Easter term didn’t start until 27th April which meant that Jinnie and her flatmates were looking at working for the SIS for around 3 weeks after Easter. To make it easier on them they were sent to nondescript offices fairly close to their homes. However, Jinnie was sent to the head office in Vauxhall, where she spent time in several different departments. On the first day, she was told that she was working for the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and that the name MI6, by which they were widely known, had never actually been their name. One of the nice things was that she was able to live at home in Potters Bar and commute daily by train into London. She quickly decided that although she liked working in London she hated commuting and if she were going to have to spend a lot of time in Head Office she was going to look for a central London flat.
During her second week, the department she was temporarily attached to had a special report for the PM’s ‘eyes only’. The lad whose job it was to take such things to No 10 was off sick and as someone who could easily be spared for an hour or two Jinnie had a locked briefcase, containing the report, chained to her wrist. She was shoved into the back of an official car and a short while later found herself being driven through the steel gates that guarded Downing Street. The driver had to stop at the end of the road leaving her to walk the last 50 metres past the press pack who stood behind the barriers on the other side of the road. Fortunately, they ignored her. One of the armed policemen who were on guard outside No 10 spoke into his radio as she approached the front door and as if by magic it swung open.
The uniformed policemen on the door welcomed her into the hallway and pointed to an ante-room with several chairs, that served as a waiting room. She was told someone would be along shortly to escort her to the prime minister. She had only been waiting for a few minutes when a cat appeared at the door, took one look at her and walked over to rub himself around her legs. Jinnie reached down a stroked him and started talking to him. She wracked her brain for his name. It had only been in the paper a few weeks ago when he had celebrated his 10th year as the official mouser. Suddenly it came to her, this was Larry the Cat, who was reputedly extremely fussy over who he allowed to pet him.
When the secretary appeared to take her to the PM, Jinnie and Larry were getting on famously and he was purring like mad. As they walked up the famous staircase, with all the pictures of previous PMs on the wall, the secretary pointed to Larry who was following them and said, “You have made a friend there.” The secretary tapped on the PM’s office door and entered announcing, “The SIS messenger, sir.” Without looking up from a pile of paperwork on his desk the PM pointed to a chair. Jinnie just beat Larry to the chair so he leapt into her lap and curled up.
The PM signed the document he had been reading and finally looked up. A smile spread across his face and he said in German, “Good afternoon Miss Walsh, I thought you were at Cambridge and now you’re an SIS messenger!” Jinnie explained that she was sponsored at Cambridge by the SIS and that meant she could be called in to work for them in the college holidays. As the office dogsbody, she had had this job dropped on her. The PM nodded sagely, took a key from his pocket and unlocking the briefcase from her wrist dumped it on his ornate desk. Before she could move to leave Mr Farage slumped into the chair opposite her, looked at his wristwatch and said, “Please stay a few minutes. I have had an idea running through my mind for a while now and I’d like to test it on you. So let’s talk about it over tea and biscuits. While waiting for it to come you can tell me about your trip to Nice.”
Not for the first time, Jinnie realised that the PM knew a lot more than he let on. Not knowing how much he knew, she gave a quick overview of the whole trip starting and ending with the Wrens but missing out Paolo’s proposal, finishing just as the tray of tea arrived. The PM asked if she had missed anything out and Jinnie said she didn’t think so, but the PM knew about her engagement. That could only have come from a report by Simone. He offered her his congratulations on her engagement and asked when she hoped to marry. She explained that he was Italian she had no idea, but the PM said anything was possible and moved to a different subject.
The PM explained that he didn’t trust the opinion polls, you only had to look at their predictions for the election he said. He continued, saying he had been think of taking the opinions of a number of “ordinary” people and how would she feel if he phoned her occasionally to run an idea past her and her friends and colleagues. Jinnie thought for a moment and then agreed. She asked if he needed her mobile phone number. To which he replied, “Of course not MI5 gave me it weeks ago.”
To stand up Jinnie had to wake up Larry and lift him to the floor. The PM chuckled and said “I have never seen him take to someone so quickly. It was nearly a fortnight before he would happily let me stroke him, but he does seem to like women better than men.” The PM shook Jinnie’s hand, thanked her for bringing the briefcase, hoped he had not got her into trouble for detaining her so long and said he would be in touch. She was escorted to the black front door by the secretary and Larry and found herself on the pavement with Larry at her side. She bent down and said goodbye to Larry, who meowed back, and she headed for the office car.
Jinnie was back in Cambridge for the start of the new term. This term had to be taken seriously as there were 1st-year exams to be sat and a failure would mean a wasted year. Of course, for Jinnie it was odd, she was officially taking a German with French degree but the German portion was non-existent as she was having the special Italian lessons and she would face no exams for either of these languages. However French was a different matter, there would be exams here and although she was confident with the conversational and written side it was some of the classic French literature she was a bit more worried about, as the lecturer was not the best. Still, it was the same for everyone in her set and her term marks had been OK.
