Jinnie drove her Mini into the car park at the university halls of residence and parked in a spot where she now knew the car would be visible from the flat. Looking up at the kitchen/diner window the light was on, not first back this time she thought. She had spent the last few days coming down from the high of her mission to France, not to mention Paolo’s proposal. She felt she had to tell her parents and sister. They would have to know one day, so better to tell them now and let them get used to it. Of course they wanted to know all about him, how she met him, how long had she known him, was she sure he was the one, how were they to get married when she couldn’t go to Italy and he couldn’t come to England? Some of their questions she could answer, but others she had no idea how things were going to work out. Penny wanted to know if he spoke English, Jinnie said not much, just Italian, German and some French. Penny said that’s alright then you can talk German to him in bed and was shocked when Jinnie reminded her she had been learning Italian for months and was already pretty good.
Jinnie found that all three of her flatmates were already back. Nigel had got back a few days early so that he could spend a few days in the apartment alone with Camilla. Carol and Jason had arrived back on Saturday as they had both been picked to play on Sunday. Jason who was an emergency replacement for the second fifteen, after a player had gone sick, was delighted for the promotion from the thirds. Carol was already a regular for the college ladies football first team had been training with her old Arsenal mates over the break at Boreham Wood and was always ready to play.
Nigel had been a little disappointed that his few days of passion looked like they were going to be cut short. Jason and Carol had told him that Camilla was more than welcome and she had only just left to get the train back to her university. Carol was very happy she had scored a tap in and got an assist when her corner had been headed home by “Big Belle” one of the centre backs. Jinnie asked why the centre back was called “Big Belle”. Carol said, “Because she’s 1.85 metres tall and called Belle”. What had really delighted Carol was that after the match she was told that on Wednesday she had been picked to play for the Cambridge University team against Leeds University. That meant she was on track to be a “university blue” if she could keep the place and play in the Varsity match.
Jason had also played well, but he had been punched in the mouth in a maul. Neither Jason nor the referee had seen who was responsible, but one of Jason’s teammates had. After the next scrum, one of the opposing front row was left rolling on the ground clutching his eye. Once again the referee didn’t see a thing. The good news was that the guy Jason had replaced had appendicitis and would be out for several weeks so Jason was to get a run in the seconds.
Jinnie got word from Dirk that she should come to his study on Monday morning instead of her Italian lesson and she felt a little nervous. She need not have worried, Dirk was smiling when she entered the study. His SIS bosses had been getting reports from France and the Gestapo had realised that the shooter had got clean away. They still didn’t know where the shot had come from. They had searched the apartment block roof, but not until 10 days after the incident when they had spread the search radius out to include it. By then, a couple of days of heavy rain had ensured that if there had ever been anything to find, there wasn’t anything to see when they got there. The Gestapo thought they had been looking for an SAS man, but didn’t know how he had got there, how he had got away or if he had been on his own or part of a team.
Dirk then got her to run through everything that had happened from the moment she had parked at Portsmouth to the moment she drove out of the main gate heading home. He took copious notes, occasionally asking questions. He particularly wanted to know what parts of the plan had worked well and what could be improved on. He confirmed that sending her to stay with Simone had been his idea but that it had been a lucky coincidence that the foundation stone ceremony had coincided with the engagement party. Jinnie told him that Paolo had proposed to her and he said he hoped she had accepted. She said of course she had, and showed him her improvised engagement ring which she was determined she was going to carry until a replacement was forthcoming. Dirk congratulated her and told her he would now have to get his boss to sort out an Italian mission. But she would need to work even harder on her Italian lessons now.
Finally, Dirk said he had been following the progress of her flatmates and was contemplating telling them what the SIS had planned for them. What did she think? Did they have an inkling that their places at Cambridge had been manipulated? How did she think they would react? Jinnie told him that from her point of view it would be a relief if she didn’t have to hide her Italian classes from her flatmates anymore. That as far as she could tell they were all patriotic Britons. The only problem she could see was was Nigel and Camilla. Could Nigel keep a secret from her? As Jason and Carol were now a pair there would not be a similar problem there. Dirk scratched his head and thought for a minute. Suddenly Jinnie could see his expression soften, he was coming up with a plan.
Dirk said to Jinnie, “Remind me what Camilla is studying.” Jinnie replied, “Biomedical Science at Oxford I think”. Dirk continued, “Yes I thought I remembered that, do you know if it’s the three year course or the four year with a placement year in business somewhere?”
Jinnie answered, “I don’t know, but I can find out.”
“It doesn’t really matter.” Dirk said “I think I can make my plan work either way. Will you all be in the flat if I call in tonight at five?”
“I will make sure they are all there,” replied Jinnie.
Handily, only Jinnie planned to go out that evening. She was working in the student bar, but not until a bit later. Bang on five the door buzzer went and Jinnie, who had been ready for Dirk’s normal punctuality, spoke to him on the door phone and let him in. He was carrying a battered old attaché case. Jinnie gathered the other 3 in the kitchen/diner and introduced Dirk as Professor Scholz, her German vocabulary lecturer. Dirk chuckled and told them to call him Dirk. He explained that Jinnie’s German was probably better than his and he had lived and worked in Berlin for seven years. Jinnie was watching them carefully and could see them trying to make sense of what he was telling them. He continued telling them that was where he first met Jinnie, when she was studying at Adolph Hitler University in Berlin. Now they were looking at her strangely.
Next Dirk told them that at the time he was a serving SAS officer and that Jinnie had genuinely qualified to read for a Germany degree there, but she had also been recruited by the resistance to undertake an important mission. By now the other three were stunned and clearly didn’t know where this was going. Dirk continued telling them that Jinnie had been home for Christmas when the war of liberation broke out and clearly couldn’t return to her course. He had been injured and extracted and had taken up a post at Cambridge.
Jinnie realised that Dirk was only giving a very condensed version of events and wondered if she was in for a lot more questioning later. Dirk told them that in his earlier military days he had known the parents of all three of them and used his influence to get them into Cambridge. Now he got to the crux of the matter. He told them that although he was now a genuine German vocabulary professor he also held a second position as a recruiter for the SIS or MI6 as it was often called. It was really the SIS who had guided them to Cambridge because it recognised that each of them had talents that the secret service wanted to cultivate and use in the future. With them still stunned he explained that on completion of their degrees they would each be offered a post in the organisation, suitable to their education and abilities. In the meantime, the SIS was willing to pay for their degree courses and accommodation plus a monthly allowance. In return, they would need to sign the recently passed Official Secrets Act. With that, he pulled four copies of the Official Secrets paperwork from his attaché case and placed one in front of each of them together with a black biro.
He said to Jinnie, “With this new act, unfortunately you need to sign it. I have already.” Jinnie was only too happy to sign, she saw it as a way of getting back to Paolo. Jason and Carol looked at each other, nodded to each other and signed. Dirk witnessed the signatures. Only Nigel hesitated. He wanted to check if signing would stop him discussing things with Camilla. He said that for years they had shared everything, there were no secrets between them. Dirk told him that a colleague, who did the same job as him at Oxford, was currently making a similar offer to Camilla. She would, however, be offered a research job at Porton Down which also required signing the Official Secrets Act, so that should be no obstacle to him signing.
Dirk said, “We will backdate the university and accommodation fees to the start of the course, but the monthly allowance will only start now. Apart from you Jinnie, you have been on the books from the start of your course and have already been on a mission for the organisation so you can expect a back payment into your account.” Nigel asked if they needed his bank details and Dirk laughed and said, “What makes you think we don’t know them already. You will all be hearing from me, we might want you to earn some of the allowance!” With that, he picked up the signed documents and biros, dropped them into his briefcase and left.
They all started asking Jinnie questions at once. Jinnie checked her watch and realised that she was going to have to answer some of them, she had hoped she could have said she didn’t have time as she had to leave for the student bar, but she had ages before she had to leave. She held up her hands for them to be quiet and said, “OK, one at a time, but remember there will be things I just can’t tell you.” For the next three-quarters of an hour, she answered their questions, mostly in general terms, without much detail or naming people or places. But the other three sat in the kitchen/diner spellbound. When she said she had to go to work they suggested that they still had questions and would like to continue tomorrow. Reluctantly Jinnie agreed. As she walked to her room to get her coat, she heard Carol saying no wonder Jinnie always had money. Jinnie chuckled to herself she hadn’t mentioned anything about her inheritance or come to that her medal.
On Wednesday evening OTC was much as usual. Freddie was back on parade but was still hobbling and excused wearing army boots. After the first of the evenings training sessions, everyone was a bit more attentive to the First Aid session, even Freddie. They were briefed on the upcoming weekend exercise which was an overnight hike in the Brecon Beacons from which Freddie was excused. It was specifically designed to test their map reading skills. As the evening was breaking up Sergeant Thompson took Jinnie to one side and told her that orders had come down the line and that instead of the Brecon’s she would be taking a special class in using and maintaining the sniper rifle. She was to report to the barracks on Friday night and he would be escorting her to the Parachute Regiment and Household Regiment Sniper Training School at Pirbright, Surrey for the weekend. Army snipers usually operated as a two-man team with the second man acting as a spotter. The sergeant explained that the course was being especially adapted for her to take over a number of weekends, but the instructors couldn’t get their heads around the fact that she was a girl and already a decent shot. So as well as acting as her No 2, he was also going to be watching her back. They would be travelling to Pirbright on a number of weekends but he couldn’t yet say how many, as some aspects might be cut out of the course and others added. He explained that the course was usually split into marksmanship and fieldcraft. He wasn’t sure how relevant basic marksmanship training might be or donning a ghillie suit and hiding in a field. However, the fieldcraft included advanced map reading and that he said would be handy when the section had to TAB somewhere.
