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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #58

Dear Reader,

During the Second World War, with coffee in short supply, many people in France turned to roasted barley as a substitute. The drink originated in Italy and because it’s caffeine free it became popular in Europe as a beverage for children. Chicory was another popular drink which stayed with the wartime generation for decades. I remember seeing chicory drinks in my ancestors’ pantries.

In occupied France the Nazis controlled the distribution of petrol, gasoline and diesel so the locals adapted their cars and trucks adding wood-gas generators. In this picture note the secondary radiator, which cooled the gas before its introduction into the engine.

Because of curfews only Nazi vehicles travelled at night. If an SOE agent heard a vehicle at night he or she knew it belonged to the Nazis. Therefore, their main hope was that the car continued on its way and didn’t stop outside the agent’s apartment.

My latest translation, the Spanish version of The Olive Tree: Roots, A Spanish Civil War Saga. Available soon 🙂

The road sweeper who keeps our street and field clean told me yesterday that he had the perfect job. He works at his own pace, in the sunshine, with no stress. Not everyone wants to be a banker.

This is London. In Wales we have zebra crossings 😂

Delighted that an Italian translation of The Olive Tree: Roots, A Spanish Civil War Saga, is now in production to join the Spanish version of this book.

More translation news. Eve’s War, Operation Zigzag will soon be translated into Spanish. A German version of this book will also be published soon.

A fact from the Second World War. Less than five percent of British pilots shot down five or more enemy planes.

British pilots shot down 2,698 enemy aircraft between 10 July and 31 October 1940, the Battle of Britain, so it was a great team effort.

Local views this week, the Glamorgan coast.

Love is…

Marie-Madeleine Fourcade

Marie-Madeleine Fourcade was born on 11 August 1909 in Marseille. Under the code name ‘Hérisson’ (‘Hedgehog’) she had the distinction of being the only female leader of a French Resistance network, ‘Alliance’, later named ‘Noah’s Ark’.

Marie-Madeleine Fourcade

Marie-Madeleine married Edouard Meric, a future colonel, when she was twenty. The couple had two children, but later became estranged.

Aged thirty, Marie-Madeleine worked on a magazine, L’ordre national, and became involved in espionage. During her first mission she created Resistance sections in occupied France and assigned agents to these sections. This network developed into Noah’s Ark.

After the Gestapo arrested a number of leading Resistance figures it fell to Marie-Madeleine to lead the movement. She achieved a notable success when her agent Jeannie Rousseau convinced a Wehrmacht officer to draw a rocket and a testing station revealing details of Peenemünde and the V2 rocket programme. These details were forwarded to the Allies.

The British military authorities were so impressed with the quality of Marie-Madeleine’s reports that they sent her a wireless operator. Unfortunately, the wireless operator became a double agent and a number of her colleagues were arrested and murdered by the Gestapo.

After sending her children to live in the safe haven of Switzerland, Marie-Madeleine spent months on the run, moving from city to city to avoid detection. While on the run she gave birth to her third child, a son, whom she hid in a safe-house.

One of Marie-Madeleine’s identity cards

In July 1943, with the Gestapo closing in, Marie-Madeleine left France for Britain where she worked for British intelligence. Although eager to return to France, she had to wait until July 1944 when she rejoined her Noah’s Ark agents.

In Noah’s Ark all the agents were assigned animal names as code names. Their assignments involved gathering information about Nazi troop movements and transmit this intelligence to Britain using a network of couriers and clandestine wireless transmitters. 

The Nazis were able to track down wireless signals, which meant that wireless transmission was perilous work. In total, the Noah’s Ark network lost 438 agents, but still others stepped forward to continue the fight against fascism.

The Gestapo captured Marie-Madeleine on two occasions. Arrested with her staff on 10 November 1942 she escaped and was transported by aeroplane to Britain where she continued to direct the network. 

On her return to France, Marie-Madeleine was captured for a second time. Once again, she escaped this time by stripping naked and squeezing her petite body between the bars of her cell window.

After the war, Marie-Madeleine wrote L’Arche de Noé, a memoir of her wartime experiences. The book was published in 1968 and later abridged and translated into English as Noah’s Ark

My battered second-hand copy of Noah’s Ark

Active in her community, Marie-Madeleine’s social works included the care of 3,000 Resistance agents and survivors, and the publication of Mémorial de l’Alliance, which was dedicated to the 438 Resistance fighters lost during the war.

Marie-Madeleine remarried and in total had five children. She remained active on many committees, often chairing them, throughout her life. One of her last battles involved the Klaus Barbie lawsuit in Lyon in 1987, which resulted in his conviction for war crimes.

Marie-Madeleine Fourcade died on 20 July 1989, aged eighty, at the military hospital of Val-de-Grace. She was buried with honours and is remembered as one of the true heroines of France.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

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 #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 #37

Dear Reader,

My top ten this week, which features Sam, Ann and Grace. Many thanks to everyone who supports my books.

Sam now has readers in Latvia, Slovakia and Switzerland.

To date, I have readers in America, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, El Salvador, England, Fiji, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland. Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Wales.

My aim is to reach more of these readers, in as many languages as possible. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this quest.

Following the career of SOE agent Pearl Witherington, a truly remarkable woman and an inspiration for my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series.

From Pearl’s SOE file, her training notes on codes and cyphers.

Pearl’s keywords ‘fou tez moi la paix’ sound very much like her personal selection and offer a direct plea to her instructors to accept her as an agent…’give me a break’.

Read more about Pearl at the SOE here https://hannah-howe.com/eves-war/pearl-witherington-soe-reports/

In association with Mom’s Favorite Reads and NeoLeaf Press I’m delighted to feature in the Strong Women anthology.

The anthology features many fabulous authors along with my Sam Smith short story Over the Edge.

The anthology is currently available for pre-order at the offer price of 0.99. More details via this universal link.

https://books2read.com/u/bwv7A0

A modern picture of Eve and Michel Beringar’s penthouse apartment at the Canebiere, Marseille, one of several homes owned or rented by the couple.

Chapter One of Operation Zigzag takes place in this apartment when a member of the Resistance asks Eve to assist them in springing Zigzag from a Gestapo prison before escorting him to the relative safety of Spain.

https://books2read.com/u/mKDDyv

With the first draft of Operation Zigzag complete, this afternoon I created the character profiles for book two, Operation Locksmith. In Locksmith, the SOE recruit Eve and she undergoes training. Her training is based on the SOE manual of 1943 and includes how to fire hand guns and machine guns, plant bombs, martial arts, climb mountains, run cross country, overcome obstacle courses and pick locks.

During her training, Eve meets Guy Samson and Mimi Duchamp, two agents who will play significant roles in her life, plus Major-General Cunningham and Vera Penrose, the ‘father’ and ‘mother’ of SOE. She also encounters a psychiatrist, who probes her mind, and Major McAllister, an SOE instructor whom she takes an instant dislike to.

There’s a fair amount of humour in this story, which will make it even more fun to write.

The sort of people I’m writing about right now.

Meet me at the station underneath the clock

Carry an umbrella, no need to talk

The man in the homburg, hiding in the fog
Will be watching

Get yourself a ticket, go through the gate

At seven forty-five precisely, don’t be late

If anybody follows don’t hesitate

Keep on walking

And take the night train to Munich

Rumbling down the track

After half an hour in the restaurant car

Look for the conductor

And there will be a stain on his tunic

A paper underneath his arm

Then you’d better pray that he doesn’t look away

Or you’ll never, never, never come back.

When you get the paper take a look inside

On page twenty-seven there’s a photo of a bride

Underneath the story of a man who died

In Morocco

Memorize the article word for word

The man in the homburg understands the code

Make sure the conversation isn’t overheard

They’re around you

And take the night train to Munich

Rumbling down the track

After half an hour in the restaurant car

Look for the conductor

And there will be a stain on his tunic

A paper underneath his arm

Then you’d better pray that he doesn’t look away

Or you’ll never, never, never come back.

I really wouldn’t ask if there was anybody else

But I now you’ve got the knack of taking care of yourself

And they don’t know your face so there won’t be anyone

Looking for you

When you get to Munich we’ll be waiting in the car

Don’t look around, just walk straight out

If you don’t show, I’m sorry for the pain

I caused you

Upon the night train to Munich

Rumbling down the track

After half an hour in the restaurant car

Look for the conductor

And there will be a stain on his tunic

A paper underneath his arm

Then you’d better pray that he doesn’t look away

Or you’ll never, never, never come back.

A selection of my audiobooks. More to follow 🙂

https://books.apple.com/gb/author/hannah-howe/id1017374616

Story ideas come from multiple sources, including songs. This song helped to shape Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen.

Goylake Publishing is named after a local river, which is flowing fast on this stormy day.

Women of Courage Heroines of SOE 

Described by fellow agent Peter Churchill as ‘a woman full of humour and common sense’, Marie-Thérèse Le Chêne was born on 20 April 1890 in Sedan, France. A small woman, she possessed grey hair and sharp determined features.

Aged 52, Marie-Thérèse was the oldest female SOE agent sent to France where she served from 31 October 1942 until 19 August 1943 as a courier working alongside her husband, Henri Le Chêne, and her brother-in-law, Pierre Le Chêne.

Early in World War Two, Marie-Thérèse fled France for London with her husband,Henri. In London, Marie-Thérèse worked as a cook and manager of a hotel. Henri, a British citizen despite his French birth, had previously managed a hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.

Interestingly, the Le Chêne family decided to join the SOE, and not Charles de Gaulle’s Resistance movement. There was great rivalry between the SOE and de Gaulle’s Resistance movement, and a lot of in-fighting, mainly based on rival political beliefs.

On the night of 3/4 November 1942, Marie-Thérèse landed at Port Miou, near Cassis. She arrived with fellow agents George Starr, Mary Herbert and Odette Sansom and worked alongside her husband as a courier and later as a distributor of political pamphlets and anti-German leaflets. Towards the end of her period in France, she also conducted a sabotage mission on a canal and railway line.

During a visit to Clermont-Ferrand, a town that strongly favoured the Resistance, Marie-Thérèse discovered that the workers at the Michelin Rubber Works were sabotaging production and delivering inferior tyres to the Germans. This not only disrupted the Germans, but also kept the workers in constant employment.

In January 1943, with the Gestapo closing in and Pierre captured, Henri fled France via the Pyrenees, the most popular land escape route at the time. Too tired to join him, Marie-Thérèse hid in friends’ houses until an SOE Hudson evacuated her from a field in Angers on 19 August 1943. Back in Britain, she rejoined her husband who added wryly that he had joined the SOE to get away from his wife, but that she had followed him into the service.

After the war, Marie-Thérèse, Henri and Pierre, who’d managed to escape, returned to France where they opened a hotel in Sainte-Menehould. 

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Categories
Dear Reader

Dear Reader #36

Dear Reader,

My personal top ten this week. Through kind gestures and loyal support many people contribute to my books. Thank you one and all.

The prologue for Operation Zigzag is now in place. This prologue establishes the background to my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE series. Recently, I said that I like to know the last line of a story before commencing writing. With a twelve book series it’s difficult to know the last line. However, while cleaning my teeth this morning the last line came to me. Now, I have the beginning and the end so all I need to do is add the thousands of words in the middle 🙂

https://books2read.com/u/mKDDyv

My latest translation, the Spanish version of Digging in the Dirt, published soon.

More exciting translation news. I’m delighted that Adriana has agreed to translate Victory in my Ann’s War series, into Portuguese, and that Sandra has agreed to translate Eve’s War into German.

Three authors who write quality books. Please visit their websites and discover their wonderful stories for yourself.

Folklore, fantasy and more from Ronesa Aveela http://www.bendideia.com/ and http://www.ronesaaveela.com/

International Mysteries from Rachael Wright http://www.authorrachaelwright.com/

Romantic Thrillers from Heather Ramsay https://www.heatherramsayauthor.com/

Operation Zigzag, book one in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series is now a Hot 💯 new release in America, Australia, Britain and Canada. Many thanks to my readers for supporting my books.

https://books2read.com/u/mKDDyv

Pearl Witherington was a remarkable woman. Her life story serves as an inspiration for my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series. 

In 1943, Pearl underwent training to become a SOE agent. Her file reveals a page of signatures where she practiced her new identity as Genevieve Touzalin, a secretary in a match company. 

Once I’ve established my Eve’s War series I would like to write a biography of Pearl Witherington. In an age of heroes and heroines, she stood tall, beyond compare.

I’m reading the SOE Spy School manual published in 1943. In the chapter about disguise the manual offers the following advice for making your face look younger: “Apply hot towels, then apply alum all over the face. This tightens the skin considerably and when talcum is applied afterwards gives a fresh young appearance.”

Women of Courage Heroines of SOE

Phyllis ‘Pippa’ Latour was born on 8 April 1921. Her father,Philippe, a French doctor, married Louise, a British citizen living in South Africa. When Phyllis was three months old her father died. Three years later her mother married a racing driver who allowed his new wife to race his cars as well. Sadly, this resulted in an accident and her mother’s death.

In November 1941, Phyllis moved to Britain where she joined the WAAF, serving as a flight mechanic. Through the WAAF, Phyllis came to the SOE’s attention and they invited her to join their physical and mental training courses. Phyllis was motivated to join the SOE because the Nazis had shot her godmother’s father and her godmother had committed suicide while imprisoned. She joined on 1 November 1943 and was commissioned as an Honarary Section Officer.

On 1 May 1944, Phyllis parachuted into Orne, Normandy to operate with the Scientist II circuit, using the code name Genevieve. She worked as a wireless operator alongside Claude de Baissac and his sister, Lise.

A small woman, Phyllis was fluent in French. Often, she posed as a teenage girl whose family had moved to the region to escape the Allied bombing. As cover, she was an art student from Caen who sold soap from her bicycle and mingled with the German soldiers.

When Phyllis obtained military intelligence she encoded it for transmission using one-time codes that were hidden on a piece of silk tied around her hair. On one occasion, the German’s brought her in for questioning, but they failed to examine the silk in her hair. On another occasion she deterred would-be searchers by pretending that she had scarlet fever. 

After D-Day, Phyllis was held prisoner for five hours by the Allies because her looks did not match her official description, so adept had she become at disguise. Eventually, she was recognised by a guide and released. From her vantage point, she watched as the Allies marched through her village heading south on their mission to liberate France.

After the war, Phyllis married an engineer. Together, they had a family and lived in various countries, mainly in Australasia.

“Why do you think we are on this earth? To make people happy. But you can’t make everyone happy. So you decide to make one person happy; just one. That’s why you’ve been created, given intelligence and a set of emotions.” – Claude Arnault to fellow SOE agent Anne-Marie Walters, both pictured, during a conversation while hiding from the Gestapo.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx