Jinnie’s team had planned the mission well so far, the resistance had a car waiting for her on the beach road and she was in it and heading for Le Havre and a Paris train minutes after landing. To the best of her and the resistance’s knowledge, no one was aware of the landing and her presence in the Reich. The train connections worked as planned, she had opted for a fast train from Paris to Brussels, change onto a train to Cologne and a final change for Oberhausen. The alternative had been one change at Duisburg but it was a slow train taking an hour and a half longer. It was mid-afternoon on Monday when Jinnie’s train pulled into Oberhausen where Renata was waiting for her at the ticket line.
Renata’s company Mercedes was waiting for them in the station car park and she drove them to the 4-star city centre hotel where they had reservations. The hotel booked them into adjacent rooms and the girls agreed to meet for a wander around the city where they could discuss the following day’s visit with little chance of being overheard. Renata led Jinnie to a large sparsely occupied park and as they strolled around a large lake they talked about the synthetic oil plant. Renata explained that she already knew the plant’s problems all emanated from the coal being used as feedstock coming from a different seam to that it had been designed to use.
She had read her way through all the paperwork and her report was 95% written, blaming the plant’s management on switching to a cheaper source of coal to save money. The chemical makeup of the new coal just didn’t suit the process as designed. She had proposed two answers, change back to the old feedstock or make a few engineering changes to the plant. The senior management of Brabag would have to make the final decision as to live with the reduced production at lower cost, to restore production to the old levels either by spending more on better quality coal, or to spend money on changing the plant to suit the cheaper feedstock. She said it was for the economists to decide.
Renata said as she already knew what was wrong with the plant. She would be able to spend plenty of time showing her “new assistant” around the plant and even the associated power station that provided electricity and process steam to the oil plant. Jinnie was delighted, she had expected to have had to wander about on her own not really knowing what she was looking at and photographing it in the hope that someone in the U.K. recognised what the pictures showed. Jinnie had a new phone from the “dirty tricks” department to play with. It looked and acted like a standard German camera phone but by typing in a code the photos and a voice commentary were stored in a hidden memory, just in case anyone should investigate the phone.
The girls ate a pleasant dinner in the hotel dining room followed by a weak German coffee, then a nightcap in the bar. Jinnie had to make it obvious to a pushy waiter that she wasn’t interested, before they retired to their rooms agreeing to meet for an early breakfast and the short drive to the plant where they were due to meet the technical director at nine-thirty. Renata had visited this plant several times before and the main gate security knew her well, consequently they were quickly in the director’s office with a cup of weak coffee in front of them. Renata introduced “Ingrid” as a trainee whom she was introducing slowly to the business. Much to Jinnie’s relief the director didn’t bat an eyelid, he was clearly more worried that the plant’s management were about to be exposed as cheapskates, asking if Renata had any idea what had caused the drop in production?
Renata kept a straight face and replied that there could be numerous reasons, but they would need to have a good look around, take photos to check that the plant had been built as designed, check logs, take a few samples and they would be there most of the day. She told him a tale about another plant, with a similar problem, that had turned out to be the quality of the process steam so they would even have to visit the power station. He nodded happily hoping that he might just be able to get out of the problem.
The girls set off on their inspection tour. Jinnie was delighted to have Renata as a guide as the plant was vast. They commenced at the coal arrival point, Renata called it the “merry-go-round”. A train was slowly moving over a hopper and coal was dropping out of the bottom of the wagons into it. The hopper-fed a system of conveyors leading to a “stacker reclaimer” building – a huge coal pile in a coal yard. Jinnie snapped away with her phone while Renata explained that this was common equipment used all over the world and no secrets were involved.
Renata continued the tour showing the coal mills pulverising the coal to a fine dust before it went through a steam gasification process to create SynGas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Here Renata took photos and coal samples. While Jinnie changed her camera to secret mode, took photos of what Renata said were vulnerable parts and made voice notes.
Moving on, Renata pointed out how there were multiple gasification streams in this huge plant, Jinnie asked how many and was astonished to learn 15. Renata explained that the basic stream was modular and similar in every modern plant in the Third Reich. From gasification, each stream split into two, an ‘A’ stream for the “Fischer–Tropsch” process where the gas passed over a catalyst into a hydrocracker and became waxes, diesel and jet fuel. The ‘B’ stream went through a methanol synthesis which was then converted into gasoline. Again Renata, while taking photos and making notes, pointed out the points of vulnerability for Jinnie to document.
The liquid fuel was piped into vast storage tanks surrounded by Bund walls before being loaded into long trains of tanker cars for distribution throughout the Reich. Renata pointed out that from this particular plant an underground pipeline took aviation spirit and jet fuel directly to Oberhausen airport. By lunchtime, Jinnie was getting a little confused and was only too happy to join the directors in their exclusive dining room for a break. Renata was questioned as to her finding but rigidly stuck to telling everyone that they still had to visit the power station and analyse the samples and readings they had taken.
After lunch, Jinnie felt a little more at home in the power station, much of it was familiar from her briefing in the U.K. Another “merry-go-round” brought the coal into the plant but this time it was soft brown coal that was in the coal yard. The 4 x 500 Mw Deutsche Babcock boilers were what she had been told were downshot fired, normal for slow-burning brown coal that needed a longer residence time in the furnace to burn properly. Jinnie snapped away at the coal pulverisers, the downcomers and supplies, the economiser feed pipes and the deaerator vessels, all parts she knew were vulnerable The main steam pipes and the reheater pipes to the turbo generators were next on the list followed by the generators and finally a quick visit to the control room.
As Renata drove out of the main gate Jinnie felt a surge of relief, the worst part of the mission was over, now she just had to get home with the information. The trip back was planned to be a little quicker than the outward journey. This time it was a fast train from Oberhausen to Utrecht, a lift from the Dutch Resistance to the RAF pick up point and a flight to Shoreham and a ride to Portsmouth. Something she was quite familiar with. Jinnie was sure that she had not aroused any suspicion so far but was still alert when she was dropped off at the Bahnhof. Checking the destination board, she could catch a slow train that was leaving in the next few minutes that would mean changing, but if she waited 30 minutes there was a fast direct train that would get her there in 90 minutes. Jinnie looked around and spotted a refreshment room so she ordered a bottle of mineral water and a ham and cheese roll and settle down to watch the world go by.
After a few minutes she spotted a man hanging around the ticket line who was regularly speaking into his lapel. He was ignoring people boarding trains but closely observing arrivals. Jinnie wondered who he was talking to and carefully looked around. It didn’t take her long to identify a man in the newsagents and another man by the ticket office. She had fallen into the middle of some sort of operation, and was unsure whether it was police, Gestapo or SS. She just hoped that it didn’t go down just as she was going through the ticket line.
Jinnie decided she would be better off on the platform. If a shoot-out happened before she got there she may risk being thrown out of the station and not making her train. She quickly gathered up the remains of her roll and bottle of water and headed for the platform. She sighed with relief when she was through the ticket line and turned right heading up the slope to the platforms. As she walked up the slope a slow train from Berlin had just arrived and a crowd was heading down towards her. In the middle of the mass, much to her surprise, she spotted Big Willie.
Jinnie grabbed Big Willie and planted a huge kiss on his lips. Willie was shocked and not knowing what was happening tried to break free. Jinnie held on to him and whispered in his ear, “It’s OK, it’s Jinnie, come with me, they are waiting for you at the ticket line”. Together they headed for the platform and found a bench unobserved by the CCTV cameras. Jinnie explained that she was on the way home from a mission and was just here to catch a train and was doing her best not to get involved with whatever was going on. Willie said their little Berlin group had been infiltrated, there had been a couple of arrests but he thought he had got away. He had changed trains a couple of times and was sure he wasn’t being followed. But it was possible one of the guys who had been arrested knew he had connections to the Oberhausen Resistance.
Jinnie suggested that Willie probably would not have been picked up immediately but followed to try to reveal local resistance members. They obviously had identified him, not hard for someone as tall as him and he would not be safe anywhere in the Third Reich. On the spur of the moment Jinnie said, “Come to England with me, Dirk will know what to do.” Willie was shocked, not because Jinnie was suggesting he go to England but at the mention of Dirk. “I thought Dirk was dead,” he said, “didn’t he drown in the Mediterranean?”
Jinnie chuckled and said, “No, he is alive and well and living in England. Being dead was for the Germans, but if it fooled you then all well and good.” Jinnie dragged Willie onto the Utrecht train and told him not to worry, he would be safe in England by the morning. Jinnie paid Willie’s excess fare when the ticket collector came around and they settled down for the journey confident they had shaken Willie free from observation.
Jinnie decided to make for the ticket line alone as she was sure no one was looking for her and she could warn Willie by phoning him if she spotted anything. But the only person near the line was the man wearing a blue bobble hat with an orange bobble which was the recognition signal. Once ensuring everything was in order Jinnie phoned Willie and he came through the ticket barrier and joined them. The resistance man took the extra person in his stride, led them to his car and in the gathering dusk they set off for the pickup point.
The car pulled off the road and under the tree cover and was parked where it couldn’t be seen from the road. Around a dozen fighters were already there with the beacons to mark the temporary runway and a radio to get an early warning to get the beacons set. They were nearly all huddled together, out of sight, with a couple of sentries out. When seeing the resistance men’s guns a thought jumped into Jinnie’s brain. “Willie,” she said, “are you armed?” “Yes, of course,” he replied. Jinnie told him that the RAF didn’t like flying armed men and as soon as he boarded the plane he should hand the gun over to the co-pilot butt first. She continued to explain that people in England didn’t carry guns, they had no need and the military would probably retain the weapon.
The radio buzzed and the resistance men raced out onto the grass field. Moments later Jinnie heard the drone of the light aircraft’s engine and the lights flicked on. By the time Jinnie has reached the end of the “runway” where the plane was to turn for its take-off run, the plane was halfway through its landing run and the lights behind it were being extinguished. The plane turned, the door opened and Jinnie and Willie sprinted to it. Jinnie climbed aboard and warned the crew that Willie was coming as well. As warned, Willie struggled aboard holding his automatic pistol by its barrel. The co-pilot took the gun and tucked it into a cubbyhole, and they were on their way aiming at the single light at the end of the field. As they climbed away Jinnie looked at the ground and in the moonlight she could make out cars driving away from the wood without switching on their headlights.
Willie was in a state of shock, four hours ago he had been on a train to Oberhausen, now he was on an RAF plane with Jinnie Walsh heading for England. He said to Jinnie, “I assume that as you had all this arranged you are still working for the resistance?” Jinnie smiled and said “The English Resistance Army no longer exists, there was no longer a need for it when the Germans signed an armistice. But I work for something similar.” Willie sat for several minutes and digested this information before suddenly saying, “But what became of the others, Jan, Paolo and Simone? I lost touch when they graduated and Dirk died. Now you appear from nowhere, rescue me from the Gestapo, and tell me Dirk is alive. I am in total shock.”
Jinnie chucked and said, “Well, prepare for more shocks, Jan and Simone are married and have a beautiful little girl. I am married to Paolo and he works for the Italian diplomatic service in London. I’m sure you will meet him soon.” It was still dark when the plane landed in Shoreham and two Special Branch officers met the plane. Willie went with them willingly he had nothing to fear, he knew that they weren’t the Gestapo and he had Jinnie and Dirk to vouch for him. He had carried out numerous missions for the resistance and was certain he would be granted asylum in a short time.
In Chapter 15 – Willie falls on his feet.
© WorthingGooner 2022
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file