The special sniper course has only lasted two weekends into the new term before Jinnie was passed out. She was relieved to be back with Able Section for weekend exercises. There had been some discussion as to whether it was possible to award her the Crossed Rifles with an S above them badge that snipers wear, in the end she had been presented to her by a senior officer. She had now sewn it on her uniform and had to explain to the rest of Able Section what it was. Sergeant Thompson was like a cat who had got the cream because he was now qualified as a spotter for a sniper. At the first inter-unit shooting competition after the award, the opposition saw the badge and accused the Cambridge OTC of bringing in a ringer. Jinnie was getting used to the complaints.
Her flatmates had enjoyed their ‘holiday jobs’. Nigel had got to play with some powerful advanced computers and had said he had seen things he never dreamed were possible but, even though they had all signed the Official Secrets Act, he couldn’t talk about it. It was obvious he was itching to get back to it in the summer and to put some of the maths he was learning into use. Jinnie asked him about Camilla and he said she was amazed at the research that was being done at Porton Down and too was looking forward to the summer. They had decided that they would be able to marry as soon after graduating as possible as they would now not owe anything and both have good jobs. The big question was where they would live as he didn’t know where he would be posted. Carole and Jason were both happy with their placements however neither was clear what the SIS had planned for them.
When it came to Jinnie’s turn to talk about her Easter posting, she had told them about her spell at Vauxhall and her meeting with the PM and Larry the Cat. Carole was more interested in hearing about Larry than the PM as she was a cat person.
As the term progressed, Jinnie met with Dirk on several occasions, normally a Wednesday lunchtime in the refectory. He had a remarkable knack of appearing just as she was finishing eating and staying for a cup of coffee, discussing what was happening in the world and the progress of the four flatmates before disappearing. Jinnie felt she was wasting her time telling Dirk anything, he already seemed to know everything. A couple of days after taking the first year exams and weeks before the results were due to be posted he was congratulating her on her excellent exam results and telling her to pass on his congratulations to the others on their results. He even knew all about the exercise that Able Section had just partaken in on the Yorkshire moors where use of GPS had been banned and Jinnie had been able to to use her new map reading skills to successfully lead the section to their objective. But a fortnight before end of term he had told her there would be a new mission for her at the start of the summer holidays.
On the penultimate day of term, the four flatmates went out for an end of year meal together. As always where to eat was a major discussion, but in the end they settled for a Toby Carvery. Carole was delighted to inform them that she and Jason had decided to get engaged and that they were both being sent to SIS headquarters in Vauxhall for the summer. Jinnie said she was also going to be based there but she had been told that she was going to be sent on several courses so she didn’t know how much of them she would be seeing. Nigel was going to spend the summer on secondment to GCHQ and was looking forward to it, but was worried about the logistics of seeing Camilla who was going to spend the summer at Porton Down.
For the second year they had to find their own accommodation and Jinnie asked how they felt about renting a flat or house together. She pointed out that they all got on together and it would be easier to keep their common secrets. She was delighted when they all agreed as she had already purchased a four-bedroom house on a bus route to the college. Her dad had helped her sort everything out and felt that spending some of her inheritance on a house was a decent investment. She told them she would look for somewhere and let them know as soon as she had secured something. She intended to get them all paying a reasonable rent to an anonymous landlord who in truth was her!
The results were posted on the last day of term and while Jinnie’s classmates pushed and shoved to see the results she stood back and waited for the melee to ease. Ten minutes later she got to see the printout on the notice board. She was top in her group for French and once again third in her German group. She couldn’t help wondering where she would have been in German if she had attended any lectures! Of course her Italian lessons were unofficial but Cate had told her she was delighted with her progress and said that if she what been a ‘proper’ student she would be heading for a first-class honours degree. It was then back to finish clearing out the flat and loading her car. She wondered if she should take her stuff to her new house or home and decided it was better not to leave things in an empty house over the summer and set off for Potters Bar.
Jinnie was only going to be home for the weekend before she had to report on Monday for a briefing on her ‘mission’. She decided to make it a normal weekend and just tell the family she was going on a course on Monday. Friday night at home was as usual fish and chips night, then Jinnie and Penny walked to the pub to meet friends and to celebrate Jinnie’s 20th birthday that was to be on Monday. Gretel was sitting in a booth with a couple of other of their girlfriends when they walked in. While Penny went to the bar for drinks, Gretel patted the banquette seating next to her for Jinnie to sit down and whispered to her, “I need a word with you.”
Twenty minutes later Gretel headed for the ladies and dragged Jinnie with her. After checking all the cubicles were empty Gretel got down to interrogating Jinnie, asking if it was her who had suggested the SIS should approach her. When Jinnie said ‘yes’ she suddenly hugged her and said how delighted she had been when contacted but had been racking her brain to work out who had recommended her. Then she remembered their earlier conversation and guessed. She had been only to happy to sign up and the extra money was very useful. She was also going to be in Vauxhall for the summer and suggested they could commute together. Jinnie said she would like that but was going on a residential course on Monday but was only expecting to be away a week. Her mum pointed out that Monday was the 21st and was the first new Victory Day bank holiday and her birthday. Jinnie just shrugged, there was nothing she could do about it.
On Monday Jinnie reported, as directed, to the new SAS barracks in Hereford and was shown to an empty briefing room. Sitting waiting Jinnie was pondering on just what the upcoming mission could be and as she was in Hereford was it to be a joint mission with the SAS? After a couple of minutes, she was joined by an SAS corporal, who walked straight up to her and shaking her hand said, “Good morning Miss Walsh, lovely to meet you again.” Jinnie suddenly realised it was the SAS trooper who had been stationed in the loft of her family home. Jinnie said, “Hello corporal, you were only a trooper when we last met.” The corporal grinned and told her that after the war he had opted to stay in and had been rewarded by two quick promotions. He believed he had been chosen for this mission because he knew her, he spoke German was a ‘sharpshooter’ and demolition specialist.
It was only when the corporal mentioned speaking German that Jinnie realised that he had been talking to her in German and she had replied in German. Once again she was shocked how naturally it had come to her! Their conversation was cut short by two officers and a civilian joining them. The mission was quickly explained. It was to be a joint SIS/SAS operation because it involved inserting a pair of agents into Germany. The story was that Germany had been developing a new fighter jet utilising a Rolls Royce engine design. Although the research, design and prototype engine had been carried out in Derby the Germans had been planning to have a joint production of the engine with MTU on the outskirts of Munich. They had duplicate drawings and manufacturing plans from occupation days. Later that week the taxi trials of the new plane were to take place on the runway of the MTU plant where the engine was being mated to the airframe.
The mission called for a sniper to put a hollow point round into the jet engine expecting it to wreck the engine and hopefully the aircraft by detaching fan blades and causing a fire. The problem was the air intakes for the twin engines were shaped to slow the air entering the jet engine when flying at supersonic speeds. The intake had variable geometry plates on the inlet and the air path curved to the jet engine. A bullet fired into the inlet had virtually no chance of entering the jet engine. It had to be shot into the tailpipe from the rear, but because of the jet’s exhaust it could not be done from very close. The plan also called for the much of the plant manufacturing the engine to be destroyed whilst the crash of the prototype distracted the workers in the factory.
Jinnie was to be the shooter and the corporal was to lead a team from the German Resistance to demolish the manufacturing plant. They were to be flown across the channel in a light aircraft, landing in France, where the Resistance were to meet them and escort them to the station for train to Paris, where they were to change for Munich. In Munich the German Resistance would meet them and get them to the target, they would also supply the sniper rifle and explosives. The return route was to be the train via Brussels to Ostend, where the Belgium Resistance would guide them to the pickup point for the return flight.
Like on her trip to France Jinnie was to take on the persona of a student. This time she was a young German university student studying in Paris returning home to Munich for the summer break and for the return trip to Ostend she was to be supplied, once in Germany, with fresh documents as a Belgian student returning to Ostend from Munich. The corporal was in both cases to be her boyfriend, Stefan on the way out and Stéphane on the way back. Jinnie’s paperwork had her as Isabelle which worked in both German and French. Just like on her excursion to Nice they were to go into the Third Reich in a ‘sterile’ state with nothing on their persons that would identify them as British. Once again they were to be be dressed in clothing made in the Third Reich and carry paperwork that was expertly forged and indistinguishable from the real thing. This meant another trip to the central clothing in Portsmouth and being fussed over by the two Wrens.
Jinnie volunteered to drive ‘Stefen’, whose real name turned out to be Steven, to Portsmouth and they set off in her Mini. This time she knew what to expect and parked in the same spot as her last mission. The two Wrens greeted her like old friends and obviously knew Steven as they chatted to him before he was led away by two matelots to the male stores. The Wrens had been well briefed and knew that this was only scheduled to be a quick trip not requiring many changes of clothes to be carried in Jinnie’s French hold-all. Just as she was leaving the prettier of the two Wrens produced a traditional German engagement ring and slipped it on to Jinnie’s ring finger of her left hand explaining that in Germany the engagement ring often becomes the wedding ring at the marriage and was then switched to the right hand.
A Range Rover in a civilian colour scheme was waiting for them outside the warehouse ready to take them to Shoreham airport. Their night flight across the Channel was to be in what appeared to be a civilian Cirrus SR22T G6 but was in fact maintained and flown by the RAF. The four-seater was the latest model with the upgraded instrument fit and the addition of some military equipment such as the digital radio and latest radar. The hop across the channel was nothing for a plane with over a 1000 miles range even though it would fly at low level to avoid German radar.
After a completely uneventful flight, the Cirrus put down in a field close to Sainte-Marguerite-sur-Mer that had a temporary runway marked out on it by the French Resistance. On the command of the pilot, the runway lit up just before the plane landed and as soon as it came to a halt the lights went out. At the end of its landing run the plane turned through 180 degrees and lined up to take off. The co-pilot told them to deplane and no sooner than Jinnie had closed the door behind her was the plane moving to take off. This time there were no runway lights just a single light at the far end of the field to aim at. Steven explained that both pilots had donned night vision goggles as it was easier to take off than land.
Before the plane was in the air Jinnie and Steven were hustled into a car by the Resistance and were driven away. The plan called for them to be driven to Dieppe Station for the early morning train to Rouen where they would connect with the train to Paris Saint-Lazare arriving at about 07:40. They had to make the 15 minute trip by bus or metro and a short walk to Gare De l’Est for the TGV to Mannheim and a change onto the ICE to Munich, where the German Resistance would meet them. These arrangements got them to Gare De l’Est around an hour before their TGV so Jinnie and Steven opted to have some breakfast while waiting.
The ICE pulled into Munich Hbf at 15:30 and as they passed through the ticket barrier they spotted a man in a chauffeur’s uniform holding up a sign with their German names on it. Within 20 minutes they were in a safe house discussing the mission with a local Resistance leader who asked Jinnie what part of Munich she was from. Jinnie realised that her German accent was holding up but replied that it would breech security to tell him. The mission was on for the next day and Jinnie was to be brought sniper rifle at the shooting point, while Steven’s team would be bringing the explosives and weapons he required.
The car carrying Jinnie dropped her off at the edge of a small wood and another Resistance man emerged from the tree line and beckoned her over. He had a ghillie suit and a new looking L115A3 rifle and dum dum ammunition for her. He led her through the wood to a point on the other side were there was a good view of the end of a runway that Jinnie guessed was 1000 metres away. Donning the ghillie suit she crawled to the long grass at the edge of the wood and used the binoculars in the rifle bag to scan the area. At the far end of the runway Jinnie could see a hanger with its doors open and men working on an aircraft just inside. To one side of the hanger were several buildings that must be the offices and manufacturing plant Stevens team were to attack.
Switching to the laser range finder Jinnie measured the distance to the runway stop sign as 1019 metres, well within her capabilities, especially on a warm, still summer early morning. If it had been wet and windy she might have been more taxed. Crawling back into the tree line she settle down to check out the sniper rifle it looked to be in excellent condition and the Resistance man said it had been zeroed in the day before but of course the man who had done it was not an expert shot. Jinnie wished she had the opportunity to try a test shot or two but she just didn’t so she would have to trust that it had been set up correctly. The idea was that as soon as the plane was disabled she was to withdraw, hand the rifle and ghillie suit back to the resistance and head for the car which would take her to Munich station for the train to Ostend where the light aircraft was to pick them up. Ostend had been chosen for the return journey because there were plenty of routes there from Munich which despite having to change 3 or 4 times should get them there for an overnight pick up.
As Jinnie thought about her return journey she heard a diesel engine start up, heading back to the tree line Jinnie saw an aircraft tug pulling the slick-looking plane out of the hanger onto the apron. The tug released it’s tow and moved away. A generator truck was hitched up to the fighter and a few minutes later the jet engines fired up and the generator truck moved off. The plane went though several rounds of static tests with the engines being wound up to power before the brakes were released and the plane started moving under its own power. It headed down the taxiway, parallel to the runway, towards Jinnie who prepared to fire. The plane got to the end of the taxiway and turned out onto the runway where it halted by the stop board to run up the engines. Jinnie fired and it seemed to take ages before a puff of smoke came from the engine by which time a second bullet was on its way. The engine exploded with turbine blades spraying out into the second engine and flames engulfing the rear of the plane.
Jinnie was mesmerised by the destruction and only shook herself back into alertness when the pilot and co-pilot ejected. Jinnie grabbed the two ejected cartridge cases, fast crawled into the trees and stumbled into the resistance man. Hurrying to the car stripping off the ghillie suit as she ran, handing it and the rifle over. As she got into the car she heard distant gun fire followed by many explosions.
In Chapter 18 – Home for the Summer.
© WorthingGooner 2021