Jinnie’s newly enlarged team got down to work immediately, hitting the phones to the contacts. The military were as helpful as the SIS hadn’t been and a kick-off meeting was arranged for 4 o’clock in a hastily booked big meeting room with break out meetings to follow in smaller side rooms. Looking at the clock, Jinnie decided her next major task was to talk again with Dirk but as it was not quite lunchtime it was too early to ring him. As it was Wednesday she knew he would be in his study after lunch, he was never involved in the regular sports afternoon. Instead Jinnie phoned Emma and asked her if she was ready for an early lunch. To which Emma replied, “I’m always ready to eat, I will see you there.”
Jinnie told her team she was going to grab a quick lunch as she anticipated a long afternoon and probably evening. Reaching the canteen she found Emma tucking in to plateful of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Jinnie, ever conscious of her weight, opted for a ham salad. Jinnie updated Emma on the arrangements for the afternoon meeting and explained it worried her that her team were going to be late into the evening then using public transport home. Was it possible to have camp beds in the office? They would probably save 3 hours traveling time a person. Emma looked at her in astonishment and said, “You really are still finding your way around here. We have arrangements with local hotels for just this sort of thing. Let me know how many rooms you need and I will confirm a late arrival with the Travelodge over the road. But you are a higher grade and entitled to stay at the 4* Staybridge Suite 10 minutes walk away, the other side of Vauxhall Gardens.” Jinnie told Emma that if a Travelodge was good enough for her team it was good enough for her and to book five late arrivals and five full English breakfasts for the next four nights.
When Jinnie got back to her office the team were all eating sandwiches at their desks and for a moment she felt guilty for having a proper lunch break, but she quickly justified it to herself as it was her reporting arrangement. She briefly called the team together and explained that she had arranged overnight accommodation for them all if they had to work late. But if they couldn’t stay late she understood and told them to let anyone who would be likely to miss them know ASAP. Jinnie rang Paolo at the Italian Embassy to let him know she almost certainly wouldn’t be home until next Tuesday at the earliest. Not to forget to feed Larry and to tell him she missed him and would be back next week. Just as she was about to say her goodbyes she suddenly thought about clean clothes and asked him to put some stuff in a hold-all and she would met him at Vauxhall tube station if he rang her first.
Jinnie rang off from Paolo and was in the middle of punching in Dirk’s mobile number when there was a knock on her office door. She called “Come in” and Emma walk in carrying a laptop. She explained to Jinnie that ‘C’ had decided to loan her to Jinnie for the next few days saying it was obvious that Jinnie needed her organising ability and experience around the building more than he did for the rest of the week. A desk was on its way and IT were already resetting her network access point to one of the spares in Jinnie’s office. Jinnie was delighted, Emma knew her way around the system and had a high level security clearance. Emma added, “I hope you don’t mind but I took the liberty of booking an extra room in the Travelodge.” Jinnie said, “Of course not, welcome to the team.”
Dirk answer his mobile on the second ring with a brisk “Hello”. Jinnie said, “Hi, it’s Jinnie can we talk?” Dirk said, “Yes, but not over an open phone. Can we meet?”. Jinnie answered, “Yes, but I need to chat soon and I am in the office with important meetings all afternoon and evening and will be staying in London overnight.” Dirk thought about things and said, “I can be at the Cross in around two hours, maybe less, it depends on the trains. As an active SIS officer I should have no problem getting in to the building, where can I find you?” Jinnie gave him her room number and typically he put the phone down without saying goodbye. Jinnie asked Emma to ensure Professor Dirk Scholz could get into the building without hindrance as she needed to meet with him urgently. Emma said, “Is that Colonel Dirk Scholz?” Jinnie said, “Yes, one and the same,” and Emma replied, “I would like to meet him, I have read his reports and escapades many times.” Jinnie said, “Well, you are about to do so.”
A receptionist rang Jinnie to say that Dirk Scholz had just triggered the entry turnstile and Emma popped out to meet him as he came out of the lift. Dirk was soon seated with Jinnie at her meeting table and Jinnie asked Emma to join them. Dirk looked questioningly at Jinnie who told him that Emma was ‘C’s secretary and on loan to handle administration. He could speak freely in front of her as she was one of the few people who had overall knowledge of this operation and he digested that and slowly said, “Alright”.
