When Jinnie got home, she was a little later than normal and Paolo had already started getting an evening meal together. Being an Italian he was making pasta. He had popped in the supermarket on this way from the station and had picked up the ingredients for a shrimp fettuccine alfredo which smelt wonderful. Over the meal, Paolo asked Jinnie how she had got on with her meeting with the PM. All the way home she had been wondering what to tell him. She didn’t want to lie to him, but this was top secret so she couldn’t tell him. She had eventually decided that she would just tell him he wanted her to try to locate someone but tell him not to ask too much as she couldn’t tell him. But he should be prepared for her having to go abroad again for a while.
The following morning Jinnie unlocked her office door to find Carole and Gretel waiting for her. Jinnie unlocked her desk and pulled out the printout of the notes she had hastily scribbled on the whiteboard the previous day. She explained to her team that the first thing that was necessary was to find out exactly where Kirsten was being held and by whom. They could then start looking at how they could release her and get her back to the UK. They had to answer the first two questions before they could start planning the ‘how’. Would they need a team from the UK? Could they use the local resistance? How to get into and out of Germany, if that was where she was being held? What condition was Kirsten in, both physically and mentally?
Jinnie told Gretel to start talking to the Operations Group, they ran a series of embedded agents and should have some information as to where Kirsten was being held, even if they had no idea who she was. Meanwhile, Carole was to contact Professor Dirk Scholz to see if he still had any contacts they could use. She was to find out if he was still in contact with the likes of Hanna Brant who had taken over his resistance group after his car accident or Big Willie who Jinnie had been on several operations with.
Jinnie decided to go straight to the head of the Liaison Group who worked with resistance groups in the various Third Reich countries. She looked up his extension number on the intranet directory and punched in the numbers on her scrambler phone. The phone was answered on the second ring and a pleasant voice answered, “Director Jones Office, my name is Diane, how can I help you”. Jinnie said, “Good morning Diane could you put me through to the director please.” Diane then said, “I am afraid the director rarely takes unsolicited phone calls. Perhaps if you could tell me what it is about, I can pass it on and he may phone you back.” Jinnie’s mind went back to a meeting in Downing Street when the PM had told the then newly appointed ‘C’ that some of his heads of departments were not pulling their weight.
Jinnie told the secretary that she was Mrs De Luca from Mission Planning and that the topic was top secret, extremely urgent and could only be discussed with the director. The secretary said she would speak to Director Jones and ring her back within 30 minutes. 28 minutes later an annoyed Jinnie’s phone rang. Diane said, “Hello Mrs De Luca, this is Diane, I have spoken to Director Jones and he says the best he can offer you is ten minutes at 2 o’clock on a week on Wednesday.” Jinnie was fuming. She asked Diane if she had told him it was top secret and extremely urgent. Diane said she had and that the director had looked her up in the internal directory and had said that, “He had no intention of being at the beck and call of every jumped up new appointment to Mission Planning.” Jinnie replied, “But this is highly important and cannot wait a week.” Diane added, “I am sorry Mrs De Luca, he was adamant.”
Jinnie put the phone down and did a bit of deep breathing with her eyes shut to recover her composure. Opening her eyes she found an agitated Gretel standing in front of her desk. Gretel explained that she had hit a brick wall with the Operations Group, not only had they refused to put her through to the departmental head but they had refused to talk with her saying that they had never heard of Mrs De Luca in Mission Planning and not to bother them again. Jinnie exclaimed, “And to think this lot planned and won a war.” Fortunately, the news from Dirk was better. He was busy teaching, but was to phone Carole in his lunch break.
At 12:30 Jinnie was sat in the staff canteen enjoying a quite decent tuna salad when Emma slid into the empty seat next to her. Emma greeted her and said that ‘C’ was interested in how her first morning had gone. Jinnie was only too happy to unburden herself to Emma explaining about the lack of cooperation from other departments. Jinnie mentioned the meeting she had attended at No 10 and Emma was clearly impressed. She said she understood the problem and told Jinnie that the restructuring of SIS was proceeding but getting rid of some of the time servers was proving difficult. She promised to pass the story on to ‘C’ as soon as he was back from the director’s lunchroom.
Around 13:45 a message pinged up on the team’s computers. It was directed to all Vauxhall staff from the Director of SIS and said that it had come to his notice that some departments were refusing to cooperate with a critical mission currently being planned. If anyone stood in the way of this mission and did not offer their full and immediate cooperation they would answer to him, no matter what their position or seniority in the organisation. Gretel said to Jinnie, “Wow! I never realised how much clout you had.” Jinnie laughed and said, “It’s not what you know it’s who you know.”
A few minutes later Jinnie’s phone rang and the voice on the other end of the line said, “Good afternoon Mrs De Luca, I have Director Jones on the line for you.” A couple of clicks later and Jones spoke, “Good afternoon Mrs De Luca I understand you need to speak to me urgently.” Jinnie thought this is more like it and replied, “Yes Mr Jones, please will you engage active scrambling.” A few more clicks and an obviously agitated Jones said, “Ok, Mrs De Luca, what can I help you with?” Jinnie thought for a moment turning over in her head just how much she could and should tell him. She decided that it was better not to make an enemy if at all possible and said, “Please call me Jinnie, director, I have been tasked, at the very highest possible level, in locating, with a view to extraction, a German national by the name of Kirsten Mehr. We believe she was arrested for a passport infringement at the Swiss border and is now in the hands of the Gestapo possibly being held in somewhere in Berlin.”
