Welcome to Ann’s War a series of five mysteries set during the Second World War.
This is Island Farm in Bridgend. This mini village was built in 1939 to house workers at the nearby Royal Ordinance Munitions Factory. However, because most of the workers were women with families, they preferred to live at home and commute to the Arsenal, so for four years the buildings weren’t used. Then, in 1943, when the Americans arrived in Wales to prepare for D-Day, many of them stayed at the camp, while others lived in tented villages or built accommodation on the sand dunes. After D-Day, the A!lies captured many prisoners of war, and some of them were placed in Island Farm. On the 10th March 1945, seventy prisoners escaped, an event known as the Welsh Great Escape, a breakout greater than the Allied Great Escape, which later became a famous film. After the war, the site became Special Camp Eleven and received many notable prisoners, including Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt and Field Marshal Erich von Manstein while they awaited trial at Nuremberg.
This is the American army camp on Kenfig sand dunes, a home to servicemen from 1943-4. On the picture you will see the main road, the trails running through the dunes, a small section of the pool (bottom right) and the regular quarters of the army camp. The beaches of South Wales were considered similar to the beaches of Normandy, and therefore served as ideal preparation for the D-Day landings. The servicemen practiced their manoeuvres on these dunes and beaches, firing thousands of rounds of ammunition from rifles, pistols and machine guns. Evidence of tank activity and mortar craters can still be found within the dunes.
Led by Major General Lloyd Brown, the 28th Infantry Division left America for South Wales on 8th October 1943. Upon their arrival they began their training for D-Day. On 22nd July 1944 the division landed in Normandy, seven weeks after the initial D-Day landings, and was involved in Operation Cobra. The 28th Infantry Division pushed east towards Paris through the Bocage. Five weeks later, on 29th August 1944, they were given the honour of marching down the Champs-Elysées to mark the Liberation of Paris, pictured.
Betrayal, the first story in Ann’s War, is set on the South Wales coast. The story centres on Ann, a young recently married secretary and her relationships with her husband, Emrys, a man working for British Intelligence, and Detective Inspector Max Devereaux, a widower. The mystery centres on an alleged infidelity, which leads to murder.
Four individual mysteries will follow Betrayal. These mysteries will include the preparations for D-Day, a mass escape from a prisoner of war camp and the VE Day celebrations. Although the stories will be fictitious they will be based on factual events. At the conclusion of story five Ann’s story arc will be complete.
One of the stories in Ann’s War features the Welsh Great Escape when 67, 70 or 84 – depending on your sources – German POWs escaped from Island Farm POW camp in Bridgend. Pictured, Field Marshall von Runstedt, General Blumentritt, General Heinrici and Field Marshall von Kleist arriving at Bridgend Railway Station en route to Island Farm after attending the Nuremburg war crimes trials.
Emrys and Ann Morgan’s car, a stylish 1938 Jensen S-Type.
Ann’s War is a mystery series set against the social history backdrop of the Second World War. Ann Morgan, the reluctant detective in the series, is fictitious. However, she is loosely based on real women of the period. For example, in the 1940s Melodie Walsh established herself as a private detective. Melodie Walsh’s father was a close friend of G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. Initially, Melodie worked as an actress – along with modelling, a middle-class career path for young women in the 1930s – before establishing her agency. Her bread and butter tasks included divorces and writ-serving, although glamorous assignments also presented themselves – on one occasion, Melodie went undercover as a model to foil a series of fur thefts. With her father’s social connections, Melodie was in demand, hired by people who wished to gain information while avoiding a scandal. In the 1940s, private detective work was still predominantly a male profession. However, through the likes of Melodie Walsh women were beginning to assert themselves.
More background details and news soon.