Jinnie explained to Dirk that she was likely to be inserted into Germany at the weekend and needed a partner. Dirk looked at her in amazement and said, “You realise, of course, that I am still on the sick list?” Jinnie laughed and said, “As much as I would like to take you Dirk, that wasn’t what I meant. I think the ideal person to accompany me would be a corporal named Steven, I suspect you know him. He was a private under Mick Sheppard, when they were gas men and spent hours in my bedroom. He speaks fluent German, is just the right age to play my boyfriend, we have worked together before and he knows Mick. I don’t think the SAS have any idea how urgent and important all this is and I don’t want them palming me off with just anybody.”
Dirk sat in contemplation for a minute and suddenly blurted out “Steve Ellis. I could picture him but couldn’t remember his surname for a moment, I must be getting old and stupid.” Turning to Emma he asked, “Do we have a secure line to Sterling Lines? I think I know just the man to talk too.” Emma replied, “Of course we have a secure line, GCHQ constantly monitor our secure lines and we have several people embedded in their operations.” ‘Ah Nigel’ thought Jinnie. Dirk was shown to Jinnie’s desk and told to dial #727 and he would be straight through to the Hereford switchboard. Once he was through to his target Emma suggested he engage the scrambling facility for added security. Dirk nodded approvingly.
Jinnie heard Dirk ask for Brigadier Robertson and say, “Good afternoon Bob, it’s Dirk can you engage the scrambler please.” After that he dropped his voice and Jinnie couldn’t hear what was being said. So she turned to Emma and asked how she remembered the number for the secure line to the SAS barracks amid all the other things she had to know. Emma said, “It all started as a little joke, ‘C’ couldn’t remember the numbers for anyone so I had our people set it up so that # was a secure line and 727 are the numbers on the dial for the letters SAS, MI6 is #646 and the PM is #6610.” The last example got Jinnie wondering why it was a 4 digit number and suddenly fell in that it equated to No10.
Dirk put the receiver back in its cradle and smiled at Jinnie saying, “That was easy, the brigadier was quite helpful as soon as I mentioned it was a VIP we were out to rescue. Steve is currently in barracks on standby and will be on the next train to London with orders to report to you on arrival.” Jinnie was shocked, how did Dirk know the woman we were looking for was a VIP, did he know it was the PM’s wife? Jinnie sent Emma off to sort out a pass for Steven Ellis. Taking the opportunity of being alone with Dirk she decided to probe a bit. Dirk, being a highly intelligent person, immediately realised what she was trying to find out and said, “Jinnie, unlike most people I happen to know the PM is estranged from his wife, she is German and she is called Kirsten. That is why I have done my level best to help, but I respect the need for security and haven’t told anyone.” Jinnie said, “Dirk, I have made an instant decision, I want you to stay and help plan this mission.” Dirk replied, “I thought you would never ask, of course I want in and I have already phoned in sick for the rest of the week.” Jinnie had another job for Emma, another room needed reserving at the Travelodge.
Jinnie asked Emma to find a desk and computer for Dirk saying she thought that it should be possible to squeeze another desk into her office. Emma shook her head and said, “No that won’t do. Colonel Scholz is entitled to his own office as his grade is a few levels above yours. I don’t know of a free office suitable for his pay grade.” Jinnie groaned, “Move me out then, give him this office if we are up against bureaucracy.” Dirk laughed, “Emma, just book out a small meeting room until Monday and I will use my company-issued laptop. I will need a scrambler phone and make sure I can lock the door. I can always use Jinnie’s filing cabinets.” Emma got straight onto it and Dirk was quickly installed in a 6 person meeting room, a short distance down the corridor.
When Jinnie, Dirk, Carole, Gretel and Emma arrived early for the 4 o’clock meeting Jinnie realised just how good Emma’s organisational skills were. The large meeting room table was laid out with new pads in front of each position as were glasses and bottled water. Bottles of various flavoured squashes lined the centre of the table interspersed with bowls of mint imperials and boiled sweets. On a side table sat a host of cups and saucers, numerous white Thermos jugs labelled coffee, hot water and cold milk, one of those boxes with various tea types including fruit teas and finally sachets of sugar, sweetener and non dairy creamer in case there was a veggie.
Jinnie bagged a place at the head of the table, on her left was Emma with a shorthand pad and a heap of biros, followed by Carole, Dirk was on her right and had brought his laptop which he had plugged into the power supply and a network point. Next to him was Gretel. Dirk suggested that the seat next to Gretel should be reserved for Steven who was expected to arrive during the meeting. Jinnie’s team were enjoying a coffee before the guests arrived when the phone in the corner buzzed and Emma hurried over to answer it. A few “Yeses” and “OK’s” later Emma announced, “Sergeant Ellis is in reception, I will go and get him.” Jinnie looked at Dirk and said, “How has he got here so quickly, I thought the train didn’t get in until 17:30.” Dirk just shrugged.
