Jinnie got the expected summons to see ‘C’ in the middle of the following morning. Emma smiled as she entered the outer office and pointed at the Daily Express on her side table and said, “Gosh you’ve started something. He’s waiting for you and you’re OK, he’s happy.” ‘C’ had a copy of the Daily Telegraph in front of him and Jinnie read the headline upside down ‘PM Backs Veterans’ Meal Venture’. “Sit down,” said C, “Do you fancy a coffee?”
Once Emma had served the coffee, ‘C’ said, “It sounds like the PM enjoyed his lunch yesterday and the good publicity your restaurant has got must be very pleasing. I have just read your interview in the Telegraph, well done for not even a hint of your real job. I hear that The Ivy has just announced that it is going to follow Trattoria Trevi in running an annual ‘Retirement Home’ Day. But it’s not just them, Toby Inns have promised to join in with what it is calling ‘Retirement Homes Roasts’. I think you might have started something here. But that’s not what I want to talk to you about.”
“Have you seen Steven’s list of logistics?” Asked ‘C’. “He is asking for some pretty exotic weapons. Laser designators, radio designators, lingering drones, NLAWs, Javelins, and now Starstreak. Do you know what he has planned?” “No,” replied Jinnie. “I don’t even know how many people he has recruited, he seems to be planning to fight a war on his own.” “Before the PM agrees, we really need to know what he is planning and he seems to be reluctant to report it. I have been thinking we need someone else on the ground, can we get Penny out there quickly?” “Yes,” said Jinnie, “But don’t forget her wedding and trip to America.” “I haven’t,” said ‘C’, “I was thinking of sending her out for 5 or 6 days to establish just what was planned and then reporting back to me and the PM.”
“I think that should be possible,” said Jinnie, “We have her cover story set up and her paperwork printed, we just need to get the Italians to agree the submarine and we can use the same way in as we used for Steven.” “Good, get it underway and I’ll have a word with her and explain what is needed.”
Jinnie got on the slow train on platform one at Finsbury Park while her sister got on a medium-fast train on an adjacent platform. They could have both travelled on the slow train, and often did, but Penny was in a hurry as she was meeting Daniel and the medium fast service did the journey to Potters Bar 10 minutes faster. Jinnie’s phone rang as she sat down and she saw on the screen it was Alberto. He was ecstatic, he had been fielding calls all day, from the press and from customers wanting to book tables, they were running two months ahead. He said many of the press had wanted to talk to Jinnie but he had simply explained she wasn’t in the building today and no he couldn’t give them her phone number. He told Jinnie that the Saturday afternoon and evening of Penny’s wedding reception he could have sold old three times! But his main reason for calling was to tell her that he had talked to all the other directors and they had agreed that a Great British Dinner delivery sounded a good idea. He also wanted to tell her they were in final negotiations with a national burger chain that did takeaways but not deliveries and Potter Bars’ leading Chinese restaurant. Both where all but done deals that just depended on getting planning permission.
Penny was helped down from the Italian submarine into the fishing boat by a sailor. Her hold-all was thrown after her but the second bag containing her sniper rifle, ammunition and a lingering drone in its launch tube was handed down far more gently. The captain greeted her in German and she replied in Italian. The captain smiled and said, “I thought you would speak German like your colleague.” “I do,” said Penny, “but I thought that if you want to be Italian, the least I could do was speak in that language.” “Wonderful,” replied the captain, “I think we are going to get on.”
Steven was waiting for her in the safe house and greeted her with a big hug. “I guess you are here on an inspection tour,” he said, “I have been a bit reluctant to talk over the satellite radio, I always remember that back in the day the Argies were tracing our satellite comms in the Falklands. If they could do it, the Krauts surely could. Now I trust you to take a true message back so let’s get on with it right away.” Steven introduced Penny to Maja who he told her was the leader of the Trieste Cell. He told of how when he arrived she had said she only ran a small group of around a dozen activists.
However, on investigation he found that Maja actually had 13 people who reported to her and those 13 people were each little groups of their own averaging 10 people each. Most of these 130 were employed by the Nazis in the naval dockyard, the port, the airport and Nazi businesses so there was virtually nothing going on in the city that Maja was unaware of. The cell was a highly effective spy ring, reporting to Italy, but not a fighting unit. Steven explained that many of the group were never going to be active fighters they were good at what they did, but just not fit enough or of a fighting age, so he set everyone a target. They were each to try to recruit at least two fit men or women who they knew as anti-Nazis and pro-Italian or pro-Slovenian, but not Communists. He definitely didn’t want Communists as he couldn’t trust their allegiances.
He now had around 270 fighters, over and above the spy ring, all of whom he was trying to train in the use of small arms. He had quickly established that some were better than others and had sorted out a structure of squads run by sergeants, corporals and lance corporals who reported to him. Learning from the assault on Nice, he had divided his men into fighting squads, reserve squads and support squads. He and Penny both knew he was now working to a deadline that had been advanced to 21st July and he had to have his training complete and his fighters ready for that day. Maja was providing much useful information and was reporting that the Nazis were so far unaware of events.
Steven and Maja took Penny to the high ground behind the city overlooking the dockyard. He pointed out they could see every ship in the dockyard, including those in dry dock, the barracks, workshops and offices. His problem he said was two submarine pens that were fairly heavily protected by a reinforced concrete roof. He pointed out three concrete ammunition bunkers and several anti-aircraft gun emplacements and four anti-aircraft missile batteries. He explained that an air raid to take out the moored ships and submarines would be difficult unless the air defences were destroyed first. He explained that Maja’s workers could place radio designators on the ships and even on the roof of the submarine pens but they couldn’t get near the air defences. This was where the laser designator came in, from up here on the hill one of his teams could easily illuminate the anti-air defences for a standoff attack.
Penny could see all this working, but asked why the request for Javelin and NLAWs. Steven explained the Javelins were to use on the barracks but NLAWs were for the airport, as were more Javelins and he would explain his plan for that when he showed them that a little later. Finally, he swung around and indicated the civil port. He explained he had designated men to take and more importantly hold the port until the Commandos arrived. That was partly why he needed Starstreak missiles he needed to defend against possible air attack by the Nazis. They had a few fast jets at the military side of the airport, but the bigger threat was a squadron of attack helicopters stationed there.
The next stop on the tour was a visit to Trieste airport about an hour outside the town. It was modern and served by both road and rail. The terminal building was on the same side of the single runway as the railway and surrounded by open-air car parks and a single short-stay multi-storey where they headed to the top level. While on the opposite side of the runway were several military hangers with a number of both transport and attack helicopters parked on the apron in front of them. Steven pointed out three hardened aircraft shelters at either end of the runway containing fast jets.
“We will need to take those fast jets out early, before they get a chance to launch.” “Any idea how?” Asked Penny? “Well,” replied Steven, “We could mount a ground attack, but it could easily go noisy and warn the Luftwaffe controllers. I would prefer illuminating them with lasers from the roof of the terminal building and hitting them with cruise missiles fired from ships offshore or from bases in Italy. At the same time, we take out the helicopters using loitering drones. We launch them from the top of the short-stay car park and have them hanging around nearby to dive in as soon as the cruise missiles hit. There are a small number of troops with armoured vehicles that provide guards we can hit with NLAWs but those not on duty are based in a barracks 7 km down the autobahn. I would like to hit them with NLAWs and Javelins from the side of the autobahn or bridges if they are tasked to the airport. There are also some air defences scattered around the airport and I think we can hit them with more loitering drones. How would you like to be up on the terminal building roof with your sniper rifle, hitting targets of opportunity, there are certain to be some. There is no high ground here so we will need to control that building and get the Starstreaks all around before the Para’s arrive to assist and help us hold on until we can land more heavily armed infantry and light armour.”
Penny said, “I’m no military planner and as you guessed I am only here to see the set-up and tell London what you are thinking. But I do have some questions. Do you think you have enough manpower to handle this scheme?” “Yes,” said Steven, while Maja nodded enthusiastically. “If we get the arms I have asked for I am certain we can do it. But the timing is crucial. We must hit the dockyard and the airport at the same moment. We must not allow the reinforcements to get through. I want everything to kick off in Slovenia and Austria at the same instant so that the Nazis don’t know where to send reinforcements.”
“OK,” said Penny, “What if some of the ships set to sea before the attack?” “They will still be carrying the radio emission designators making them still vulnerable to the stand-off homing missiles so that shouldn’t be a problem. Maja’s people will be able to warn us before any ship sails so we can inform the F-35s, or whoever launches the standoff weapons, that the ship is at sea and not in port. But we need to have suppressed the air defences before the second wave of jets attack and they will need ‘Bunker Buster’ bombs rather than stand-off weapons.”
“I think I have learnt enough for today,” said Penny, “What have you got planned for tomorrow?” “I want you to meet some of the squads,” said Steven, “and spend a few days working with them on rifle skills. There are a few decent shots and I would like your view on them becoming snipers. I might have some uses for them.” “Right-oh,” said Penny, “But first I need some food, a cup of coffee and a good night’s sleep, I only got a couple of hours on the sub last night and I am knackered.”
Jinnie got word from the Italians that her sister had been safely handed over to the fishing boat. Then a satellite message code to say she was at the safe house. There was nothing else she could do, so she turned back to running the teams planning the insertions into Austria and Slovenia. Many, like Steven, had already gone, but hundreds of others were still to go so the department was exceedingly busy. Of course Jinnie was still busy with the restaurant and was delighted to hear from Alberto that planning permission had been granted for the dark kitchen. They could proceed with the first six kitchens but had to cease deliveries at midnight and could start again at 8 the following morning. They also had permission for the offices, call centre and garage facilities, in fact everything they had asked for. The icing on the cake was they also had outline permission for the further 6 kitchens.
Alberto said to Jinnie that the timing was proving to be fortunate, the Turners Hill restaurant was very nearly finished, there was a maximum of three weeks work left integrating the new and old building and Belinda had promised she could switch her team over to the dark kitchen. Alberto and Jinnie agreed that they needed to extend Thomas, the project manager’s, contract as he had been doing an excellent job of handling the extension and as this was a much bigger job his skill would definitely be needed. Belinda was delighted to take another order especially as this one was far bigger than any of the previous Trattoria Trevi orders and said that it would probably take those three weeks to organise all the specialists she needed and estimated there was probably four to five months work but it would need carefully planning.
Jinnie and Alberto decided they really needed to start planning the Turners Hill opening night and who they would invite. They agreed that as they could now seat 150 they would invite 60 guests and sell the remaining 90 seats. It had long been agreed that the menu was to be an exact copy of the Potters Bar offering and they had already been printed. They agreed to leak the launch date to the Crawley Observer and sit back and wait for the phone ring.
Jinnie asked Alberto how he was getting on with licensing the kitchens. He replied, “I think we are there, we will take two, one for the Trattoria Trevi Italian offering and one for our British menu, the other four look to be Chinese, Indian, burgers and fried chicken, the negotiations are all complete, it is just a matter of finalising the contracts and if any drop out there is a pizza parlour that is seriously interested. I intend to put a request to deliver alcohol to the licensing committee, I think a selection of wines and beers with our offerings would do well. If others want to offer drinks I am sure we could work with them.”
“Great,” said Jinnie, “but I have a suggestion. Both our businesses are only going to be busy in the evening, we might get an occasional corporate lunch but we have lots of capacity at lunchtime. How would you feel about doing a bespoke lunchtime sandwich delivery service? I know the supermarkets offer takeaway sandwiches but they come in a cardboard packet and look like they have been made on a production line. What I have in mind is offering a choice of good bread, hand cut from a farmhouse loaf, a sandwich loaf, a granary loaf, soar dough, big soft baps, french bread, crispy rolls, whatever people want. All filled with the customer’s choice of filling, egg mayonnaise, slices of roast beef, pastrami, slices of ham, several cheeses, hard-boiled egg, sausages, prawns, tuna, you name it. Then a choice of extras like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, onions, cress, watercress, mixed leaves, sauce and condiments as requested.”
“I am thinking we could advertise around the local offices to individuals, we could even offer platters for meetings. I would like to try offering a few cakes for desserts, big fluffy jam doughnuts, slices of Victoria sponge, a couple of flavours of cheesecake. I am sure we could sell an artisan sandwich in competition to the supermarkets any day. If it doesn’t work we won’t be losing much as we are just using spare capacity.” “I like the idea,” said Alberto, “But it’s not something we need to think about yet, our own business costings have all been done on an evening-only delivery service. I believe the chicken and burger people are looking at an all-day trade but the Chinese and Indian are only looking at a lunchtime business on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays.”
Penny was impressed with the weapons handling that Steven had taught his recruits. Every gun she saw was immaculate, but thinking about it the SAS man would not have tolerated anything less. In the abandoned quarry that was used for shooting practice, Penny watched as operatives went through their drills and shot at improvised targets. Steven was right two or three definitely shot well above the standard of the others. In fact one young girl, Irena, was so good Penny asked Steven how he had taught her to be so proficient in such a short time. Steven explained, “I didn’t. She has been shooting all her life, her uncle is a farmer and she has hunted vermin since she was big enough to pick up a gun. All I have done is knock the rough edges off and teach her how to handle a military weapon rather than a hunting rifle.”
Penny took Irena to one side and asked her if she would like to try firing with the sniper rifle that she had brought with her. Irena jumped at the opportunity and Penny took her to a deserted area. She took her through the sniper system, explaining that it was a delicate instrument compared to the standard semi-automatic rifle she had been using and that it needed to be handled with care. Penny explained that the L115a3 was a bolt action rifle that fired .338 Lapua Magnum ammunition which was slightly larger than the standard 7.62mm ammunition she was used to and was rated at 1,200 metres. Penny explained that this was quite an underestimation and she had fired at and hit targets at 2,000 metres with a bit of care.
Penny showed her the laser range finder, the day scope and the thermal imaging night scope and the Kestral weather meter that displayed wind speed, humidity, temperature and air density and how for a very long shot they needed careful consideration. She showed her the forward support tripod. Then she explained that snipers usually worked in pairs with a shooter and a spotter who not only had their own range finder to help the shooter but acted as their personal protection. Penny told Irena that in the past she had worked with Steven but he was too important to this mission to work with her this time so she would pick one of the better shots to support her and asked if Irena had a preference for a spotter to assist her.
Irena thought for a moment then said, “I think it is more important that my spotter be a friend and intelligent rather than being a great shot so I would like to nominate Ana.” “OK,” said Penny, “Find her at lunchtime and bring her here this afternoon and we can fire some rounds.” Penny had already selected a man called Anton who had not been the best shot but appeared to be studious, thinking about what he was doing and alert to what was going on around him.
Following a light lunch of bread, cheese and smoked fish the four gathered for more instruction from Penny. She showed them how to load the five-round box with the 8.59mm rounds before letting Irena start firing some rounds at 600 metres. Her spotter, Ana told her she was firing high and to the right. Penny showed them how to adjust the sights and the next set of five were closer to the target. Another adjustment and Irena was consistently hitting the target. Penny told her to take a break and took the rifle into her hands and loaded a five-round magazine. Handing the spotter scope to Anton she put five rounds in the 10 while Irena looked on in amazement. “Right Irena, I have to get back to London in a couple of days, but I will be back to take part in the operation where you and I will play an important part. In the meantime, I am leaving the sniper rifle in your charge. Steven will make sure you have plenty of ammunition to practice with and he himself is a fine shot. By the time I get back I expect you to be able to consistently put 5 rounds in the bull at 1,000 and 1,200 metres whatever the weather with the aid of the spotters. I will bring another sniper rifle with me when I come back”.
In Chapter 22 – Spring bank holiday weekend.
© WorthingGooner 2022