Jinnie’s Story – Book Three, Chapter Eight


WorthingGooner, Going Postal
She guessed it had been taken by one of their spy satellites.
Surveillance Satellite,
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Jinnie awoke with Larry asleep on her feet. He had been delighted to see her home and had followed her around the house like a little dog, reluctant to leave her side. Her movement woke him, he stretched and picked his way up the bed bumped his head against her and curled up next to her purring wildly. Jinnie propped herself up using pillows, picked up the TV remote and put on the News Channel. They were discussing the “Commando Raid”. Jinnie listened and heard a Government spokesman say that it was not true and that the PM would be making an urgent statement to the house at 3 pm. Jinnie checked the bedside radio alarm clock, 2:23 pm, time for a shower and to get a snack before the statement.

Larry was reluctant to leave Jinnie while she was in the bathroom and sat outside the door waiting. Jinnie made a cup of tea and a ham sandwich (which made her think of her mum) and headed for the big TV in the living room. Mr Speaker called the Prime Minister and he told the house that there was not an iota of truth in the Nazi announcement. British Commandos had definitely not been involved in attacking a train. No, thought Jinnie, he’s right but he’s not saying the SAS were! However, added the PM, friends in the German Resistance had halted a train taking prisoners to be slave labour in a concentration camp and others to an extermination camp. He said he was told that around 80 resistance fighters had freed some 213 prisoners, 42 of whom were being transported to the extermination camp. The Resistance had suffered 3 minor injuries and the Germans had suffered several fatalities but anyone who had surrendered had been handcuffed and moved away from the train before it had been burned. To rising uproar in the house, Nigel dismissed the Germans statement as “pure propaganda”, and resumed his seat.

The Leader of the Opposition demanded that prisoners should be offered refuge in the UK. Mr Farage was ahead of him and said he has spoken to the leaders of Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada and Italy and they had all agreed with him that they would take any of the prisoners who made it to either a neutral or allied country. To cheering and the waving of order papers, he added that a trickle had already escaped the Third Reich and were being resettled.

The TV switched back to the studio where a ‘military expert’ speculated on how the prisoners could make their way out of the country without really saying anything. Jinnie decided she had better try to talk to Paolo and phoned him. He said it had been busy in the embassy. The ambassador had been to the British Foreign Office, he had been talking to Rome and had announced to assembled staff that 3 escaped prisoners had made it to Italy, 1 wanted to stay, 1 wanted to go to Australia and the third wanted to settle in England. Paolo said, “I just know this is your work. But I will not ask you about it.” Jinnie changed the subject to her favourite topic, food. They agreed that he would collect a Chinese meal on the way home from the station if she phone up and ordered it. He asked her to make sure she included sliced beef and onions in the order. Larry was listening and prayed that she ordered something with chicken in it.

Paolo and Jinnie took their usual seat on the London train. Today Jinnie had bought the Daily Telegraph, she wanted to see what the establishment made of the PM’s statement. The Telegraph was fully onside and outraged that the Nazis had tried to blame something their own resistance had done on the UK. “Little do they know,” thought Jinnie. The hunt was on to find any of the prisoners who had made it out of the Third Reich. The Telegraph had reporters in Sweden, Switzerland and Italy but so far they had found nobody. But they did have an aerial photo and Jinnie was intrigued to see the damage that had been created. The credit for the image was the US and she guessed it had been taken by one of their spy satellites. It was remarkably clear and showed the burnt-out train in the cutting, trapped between two fallen bridges. Because Jinnie knew what she was looking for, she could see the fallen power cables and the blackened area where the control box had been. People were dotted all over the site like ants. Jinnie was delighted to see the field they had parked in was full of German military vehicles and even a couple of helicopters destroying any possible forensic evidence.

Jinnie thought she might have imagined it but was the commissioner on the main door just a little bit sharper with his “Good Morning, Ma’am” and were the girls on the reception desk more ready with a smile this morning? But there was no mistaking the Head of Mission Planning who for the first time actually did smile and wished her a hearty “good morning” instead of just grunting as he did to most staff. Gretel and Carol were already at their desks and one of them had got the filter coffee machine going and the jug was very nearly full and the smell permeated the pair of offices.

As it wasn’t yet 09:00, official starting time, Jinnie decided to hold back on calling Emma, instead she invited the two girls to join her around the meeting table in a mug of coffee. They were delighted to see her back and wanted to know the answers to what seemed to be a hundred questions. Jinnie told them little, explaining simply that the plan had worked almost perfectly although they had made a few adjustments on the ground. What they really wanted to know was what was going to happen now, were they going to be allowed to stay together as a team or were they going to be split up and sent to different departments? She told them that she had no idea yet, she had to see ‘C’ shortly and hoped to learn their fate then.

Jinnie drained her coffee and rang Emma who welcomed her back and said that ‘C’ was waiting for her. If she got into the lift and pressed the executive floor button, Emma said she would clear it to work. When Jinnie exited the lift on the executive floor Emma was waiting for her and hugged her. She said she was just happy to see her safely back and that she had heard how successful the mission had been. She then said, “Oh, I understand I must thank you for my new job. I always thought that I would have to leave and get a job in industry to get promotion. I knew I was at the top of the pay band and as my partner and I want to move out of our flat and buy a house it seemed to be the only way. Now I can stay in a job I love and we can easily afford the mortgage.” Jinnie told her that it was only what she deserved and her mission’s success reflected on every member of the team, especially her.

‘C’ was behind his desk, tapping away at his computer, and he waved Jinnie to a meeting chair. Emma was withdrawing when ‘C’ called her back saying, “As my assistant you need to sit in on this meeting. We need to know what worked, what didn’t and what lessons we can learn so as to make future missions work better. ‘C’ talked Jinnie through the mission from beginning to end. Starting with the call from No 10 and finishing with Jinnie catching the early morning train from Portsmouth to London. Emma had a shorthand pad and was making notes while ‘C’ was busy taking key notes into his computer. Jinnie noticed that several time ‘C’ glanced at Emma to see if she was noting the same things as him.

Once through the trip, ‘C’ asked about lessons learned. Jinnie talked about SIS interdepartmental co-operation, or rather lack of it. How well the armed forces had worked together, how close they had been to going in short handed, how well the various resistance groups had co-operated, how nearly everything planned had work perfectly and how she was a little annoyed and felt abandoned to make her own way home by train.
When Jinnie had spoken of the lack of interdepartmental co-operation Emma had noticeably winced.

As far as Jinnie was concerned the one thing that really needed permanently fixing was the initial lack of support from two of the departmental heads. She told ‘C’ that his prompt actions had made it work but she worried that it wasn’t permanent. Emma apologised for not thinking about her needing transport back to London and Jinnie replied that she wasn’t blaming anyone as it was actually very minor but if it were included in the report it might stop it happening again. ‘C’ said the PM wanted a ‘warts and all’ report but he intended to circulate a redacted version to his departmental heads and then to hold a meeting of them all to discuss actions.

‘C’ then said that he thought that Jinnie deserved an update on events. The latest he knew was that no resistance fighters had been arrested and that only 3 had been injured, two with gunshot wounds, although fortunately neither was serious. The third man had been cut by flying glass and he had several nasty lacerations. He had been treated immediately but had needed surgical intervention and had been smuggled into Italy. His prognosis was excellent. ‘C’ pulled a wad of satellite photos from a locked cabinet. Jinnie recognised one as the one she had seen in the paper, but many of these were much more detailed. Jinnie asked if they were enlargements and was told no they were taken by the same satellite but just using its zoom function.

Jinnie was astounded by the details she could see, she identified the spot she had shot from by the flattened grass and could even read the number plates on the military vehicles parked in the field. She said to ‘C’ that she had never realised just what the satellites could see. ‘C’ explained that he had seen even closer pictures but even the long distance one had been classified and it had needed special permission to get it leaked to the press. No one wanted to give them a hint as to just how powerful the satellite cameras were. The awning at Portsmouth was just in case the Germans had developed similar technology, the spies had not yet been able to established their full capabilities.

‘C’ moved on to the future of Jinnie’s little group. He said he had been talking to the PM and they had decided that a ‘Sensitive Missions Group’ was needed one that could draw on the full resources of the SIS, the Armed Forces and foreign resistance groups and had direct contact with No 10. Most importantly it had to be run by someone whom the PM could trust implicitly to keep secrets and was capable. They had concluded that Jinnie, although young, had proven her ability on several occasions, not just to implement a mission but to plan it. She now had contacts not just in the Armed Forces but also in German and French Resistance. One of the first task of the SMG would be to establish direct contact with the resistance groups in the occupied nations, starting with Poland as the PM had already authorised her contacting Jan. The PM had expressed the view that he wanted the SMG to build its own links and not to use the existing SIS links. If they had problems they were to go via the SAS, he trusted them.

For purely administrative purposes Jinnie’s small department came under the Mission Group, but in reality she was to report directly to ‘C’ and only he or the PM would issue orders to the group. Gretel and Carole would be her permanent staff but in the event of it being necessary she would be able to call on the personnel and resources of every department. As his personal assistant, Emma could be called on at any time for any help or assistance as she was one of the few people who knew the true purpose of the SMG as it was to be referred to internally and if anyone thought the ‘S’ of SMG stood for ‘special’ they were not to be disillusioned. Finally the sensitive question of reimbursements. Jinnie was to have her salary increased to £90,000 pa with a bonus for every day on active service behind enemy lines. While her permanent assistants were to have their salary immediately raised to £45,000 pa as a reward for a job well done.

As she was waiting for the lift down from the executive floor Emma came out of her office and called her saying, “Sorry, ‘C’ forgot to tell you that he has authorised the use of your first finger on the executive floor button to operate the lift. It works just like fingerprint ID on a smartphone. You don’t need do anything we have your finger prints on record.”

When Jinnie got back to her office a maintenance man was screwing a label on her office door so she entered by the girl’s office which already bore the label ‘SMG Main Office’. The girls wanted to know what SMG was, but Jinnie held a finger to her mouth and indicated the maintenance man. A few minutes later the maintenance man stuck his head around her door and said, “All done, Ma’am,” and pulled the door shut. Everyone was anxious to know what the labels said and they went to look and found three plaques saying ‘Mrs J De Luca’, ‘Head of SMG’ and ‘Please Knock and Wait’. Jinnie told the girls that they now worked for the Sensitive Mission Group and their first task was to establish contact with the Polish Resistance. She left telling them of their wage increases until right at the end of the meeting.

In Chapter 9 – A trip to meet Jan?

© WorthingGooner 2022