Steven accepted a cup of coffee and explained that the brigadier had realised the train was too slow and whistled up a helicopter that had dropped him at RAF Northolt and a police car had whisked him across London under blues and twos. How the Metropolitan Police had been drawn in to help he had no idea. Jinnie saw the hand of all-seeing PM in the mix somewhere.
The meeting participants started to arrive, the first were two army brigadiers and a lieutenant colonel from the Paras who Dirk new well. Next to arrive was a major whose uniform had no unit markings and was another of Dirk’s acquaintances. Dirk whispered to Jinnie he was Mick Sheppard’s SAS controller, unknown to the SIS Liaison Group who thought they controlled him, and he just happened to have been at the MoD for a few days.
The Royal Navy delegation was next, two captains and a commander. When the receptionist rang up to say they had arrived Jinnie caught the name Dobiecki and thought at least someone I know. When he arrived in the meeting room Jinnie was surprised he had an extra ring on his sleeve and was now a Captain. Jinnie congratulated him on his promotion and he said he now based at the Admiralty and his old boat was in the capable hands of his old XO who was now a commander. The boat was currently patrolling somewhere in the North Sea.
The RAF contingent of two wing commanders and group captain were the final military men to arrive, but they beat the SIS operations and liaison groups whose directors arrived both accompanied by various underlings. The last to arrive were the representatives of the printing section who produced all the forged documents required and legend writers.
Jinnie called the meeting to order and started off by pointing out that this meeting was going to discuss items of the highest security and although there would be lots of actions as a result of their discussions only the absolute minimum information needed to carry out those actions effectively was to be revealed. Jinnie then explain to all present that they were here to agree a plan of action to extract a lady from Gestapo custody in Berlin. The problem was speed, they had a deadline of Monday evening when the woman was scheduled to be on a train to a concentration/labour camp. Jinnie outlined the plan; to be flown, with Steven, to the continent, train to Berlin, meet up with Mick Sheppard, use his team to stop the train, overcome the guards, find the woman, free her from her manacles, free all the prisoners, transport her to the coast, board a submarine and land the woman in Portsmouth. She continued to say that the intention was to keep this meeting running until a detailed plan could be agreed and actioned.
Steven was the first to speak. He had a torrent of questions, do you want to fly in from Shoreham, are we to be boyfriend and girlfriend, will we be being clothed by Portsmouth, how many fighters does Mick have available, do we know where and how the train is to be halted, what armaments are available, do they have the equipment to break the manacles. Eventually Jinnie held up a hand for him to stop and said, “Much of that is what we are here to plan so let’s first decide what is the most urgent to do and work from there.” Jinnie stood and walked to the whiteboard. She said, “Personally I think where, how and when we stop the train is the most important. Anyone disagree or have a point to make?” Jinnie wrote ‘Train – Where, How, When’ on the board. The discussion agreed the ‘where’ would have to be down to Mick doing a reconnaissance but preferably somewhere remote but with road access. The SAS officer went off into a side room to contact Mick.
The meeting progressed slowly and by six o’clock quite a few details had been agreed and ‘heads up’ were being sent to various units. The Wrens in Portsmouth were on standby for Sunday evening, as where the RAF at Shoreham, the initial idea was to fly them into the Hamburg region from where there were plenty of fast trains Berlin, they where awaiting a call back from Mick for more information on the train. HMS Agamemnon, now the recognised submarine of choice for secret mission, was ordered to move close to the German coast. Jinnie and Steven were to reuse the IDs of their last trip as they had been unchallenged.
Jinnie called a halt for something to eat. Once again Emma had excelled, she had organised a delivery from a nearby branch of Nando’s. There were piles of chicken of all sorts, whole roast birds, chicken wings, chicken thighs, chicken burgers, chicken wraps, a couple of bean burgers for veggies, big bowls of salad, corn on the cob, garlic bread and chips, mountains of chips. Emma hadn’t forgotten dessert and there was chocolate cake and two types of cheesecake. Then there was Coke, Coke Zero, Fanta, Sprite and water. The guests fell on the food like they hadn’t eaten for a week. Jinnie filled a plate and found herself next to Dirk. She asked him how he thought it was going. He said, “So far so good, be we really need to hear from Mick now. His information is essential for us to proceed with any degree of assurance.” As he was speaking Jinnie was watching over this shoulder where Emma had just taken the SAS officer to a side room and come back to finish her chicken dinner.
