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Dear Reader #56

Dear Reader,

That noble beast, the thesaurus…

The great philosophers…

My Song of the Week

We can be anything, anything at all

We can be everything, everything and more

Another new project, the translation of The Olive Tree: Roots into Spanish. This series is about the Spanish Civil War so I’m delighted that the books are being translated into Spanish.

Chess and music are two of my passions. This is brilliant, a U2 cover of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” performed by Juga. The lyrics, by Vladimir Kramnik, refer to his World Championship match with Garry Kasparov.

My article about SOE agent Alix d’Unienville appears on page 20 of the magazine. Lots of other interesting features too 🙂

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

Difficult times for everyone at the moment with some political leaders making it even more difficult than it needs to be. Hopefully, this calendar will help you in some small way.

Resistance Couples

Lucie Samuel, better known as Lucie Aubrac, was born on 29 June 1912. A history teacher in peacetime, Lucie became a leading member of the French Resistance.

In 1939, Lucie married Raymond Aubrac and after the Nazis occupied France in 1940 the couple joined the Resistance. In 1941, the Aubrac’s group sabotaged the train stations at Perpignan and Cannes, and distributed thousands of anti-Nazi flyers. 

Lucie and Raymond Aubrac

Despite harassment and threats from the Nazis, the Aubracs published an underground newspaper, Libération. With the help of local printers and trade-unionists, 10,000 copies of Libération were produced and distributed in July 1941, bringing news and hope to the French people; a reminder that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

An issue of Libération

In March 1943, the Gestapo arrested Raymond. In May, they released him, only to arrest him again in June. With Raymond sentenced to death, Lucie concocted an audacious escape plan.

Under French law, engaged couples were allowed to marry if one of them was soon to die. Therefore, Lucie claimed that Raymond was her fiancé. She was pregnant at the time, carrying her second child (of three). 

Lucie informed the Nazis that Raymond’s name was “Ermelin” (one of his many aliases) and that he had been caught in a raid while innocently visiting a doctor. She claimed that she was unmarried and that Raymond was the father of her expected child. 

Furthermore, Lucie pleaded with the Gestapo that they should allow Raymond to marry her before his execution. The Gestapo believed her story and granted her wish.

Later, after the ‘marriage’ ceremony, as the Gestapo escorted Raymond back to his prison the local Resistance executed Lucie’s plan. In cars, they ambushed the prison lorry and liberated fifteen prisoners. In the melee, Lucie freed Raymond and the couple escaped.

In 1944, Lucie was the first woman to sit in a French parliamentary assembly and in 1945 she published a short history of the French Resistance.

Outwitting the Gestapo, a semi-fictional version of Lucie’s wartime diaries, followed in 1984. Lucie published her book after notorious psychopath, Klaus Barbie ‘The Butcher of Leon’ claimed that Raymond had betrayed the Resistance after his arrest. 

Undoubtedly, there were factions and conflicts within the Resistance, particularly between the Gaullists and the Communists. As a result of these conflicts, betrayals did occur. However, when seeking the truth it is difficult to place great faith in a psychopath, particularly one who had reason to hate the Aubracs.

In support of the Aubracs, twenty leading Resistance survivors published a letter, condemning the accusations. Voluntarily, the Aubracs appeared before a panel of leading French historians. After examining the case, the historians concluded that Raymond was not a traitor.

To date, the Aubracs’ story has featured in two films – Boulevard des hirondelles, 1992, and Lucie Aubrac, 1997. While, in 1996, Lucie was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government for her heroism during the Second World War.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, in a statement after Raymond’s death in 2012, said that Raymond’s escape from the Nazis had “become a legend in the history of the Resistance” and praised him and all Resistance members as “heroes of the shadows who saved France’s honor, at a time when it seemed lost.”

While President François Hollande said, “In our darkest times, he [Raymond] was, with Lucie Aubrac, among the righteous, who found, in themselves and in the universal values of our Republic, the strength to resist Nazi barbarism.”

Lucie once said: “Resistance is not just something locked away in the period 1939-45. Resistance is a way of life, an intellectual and emotional reaction to anything which threatens human liberty.”

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #55

Dear Reader,

“The heart has its reasons which reason knows not.” – Blaise Pascal

In 1942 a Lockheed P38 Lightning crashed during training on the beach at Harlech, Wales. It is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Picture: RC Survey

Listening to and loving Paula’s interpretation of Eve’s War: Operation Zigzag, which is currently in production.

‘It wasn’t only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you.’ – Ian McEwan, in Atonement.

This is a Welrod Mk 1, the gun of choice for SOE agents during the Second World War.

In Operation Locksmith, book two in my Eve’s War series, Eve uses a Welrod for the first time.

The Welrod is an extremely quiet gun, producing a sound of around 73 dB when fired, and thus is ideal for clandestine operations.

“There was a definite process by which one made people into friends, and it involved talking to them and listening to them for hours at a time.” – Rebecca West

This week, I enjoyed a documentary about the Spitfire. With its elliptical wing design it must be the most graceful aeroplane ever built.

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world do this, it would change the earth.“ – William Faulkner

Local pictures this week, Kenfig coast.

A new series, Resistance Couples

Cécile Rol-Tanguy, born 10 April 1919, was a leading member of the French Resistance during the Second World War. She participated in the liberation of Paris, conducted clandestine operations and relayed confidential messages.

In 1936, Cécile met Henri Tanguy, a political activist who volunteered for the International Brigades and fought against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War. The couple married in 1939 and their first child, Françoise, was born in November. Sadly, Françoise fell ill and died on 12 June 1940, two days before the Nazis entered Paris.

In an interview in 2014, Cécile recalled that painful episode: “I can still remember the terrible pall of burning smoke over Paris and wondering if that was what had made my baby ill. I left her in the hospital overnight, and when I went back the next day, there was another baby in her bed.”

Cécile and Henri Rol-Tanguy

During the Nazi occupation, Henri joined the French Forces of the Interior while Cécile supported the FFI as a liaison officer. 

After the birth of her second child, Hélène, Cécile used her baby’s pushchair to conceal guns, grenades and clandestine newspapers. At this time, 1942, the Nazis arrested Cécile’s father and deported him to Auschwitz, where he died.

Despite this setback, Cécile and Henri fought on. In May 1944, Henri was appointed regional leader of the FFI. With Cécile’s help he established an underground command post at Place Denfert-Rochereau, and from there the couple distributed messages to the Resistance.

25 August 1944, the 2nd Armored (Leclerc) Division destroy a Nazi tank in front of the Palais Garnier.

On 19 August 1944, Cécile and Henri published a pamphlet, a call to arms for the citizens of Paris. The people responded and on 25 August they liberated Paris, sweeping the hated Nazi occupiers aside.

Recalling that momentous day, Cécile said, “When they told us, (of the victory) we didn’t hear the bells ringing, but we had a pillow fight with the girls who were with me.”

Parisians line the Champs Élysée for a parade conducted by the French 2nd Armoured Division, 26 August 1944.

After the liberation, Henri became an officer in the French army while Cécile joined the Union des Femmes Françaises, an organisation that maintained the memory of Resistance and anti-fascist fighters. 

The couple had four surviving children: Hélène and Jean, who were born during the war, and Claire and Francis, who were born after the war. Later, the family left Paris to live near the Loire.

After 63 years of marriage, Henri died on 8 September 2002. Cécile passed away at her home at midday on 8 May 2020, the 75th anniversary of VE Day, aged 101. 

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #54

Dear Reader,

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

This is how I started writing and why I write.

My latest translation, the Spanish version of Snow in August, available soon 🙂

My latest audiobook. We hope to complete production next week 🙂

“In books we never find anything but ourselves. Strangely enough, that always gives us great pleasure, and we say the author is a genius.” – Thomas Mann

You mean, I’m not a genius?! 🤣

“Some cry with tears, others with thoughts.” – Octavio Paz

Picture: On the Green Bank, Sanary, 1911 – Henri Lebasque

A statue problem, solved. From 1949.

This week is refugee week. My country, Wales, has a proud history of welcoming refugees. This picture shows the children at Cambria House, Caerleon, Basque refugees from the Spanish Civil War.

Sandra Puhl translated my Ann’s War series into German and I’m delighted that she has agreed to translate my Eve’s War series. One of the joys of writing is working with creative people.

Art as therapy.

A crochet panel produced by George Preece following a life-changing accident at Abercynon Colliery in 1909.

George was involved in a transport accident which resulted in the loss of both legs. Unable to work again, he spent his time making the crochet panel, and other items from old food tins.

I enjoyed this film this week. During the first half, I thought the hero and heroine were too flippant for the subject matter. However, a tragic incident at the halfway mark changed the mood and the various strands came together to produce a suspenseful conclusion. Not a classic, but a good variation on the POW theme.

Brittany, 16 August 1944. Members of the FFI (French Forces of the Interior). Their uniforms show the French flag with the Free French emblem, the Cross of Lorraine.

By mid-August 1944 the Nazis were in full retreat and these women were contemplating the liberation of Paris, which arrived after a week-long battle, 19 August to 25 August.

Approximately twenty percent of the FFI were women. Many fought alongside their husbands, including Cécile Rol-Tanguy, Lucie Aubrac, Paulette Kriegel-Valrimont, Hélène Viannay, Cletta Mayer and Marie-Hélène Lefaucheux. They organised acts of sabotage, wrote and distributed newspapers, and freed many from Nazi concentration camps. Indeed, Marie-Hélène Postel-Vinay rescued Pierre Lefaucheux from a Gestapo prison camp. The couple subsequently married.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #53

Dear Reader,

Delighted to see that Smashwords are featuring The Olive Tree: Roots on their homepage 🙂

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/996773

An iconic photograph from the Spanish Civil War. This is Marina Ginestà i Coloma, born in Toulouse on 29 January 1919 after her family had emigrated to France from Spain.

