Jinnie’s Story – Book Three, Chapter Twenty-Seven

D-Day - Late morning

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
The three tanks led the charge.
Challenger 2 Tank, main battle tank on Hohne Ranges, Germany,
Sgt Teresa Pickin, Defence Imagery
Licence Open Government Licence

The spotter touched Jinnie on the shoulder to signal the 8 minutes were up. She squeezed the trigger and through the sight saw the gunner collapse forward. Swinging a fraction to the left the assistant filled her sight and she squeezed the trigger a second time and watched another German collapse. Now she swung the rifle to the ammunition carrier who was either not aware of the fate of his the rest of his gun crew or had frozen to the spot as he was still in the same spot so Jinnie squeezed the trigger again and watched a third German go down. By the time she had swung the rifle back to the checkpoint the two guards were both down. Jinnie had not heard Steven fire.

The remaining SAS troops were on the checkpoint in seconds and confirmed the Germans were all dead. The captain was happy that the silenced shots had not been heard or seen because the rifles were fitted with flash suppressors but worried that they could be checked up on at any moment. So he quickly split the troop into three, one group under him would attack the main gate house. The second group, under Steven, were to circle right and cut or blow their way into the camp from the right and the final group, under a corporal were to circle left. Each group had a sniper, Jinnie with the captain, Steven with the second group and Penny with the third.

On approaching the camp Jinnie could see the cruise missiles had caused enormous destruction but she could see German soldiers rushing around and hear officers shouting orders. There appeared to be a lot of injured lying around and some attempt to mount a guard, particularly at the main gate where a sand bag protection was being hastily constructed opposite the blockhouse. The captain called for a LAW to be prepared to take out the blockhouse and for Jinnie to hit the crew behind the sand bags. Jinnie found a slightly elevated position that allowed her a view over the sandbag wall and prepared to fire just as soon as the anti-tank weapon was launched.

The captain heard an explosion from his right and, guessing that group had decided to blow its way in, launched the LAW. Jinnie took the cue and shot at the men behind the sand bags, seeing several fall before her line of sight was obstructed by charging SAS men firing their UCIWs as they ran. Jinnie was amazed by just how much chaos half a dozen determined SAS men were creating. The other parties were obviously also in the camp as she could hear firing coming from left, right and centre, with the occasional bang as something larger exploded. The multi-pronged attack seemed to have taken the much larger force by surprise and in around ten minutes she saw two green flares soar into the sky.

Jinnie was about to leave her elevated position when she spotted a staff car racing across the camp heading for the main gate. Raising her sniper rifle she put a round through the windscreen, where she hoped the driver was. The car swerved and crashed into the remains of the blockhouse. Jinnie ran as fast as she possibly could, carrying her sniper rifle by its carrying handle in her left hand and searching for her Glock in her right hand pocket. 10 feet from the car she dropped the rifle and raised the pistol in a two handed grip. She could see the driver slumped over the steering wheel and a dazed officer in the rear of the car with blood running down his face from a cut on this forehead. Jinnie ripped a rear door open and pointing the pistol at him and, in her fluent German, ordered him out. Stealing a glance at the driver she know he would not be troubling her as the back of his head was missing. Her round had struck him in the forehead and passed out of the back of his head taking a lump of his brain with it.

From his uniform Jinnie recognised the officer as an Oberst in the Heer, but what branch was beyond her. Apparently he had hit his head in the crash and was quite dazed. Jinnie disarmed him of his pistol that she recognised as a Heckler and Koch P8 and sat him down with his back to the wrecked blockhouse. Keeping an eye on the colonel she recovered her rifle and, with it and the P8 at her feet, awaited the arrival of the armour which she could hear roaring up the road.

Joey saw the twin green flares and ordered the column forward at top speed. The three tanks led the charge followed by the Warrior APCs that were just about capable of keeping up with the tanks. Approaching the camp’s main entrance he spotted a female Resistance fighter standing guard over a German officer and passed the message on to the sergeant in charge of the APCs to get one of his vehicles to dismount its seven infantrymen and take the prisoner into custody and guard the gate. As Joey swept past Jinnie, he recognised her as the SIS officer and gave a friendly wave.

Once the German had been plasticuffed and none too ceremoniously slung in the back of the APC Jinnie pocketed the two pistols and headed into the camp to find her sister and the SAS. She was hardly surprised to find them in the centre of the camp making a brew while the now dismounted infantrymen stood guard over a load of prisoners, a pile of weapons and were quickly preparing for any possible counter attack. First aiders were attending to quite a lot of Germans and as she watched, several German stretcher cases were being loaded into Bulldog ambulances. As far as she could see only one SAS man was injured and as he had taken a round though his right buttock he was being mercilessly ribbed by his comrades.