Most of the food had disappeared, a stream of people had been down the corridor to the toilets and Jinnie was ready to restart the meeting but the SAS officer was still in the side room. Jinnie asked Emma what was going on and she explained Hereford had been on the line and she suspected he was patched through to Mick in Germany. Eventually, the officer came back into the room and sidled up to Jinnie and Dirk. Smiling, he whispered, “Good news, can I speak when you resume the meeting.” “Of course,” Jinnie replied, “I was only waiting for you.” “Can you wait two minutes longer? I must have a leak before we begin and I’m afraid it could be a while yet before we get away.”
Jinnie called the meeting to order and said she was handing over to the SAS major, who preferred to keep his name secret. The major explained he had just spoken with Mick and he had identified an ideal point on the train’s route a few miles from the Polish border. They had initially assumed the train took the mainline from Berlin to Warsaw but an agent inside DB had pointed out that the train actually took a quieter route that crossed into Poland near to Kostrzyn and then turned on to a special branch line that only served the camps. The spot Mick had identified was in the middle of farmland where the train ran through a cutting with two road bridges over it. Mick had suggested manipulating the signals and halting the train at them as within his group he had someone with the skills to do that. ‘Ah,’ thought Jinnie, ‘that sounds like Big Willie.” The major wondered if that was the best way, it probably wouldn’t hinder the Germans bringing up troops by train. He favoured bringing down the overhead power lines. Steven was nodding his head vigorously and interjected that he was a demolitions expert and it was simple to bring down several miles of overhead catenary by using small charges on the supports. Looking around the table he said, “That’s agreed then,” and carried on.
He said Mick wanted to take out the train driver before he could get a message off but that required a sniper. Steven said he was a sharpshooter but he couldn’t do two jobs at once. Jinnie then said, “That’s OK I’m a fully trained sniper.” That set off a lot of muttering around the table. Dirk jumped in saying, “I can assure you that is true and I would back her against the best you can offer. Who remembers the Nazi war criminal assassinated outside Nice 18 months ago with a single 1200 metre shot. I will give you one guess who the shooter was.” The major said, “That’s another tick then.”
The major continued, “Mick would like to get as many of the prisoners as far away as quickly as possible and to that end has started a collection of cars, vans and trucks. We talked about where to take people and we have agreed to move the fittest into Poland and hand then on to the Polish Resistance for possible movement to Sweden or to the Swiss border where, if we can get them across, they can legally cross into Italy. We can fly those unfit to Britain by a similar root to that used to get Jinnie and Steven in. We may even beg the Navy for permission to add a few to our extraction sub if we identify anyone important. Mick has asked for permission to involve Hanna Brant’s group, as it would nearly double the number of resistance fighters available. Oh, one last thing Mick has already got his people out visiting DIY stores and ironmongers buying hacksaws, bolt cutters, jemmies and crowbars to free those manacles. His tame railwayman says to be prepared for around 200 people, about twenty of whom are headed for the extermination camp. He did say that one or two may be beyond help and his fighters may have to sedate them.” Bringing in Hanna Brant’s unit was quickly agreed and the discussions moved on to the ability of the printers and legend writers to produce nearly 200 set of documents in short time.
The meeting broke up around 9:30 and everyone had their own action list. Jinnie’s team were going to coordinate everything and promises were made to keep them fully updated with any and all developments. Dirk shook hands with the SAS major and promised to come to the next old boy’s reunion at Hereford, although he had no intention. On his way out, Peter Dobiecki asked Jinnie if she really was as good a shot as Dirk had made out. An embarrassed Jinnie said, “Yes, I suppose I am”. Peter said, “You know the trouble with promotion and a desk job is that you miss the action. I used to love those nights laying at periscope depth waiting for the enemy. Don’t get too good at mission planning or you will be next out of the action.” As he turned to leave he added, “By the way I hope you like lamb Leg steaks, the new captain of the Agamemnon isn’t keen on fillet steak.”
It was half-past ten by the time Jinnie let herself into her room at the Travelodge. Her room was perfectly adequate, clean, comfortable, freshly decorated and there was a kettle for tea or coffee. She was so tired she simply had a quick wash, cleaned her teeth and hung up her business suit and blouse and climbed into bed in her bra and pants. She grabbed her mobile and caught Paolo as he was heading for bed. She asked if he had sorted her clothes and when he said “Yes” she had said could he meet her outside Vauxhall tube at about eight-thirty he said, “Of course,” and she told him how much she was looking forward to seeing him. He replied, “Good night my darling,” and as she went to kill the call she was sure she heard him say, “Larry sends his love.”
In Chapter 5 – Jinnie is back in Berlin.
© WorthingGooner 2022