Big Willie hugged Jinnie and kissed her on the top of her head and said, “Welcome back to Berlin.” Her hold-all disappeared into his huge hand and Jinnie whispered to him to call her ‘Isabelle’. He said, “I know and this is your fiancé Stefen. Michael is looking forward to becoming reacquainted.” Willie led them across the concourse and to a silver Audi 8 in the car park. He pointed a remote at the car and unlocked it. Their baggage disappeared into the cavernous boot and ‘Stefen’ climbed into the front seat next to Willie. As they drove away Willie explained they were going to pick up Michael and drive directly to the chosen attack site. Hanna and her lieutenant were meeting them there.
Willie said he had seen the attack site and thought Michael had done well selecting it. The cutting was deep and the embankments were covered in shrubs and bushes with trees at the top of the slope. At the chosen point the land around was woodland and farmland and the two roads bridging the cutting were little used country roads but both linked to faster roads in either direction. The car pulled over outside an anonymous house in the suburbs and they were immediately joined by Mick Sheppard who got in the back next to Jinnie. They were off again before Mick had time to say hello.
They pulled off the country road and Wille parked behind a clump of trees ensuring the car couldn’t be seen from the road. They strolled over to a thin wood and coming out the other side they were at the top of the cutting with a panoramic view of the attack site from one road bridge in the east to the other in the west. The signal was to their right and Jinnie asked how far away was it from the point where they were standing. Mick pulled a laser range finder from his pocket and said, “I reckon 800 metres.” Jinnie backed to the tree line, found a spot hidden by a large bush and read the range to the signal-post as 810 metres. Jinnie looked at him and said, “You’ve done this before.”
Willie and Steven headed off to check the masts that supported the catenary and the piers that supported the road bridges while Jinnie and Mick sat and waited for Hanna. As they waited they picked out points on the embankments for the suppression shooters to fire from. Jinnie ask what rifle they had for her and what the weather forecast for Monday night, Tuesday morning was. Before Mick could answer they heard the tracks start to hum and dropped down behind a large bush and watched as a long coal train trundled past heading towards Berlin. Mick said, “Polish black coal for a power station, now I will memory bank that for a nice soft future target.”
Jinnie was delighted to hear that the rifle was an L115A3 sniper rifle and Willie had zeroed it in. She trusted Willie to do it right. The forecast for a cool, windless night made Jinnie smile. Hanna arrived just as a local passenger train to Poland passed so she and her lieutenant held back in the trees. Jinnie asked if the line was always this busy and was told no, from their observations it was unused at night, with the exception of the weekly concentration camp train. Hanna joined in the conversation about positioning the resistance fighters while her lieutenant went to meet Willie and Steven as he was Hanna’s explosives man.
Jinnie had sketched out the shoot positions which gave an interlaced field of fire. Mick asked her where she learned that and she explained Dirk had got her to do three years in the OTC and she had taken several courses including leadership, mission planning, planning attacks and a sniper qualification. Mick was quite impressed and said Dirk was a great officer who could pick talent. Hanna agreed. Thoughts turned to the actual attack on the train. It was agreed to use the classic SAS tactic of breaking the windows and throwing in flash bangs. At the same time, the carriage doors were to be blown and more flashbangs chucked in.
Jinnie was worried about the carriage windows not being easy to smash. Hanna suggested blowing them with a small charge, but Mick was worried about injuring prisoners with flying glass. Instead, he suggested getting hardened steel centre pops and whacking them with a heavy hammer. If that failed then blow them, the prisoners should be ducking by then! The next discussion was about a defensive screen and a tripwire of a few fighters was agreed.
The demolition team returned and they had sorted out the position and size of charges. Steven wanted to return after dark to position changes, as he didn’t think there would be enough time on Monday night. He also wanted to know if they had wireless detonators as he didn’t want to run wires which might be more easily spotted if any track workers were around on Monday. It would also allow the blowing of the bridges from a distance. They had the required detonators and it was agreed to return after dark. The only thing that slightly bothered Mick was whether they had enough bodies to totally overwhelm the guards on the train as quickly as they wanted to.
They drove back into Berlin and Willie dropped Jinnie and Steven off at what he told them was a safe house. He promised to pick them up at around nine in the evening and he would have a load of explosives. Hanna’s second in command would meet them back at the attack site with the detonators. Just as they went to get out of the car Willie stopped them and said, “I really should have given you these before, but to be honest I forgot,” and handed them each a Glock pistol. Adding, “They are for your personal protection, I know Jinnie knows how to use one and as it is standard British Army issue I would be astonished if you don’t know how to use one Stefan.”
At nine Willie arrived but this time driving a red Mercedes Sprinter van. Jinnie knew it was a Luton or panel van but had no idea what it was in German. Steven said it was a ‘Kastenwagen’ and Willie told them to get in the cab as the load area contained a load of plastic explosive. Willie drove sensibly, but not so cautiously as to raise suspicions, he didn’t want to be stopped. He parked in the same spot as earlier in the day and they started to unload explosives. They were quickly joined by Hanna’s man and Steven and he headed toward the first catenary mast they had identified as needing to come down. They placed a cutting charge around its base, slipped in the detonators and did their best to hide the charge under the gravel or surrounding grass before moving to the next mast that was to come down.
In the meantime Willie, with Jinnie acting as his protection, was heading for the signal. There was a control box set a few metres from the signal pole and Willie needed to see inside it but first he needed to check if it was covered by CCTV and if it was alarmed. He and Jinnie looked for a camera but they couldn’t find one, so Willie donned a head torch to get a closer look at the control box. Willie carefully checked the cables going in and the cable coming out. All appeared to be normal signalling cables, plus a telephone wire from a phone in its own little weatherproof housing on the side of the box. This was the all important link to the signalling centre. Willie decided not to open the cabinet just in case, if it was only done shortly before the train was due and there was a secret alarm of some sort it should limit the Nazis time to respond.
Willie and Jinnie went to help Steven. Willie was set to fetching and carrying explosives and detonators while Jinnie withdrew a distance up the embankment where she could see a good distance in either direction. From her elevated position, Jinnie could see the head torches dancing and was thankful they were in a cutting and hidden from a casual passerby. By 02:30 the masts were done and they moved on to the westernmost bridge. This required a lot more plastic than a mast and several packs were stacked on one side of one pier and then some on the opposite side of the other pier. They then tramped off to the easternmost bridge and repeated the procedure. The idea was to bring the brickwork and span down on the track, trapping the train between the two bridges, should bringing down the overhead cables or the signal manipulation fail.
By 03:30 they were done and on the way back to the safe house. The back of the van contained some sacks of potatoes and boxes of cabbages, cauliflowers and apples donated by a friendly farmer. If stopped they were on their way to a farmer’s market in Berlin. Back in the safe house, Jinnie and Steven got their heads down. They decided they would get up when they woke up as they were likely to be awake all night. Jinnie slipped the Glock and two spare magazines under her pillow and dreamt of Paolo forgetting to feed Larry his Felix.
Jinnie was woken by a phone ringing and located it in the kitchen seconds before Steven. Mick said he was outside, why weren’t they answering the door, it was nearly 5 o’clock and he needed to talk. Steven went to let him in while Jinnie threw on some clothes. Mick explained he had been worried that they might be short of bodies for a full frontal assault on the train and had been in touch with Dirk who had suggested bringing in the Polish resistance. The attack site was only a few miles from the border and they were already aware something was happening as they were on standby to move freed prisoners to the coast for onward movement to Sweden. These days the border was simply a line on the map and everyone was free to move around the Third Reich. Mick had spoken to Hanna, they had agreed and Dirk had got busy with the Liaison Group. For once they had got their finger out and approximately 30 Poles would be joining them.
The plan was to use the Poles as a mobile reserve and have them take freed prisoners back with them. They had plenty of transport and their own armaments. Jinnie and Steven agreed they were from the school of thought that the attacker needed to overwhelm the enemy with numbers and speed, a lesson taught them by the Germans. Mick said he had a lot of last minute preparations to make regarding transport, recovering weapons from storage and communications. Willie would collect them at nine, he had acquired a big Mercedes limo and he would be driving them to Hamburg to meet the group taking them to the submarine.
Jinnie and Steven were hungry. They hunted around the kitchen and located eggs, bread, sausages, butter, some of the weak instant coffee the Germans favoured, and powdered milk. Steven suggested fried egg and sausage sandwiches and Jinnie agreed. She busied herself buttering the bread and making the coffee while Steven got the frying pan on. For a quick meal, it was ideal. While she had time, Jinnie dismantled and cleaned her Glock, explaining to Steven that once she had fired on the driver she was joining the guards and she couldn’t afford to have a weapons failure. She had no knowledge of the gun’s history and although she trusted Willie to give her a good gun she felt it was better to be safe than sorry. Steven agreed and said that once Jinnie’s pistol was reassembled he would check his, but he didn’t want them both in bits at the same time.
Willie arrived sharp at 9 o’clock driving a Mercedes Maybach S Class. He was playing the game and was to be their chauffeur even wearing a cap and suggested that Jinnie and Steven sit in the roomy back. Willie parked in virtually the same spot for the 3rd time in two days but this time the field was busy with cars and vans parked all over the place. Jinnie even spotted a motorcycle and sidecar with Polish plates. Willie said he hoped there were no police patrols out tonight, then with an ear to ear grin said, “We could always say we are holding a rave!” Willie opened the boot and retrieved a groundsheet and a hold-all, which he handed over to Jinnie. This was her sniper rifle, low light sight, bipod stand, laser range and an anemometer.
Jinnie found her chosen firing position, spread out the groundsheet, set up the rifle, checked the non-existent wind on the speed indicator and the distance to the signal post, unsurprisingly it hadn’t changed. There was at least an hour to go before the train was due so Jinnie used the low light sight to try to spot shooters on the embankments and the assault teams down near the track. She managed to spot a few but only because she knew there had to be people somewhere and kept looking, in general they were well hidden. A casual observer would almost certainly see nothing.
The only person out in the open was Big Willie, he had the signal control box door open and appeared to be working inside. It was impossible to really tell what he was doing as he had a blanket over the control cabinet and the open cabinet door. His head was under the blanket but Jinnie would recognise him anywhere. As she watched, he walked a few yards down the track, pressed a button on a pad in his hand, watched the signal go red, press it a second time and it went back to green. She watched him fold up the blanket, lock the cabinet door, pick up his tools, climb the embankment and disappear into the woods. A few minutes later he arrived at her side, but he had lost his tool bag. Jinnie asked him if everything was OK and he said, “Yes, no alarm. It will stay green back in the signal control room when I turn it red.”
Mick and Hanna arrived together, quickly followed by Steven. It looked like Jinnie’s hide was rapidly becoming the mission control centre. Mick said to Jinnie, “Everything from my side is ready.” Hanna said her people were all ready and the Poles were split into two 15 man teams, one either side of the tracks ready to help if called. Willie said the signal was under his control and as an added bit of fun he had put a booby trap which was itself booby-trapped in the control box. Mick smiled at him and said, “That’s an SAS trick, you are learning.” Steven agreed and reported that the power mast was ready to blow when he pressed the button and he was happy to blow the bridges on command either to stop the train or to delay pursuit. Mick said he had a last-minute change of plan, once the train was stopped and the driver disabled and the power cables down, Jinnie, Willie and Steven were to head for the limo. With the Poles, they were not needed on the defensive line. Kirsten would be delivered to the limo as soon as she was identified and they were to leave immediately. Steven said, “What about blowing the bridges, skip?” Mick said, “I think I can push a button,” and held out his hand for the remote control. The command team prepared to wait, Mick reckoned they were ready ten minutes early.
In Chapter 7 – The escape.
© WorthingGooner 2022