Jinnie however found the marksmanship module very useful, not only did it involve maintaining and cleaning the L115A3 long-range rifle but it taught her how to allow for the fall of the bullet over distance, the effect of wind and weather and the choice of bullet for various targets. She leant when to use a semi-jacketed, full metal jacket or hollow-point ammunition. How the barrel could be removed and replaced without having to re-zero in the rifle. In fact, she was taught how this remarkable weapon was probably the best sniper rifle in the world. She got used to the sergeant spotting for her but was careful to learn how to do it for herself as she was unlikely to have a trained spotter on a mission.
So the term proceeded, Jinnie’s French and Italian improved every week, she enjoyed working in the student bar even though it seemed to be getting busier every week. She kept up her gym sessions and ran most mornings. She was sure her fitness and stamina were much improved and wished she could take part in some of the weekend exercises Able section were taking part in, but almost all of her weekends were spent in Pirbright.
For Jinnie’s flatmates initially nothing changed, they just carried on with their courses as if nothing had happened but they were noticeably financially better off and eating out became more regular. However a week before their Easter break Dirk called on them and had all four of them report to anonymous office in a nondescript Cambridge building for induction into the SIS over Easter. They did get the long Easter weekend off so they could visit home. Nigel was happy though, Camilla was on the same induction course and stayed over with him in the flat.
Jinnie managed to get home on the early evening of Maundy Thursday. The first thing Penny said to her was that on her third attempt she had, a couple of days before, passed her driving test and was Jinnie going to keep her promise and buy her a car? Jinnie said, “Of course,” and did she still want a Nissan Micra? Subsequently, Jinnie, Penny and their dad found themselves in the nearest Nissan dealership in St Albans. Penny had been researching online and knew she wanted a car with a digital radio, air conditioning and a rearview camera preferably in brick red. Jinnie looked at a couple of Micras and realised that rather than add options to a mid-range model to get what Penny had her heart set on it was cheaper to go for a top of the range model. The only problem was colour. Yes, Penny could have a Nissan Micra NTec but if she really wanted red it was on two months delivery. But in the dealer’s compound was exactly the car Penny wanted but in turquoise blue and she could have it in a week, it just needed preparation. Penny said a tentative yes and the negotiations started. This was the third new car Jinnie and her dad had haggled with a dealer over in under a year and Jinnie knew Mr Walsh was good, so she sat back and watched her dad make the salesman work for his commission. 12.5% off and a few extras like carpet mats, a tank of fuel and a year’s car tax was as far as he could push the salesman. Shortly after Jinnie found herself writing a cheque for the Micra and being hugged by her excited sister.
On Saturday night Jinnie met a group of her old school friends in the pub. Chatting to them she realised just how quickly she was drifting away from most them of them. Her close friend Gretel was the exception. She had opted to go to Exeter University to read for a BSc in Criminology and, on top of learning about courts and prisons, and since the war of liberation, she had been learning about war and war crimes. She had been told of the Nazis “Final Solution” and what had happened to the Jews of Golders Green and Leeds, to British senior officers and to Russians. She and Jinnie chatted about these events, but the others found the subject “boring”. They just wanted to talk about boys, music, clothes and soap operas on TV. Most had gone into office jobs and were only interested in earning money and how quickly they could get drunk. Jinnie and Gretel were into different things, they watched the news and read newspapers and were the only two in the group who had voted at the election.
While the others got drunk, Jinnie and Gretel decided that this was not for them and decided to slip away and find somewhere to eat and talk. Jinnie suggested a Toby Carvery and Gretel liked the idea. The girls piled their plates and sat down to eat and chat some more. Gretel had been disgusted by what she had heard on her course and could not understand why the MSM were not pushing the story more. There had been a few articles in the ‘serious’ papers but the tabloids had mostly ignored the story as it was an event that happened 70 years ago. Jinnie said, “But it’s still happening today, not in the UK of course, but all over the Third Reich.” Gretel looked at her with surprise and wanted to know what she meant. Jinnie continued by saying that in countries under Nazi rule the mentally ill, the very old and infirm and political enemies still disappeared. Gretel expressed the opinion that this was disgusting and anyone involved needed to be held responsible.
By the time they were consuming desserts, Jinnie was tempted to tell Gretel that there were still people in the Third Reich that thought differently to the Nazis and were taking action even if hardly anything was reported in the UK, but she didn’t. It would be just too difficult to explain how she knew and what she had been doing without breaking the new Official Secrets Act. Instead, she resolved to talk to Dirk about Gretel and to suggest that if the SIS had a recruiter in Exeter that might do a lot worse than look at Gretel.
In Chapter 17 – A quick trip to Germany.
© WorthingGooner 2021