Published this week, Looking For Rosanna Mee, my seventeenth Sam Smith Mystery. The intention was to write just the one book, but Sam thought otherwise…
Freshwater West this week.
Maslow’s hierarchy for modern times 🤣
A tearful farewell at Paddington Station c1942, by Bert Hardy.
In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower gave a speech to D-Day veterans, discussing those who‘d died under his command. Before D-Day, he wrote a letter stating that whatever the outcome he’d take full responsibility. The memories moved him. Great leaders have empathy, they respect their men.
Delighted to announce that my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series will be translated into German 🙂
Introduced in Paris in 1932, this is the Cyclomer, an amphibious bicycle. With four air-filled floats for buoyancy and propelled by two fan blades, as you might have gathered the idea didn’t catch on.
I’ve completed the writing of Operation Broadsword, book three in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series. Editing to follow. This story ends with a Westland Lysander, a short-range aircraft that was adapted for clandestine operations.
The Lysander could use small, improvised airstrips and therefore was well suited to delivering and recovering agents from behind enemy lines particularly in occupied France with the help of the French Resistance.
Just made a bread pudding, based on my grandmother’s recipe 🙂
Cécile Rol-Tanguy and Henri Tanguy, the French Resistance couple who conducted clandestine operations, relayed confidential messages and participated in the liberation of Paris. Read their remarkable story here 👇
During the Second World War when SOE agents parachuted into France they took pigeons with them. Questionnaires from the BBC were attached to the pigeons. The locals filled in the questionnaires and the pigeons returned to SOE HQ at 64 Baker Street.
On 5 September, I publish Looking for Rosanna Mee, Sam Smith Mystery Series book seventeen. It’s lovely to see the book sitting alongside JK Rowling (aka Robert Galbraith) in the top forty. Many thanks to my readers for their support 🙂
Through consumption and entertainment, the slaves would love their servitudes.”
So much of the 1930s speaks to us today.
When the Nazis captured SOE agent Odette Sansom they placed her in the dark for three weeks believing that would break her. However, Odette didn’t mind the total darkness because as a child a serious illness had blinded her for three and a half years.
This is a 393 year old Greenland Shark. The oldest living vertebrate known on the planet, it’s been swimming in the ocean since 1627.
Researchers used radiocarbon dating to determine the age of the shark. A possible explanation for this species’ longevity is that they spend their lives 2,000 metres down, where the water temperature is around 29 degrees Fahrenheit. Extreme cold is associated with slow metabolism and maturation – Greenland Sharks don’t reach adulthood until age 150 – as well as long life spans.
“I Facebook, therefore I am.”
When captured by the Gestapo, SOE agent Alix d’Unienville pretended to be mentally ill. In reality, she was very strong and this enabled her to escape while in transit to a concentration camp. She fled into a wood, hid, then returned to Paris in a Jeep.
The battle for Paris began on the 10 August 1944 when railway and Metro staff went on strike, an example followed by policemen and postal workers.
The strike became general on the 18 August and by the 19 August fighting had broken out across the city. On that day 3,000 police officers invaded the Préfecture de Police, which became the first building to be officially liberated.
With the Allies advancing, the Nazis retreated. Those who remained sought to defend and destroy until forced into surrender on 25 August 1944.
Packed with shorts stories, articles, puzzles, recipes and so much more, the latest issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads.
Images from my garden this week.
My article about SOE heroine Anne-Marie Walters appears on page 20 of the magazine.
I’m enjoying Paula’s narration of Operation Locksmith, book two in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series. Normally, I don’t like listening to my own words, but it’s great fun to be a part of this production.
Nazi board game from 1941 – Wir fahren gegen England (We go against England).
“Fun for all the family.”
Normandy, 1944. While the battle rages, a Frenchwoman pours a drink for a British soldier.
We have more sheep than people 🙂
Walking through the clouds on Pen-y-Fan this week.
Basically, my approach to writing.
Hannah Arendt on Writing:
Gaus: Do you write easily? Do you formulate ideas easily?
Arendt: Sometimes I do; sometimes I don’t. But in general I can tell you that I never write until I can, so to speak, take dictation from myself…Usually I write it all down only once.
The organisational aspect of D-Day never ceases to amaze me. 2 August 1944. The French 2nd Armored Division arrived in France, landing at Utah Beach, Normandy. The division served under General Patton as part of the US Third Army.
Two weeks later, they helped to liberate Paris.
I’m really getting into my character Eve in my Eve’s War series, so much so that when she met a Maquis leader today and they shared cheese as a peace offering it gave me a strong urge to eat cheese. Tomorrow, Eve blows up a railway line. I hope I don’t get a strong urge to play with dynamite 🤣
On this date, with the First World War ten days old, George Bernard Shaw wrote an article urging both sides to shoot their officers and go home.
An inspiration for Guy Samson in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE series, Francis Charles Albert Cammaerts was born in London on 16 June 1916. Under the code name Roger he was an agent of the Special Operations Executive. His parents were Professor Emile Cammaerts, a Belgian poet, and Tita Brand, a successful actress.
At the beginning of the Second World War, Cammaerts declared himself a conscientious objector. However, in October 1942 he joined the SOE and between March 1943 and September 1944 he led the Jockey network in southeastern France. Considered during training as more intellectual than practical he, nevertheless, completed the course with distinction.
Cammaerts became a pacifist in the 1930s while studying at Cambridge. After university, he established a teaching career where he met fellow teacher and pacifist Harry Rée. After much soul searching, Harry decided to join the SOE. This decision, along with the death of his brother, Pieter, who served in the RAF, convinced Cammaerts that he too should place his pasifist beliefs to one side and join the SOE.
Regarded as one of the finest male agents, Cammaerts recruited locals to the Resistance networks, supplying them with arms and training. He completed two tours as an SOE agent, totalling fifteen months, a period far longer than the average time served by an agent in France. He never stayed in the same house for more than three or four nights. Furthermore, he avoided hotels as their registers were checked by the Gestapo and French police, stayed clear of large railway stations and never told anyone of his plans.
In the Jockey network, Cammaerts linked up with wireless operator Auguste Fioras. On 27 May 1943, the pair sent their first message to SOE headquarters in London while Fioras went on to transmit 416 wireless messages during 1943 and 1944, a record for an SOE wireless operator.
Cammaerts’ Jockey circuit, which had developed to include over 10,000 people, played a crucial role in the action that followed the D-Day landings. His men and women cut communication and railway lines, which severely hindered the movements of Nazi troops and armaments.
Aware of the risks the locals were taking, Cammaerts always informed them that he was an SOE agent and reminded them of the consequences should anyone talk or be caught. Despite this, he always received a warm welcome. Later, along with many other agents, he gave a great deal of credit to the ordinary French citizens who provided him and his colleagues with safety and support. In the television series Secret Agent, broadcast in 2000, Cammaerts said, “The most important element was the French housewife who fed us, clothed us and kept us cheerful.”
At 193 cm tall and with feet so large his nickname in France was “Big Feet”, Cammaerts feared that he would attract the Gestapo’s attention. Furthermore, he spoke French with a noticeable Belgian accent, which made him vulnerable to informers in the Malice. His security fears were realised on 13 August 1944 when he was arrested at a roadblock by the Gestapo. He was taken to Digne prison where he was beaten and interrogated. During the interrogation, he insisted that he was involved in the black market, a cover story he concocted to account for the large sum of money he carried about his person.
Even though Cammaerts was the most important SOE agent in southeastern France, the Gestapo didn’t realise that they had captured him. Nevertheless, they suspected that he belonged to the Resistance and arranged his execution.
However, on 17 August 1944, two days before the Allied invasion of southern France, fellow agent and courier Christine Granville (aka Krystyna Skarbek) helped him to escape. Christine confronted two collaborators, Albert Schenck, a French liaison officer to the Gestapo, and Max Waem, a Belgian interpreter for the Gestapo. She told them that the Allied troops would arrive within hours and that if they did not cooperate they would be condemned as Nazi collaborators. Under threat from the avenging locals, Schenck and Waem secured Cammaerts’ release.
In March 1945, Cammaerts joined the Special Allied Airborne Reconnaissance Force. The SAARF’s main objective was to assist in the reconstruction work in Germany after the fall of Hitler. For Cammaerts this meant dealing with the aftermath of the newly liberated concentration camps. Understandably, he was appalled by what he saw and later said, “The SAARF period was blank and grey and one of those certain areas in my life when I didn’t know what I was doing.”
During his pacifist period, Cammaerts met Nancy Findlay (Nan), and they married on 15 March 1941. Over the following decades, the couple had four children, three girls and a boy.
In 1948, Cammaerts became the first Director of the Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges, a UNESCO agency. Four years later, he returned to teaching. He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1958 and in 1959appeared for the defence in the notorious Lady Chatterley’s Lover trial, a case won by the publisher, Penguin Books, and the author, D.H. Lawrence.
Further teaching posts in Britain and Africa followed. Throughout his career, Cammaerts won high praise as an innovative educator. He finally retired in 1987 to live in the south of France. He died there in 2006.
“Have the courage to use your own reason. That is the motto of enlightenment.” – Immanuel Kant
The Aryan poster child used in Nazi propaganda was, in fact, Jewish. A photographer submitted her image to a contest to find “the most beautiful Aryan baby”.
The cover for the print version of Operation Zigzag, currently with the printer.
“All good books have one thing in common – they are truer than if they had really happened.” – Ernest Hemingway
From 1914. If you wanted a copy of this map, you had to collect ten coupons from Black Cat cigarette packets. As if the war wasn’t bad enough, smoking also increased substantially.
The writing is on the wall…
I wrote the Ann’s War series for my own amusement so I’m amazed and delighted to see Betrayal, book one in the series, at #1 for the eleventh time on the mystery and literature charts.
“Lies are often much more plausible, more appealing to reason than reality, since the liar has the great advantage of knowing beforehand what the audience wishes or expects to hear.” – Hannah Arendt
East and West Berlin before the fall of the wall. The different street lights indicate the border.
This is what happens when society tolerates or embraces fascism. Staff at Auschwitz enjoying their ‘work’.
Please pause and give this some deep thought.
Wanted: replacement electrician. Must supply own rubber boots.
From Future Generation Wales
If you think this is extraordinary you should have seen the bull 👀
If all the ice melted…
History often overlooks the great women…
One of the inspirations for Guy Samson in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE series, André Hunter Alfred Hue was born in Swansea, Wales on 7 December 1923.
André’s father, also André, was French while his mother, Caroline, was Welsh. A First World War veteran, André senior received a bullet wound to the head. The bullet remained in place and contributed to his early death in 1938.
Caroline did not speak French. Indeed, before their marriage neither she nor her husband spoke each other’s native language. However, Caroline insisted that her children should learn French.
From Swansea, André’s family moved to Le Havre. There, in 1939, he became a sailor in the French merchant navy with the rank of purser.
On 17 June 1940, André’s ship, the SS Champlain, struck a mine off La Rochelle and sank. André was in the shower at the time, but he managed to swim ashore, naked.
While working as a railroad clerk in Guer, Brittany, André fulfilled a burning ambition and joined the French Resistance. The railroad station at Guer was strategically important because it served as a key artery for supplying German troops to north-western France.
Working in the railroad office, André provided information about secret timetables so that the RAF could attack trains carrying German troops and supplies.
As trust in André’s abilities increased, the Resistance encouraged him to smuggle Allied airmen, shot down over France, to safety, often by guiding them to the coast and the waiting boats and submarines.
With André’s courage and his trustworthiness established, the Special Operations Executive invited him to train as an agent. In February 1944 he crossed the Channel to Britain to commence training. His reports stated that he was “a very active, energetic, enthusiastic man with a reasonably stable personality, although inclined to excitement at times.”
André succeeded with his training and the SOE awarded him the rank of Acting Captain in time for Operation Overlord.
During the night of 5/6 June 1944, André parachuted into France. Men from the French Special Air Service accompanied him. Upon landing, an immediate task was to avoid Cossacks who were patrolling the countryside. The Cossacks were Soviet POWs who’d joined the German Army.
In Brittany, André’s task was to organise the local Maquis so that they could launch guerrilla attacks on communication lines, railroads and roads. Their ultimate aim was to prevent the four Nazi divisions stationed in Brittanyfrom joining the rest of the German army in Normandy.
André was based at La Nouette farmhouse near Saint Marcel. He noted in his autobiography, The Next Moon, that he feared the Milice more than the Germans because the Milice being French could identify regional accents. However, as a natural French speaker he escaped initial suspicion.
On one occasion, André was present when the Nazis shot five SAS men and seventeen French civilians. On another occasion, he was trapped in a barn, which the Nazis had torched. Despite the smoke and flames, he managed to escape.
On 18 June 1944, the Nazis attacked André’s farmhouse. Four thousand Maquisards rushed to defend the farmhouse and the Battle of Saint Marcel ensued.
In The Next Moon, André recalled the battle. “Now every weapon that the enemy possessed was brought to bear on our front line in a cacophony of shots and explosions which could not drown an even more sinister noise: the occasional crack of a single bullet. A man within feet of me slumped to the ground with blood spurting two feet into the air from the side of his neck. We had anticipated an infantry assault – possibly backed up with light armour – but snipers, a threat we had not met before, were difficult to counter. Within minutes of the first casualty, another seven of our men lay dying within the farm complex: all had been shot from long range.”
As the Nazi snipers continued to assassinate André’s men, he could hear the sound of panzers in the distance, so he ordered a retreat into the woods under the cover of darkness. There, André used his radio to contact the SOE and RAF. They organised an air strike, which resulted in mass confusion. During that confusion, André and his men escaped.
Throughout August 1944, André participated extensively in the liberation of France. He executed an operation where the Resistance secured the villages in Brittany to aid the advancing Allies. After his work in Brittany, he parachuted into the town of Nevers in Burgundy, where he coordinated operations between the SOE and the Resistance.
On 30 August 1944, André landed in the Nievre just west of Dijon where he took command of the SOE Gondolier circuit. There, he trained the local Maquis and blew up three bridges in Burgundy, which denied the retreating Nazis an exit point from the South of France. Also, in Luzy, André removed mines, placed by the Nazis to kill and maim local civilians.
For his extraordinary efforts, André was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his work in France. At the age of twenty, he was one of the youngest men to receive a DSO.
By the end of the Second World War, André held the rank of Major in the British Army. He served overseas, in Burma, Palestine, Cyprus and Cambodia. During his stint in Cambodia, he met his future wife, Maureen Taylor, who worked in the British Embassy in Phnom Penh. The couple married in 1957 and had one daughter.
Before establishing a successful business career, André worked for MI6, his activities centred on the Far East.
In later years, André suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, which claimed his life in 2005.
“But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” – W B Yeats
I enjoyed the movie Lucie Aubrac this week and would place it in my top ten. I love the Continental style of filmmaking where the camera lingers on a scene and facial expressions say more than words. Some of the linking scenes were dialogue and music free, yet the story flowed effortlessly.
Lucie Aubrac is a French movie and I viewed it in its native language. I find that subtitles draw you into a story and make it more compelling. It’s a true story and I knew the outcome. All the same, the movie is gripping from the opening dramatic scene to its heartfelt conclusion.
A fitting cinematic tribute to a remarkable woman.
One of my favourite actresses, Eva Marie Saint, was 96 on 4th July 2020. Happy birthday and thank you for your wonderful films.
A record-breaking sales day for my books and Sam’s Song at #1 for the ninth time. Difficult to get excited with so much going on in the world, but many thanks to everyone who supports my books.
The birth of speech. And it all went downhill from there 🙂
René Descartes as Nostradamus?!
Of course, he actually said, “Cogito, ergo sum.” – “I think, therefore I am.”
One for the album. Nice to see my latest Sam Smith Mystery, Looking for Rosanna Mee, alongside Ian Rankin in the Hot 💯. We will publish Looking for Rosanna Mee in September.
I see my new keyboard is well equipped for the modern age…
Bicycle-taxis, Paris, spring 1945. Research for my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE series.
This week in 1932, the Great Depression in America reached its lowest point. After the 1929 Wall Street Crash, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell. Disaster followed for investors, alongside further declines in consumption, production and employment.
Also interesting on this front page: ‘State Plans to Roundup Tax Dodgers’. And, ‘Jury Believes Her Story’. I’m intrigued to know what her story entailed.
Written in the 1970s, the lyrics are still highly relevant today.
An inspiration for my Eve’s War series, Nancy Wake was one of the most remarkable women of World War II. Born in New Zealand and brought up in Australia, she married a Frenchman and became a leading figure in the Marseille Resistance. In 1943, she joined the SOE and was heavily involved in the liberation of France.
This DVD arrived from New Zealand today and I’m looking forward to watching it.
An in-depth article about Nancy Wake will appear on my website in the near future.
Don’t believe everything you hear. Don’t believe everything you see. This is a stationary image.
Some ideas to lift your mood. Try to achieve at least three a day.
Resistance Couples – Hélène and Philippe Viannay
Hélène Victoria Mordkovitch was born on 12 July 1917 in Paris after her Russian parents had emigrated to the city in 1908.
A brilliant student, Hélène attended the Sorbonne where she studied geography. There, in September 1940, she met her future husband, Philippe Viannay, a philosophy student seeking a certificate in geography.
Opposed to the Nazi occupation of France, the couple decided not to escape to London. Instead they created an underground newspaper,Défense de la France, publishing the first issue on 14 July 1941. The journal took its motto from Blaise Pascal, “I only believe stories told by those witnesses who are willing to have their throats cut.”
Despite the dangers of producing an underground newspaper, Défense de la France remained in production until the Liberation in August 1944. By that time the newspaper regularly reached half a million readers, the largest circulation of the whole clandestine press.
Hélène and Philippe married in 1942. Their first child, Pierre, was born the following year while the couple were on the run from the Gestapo. Along with the newspaper, Hélène also organised the mass production of false identity papers for Frenchmen resisting deportation to the forced labour camps in Germany.
In 1944, Hélène joined the Ronquerolles Maquis, a Resistance group led by Philippe. After her husband was injured, Hélène coordinated the group and participated in the liberation of France.
After the war, the Viannays created the Centre for the Training of Journalists (Centre de Formation des Journalistes) in Paris, which continues to this day. In 1947, they also founded Les Glénans (Le Centre nautique des Glénans), which initially served as a convalescent centre for deportees and battle-weary résistants. Hélène managed the association from 1954 until her retirement in 1979.
The Canadian journalist Caitlin Kelly, who studied with Philippe Viannay at the Centre in Paris, later described him as “the most inspiring man I’ve ever met.”
In 1991, Hélène participated in the creation of thePrix Philippe Viannay-Défense de la France, a prize awarded annually to works promoting resistance to Nazism in France and elsewhere in Europe.