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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

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #48

I’m honoured to have two of my articles featured in the Seaside News this month. You can find them on page sixteen of the magazine.

This is Lilly of the Valley. A French friend informs me that it’s a tradition to share this at the beginning of May to wish friends good luck and happiness throughout the coming year, so I’m happy to share it with you 🙂
 
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We are making good progress with the audiobook version of Digging in the Dirt and hope to publish in early June. Meanwhile, here’s the cover.

The May 2020 issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now available to read and download FREE 🙂

Sam visits the Rhymney Valley in Looking for Rosanna Mee.

Lightly populated for centuries, the valley developed through heavy industry – iron, steel and coal.
 
Local legend states that a giant harassed the fairies. They asked an owl for help and he slew the giant. As the fairies burned the giant’s body the scorched earth revealed the coal.
 
Picture: Wikipedia
 
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This is a letter written by Captain Selwyn Jepson of the SOE recommending Jacqueline Nearne for service in the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. It’s pure fiction. For this letter to be authentic, Jepson should have known Jacqueline for at least two years (he’d known her for two weeks). Prudence Macfie of the FANY wrote a similar letter, even though she‘d known Jacqueline for a shorter period than Jepson.
 
Why the deception? The FANY was used as a cover for female SOE agents and in Jacqueline, Jepson saw someone who could serve the SOE well. His judgement proved correct. Jacqueline served the SOE with distinction and was awarded numerous honours after the war.
 
 
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During the Second World War, thousands of coded messages were sent from Britain to SOE agents in France. Here are four received by Pearl Witherington’s Wrestler network.
 
Quasimodo is a fete = Intensify guerrilla warfare
Don’t play about in the morning = Cut telephone communications
Sherry is a Spanish wine = Block the roads
A badly dressed woman = Sabotage railway lines
 

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Local views this week, from Ogmore, Kenfig and the Goylake River.
 

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Wishing you a Happy 75th VE Day Anniversary.
 
Our ancestors gave so much, including their lives, in the fight against fascism. We owe it to them, ourselves and our children to ensure that the current generation of fascists with their racist views, false smiles and pathological lies do not triumph.
 
Our ancestors gave their lives for a better world. It is up to us, everyone of us, to make their dream a reality.
 
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Women of Courage Heroines of SOE

Odette Victoria Wilen was born on 25 April 1919. She served the SOE in France under the code name Sophie. Odette’s experiences in France read like a romantic adventure novel, with tragic twists and turns, and a fairytale ending.

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Odette Wilen

Born of a French mother and a Czech father, who served as an RAF officer, Odette became a naturalised British citizen in 1931. In June 1940, she married Dennis Wilen, a Finnish RAF pilot instructor. Sadly, he died during a flying accident in 1942.

In April 1943, Odette joined the SOE. At her request, she trained as a wireless operator and was parachuted into France on 11 April 1944 to join the Stationer network in Auvergne.

Odette’s organiser, Maurice Southgate, believed that she had not received sufficient training, which was symptomatic of the SOE’s desperate need to send wireless operators into the field. Subsequently, she was replaced.

Meanwhile, through a network of contacts, which included fellow agents Pearl Witherington and Virginia Hall, Odette transferred to the Labourer network where she worked in Paris as a courier alongside Marcel Leccia, who became her fiancé. Sadly, through betrayal the Gestapo captured Marcel and two of his colleagues. In keeping with their barbaric code, the Gestapo murdered Marcel in September 1944.

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Pearl Witherington

Odette was saved from the Gestapo by Pearl Witherington and by Marcel’s sister, Mimi, who warned her of their impending threat. After trying to secure Marcel’s release, Odette fled Paris by bicycle before following the well-warn escape route over the Pyrenees into Spain, then on to Gibraltar and Britain, arriving in August 1944.

During her exfiltration, Odette met the head of the Spanish escape network, Santiago Strugo Garay. Although they spent only three days together, Odette must have left a strong impression on Santiago because at the end of the war, he left Spain to meet up with her in Britain. The couple married in March 1946 and later settled in Buenos Aires.

Odette and Santiago produced two children. He died in 1997 while she died in 2015, aged 96.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

PS Apologies for any formatting errors, these are a result of WordPress’ increasingly unreliable platform.

 
 
 
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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #39

Dear Reader,

Another excellent week for Ann in my personal sales top ten.

Published this week, the March issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads!

I’m delighted to be a member of the editorial team. In this issue you will find a number of my articles and interviews plus great contributions from a range of talented writers.

In this issue…

Our authors gaze into their crystal balls and predict the future.

Articles on mental health, physical health, women of courage plus everything you need to know about March.

The story of StreetVet, vets who help the pets of homeless people

Interviews, puzzles, poems, humour, travel, young writers and so much more!

This week, I made a start on Roots, The Olive Tree, A Spanish Civil War Saga. This mini series offers fresh and interesting challenges for me because the stories are not mysteries. That said, I’ve never regarded myself as a mystery writer in the Agatha Christie tradition.

Although these stories are set in 1937-8 the characters are familiar to me mainly because of their backgrounds.

As I branch out with The Olive Tree and Eve’s War the more I’m drawn to Sam. By exploring various formats and genres I believe it will strengthen my writing of the Sam Smith Mystery Series.

https://books2read.com/u/mgZ1dq

My latest translation, the German version of Saving Grace. Sandra has agreed to translate my forthcoming Eve’s War series. She’s a wonderful translator so I’m looking forward to that project.

While reading Pearl Witherington’s SOE file, I discovered an amazing coincidence. As secretary ‘Genevieve Touzalin‘, Pearl’s false papers and cover story stated that she lived on Rue Paradis, Marseille. Yesterday, I wrote a chapter of Operation Zigzag set on Rue Paradis 🙂

In Operation Zigzag, Eve’s husband, Michel, drives a Talbot Lago T150 SS Teardrop Coupe, like this one, along Rue Paradis.

My updated store, which features Snow in August, my latest Sam Smith mystery for only £2.99 a saving of 66% off the recommended retail price 🙂

https://hannah-howe.com/mystore/

I completed the writing of Operation Zigzag today. The editing and proofreading will follow. Next week I will develop the storyboard for Operation Locksmith. This story introduces Guy Samson and Mimi Duchamp to the series. The interplay between Eve, Guy and Mimi will be central to this series so I’m looking forward to writing this story.

Operation Zigzag is receiving excellent pre-order support from Canada, so many thanks to my Canadian readers.

https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/operation-zigzag/9781999370992-item.html

The SOE had a team of boffins who designed everything from pen guns, to exploding cow pats to clothes in the latest French fashions. One of the tricks they employed was ageing, for clothing, briefcases and money. To age money the women in the Cover and Documentations department used to wear freshly minted banknotes in their brassieres to soften the notes.

Women of Courage Heroines of SOE

Yvonne Fontaine was born on 8 August 1913. From Troyes, Yvonne witnessed Allied bombing raids and her initial contact with the French Resistance came about through helping Allied airmen, shot down over France, to escape to Spain.

Saint-Girons, France to Esterri d’Aneu, Spain, the Freedom Trail

For the SOE, Yvonne began work for the Tinker network as a courier with organiser Ben Cowburn. When the Gestapo closed in on the network, the SOE recalled Yvonne to Britain on 15 November 1943. At this stage Yvonne was not officially recognised as an SOE agent. Indeed, some sources still do not recognise her, which is a shame given her level of bravery and commitment.

In Britain, Yvonne underwent SOE training. She returned to France by boat landing on the North Breton coast on 25 March 1944 to continue her work as a courier, travelling throughout France, carrying messages and sabotage materials.

Yvonne’s network enjoyed numerous successes, which included destroying railway tracks and engines, sabotaging canals by lowering the water levels and dusting itching powder on to the shirts and singlets of German submarine crews.

When the Nazis arrested the leaders of Yvonne’s network, she stepped up and continued their work helping to organise the Resistance in the lead up to D-Day. In the euphoria post D-Day, she collected information and materials, and collated reports before returning to Britain on 16 September 1944, her mission successful.

After the war, Yvonne settled into married life. She died on 9 May 1996.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #35

Dear Reader,

My sales top ten this week with Saving Grace up to #2. Many thanks to everyone who supports my books.

My latest translation will be available soon, The Big Chill in Swedish. This is my third Swedish project with Jill, a wonderful translator.

Just published, Mom’s Favorite Reads February issue!

In this issue…

Valentine’s Day 
Leap Year
Mental Health 
Young Writers
Humour
Interviews
Hypnotism
And so much more!

Read online or download your FREE copy today 🙂

Before I write a story l like to know what the last line will be. My Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series will be twelve books, so at this stage it’s difficult to know exactly what the last line will be. However, I’ve just thought of the last significant action that will tie up all the threads within the series. It’s magical when that happens.

Local views today, Margam Park.

The alchemy always amazes me, how one line from research notes can transform into a story within minutes. I’ve just outlined Operation Treasure in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series. Even in war is it possible to shoot an unharmed woman in cold blood? Eve is about to find out.

Meanwhile, Operation Zigzag continues to climb the Hot 💯 Chart, rubbing shoulders with New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Amazon #1 bestselling author Robert Dugoni 🙂

Here’s the universal book link for Operation Zigzag https://books2read.com/u/mKDDyv

Women of Courage, Heroines of SOE

Jacqueline Nearne was born on 27 May 1916 in Brighton. She was the eldest daughter of an English father and a Spanish mother. Her family moved to France in 1923 then when France fell in 1940 she made her way to Britain via Portugal and Gibraltar.

In Britain, Jacqueline applied to join the ATS, but was rejected due to her lack of experience driving in the dark and on the left-hand side of the road.

In 1942, Jacqueline was recruited into the FANYs, the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. This was common for many female members of the SOE. During the summer of 1942 she trained as a courier for the SOE. Her younger sister, Eileen, and brother, Francis, also served in the SOE.

Jacqueline trained with Lise de Baissac, and the two became great friends. On 25 January 1943, after further training, as a radio operator, Jacqueline parachuted into France to work for the Stationer circuit.

Jacqueline’s fake ID card while serving the SOE

The SOE provided agents with tailored clothing to suit the French fashions. Nevertheless, Jacqueline noticed that French and British knitting was so different that the Nazis could recognise the stitching. Therefore, she decided to knit socks for her fellow agents earning the nickname ‘Jackie Red Socks’.

Jacqueline carried spare parts for her radios inside a cosmetics bag. The average life-expectancy for a wireless operator was only six weeks. However, Jacqueline remained in the field for fifteen months, returning to Britain on 10 April 1944 via a Westland Lysander, an aircraft commonly used to deliver and rescue agents.

After the war, Jacqueline spent some time nursing her sister, Eileen, also an agent who had suffered while in France. Then she moved to New York to work at the United Nations.

In 1946, Jacqueline played ‘Cat’, a character based on herself, in the RAF Film Unit’s production of Now It Can Be Told, which was also released as School for Danger, a drama-documentary about the SOE. As well as her daring exploits, the film also highlighted Jacqueline’s knitting.

Operation Zigzag, book one in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series is now available to pre-order from Amazon.

Eve’s War is a series of twelve novellas. Each book contains approximately 20,000 words and a complete story. Kindly note that the price throughout the series will be set at the minimum level and that Eve’s story arc will be concluded at the end of the series.

Marseille, December 1942

“We’re in a fix,” Vincent said. “The Gestapo have captured a British agent, code name Zigzag. They picked him up through his false identity papers, only the thing is they haven’t discovered his true identity, yet. But they will. And he will talk. They all do in the end. And when he talks he will reveal secrets that will destroy the local resistance networks, including our own. But there’s a way out, through a guard. He’s open to bribes. We’d like you to meet the guard, bribe him, spring Zigzag from the Gestapo prison then escort him over the mountain pass into Spain.”

“Why me?” I asked.

“Because you helped to establish the escape network. And you know the mountain trails like the back of your hand. Furthermore, as the wife of respected industrialist Michel Beringar you are above suspicion.”

I glanced at Michel. From the stern look on his face, I could tell that he wasn’t pleased. Was this one risk too many? And as for me being above suspicion…the Gestapo were following me and they were tapping my phone.

As a child, I’d run away from home. As a teenager, I’d travelled the world, living on my wits. As a journalist, I’d witnessed atrocities inflicted in the name of fascism. As a member of the Resistance, I’d eyeballed fear and stared it down. For the past thirty years I’d lived a full life. I could do this. However, even as I voiced my agreement I knew that my life in Marseille, my life with Michel, would never be the same.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #34

Dear Reader,

Some big changes to my top ten this week with Ann at #1 and all five books in my Ann’s War series in the top ten. Saving Grace also features, at #9. Betrayal reached #1 on the Amazon charts this week, for the eighth time. Many thanks to everyone who supports my books.

A lovely review for the Spanish version of Saving Grace. Many thanks to all my translators for their fantastic contributions to my books.

5 out of 5 stars Una novela súper interesante bien narrada.

Es una muy interesante historia, narrada de forma que te atrapa rápidamente, se nota que la autora investigó bien la temática antes de escribir. Lo recomiendo 100%

Mom has been publishing monthly magazines since October 2018. As editor, I’m delighted to announce that you can now catch up with all our back issues. Simply visit Mom’s website for hundreds of pages of articles, stories, recipes, puzzles, big name interviews and so much more 🙂

I am reading over forty books as I research Eve’s War. All of these books tell remarkable stories. However, the stand-out book so far is Moondrop to Gascony by Anne-Marie Walters. Anne-Marie, only twenty when she arrived in France as an SOE agent, had a way with words. Indeed, after the war she became a translator and editor, and created her own literary agency.

It’s interesting to note the difference in the covers from the first edition to a recent edition. Writers have also added an introduction and notes to the recent edition.

Quite rightly, Moondrop to Gascony won the John Llewellyn-Rhys prize in 1947.

Women of Courage – Heroines of the SOE

Anne-Marie Walters was born in Switzerland on 16 March 1923. Under the code name Colette she served the Wheelwright network as a courier. Twenty years old when she arrived in France she was, after Sonya Butt, the youngest female agent of the SOE.

Anne-Marie was born in Geneva. Her mother was French while her father was F.P. Walters, Deputy Secretary-General of the League of Nations. The family left Switzerland for Britain after the outbreak of the war and Anne-Marie joined the WAAF in 1941.

The SOE recruited Anne-Marie on 6 July 1943 and after a period of training she joined the Wheelwright network in France arriving on 4 January 1944.

On 16 March 1944, Anne-Marie celebrated her twenty-first birthday. Her hosts provided a beautifully decorated birthday cake with twenty-one lighted candles. However, the candles soon emptied the room for they were pieces of detonating fuse painted pink by the group’s explosives expert!

After D-Day the French Resistance became bolder and the Nazis more brutal in suppressing any opposition. On 21 June 1944 an estimated 2,000 soldiers of the German army attacked a pocket of the Resistance led by Lt. Colonel George Starr. During the battle, Anne-Marie distributed hand-grenades to the Resistance and buried incriminating documents in a cave under a church. She also collected SOE money and took it with her when she and the Resistance withdrew from the village. 

During her time in the SOE, Anne-Marie clashed with section leader George Starr. Of him she later said, “He is strictly an agent and neither a politician nor a military strategist…the guerrilla action he commanded was most unsuccessful.” In turn, Starr criticised Anne-Marie. He said, “She wore high Paris fashion,” thus violating his principle that couriers should be inconspicuous. He ordered her to leave France adding that she was “undisciplined, indiscreet, very ‘man-mad’ and disobedient.”

However, Starr, a controversial character who faced a court of enquiry when he returned to Britain, acknowledged Anne-Marie’s courage and willingness to undertake any mission. 

Anne-Marie left France in August 1944 and travelled through Spain en route to Algiers. In Britain she wrote a report. In her report she claimed that Starr accused her of having an affair with a fellow agent and of spreading rumours that he was having an affair with a female SOE agent. 

In 1946, Anne-Marie published a book, Moondrop to Gascony, detailing her experiences in the SOE. Her book, beautifully written, won the John Llewellyn-Rhys prize in 1947.

Later, under her married name, Anne-Marie Comert, she established herself as an editor, translator and literary agent. She died in France in 1998, aged 75.

Local views around Ogmore this misty, moisty morning.

Meet Eve Beringar, narrator of Eve’s War https://hannah-howe.com/eves-war/eve-beringar-background/

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx