Jinnie and Paolo shouted goodbye to Penny and Larry and headed for the station where their train to London was on time. Shortly after settling into their regular seats in the half-empty carriage Jinnie’s mobile rang. Glancing at the screen and seeing “number withheld” she knew it was either another scam call or the PM, virtually no one else didn’t disclose their number. Jinnie simply said, “Good morning,” and was happy to recognise the prime minister’s voice saying, “Good morning, Jinnie, I hope you are all keeping well and Larry is still happy.” As no one was within hearing distance Jinnie replied, “We are all fine thank you Nigel, and Larry was happily sleeping on Penny’s feet when we left home.” The PM chuckled and continued, “I hear you wanted a word.”
“He’s quick off the mark,” thought Jinnie, “I only mentioned it in passing to Dirk last night.” “Yes,” she said, “I watched the interview on the TV with the two guys claiming to have been rescued from the prison train and I wasn’t convinced.” “Go on.” Replied the PM. “Well, I think they were much too fit for someone who had spent weeks in a Gestapo cell being tortured and chained to the wall. I saw many of those released prisoners and they were all being helped up the embankment to the transport. I don’t think I saw a single one without multiple cuts, bruises and abrasions where they had been manacled. I saw how your wife was. Then I saw her mental condition. Those men had never been tortured. Then how had they got to the UK so quickly? They would have needed travel documents and I’m sure we couldn’t have got photos to our forgers and papers back that quickly. My first thought was that they were SAS men we were using for propaganda, but they were so amateur I dismissed that and then realised they must be German plants. But thinking about it a bit more I have decided that they could also be Russians, but I still favour Nazi plants.”
“Interesting,” said the PM, “They turned up at the embassy in Geneva claiming the German Resistance had smuggled them over the border into Switzerland. The ambassador had been warned to expect escaped prisoners and issued them with paperwork and got them on a flight to London without asking any questions. The BBC somehow found out they were on the flight and grabbed them for that interview before we were able to smuggle them out of the airport. They are currently being held by the Met at Paddington Green.” He paused for a moment and was clearly thinking before he continued, “As you will have realised we are very doubtful about their story, Dirk is busy checking out their story with the German Resistance, but I wonder if you and he would like to be in on their questioning. You were there, you know what happened, and you both speak German like natives and you may well pick up thing the Met’s interpreters could miss.”
Jinnie jumped at the opportunity and the PM said he would let ‘C’ know what was happening so that he wasn’t surprised when the Met arrived at Vauxhall Cross to collect her later that morning once everything was arranged. The marked police car picked her up at reception at 11:30 and headed to Kings Cross to collect Dirk. While the police car waited on a double yellow line Jinnie went to meet Dirk at the ticket barrier. Within a few minutes of her arriving, the Cambridge train pulled in and she spotted Dirk coming down the platform. Although he no longer needed the crutches she noticed he was still hobbling and thought how he must miss not being fit enough for active service and how much he had enjoyed being involved in the mission planning.
The police car pulled into the yard a Paddington Green and entering the station itself Jinnie had never been subject to such high security. She had been in Downing Street, Portsmouth Naval Base and a nuclear submarine, but this was something else. There were armed police everywhere, CCTV seemed to cover every millimetre, steel doors on corridors and rooms were common, heavy shutters could drop to protect windows and alarms were everywhere. The inspector, who met them, checked their SIS identity cards against a computer, where Jinnie could see her picture onscreen, before issuing temporary passes and lanyards. He then welcomed them to Paddington Green and explained it was a specialist police station for holding terrorists. Unlike the old Gestapo facilities it had replaced, there were no torture chambers just individual cells, no manacles and every prisoner had three decent meals a day and access to legal representation.
The inspector explained that the two Germans had been having a rest period and were to be questioned again shortly. They would be able to observe through a two-way mirror and every so often the interrogators would call a break and if you needed to consult with them you would have the chance then. Dirk told the inspector that the interrogators should know before they commenced the session that he had spoken with the Berlin resistance that morning and that not a single prisoner had yet made it to the Swiss border and that the first batch of forged papers for escaped prisoners had only been received overnight. The inspector showed them into the observation room and scuttled off to talk to the interrogators.
The Germans had previously been questioned about their detention in Gestapo HQ and for this session were taken through the attack on the train. They described how the train had screeched to a halt and how immediately all hell had broken out with gunfire pouring in from either side. Masked men blew off the carriage doors and bust in firing wildly killing most of the guards. The manacles were ripped out of the floor. They walked up the embankment to the road and were put in a car. Driven to Swiss border. Smuggled over. Taken to Geneva.
Jinnie was making notes for the interrogators first break –
Train was slowed by signals.
No mass gunfire, few shots were fired.
Windows smashed first.
Flash Bangs used.
Most guards surrendered, were plasticuffed and left at the trackside.
Jemmies, crowbars, and bolt cutters used to free the prisoners.
Prisoners had to be helped up the embankment, couldn’t walk unaided.
All transport was parked in fields, the road was left clear.
No prisoners have yet reached any neutral country.
– Which carriage they were in?
– How did they explain not having sores from manacles?
– What happened to the train?
– What became of the driver?
– What happened to the overhead cables?
Jinnie tore the page out of her notepad and gave it to the inspector to hand to the interrogators. He disappeared and soon could be seen through the glass handing the page to one of the three men doing the interrogation. He read it, whispered to a colleague and left the interview room. He appeared at the observation room door and said, “Good afternoon, I’m Chief Superintendent Kevin Malarkey,” and looking at Dirk said, “Please explain how you know all this about the train attack.” Dirk replied, “I can’t but my colleague Mrs De Luca can.” Jinnie said to the superintendent, “I know this because I was there.” Malarkey looked at her and snorted, “But your only a girl!” Before Jinnie could speak Dirk answered for her, “You are insulting one of SIS’s top agents, she has seen more action against the Nazis than you will ever know because most of it is top secret and known only to the head of the SIS, the prime minister, the king and me. If you don’t want to act on the information she has given you then I am certain the PM will find someone who will.”
Malarkey looked at Jinnie and said “I’m sorry Ma’am, it’s just that I never expected to meet such a young female agent, it has been a bit of a surprise.” He went on to ask how, if none of the prisoners had reached a neutral country, she was back in the UK? Jinnie thought carefully about how much she could say and explained she had been sent to extract a specific VIP from that train and had been involved in its planning and execution and her trip simply had not involved travelling via a neutral country. Only 2 other people had return to the UK with her and neither of them were sat the other side of the glass drinking coffee. The interrogator asked why she wanted to know which carriage they were in? Jinnie explained that the prisoners in the first three carriages were all heading to an extermination camp, the other nine carriages contained prisoners heading for a concentration/labour camp. The VIP had been the last person out of carriage six. All those in the first three carriages were taken by the Polish Resistance into Poland the others were dispersed across Germany. She had watched numerous people coming out of the first six carriages and every single one had required assistance to climb the embankment, not a single one, including the VIP, had walked up unaided. There was hardly a prisoner who hadn’t got manacle sores except the two drinking coffee.
Jinnie explained the driver had been shot in the leg to stop him contacting the signalling centre but had been treated with field dressings, plasticuffed and left with the plasticuffed guards. Demolition charges had brought down the overhead cables after the train had been halted, more had destroyed the train, once it was confirmed empty and the signal control box. Then the bridges at either end of the cutting had followed as the last of the Resistance melted away. Jinnie said to the superintendent, “If you don’t have enough now to pick holes in their tale then I am not sure what else we can say to prove them as infiltrators. But one other question I have is are they German or Russians? My colleague and I would like to hear them speak in German to see if we can pick up any accent.”
Malarkey went back to the interview room and called his two colleagues out into the corridor to explain to them in what direction he was about to move the questioning. He was going to speak to them individually, putting the points to them that were raised by Jinnie and he wanted a German speaker asking questions as well. He suddenly turned to a colleague and asked, “Do we have a dual German/Russian speaker in the building or do we have to beg, borrow or steal one from one of the other intelligence operations?” He was immediately told he would find out and scurried off.
Malarkey continued to questions one of the “escaped prisoners” while the second was returned to his cell. Malarkey asked his questions in English and was answered in English. He walked the prisoner through his version of the attack again and he stuck to his version which the interrogator now knew was false. The two remaining interrogators were interrupted by a knock on the door and paused the interview for a minute to speak with a new officer who eventually joined them in the questioning. After a few more questions, in English from Malarkey, the new officer took over asking questions in German that the ‘escaped prisoner’ switched to seamlessly after 10 or so minutes, in mid-question he switched to English and the ‘prisoner’ followed. He went on randomly switching in mid-question between English and German and back again and each time the ‘prisoner’ followed. Jinnie and Dirk had already decided that he wasn’t a native German speaker there was just the occasional grammatical error that a native speaker won’t have made. Then without warning the questioner didn’t switch to English to German but from English to Russian and the ‘prisoner’ started to reply in Russian before realising what he had done.
Dirk and Jinnie smiled at each other, there was no point in staying any longer the “escaped prisoners” had been found out and they were no longer needed. They were given a lift in a police car to Vauxhall Cross and made for Jinnie’s office where she discovered that while she had been in Paddington, security on her office door had been upgraded from a standard lock to a fingerprint lock. Carole and Gretel’s office had been similarly altered, only the interconnecting door retained it’s lever lock. Carole joked that she always worried that she would forget her office key, there was no chance of that now.
While she had been in Paddington her team had been hard at work organising Jinnie’s trip to Poland. She was to fly to Stockholm using a real British passport but in an assumed name, be met by a local SIS agent with new papers, ferry to Gdańsk where she was to meet Jan. Jinnie’s instructions where to set up direct links to the Polish Resistance without going through standard SIS route, hence the SAS had been communicating with Jan and Simone and the meeting was arranged for two weeks time when the Dudek family could get away from Nice without raising any suspicions. Jinnie was happy that her team had everything in hand and this time there was no mad rush or huge operation to set up.
When Jinnie parked on the drive she could see Larry sitting between net curtains and the glass of the window waiting for her. As she got out of the driving seat he disappeared to run to wait for her at the front door as usual. She used her key in the door, shouted ‘hello’ and greeted Larry, who padded after her into the kitchen where Paolo was preparing dinner. As usual when he was cooking, it was pasta. Jinnie kissed him on the cheek and got a Felix pouch out of the cupboard for Larry who, knowing the drill, was already sitting at her feet waiting. As she dished it up Paolo said, “I think you need to a have a word with your sister. She came in from uni in a state and headed straight to her room and has not been out since. Something is not right.”
With Larry tucking into his dinner, Jinnie headed upstairs to find out what was troubling Penny. The answer was simple, she had spent the afternoon with Dirk and was feeling completely out of her depth with being fully immersed in German. She was in two minds as to calling it a day. Jinnie told her how she had felt exactly the same after her first Italian lesson. By the time Paolo called out that the food was ready Penny had agreed to give it a week or so and if she was still struggling then she would ask Dirk about dropping the German. When they joined Paolo at the table there were steaming plates of lemon ricotta pasta made with bucatini and heaps cheese. Paolo had liberally grated Parmesan over the top and was in the middle of adding shavings from a block of Parmesan to his plate. The girls looked at each other and laughed. Paolo said in German, “You can never have too much cheese on lemon ricotta pasta,” and Penny realised that although she hadn’t understood all he had said she had got the gist of it.
The pasta had been really good and surprisingly filling. Penny and Jinnie had opted to just have a coffee while Paolo raided the freezer for ice cream. Penny headed off to work in the bar while Paolo and Jinnie watched the TV. The news channel was discussing what had become of the escaped prisoners. They had wanted to interview them in depth, only to find that had disappeared off the face of the earth, with the authorities passing their enquiries them from pillar to post. The ‘expert’ being interviewed opined that they were probably still being debriefed by the intelligence services. “Little did they know how close to being right they are,” thought Jinnie.
In Chapter 10 – Jinnie heads for Gdańsk.
© WorthingGooner 2022