When Jinnie heard that Penny had been selected to go on a Parachute Regiment firearms course she knew that Dirk had been using his influence once again and he had something planned for Penny. Next time she saw him she would try to find out but she knew Dirk would play his cards close to his chest and he would only tell her if it was operationally necessary. Still, it couldn’t stop her speculating. Penny’s French was pretty good and she could almost certainly pass as a native, while her German was coming on leaps and bounds but was still nowhere near as good as her French. Putting what she knew together, Jinnie guessed Penny would be off to France and that she might need to be able to handle a gun.
Jinnie was back in the office at Vauxhall and they had been busy working on a mission for a field agent known by the codename Billy. The documents they had been preparing were ordered in the name of Wilhelm Smulders and he was on a mission to Amsterdam. Jinnie had no idea what the mission actually was, that would be between Billy and his controller, and in truth Jinnie and her little team had no need to know any more than his destination to sort out his travel from landing on a beach on the Atlantic coast of southwestern France.
Now the department had virtually completed the ‘Billy’ mission planning, she wondered what was coming next. She had just decided that after lunch she would pop up to the executive floor and ask ‘C’ what he had planned for her when her scrambler phone buzzed. It was Hereford and the SAS operator was giving her a heads up that ‘Sea Eagle’ in her latest report had asked to talk to her directly to ‘Larry’ and she would be in contact about 17:00 that evening. For security Renata had been appointed the random name ‘Sea Eagle’ while Jinnie chose to call herself ‘Larry’ after her favourite cat. Jinnie was delighted with the way her direct contact with the Polish Resistance was working out, but the information on the Nazi oil for coal industry was progressing was proving invaluable. Jinnie quickly phoned Paolo and warned him she might be a little late home and would bring home a takeaway for dinner.
The Nazis had moved on somewhat from the 1940’s oil from coal processes but they still employed two basic methods, a direct method and an indirect method which complemented each other as the direct method produces the lighter oils such as aviation spirit and petrol. The indirect method is better for heavier oils such as diesel, fuel oil, wax and grease. However both methods still relied on pulverised coal being heated to drive off gases which where then liquified. The Nazis relied very heavily on manufactured oil as their oilfields in the East were just not capable of suppling all current demand. Losing England had been a disaster, not only had they lost the oil and natural gasfields in the North and Irish Seas but fracking was just starting up in the North West and South East of England. Consequently the huge synthetic oil plants built next to the Kent, South Wales, Midlands and North Western coalfields had been closed down as unnecessary.
Following what had rapidly become known in the United Kingdom as the War of Liberation, Germany had realised it needed to quickly expand its oil production. A huge expansion programme had been initiated and new plants had been constructed wherever there was a coalfield, with plants in nearly every occupied territory. In particular new plants were rapidly constructed in Germany, France, Belgium and particularly Poland and the Ukraine. Renata got lucky, Brabag was recruiting furiously when she graduated with a first class honours degree in Geology and walked into a job with them. She soon became an expert in the synthetic coal process and was often called in when a plant developed a problem.
Jinnie’s scrambler phone rang again shortly after 17:00. Jinnie found herself talking to Renata who’s scrambled digital radio message was being picked up in Hereford and unscrambled. It was then switched to the secure phone network and re-scrambled for transmission to Vauxhall. Jinnie was amazed at the clarity of the call. Renata explained that she had been asked to visit one of the major plants near the city of Oberhausen in the Ruhr valley. The new plant had suffered a major drop in productivity following a switch of coal to a different seam in the same mine. The plant used hard black Ruhr coal to convert to oil and there were also two large downshot fired lignite boilers on site that provided steam and electricity for the plant. Renata suggested that it would be a huge opportunity for someone from the resistance to visit the site as her assistant, to get to see a plant, become familiar with the standardised layout, and workout how best it could be disabled if and when necessary. The visit wasn’t urgent as it wasn’t a plant breakdown but should happen within a week or so.
Jinnie liked the idea and wondered if she could get someone from the Berlin team there. She told Renata that she would discuss the idea with her boss and let her know the following evening if he agreed it would be a good idea. Jinnie tried to call ‘C’, but his phone just rang, he had obviously gone home for the day. She had a number for emergencies but this could clearly wait until the morning as ‘Sea Eagle’ wouldn’t be in contact for another 24 hours.
It was on the train home to Cambridge that Jinnie suddenly had the idea that she should go to Germany. She was a trained agent and she was sure that she was far more capable of producing a manual explaining how to disable a synthetic fuel plant than one of the part-time Berlin resistance fighters. The more she thought about it, the more fully the plan developed in her head. She needed to talk to a demolitions expert, Dirk was sure to know who an appropriate SAS man. Renata could point out the vulnerabilities, but not the ease of access or best charges to use and exactly where to place them for maximum effect.