Jinnie continued, “Now I know your department has resistance groups in place throughout the Third Reich and we were wondering if any reports of this lady had crossed your desk or if you could ask the resistance to be on the lookout for her. It is very important that we locate her, as you will appreciate it is impossible to plan her extraction until she has been located.” Jinnie paused for a moment before adding, “She has blonde shoulder-length hair, is in her early 50s and is stocky. I may be able to obtain a photo of her but I suspect that if she has been seen by any of your operatives they would have absolutely no reason to suspect that she was a person of interest to us.”
Director Jones said, “I understand Mrs De Luca, I will get people on looking over reports for the past few weeks to see if any unidentified blonde women have come to our attention. At the same time, I will get the description out to all our agents, but if you can obtain a photo it could prove invaluable.
Gretel and Carole were both waiting for her to finish her call. Carole reported that Dirk had been very cagey talking over an open line. She had explained that they were trying to locate a woman in Berlin. Dirk had said he might be able to help. When she said she was working for Jinnie he had asked if she was still in the house in Cambridge. On hearing that was the case, he said to tell her he would pop round to see her that evening. Gretel had taken a call from the secretary to the head of the operations and was off to a meeting with him and was Jinnie interested in coming? Jinnie considered it for a few seconds and decided to leave it to Gretel, she had to learn to be able to do things on her own and she had given her the task.
When Gretel got back she reported that she had got on well with the head of operations and he said he seemed to remember seeing a mention in a report of a middle-aged blonde woman in handcuffs being taken into a Gestapo building in Berlin and he got people going through all the reports that had passed over his desk in the last few weeks. He promised his full cooperation and gave Gretel a direct line number for him and told her he was available at anytime and not to hesitate in phoning if she felt he could be of any help. On her way home from work Jinnie reflected on how different the afternoon had been to the morning.
Jinnie was sitting on the sofa, stroking Larry and telling him about her day when the Westminster door chimes went. She shouted out to Paolo, who was doing the washing up, that it was for her and answered the door to Dirk. He was a little wet from the persistent rain. She hung up his coat, took Dirk into the living room and closed the living room door, hoping that Paolo would get the message that this was work and she was not to be disturbed. Jinnie retook her seat on the sofa and Larry joined her again, looking suspiciously at Dirk. Jinnie whispered to him that Dirk was a good friend at which Larry relaxed and closed his eyes but his ears kept twitching.
Dirk said, “I would swear that Larry understands every word you say to him.” Larry chuckled to himself and thought, “Little does he know”. Dirk continued, “I think you probably guessed that I had too much invested in my Berlin operation to let it go completely. As you already know, after my accident the team was merged into Hanna Brant’s unit. What I didn’t tell you was that after the war, the SAS inserted a replacement for me, he took over my Berlin team and de-merged them from Hanna’s unit. He has, with the help of Willie, built up the team and he now has around 30 people he can call on. Thanks to Willie many of them have become highly proficient with firearms. Hanna has a group of around 25 and the two groups often work together closely. Of course, I am in contact with both him and Hanna via Stirling Lines.”
Dirk continued, “I spoke to Mick Sheppard earlier this evening and he thinks that the lady you are looking for is currently in the Gestapo cells under their Berlin HQ. However, he thinks that they are preparing to move her in secret. Of course, he had no idea she was a person of interest to the SIS but he did include her description in a report to the liaison unit. He has a contact inside the Gestapo who he is going to speak to later this evening and get back to me. As soon as he does I will let you know.” With that, he got up to leave and as he got to the door he said, “Oh, by the way, Mick sends you his regards and says if you need bodies in Berlin he can guarantee you full cooperation from his unit and he is sure he can also speak for Hanna.” Jinnie said to Dirk, “Mick knows me?” Dirk answered, “Yes, he said to say, ‘Do you remember the SAS corporal who spent several days in your bedroom’.”
On his way out Dirk said a quick hello to Paolo and then as usual turned on his heel and was gone into the rainy evening. Jinnie sat thinking for a while, a hit on the Gestapo HQ would be almost impossible but moving Kirsten should provide an easier opportunity to grab her. But as yet there was no news of where she was being to, when or how. If it was soon they would have little time to plan or to get agents/resistance into place. She decided that although she would like to be inserted by submarine as it offered the least risk it was probably impossible if the move was to be soon. That meant considering flying in but would it be possible to make the extraction by sea? So much depended on just when and where Kirsten was going to be moved and what condition she was in physically.
Jinnie sat there thinking and hardly noticed when Paolo joined her. It was only when he asked her if there was anything he could help her with that his presence properly registered. She said, “No thanks, it’s work and I have problems I have to think through. Please don’t ask me as I simply can’t tell you as it’s classified.” Paolo said, “OK, but at least I can make you a tea or coffee if that would help?” She smiled, kissed him on the cheek and said she would love a strong coffee. Then she said remind me next time we are in town I want to pop into that specialist coffee shop and see if they have any Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. He looked at her and said, “I’ve never heard of it.”
In Chapter 3 – Mission Planning.
© WorthingGooner 2022
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file