing from her friends. The story was the same, lots of sympathy but a split opinion as to if they were worth fighting for.
Jinnie began to realise the problem was that it was around 70 or 80 years since many of the ‘Final Solution’ events had occurred and that knowledge of them had been suppressed by the Ministry of Information during the intervening years. In addition, no publicity was being given to the actions of the Resistance in the various Third Reich nations. Jinnie went to bed that Friday night not knowing what to do. On Saturday morning she had the germs of an idea but she needed to talk about it to the prime minister. Should she wait for him to call her or could she get a call through to him.
In Chapter 20 – Jinnie’s idea.