By the time the train pulled into Cambridge the plan was coming together in her head; be inserted into France, use the trains to Germany, meet Renata, travel with her to the fuel plant. They would ask for a tour of the plant “to spot inefficiencies”, she would take photos on her phone, travel to her egress point, travel home and produce an illustrated demolition manual which could be used by the local resistance groups once translated into the local language. She had already set the wheels in motion by phoning Dirk from the train and he had agreed to her coming to his study later that evening.
Jinnie decided to surprise Paolo and her sister who would be expecting her to bring in an Indian or Chinese, maybe even fried chicken or pizza for their dinner and headed for the nearest Toby Inn for a takeaway roast dinner. She filled three containers with a mixture of turkey, beef and gammon. Topped up with heaps of roast potatoes, peas, carrots, spinach, braised onions, broccoli and cauliflower cheese. She added three huge Yorkshire puddings and a container full of gravy. She wondered if they had remembered to feed Larry. Whether he had been fed or not, he would be begging for some turkey and gravy. She knew that as far as Larry was concerned turkey was almost as good as chicken.
Dirk was waiting for her in his study and listened studiously while Jinnie explained the situation, her plan and what she wanted of him. Dirk said nothing for a moment while he sat thinking, then pulled a mobile from his pocket and hit a preprogrammed speed dial. Jinnie heard the phone ring once before it was answered. Dirk said one word “scrambler”, pressed a button and asked for “Captain Miller”. It took a minute or two for him to be found, but when he was Dirk didn’t waste any time on preliminaries, simply saying, “Good evening Dusty, it’s Dirk. Any chance you can get up to meet me at the ‘Cross’ tomorrow mid-morning?” Jinnie couldn’t hear the other half of the conversation but Dirk quickly continued, “Good, ask for Mrs Jinnie De Luca, I will be working in her office. Oh, and come in civvies.” Dirk listened for a bit and said, “Yes, that Mrs De Luca. OK, see you about 11,” before ringing off. Dirk turned to Jinnie and said, “Well Jinnie, it appears your name and reputation are well known in Hereford. Do you mind me joining you on the train to town in the morning?”
Paolo was getting used to Jinnie working odd hours, disappearing for long periods and knew not to ask what she was up to as he would only be told if it was strategically necessary and it almost certainly wasn’t as he was an Italian citizen. Her being late home, going to visit Dirk in the evening and now Dirk travelling up to London on the train with them confirmed something was happening. He got no clue from the conversation on the journey, Dirk buried his nose in The Telegraph and passed the occasional comment on how well the economy was doing and asking Paolo if it was true that the US had agreed to sell Italy F35 stealth fighters. Paolo said yes he could confirm that as it was going to be announced in Rome in about ten minutes time.
Jinnie’s first task of the morning was to speak to ‘C’ and get his agreement to her plan. She rang his office and his personal assistant Emma answered. The boss wasn’t in yet but if she came straight up to his office they could chat, have a cup of the boss’s best coffee and she could speak to him as soon as he arrived. Emma produced a cup of Blue Mountain coffee and proceeded to tell Jinnie all about the beautiful house she and her husband had found on Hadley Green right by a primary school she had heard was “wonderful” and would be perfect for them when they started their family in a couple of years. Emma asked if Jinnie knew Hadley and was shocked when Jinnie told her she knew it well and her mother was a teacher at the “wonderful” school. There and then Jinnie was invited to the house warming party which they were planning as soon as the purchase was completed.
When ‘C’ arrived Jinnie was asked to follow him into his corner office, with its magnificent views, and offered another cup of coffee. She quickly briefed him on Renata’s report and her plan to visit the syntactic oil plant. ‘C’ chewed his pen and eventually said “yes” but with two provisos, that she run the completed plan past him before travelling and that he got the OK from the PM as he seemed to have a special interest in anything Jinnie did. ‘C’ told her to start detailed planning and he would speak to the PM.
Jinnie got back to her office and immediately briefed her little team and set in action. She sat down with Dirk to research the oil from coal process and to try to discover just how reliant the Third Reich was on it. Dirk explained that the three redundant plants the Germans had built in Britain, in South Wales, Sunderland, and Kent had been so completely destroyed by their retreating forces that it had been almost impossible to glean anything of the processes involved. The UK and US had not really been bothered about finding out as they had nuclear power, North Sea oil and gas and had now that tar sands had come good in the US and fracking for oil and gas in the US and UK were highly productive they had all the hydrocarbons they could ever want.
Jinnie’s phone rang, it was ‘C’ and he had spoken with the PM who had agreed on the mission, muttering that it fitted in with strategic planning and asking to be kept informed every step of the way. Jinnie thanked him and asked if it were to be written or verbal reports and ‘C’ said she was to verbally brief him every afternoon and he would keep the PM in the loop. He then suggested that she speak to the development group who had a new phone that she might like to try out.
The meeting with Dusty Miller was highly productive. He suggested that pressure parts tended to be extremely vulnerable, in general mechanical parts like pumps and conveyors were designed to wear and be replaced but piping, tanks and control rooms made excellent targets. A full fuel storage tank could form a spectacular blaze and could spread quickly throughout a tank farm despite bund walls. The boiler plant that supplied power to the rest of the plant could be quickly put out of action by attacking the ‘supplies’, pipes that carried pressurised water to the bottom of the furnace. If the furnace lost its water supply its ‘water walls’ would quickly fail as the water kept them cool enough not to melt. In addition, there were no valves in the circuit so the full fill of scalding hot water would drain out of the ‘downcomers’, ‘steam drum’ and ‘furnace water walls’ flooding the basement with thousands of gallons of boiling water and damaging electrical circuits.
Of course, a small charge on the steam turbine could cause even more damage as it was a precision machine, built to extremely close tolerances and knocking out its bearings could cause irreparable damage to the turbine blades. He was not so familiar with the synthetic fuel plant but he guessed similar principles applied, take out the cooling water and feedstock piping to the reformers and try to get a good blaze going. Jinnie remembered Paolo and Jan being involved in an attack on a Berlin power station and the coal bunkers catching fire. Dusty said he understood these were down shot fired lignite boilers and although the coal was still ‘pulverised’ before being burnt in the boiler it was not as flammable as the black coal used in the Berlin power station, however, if there was time and manpower available it was probably worth the effort. Dusty volunteered to sit down with Jinnie, when she returned, review her photos and help pick out the best target points for charges.
The mission planning took next to no time, her group were now up to full speed with these little missions. The most difficult bit was coordinating the ingress and egress with the military. This time the idea was to drop Jinnie on the wide Le Harve town beach in the early hours of the morning. The tide and moon were just right and the local resistance were well versed in both people and armaments coming in that way and the German defences on that part of the coast were fairly sparse and their positions well known to the resistance. Jinnie would be driven into town and put up in a safe house until she could catch one of the regular hourly trains to Paris. On a weekday there was even a through train from Paris to Essen, the biggest city local to the Oberhausen plant, it entailed a change of terminal in Paris but that didn’t daunt Jinnie, she had done that before. She would meet Renata in Essen stay in a hotel overnight and travel in Renata’s hired car to Oberhausen after breakfast.
The plan called for a one day site visit, Jinnie would take her photos and Renata ask her questions and take her notes. Jinnie would be driven by the local German Resistance to a farming area east of The Hague where she would be picked up by the RAF and flown home to Shoreham. On paper it looked good but the paperwork always took time to produce, the cover legend needed writing and learning, resistance groups needed co-ordinating and the Navy and the RAF briefing. Renata had said there was no mad rush for the visit but Jinnie didn’t want to leave it too long as that could look suspicious for Renata.
Jinnie’s department worked hard on the new mission and in a few days had done almost all they could, they just had to wait for the forgers to prepare the paperwork and the military to confirm everything was in place. The date for the mission was fixed and Renata told the plant that her visit would be the following Tuesday. Jinnie told her husband she was going on a mission and would be away for a few days, he knew better than to ask for any details so he just wished her well and told her to come back safely. Larry listened to the conversation and wasn’t happy, Jinnie was his favourite human and he had no idea what would become of him if she didn’t come back.
The Royal Navy took Jinnie across the channel in a high-speed launch, propelled by water jets. In the middle of the night and a few miles off the Normandy coast, she was transferred to an RIB powered by a nearly silent electric outboard motor for the run into the beach. As they approached the beach the petty officer in charge of the RIB sent out a brief radio message and got an immediate reply by a quick flash of a torch from the land. The RIB nosed up the beach just far enough for Jinnie to leap off on to sand without getting her feet wet. The resistance men were there in seconds to rush her up the beach but a glance over her shoulder revealed the RIB backing out into the incoming tide which within minutes would wipe any trace of the landing away.
In Chapter 14 – Oberhausen.
© WorthingGooner 2022