Penny had a mug of tea in front of her and was chatting with Steven. They were comparing notes on the attack. Steven’s party had to blow its way through the camp’s fence with a couple of hand grenades, but once into the camp had found little resistance from the conscript defenders. Penny had been called on to take out a couple of soldiers who were guarding a big hole in the fence that looked like it had been brought down by the blast of a cruise missile. But they had met with a little more resistance as they had come across a pocket of NCO’s who were willing to fight and it was one of her group who had suffered the embarrassing injury.

Jinnie was telling them of her prisoner when they were interrupted by a pair of vehicles arriving which Jinnie was unfamiliar with. Steven explained they were Stormer air defence vehicles and the carried multiple Starstreak High Velocity Missile launchers for defence against low flying fast jets and helicopters. The HVMs flew at 3 times the speed of sound and used dart shape projectiles. That made Jinnie think she had seen hardly any aircraft or helicopters since very early morning. Steven explained that the surprise cruise missile attack had been aimed to take out as many airbases as possible. They had been followed up by USAF bombers flying out of the U.K., Spain and Italy. Then by ground attack aircraft and fighters flying from ground bases and aircraft carriers. With the lack of defending aircraft he assumed the plan had worked.

It was now full daylight and the SAS had been searching the camp. They reported that there was a helicopter landing pad at the far side of the camp. The SAS captain wandered off to investigate. When he returned he told Steven it was big enough for a Chinook and he has spoken to the colonel who was setting up an HQ at Nice Airport that had fallen to them with hardly a shoot being fired. The front was very fluid and the infantry would be passing through in the next hour. Once that had happened and the follow up forces arrived, a Chinook would pick the unit up and fly them to the airport for a sleep and their next mission. At the same time, the armour were to head east and join up with the rest of the regiment who were pushing west. The captain suggested that the sisters should wait until the camp has been handed over to the follow up forces and then head back into the city and join up with the rest of the Resistance group, there might be fresh orders for them.

Simone went off in Pierre’s taxi while Jinnie carefully drove back into town. The were stopped for the third time just short of the sea front by some soldiers from the Middlesex Regiment who wanted to know why they were driving towards the seafront. Jinnie pointed to her Resistance arm band and explained in English that they were SIS, had been working with the SAS and were now going to their seafront apartment. The young private who had been asking questions called his corporal over and he was stumped. He asked to see their paperwork and Jinnie laughed. She point out that he could, of course, see it but as they were on active service all they were carrying was expertly forged French IDs. The corporal sent the private to phone an officer and decided that in the meantime he would like to search them and the car.

Again Jinnie explained they were on active service and that in the boot were two UCIWs, a L129A1, a L115A3 and several hundred rounds of ammunition. Jinnie explained they both had Glock 17 and Jinnie said she also had an H&K P8 she had just taken off a Heer colonel she had taken prisoner. The corporal was now totally flummoxed, had he apprehended dangerous German agents or were they SIS? Fortunately for him, a captain arrived who had been brief that two SIS agents were in residence in the seafront apartment block and after a quick glance at their forged papers, he waved them through. The seafront was packed with military vehicles pouring up off the beach where the Royal Engineers had constructed several long, wide slopes. It was back up equipment that was being landed now. Jinnie spotted fuel bowsers, field kitchens and mobile workshops forming up into convoys to head inland.

Jinnie parked in the underground car park and the sisters went up to their penthouse in the lift. Their cook was waiting for them, complaining about the problem she had getting into work, that the maid had not come into work and two uncouth British soldiers were on the roof terrace. Oh, their friend with the little girl had been looking for them. Jinnie said not to worry, she had given Chloé the day off and she was sure that if she made mugs of tea the soldiers attitude would change. In fact, could she make them tea as well and as the bakers was sure to be shut, get some bread out of the freezer and make a mountain of hot buttered toast and the girls would take it up to the terrace.

Jinnie had a quick shower and changed into fresh clothes, then collected the tray of mugs and toast and headed on to the terrace where it was bathed in bright sunshine. She spoke to the men and they collected the tea and some toast and returned to their duties. They were exactly what the Germans had not been, alert and moving around so that they were continually scanning 360°. A few minutes later Penny joined them, she had obviously also showered. She took the remaining mug of tea and a couple of slices of toast. Looking over the parapet wall she point out to sea and commented that she had never seen so many ships. The nearest lookout said, “Just as soon as the port is finally declared safe there are Ro-Ro ferries loaded with container trucks ready to dock in the ferry port.” Jinnie asked, “Has the port not fallen then?” The soldier replied, “Oh yes, our tanks took most of it before dawn and the Italian tanks took the remainder, having charged along the coast from the border. I hear the whole coast from here to Italy is in Allied control and we now pushing inland. The only problem is that the ordnance boys are working on a few suspicious containers which they think are booby traps.” One of their personal radios crackled and a voice asked for a sit rep. As the private gave his report an enormous C5 Galaxy roared overhead on final approach to Nice Airport. It was followed by a fight of F15E Strike Eagles and then another C5. Having finished his report the soldier said, “The airport must be secure if they are moving fast jets in. I bet those C5s are full of maintenance crews, spares, and air defence systems.”

Back in Britain the news of the invasion was embargoed until 10:00 am. The BBC and most of the national papers had reporters embedded in the forces so they had stories ready to go on the radio and TV news. Mrs Walsh was on morning break playground duty when one of the other teachers hurried up to her and asked if she had heard the news. Expecting to hear about the latest school politics, Jinnie’s mum said no and was immediately told, “Our troops have landed in France.” Mrs Walsh’s heart skipped a beat, now she knew where her precious daughters had gone.

At lunchtime she got a call from her husband, he had been listening to the radio news and knew that she wouldn’t have a chance until morning lessons finished. He told her that Allied forces had landed in several places, The Americans and Spanish had landed near Marseille and Toulon and had driven north along the coast from Spain to take Perpignan. Americans and Portuguese had landed near Bordeaux. British and Commonwealth troops had landed in Normandy and close to Dunkirk. The British had landed in Nice and had already linked up with the Italians who had crossed the border and pushed west. There had been numerous uprisings in French cities led by the Resistance and several French cities were claiming to be part of the Free French Republic. The Walsh’s best guess was that their daughters were in the South of France so they were eager to hear anything about the events around Nice.

Mrs Walsh rushed her lunch and hurried back to the staff room where there was a TV. On this day a number of teachers were sitting around waiting for the 1 o’clock news. The invasion was the lead story but the BBC were concentrating on the channel landings. The embedded reporter who had followed the assault wave into Normandy was in the middle of Caen surrounded by excited French people. He told how the British and Commonwealth forces had taken the Germans by surprise and that he had heard that in the last 30 minutes the Canadians had taken Saint-Lo and were racing towards the Atlantic coast which would cut off the Cherbourg peninsular.

The report switched to Dunkirk where a reporter talked about the British returning in triumph over 80 years after being humiliated. He continued by saying that British, Australian and New Zealanders had landed here and officially troops had penetrated over 30 miles inland, but he had heard that the Resistance had taken Calais and were expecting the New Zealanders any time now. He continued saying the Belgian Resistance wanted the Allies to push over the border into Ostend, however, he said his understanding was this was a campaign in association with the French Resistance and that they had pulled out all the stops to harass and inconvenience the Germans.

Finally, the report switched to Nice, the BBC had a camera on the top of a tall building and the reporter was talking against a panoramic view of the beach which was littered with vehicles and a multitude of crafts. The reporter said that the landing in Nice had gone spectacularly well. The general in charge of the area had put out a statement thanking the local Resistance unit who he explained had cleared the way for the unopposed beach landing by eliminating lookouts, had organised vehicle lanes on the beach and assisted in assuring there would not be a swift counter-attack by assisting in taking out a large German camp. They said the whole of the south of France from Italy to Montpellier was in Allied hands and columns were reported to be up to 50 miles inland already.

Back in the studio, an “expert” was pointing to large areas coloured red on a digital map of France. He explained that the sheer weight of troops in the landings, the unexpected number of landings, support of the Resistance, the high number of special forces, preemptive strikes by the airforces and cruise missiles had taken the Germans completely by surprise. He continued it must be only a matter of time before the Germans managed to organise a counter-attack, but could they manage to attack more than one of the landings at once?

Jinnie and Penny organised some lunch for the spotters on their Roof terrace and then decided to send the cook home. If the worst happened and they couldn’t find anywhere to eat out that evening there were plenty of eggs in the fridge. Jinnie wondered if there was anything on the radio as she was anxious to know how things were going on other fronts and tried the TV but everything was off air. Switching to the radio she found a French-language station that was using the call sign ‘Radio Liberté, the sound of free France’. Jinnie guessed it was being broadcast out of London and relayed to local transmitters by satellite. What was said between music was rather guarded, but Jinnie read between the lines that things were going better than expected. There were regular calls for people in liberated areas to go back to work and in particular to open shops. However, for a short period, there would be a nighttime curfew.

In mid-afternoon one of the spotters called out that a woman with a buggy had just entered the building and a moment later the door intercom buzzed. Jinnie let Simone and Juliette in and met them at the lift. Simone said she had a message for the girls, they were being recalled to London and were to report to Wing Commander Waterman at the RAF Transport Office at the airport tomorrow at ten AM prepared to fly home. Ever practical, Jinnie first thought about how to get to the airport and then what was to become of the apartment and the car.

Joey’s armoured column had met up with the American Abram tanks and the Spanish Leopard tanks near Toulon. They halted a day while the infantry behind them consolidated the ground taken. His next task was to head inland 55 km along the A57 to Le Luc and to take the airfield. The first 50 km were uneventful but the scout vehicles a kilometre or so in advance reported the local Resistance had met them and warned them that German Leopard tanks were waiting for them. The Germans had a drone up and had been following the progress of the column.

The colonel in charge of the column called forward the AS90 Mobile Artillery who set up a firing line in a nearby field and quickly erected camouflage netting. The Royal Artillery’s own drones were very quick in pinpointing the German tanks and in less than a minute were raining fire down onto them. The five guns each put down 6 rounds in 3 minutes before a cease fire was called for another drone pass and the mobile guns moved forward half a kilometre in case the Germans had counter-battery artillery. The drone operator reported that many of the Leopards had taken direct hits but several were preparing to move out of their prepared positions. Another 3-minute burst of intense fire finished the tanks off and the colonel called for the scouts to move up, followed by the column led by six Challenger 3’s, 3 of which were Joey’s squad.

The local Resistance said to keep off the main road as the Germans almost certainly had spotters out. They instead lead them through the back roads. A halt was called and the column dispersed into woodland about half a kilometre from the target. This time the colonel didn’t ask for the artillery, he wanted to take out the defenders but not the infrastructure as the RAF wanted to use the airfield. The scouts and the drones reported that the defence was dug in but the armour consisted of Marder 1 A5A1s, the latest version of a model that was being phased out. Joey was delighted, he knew that they were armed with a 20mm gun that would bounce off his armour. Now he only had to look out for the anti-tank weapons like Panzerfaust 3.

The Challengers charged across the open ground between the wood and the airfield, followed closely by the AFVs and the APCs. The briefing was for the tanks to take out the armour and the AFVs and APCs to concentrate on the dug-in infantry. The giro stabilised gun on Joey’s tank allowed him to happily fire as he pushed the Challenger at close to its top speed across the field. After taking out his third Marder, out of the corner of his eye he spotted an infantryman raise up and point a Panzerfaust in his direction. His well-trained crew reached immediately to his call for a hard right followed seconds later by a hard left. The rocket wizzed past his tank and burst in the now churned-up field. By the time he located the point the Panzerfaust had been fired from, an Ajax AFV had destroyed the firing point with its 40mm cannon and was pouring fire from its chain gun into the surrounding area.

Joey crashed through the wire enclosing the airfield and accelerated towards a hanger where he could see a helicopter being pushed out. He called for HE and the helicopter disappeared. Looking around for a target he could find nothing. The APCs and AFVs were discharging their infantry and he could see many Germans surrendering. The battle had been brief, but vicious and Joey got on the net to say that resistance had been suppressed and the rest of the column was free to move in.

Jinnie sat on the roof terrace in the sun trying to work out what to do about the apartment and car when Simone said, “How about I drive you to the airport tomorrow in your Mercedes?” Jinnie said, “OK, that sounds good.” Simone continued, “You realise the car and the apartment are both officially registered in your French name and that you don’t actually exist? I signed the paperwork when the apartment was purchased using your French name.” Jinnie chucked and said, “Can we get the legal paperwork done before for me to gift the car and apartment to you before I leave tomorrow?” Simone replied, “Well as far as the apartment is concerned I can sign the paperwork to sell it and to buy it as it’s my version of your signature on the deeds right now.” “Great,” said Jinnie, “you and Jan can move in tomorrow, I bet your parents will be delighted to get you out of their house.”

In Chapter 28 – Epilogue.

© WorthingGooner 2022