Aged eleven, Marina returned to Spain, to Barcelona, with her parents, who were tailors. When the Spanish Civil War broke out she served as a translator and reporter. 

This picture was taken by Juan Guzman on 21 July 1936 when Marina was seventeen years old. The location is the rooftop of the Hotel Colón in Barcelona.

In 1952, Marina married a Belgian diplomat. She moved to Paris in 1978 and died there on 6th January 2014.

It’s an amazing fact that the vast majority of the female Resistance fighters I have researched lived well into their nineties.

My article about SOE heroine Jacqueline Nearne is on page 16 of the Seaside News. Lots of other interesting features included too.

The Longest Day contains many remarkable pieces of filmmaking, but from a technical point of view this scene is the highlight.

Sara Ginaite-Rubinson was born in Kaunas on 17 March 1924. She was a schoolgirl in 1941 when the Nazis invaded Lithuania, killing three of her uncles and imprisoning her and the surviving members of her family. 

While imprisioned in the Kovno Ghetto, Sara met Misha Rubinson, whom she later married. During the winter of 1943-44 the couple escaped and established a Resistance group. Twice, she returned to the ghetto to help others escape.

In 1944, Sara and Misha participated in the liberation of the Vilnius and Kaunas ghettos, freeing Sara’s sister and niece among many others.

After the war, Sara became a professor of political economics at Vilnius University. She also wrote an award-winning book, Resistance and Survival: The Jewish Community in Kaunas, 1941–1944.

Sara died on 2 April 2018, yet another remarkable Resistance fighter who lived well into her nineties.

* * *

Every year in France the locals collect sand from Omaha Beach, where the Americans lost 2,400 lives on D-Day, and use it to fill in the letters on the tombstones of the fallen.

Delighted that Paula Branch has agreed to narrate Operation Zigzag, book one in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series. Production will begin next week. Meanwhile, here’s one we made earlier https://www.amazon.com/Digging-Dirt-Smith-Mystery-Book/dp/B089CJLFWG/

“In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.” – Pico Iyer

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx


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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #52

Dear Reader,

Hard to believe that I’ve been posting these weekly ‘letters’ for a year. I don’t publish a newsletter so the idea of these posts is to keep my readers up to date with my writing and publishing, and introduce new readers to my work. I hope you enjoy the content as much as I enjoy putting these posts together.

Published this week, the June 2020 issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads 🙂

Download or read the magazine online FREE

In this issue…

Lockdown for Teenagers

Modern Movie Classics

Photography

Articles

Poems

Humour

Puzzles

Young Writers

And an insight into the Month of June

Countdown to the D-Day anniversary, 6th June. From a Second World War edition of the Daily Mirror, a recipe for omelettes made from dried eggs.

Local views this week…Coney Beach, , my footprints, Porthcawl Harbour, Sger House, roses in our garden

In Looking for Rosanna Mee, Sam Smith Mystery Series book seventeen, Sam visits Cardiff Museum where she admires Renoir’s La Parisienne.

Henriette Henriot, sixteen at the time, posed for La Parisienne. One of Renoir’s favourite models, she enjoyed a distinguished acting career, appearing on stage from 1875 until the outbreak of the First World War.

Countdown to the D-Day anniversary, 6th June.

4th June 1944, Rommel left Normandy and returned to Germany to attend his wife’s birthday. As a gift, he’d bought her a pair of suede shoes.

Two days later, the Allies paved the way for our freedom from fascism by landing on the Normandy beaches. Many bloody battles followed, but for the Nazis this was the beginning of the end.

PS: The shoes didn’t fit.

5th June 1944, General Eisenhower wrote this note, taking full responsibility, success or failure, for the D-Day landings.

Our ancestors had it tough, but at least they had real leaders.

This is Resistance fighter Simone Segouin at the liberation of Paris, 25 August 1944. Wearing her distinctive shorts, she was just eighteen years old at the time.

Simone began her Resistance career by stealing a bicycle from a Nazi messenger, which she used to deliver Resistance messages. After that, she captured Nazi troops, blew up bridges and derailed trains. 

On 23 August 1944, Simone participated in the liberation of Chartres and two days later in the liberation of Paris. After the war, she became a nurse.

Aged ninety-four, Simone still lives in France.

June 6th, the 76th anniversary of D-Day

During the evening of 5th June 1944, the BBC broadcast the following message, informing SOE agents and the French Resistance of the imminent invasion. 

The long sobs

Of violins

Of autumn

Wound my heart

With a monotone

Languor.

The words were written by Paul Verlaine in his poem Chanson d’automne – Autumn Song. 

The SOE agents and Resistance members acted instantly, securing many villages and small towns, sabotaging roads, bridges and railways in actions that delayed the Nazis for a fortnight, vital time that allowed the Allies to gain a vital foothold in Normandy before driving the fascists out of France.

Pearl Witherington’s story will continue next week.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx