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Dear Reader #72

Dear Reader,

Looking for Rosanna Mee was a satisfying book to write, mainly because the subject matter tackles one of the great injustices in British society – the Tory government’s abuse of disabled people.

I’m delighted that the book will soon be available in Spanish and Portuguese.

Tyrants create chaos and inflict suffering, then comes the moment of reckoning. Nazi leaders on trial for war crimes, 1946.

Health and safety takes a holiday. Photographing a racing car, 1933.

Scientists thought they were extinct…the concretesaurus.

“The old men and children they send out to face us, they can’t slow us down.” – Al Stewart, Roads to Moscow.

On 18 October 1944, the Nazis established the Volkssturm, a national militia staffed by conscripts, males aged between sixteen and sixty. With minimal training, uniforms and equipment they couldn’t hold back the Allied advance. 

Meanwhile, a ranting Hitler retreated to his bunker and contemplated the end of his evil empire.

Neighbours gather in Spitalfields after the murder of Mary Jane Kelly, widely believed to be the last of Jack the Ripper’s victims.

A branch of my family lived in the area at the time and must have discussed the murders. Did they know the victims? Did they know Jack? The former is a possibility.

Yr Lan y Mor. This song features in Branches, book two in The Olive Tree, A Spanish Civil War Saga. My nurse, Heini, sings the song to a dying soldier.

Beside the sea red roses growing
Beside the sea white lilies showing
Beside the sea their beauty telling
My true love sleeps within her dwelling

Beside the sea the stones lie scattered
Where tender words in love were uttered 
While all around there grew the lily
And sweetest branches of rosemary

Beside the sea blue pebbles lying
Beside the sea gold flowers glowing
Beside the sea are all things fairest
Beside the sea is found my dearest

Full the sea of sand and billows
Full the egg of whites and yellows
Full the woods of leaf and flower
Full my heart of love for ever.

Fair the sun at new day’s dawning
Fair the rainbow’s colours shining
Fair the summer, fair as heaven
Fairer yet the face of Elin

On this day in 1943, the RAF launched Operation Corona, an operation to confuse German nightfighters during bombing raids.

Via radio, German speakers impersonated German Air Defence officers and countermanded their orders.

The fight against fascism has taken many different forms including victory on the racetrack thanks to Lucy O’Reilly Schell, 26 October 1896 – 8 June 1952 and René Dreyfus, 6 May 1905 – 16 August 1993.

Lucy O’Reilly was born in Paris of an American father and a French mother. Before the First World War she met Selim Laurence ‘Laury’ Schell, the son of an American diplomat, born in Geneva and living in France, and the couple commenced an affair.

Lucy O’Reilly Schell

During the First World War, Lucy worked as a nurse, caring for injured servicemen in a Parisian military hospital. In April 1915, along with Laury, she relocated to America. However, in 1917 Lucy and Laury returned to Paris where they married and took up residence.

The couple had two children, Harry born in 1921, and Phillipe born in 1926. They also enjoyed a passion for motor racing, which they pursued with vigour from the late 1920s.

Laury and Lucy Schell, second in the 1936 Monte Carlo rally in a 6 cylinder Delahaye 18CV Sport

In 1936 Lucy inherited her father’s estate. She used his money to fund development of racing cars tailored to her requirements and became the first American woman to compete in an international Grand Prix. Furthermore, she established her own Grand Prix team.

In the 1930s, Hitler used Grand Prix racing as a metaphor for war and the superiority of his Nazi party. Motivated by her experiences as a nurse and her life in Paris, Lucy established the Écurie Bleue Grand Prix team with the aim of challenging Nazi and Italian supremacy. To that end she developed a car with Delahaye and recruited René Dreyfus, a French Jew blacklisted by the Nazis.

René Dreyfus

The first race of the 1938 Grand Prix season took place on 10 April at Pau. Lucy’s Écurie Bleue entered two cars driven by Dreyfus and his teammate Comotti while Rudolph Caracciola and Hermann Lang represented Germany in their Mercedes-Benz’s. However, during practice Lang crashed his car and it was deemed unfit to race.

During the race, Caracciola took an early lead, but the winding circuit limited the Mercedes’ greater power. Oil and rubber also made the track slippery. Dreyfus took advantage of these conditions to overtake Caracciola.

The Delahaye had a great advantage over the Mercedes – a much lower rate of fuel consumption. At the half way point, when Caracciola pitted for fuel, Dreyfus drove on and established a lead. 

During the pit stop, Caracciola handed over his car to Lang. However, despite facing competition from a fresh driver, Dreyfus powered to victory, winning by over two minutes. Caracciola/Lang finished second while Comotti brought his Écurie Bleue home in third place.

René Dreyfus in Delahaye 145 at Montlhéry, 27 August 1937

Following the German invasion of France in 1940, Hitler ordered the seizure of Dreyfus’ car. However, to prevent the Delahaye’s destruction, the car was dismantled and the parts hidden.

Sadly, Laury died in a car crash on 18 October 1939 while Lucy was seriously injured in the same accident. During the Second World War, she returned to America with her family.

After the Second World War, Dreyfus became an American citizen and along with his brother Maurice he established a French restaurant in New York, which became a hub for the automobile racing community, a centre that continues to this day.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #71

Dear Reader,

I made great progress this week with the writing of Branches, book two in The Olive Tree, my Spanish Civil War saga, and the editing of Operation Broadsword is nearly complete. My thoughts are turning to Operation Treasure, book four in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series, and Stormy Weather, Sam Smith Mystery Series book eighteen, a novel about climate change.

Met some friends on the Bwlch this morning.

My latest translation, available soon, Invasion in Afrikaans. Also, delighted that Nelmari has agreed to translate Blackmail, book three in my Ann’s War series.

‘Potato’ Jones, captain of the cargo steamer Marie Llewellyn. During the Spanish Civil War, ‘Potato’ Jones ferried 800 refugees to safety. In total Welsh sea captains ferried 25,000 refugees to safety.

He also delivered fuel, food, medicines, guns and ammunition to the anti-fascists in Spain, breaking the blockade at Bilbao.

Cardiff International Brigade veteran Tom Williams: “The fight for democracy in Europe is carried on by the British ships carrying predominantly Welsh crews, and we are known on the continent as the ‘Welsh Navy’.”

Eve is back at #1 🙂

Merthyr Mawr this week

It’s a simple job, they said. We want you to wander down to Maddox Street and Conduit Street in Mayfair and attach the main telephone cable to a new support wire…

I’m reading George Orwell at the moment, his experiences in the Spanish Civil War. Very lyrical and insightful.

Meanwhile, no irony here…

With Joana and Sandra, started work on two new translations today, Mind Games, Sam Smith Mystery Series book eleven, into Portuguese and Operation Locksmith, Eve’s War Heroines of SOE book two, into German. Great respect for translators and the talent they bring to these projects.

Hands up if you’ve said or heard these words 🙂

Responding to QI, the other followers said ‘I’d won Tweet of the Day’ and ‘I’d won the Internet’ with this comment 😂

Incidentally, I received well over 1,000 likes, which is easily a record for me.

I’ve completed Operation Broadsword, book three in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series, and now I’m looking forward to January 2021 and Operation Treasure, book four in the series, which is now available for pre-order.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08L9G7V4Z/

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #70

Dear Reader,

Stabbed was obviously Shakespeare’s default modus operandi, but I’d love to work The Winter’s Tale’s Pursued by a Bear, or maybe Titus Andronicus’ Baked into a Pie into my books 🙂

Members of a Jedburgh team who supported Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands, 17 – 25 September 1944.

After D-Day, Jedburgh teams assisted SOE agents and the local Resistance. The teams usually consisted of three men: a commander, an executive officer and a non-commissioned radio operator. One of the officers would be British or American while the other would originate from the host country. The radio operator could be of any nationality.

The October 2020 issue of our Amazon #1 ranked eMagazine, Mom’s Favorite Reads 🙂

A beautiful murder ballad…Jean-Paul Marat murdered by Charlotte Corday with a dagger in the bath.

Sunday, 4 October 1936, The Battle of Cable Street when 20,000 anti-fascists clashed with 3,000 fascists. Facilitated by the Tories, Mosley sent his blackshirts into the East End of London to intimidate the Jewish community. However, the locals supported the Jews and repelled the fascists.

Colette, A Schoolteacher’s War was going to be a standalone novel. However, my research has taken the book into a trilogy. Based on the French Resistance and D-Day, each story will centre on a different lead character. Working titles, A Student’s War and A Housewife’s War.

Stories are universal, of course, so it’s lovely that I now have readers in 44 countries 🙂 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, Ukraine, Vietnam and Wales.

Modern Philosophy

One of the dogs trained to deliver first aid kits to frontline medics in the fight against fascism during the Spanish Civil War.

Movie stars who appeared in the Lux Screen Stars series weren’t paid. Novices at beauty product advertising, they didn’t think to ask.

By common consent, Violette Szabo was regarded as the most beautiful of all the SOE F Section agents. A mother, she served the SOE in France until an unfortunate incident led to her capture and murder by the fascists.

This memorial by Karen Newman, featuring Violette Szabo and dedicated to all SOE agents, was unveiled in 2009.

I wrote a chapter today where two of my characters in The Olive Tree: Branches, part two of my Spanish Civil War saga, walked along the banks of the Seine encountering a scene similar to this painting by Georges Seurat.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #69

Dear Reader,

Where do you get your ideas from? Is a common question asked of authors. My answer is, my ideas always stem from my characters. Where do my characters come from? The answer to that question is various sources, including old photographs. Here’s an example of a nurse in the Spanish Civil War. I don’t know her name or background, but her strong features immediately spoke to me and just by studying the picture a fictional character, Lise Lazard, took shape. You can read about Lise in Branches, book two in The Olive Tree, A Spanish Civil War Saga. Available soon 🙂

I write, therefore I am…

In September 1953, sugar rationing in Britain finally came to an end. The wartime government introduced it in January 1940. A weekly sugar ration ranged from 8oz to 16oz per week.

Where to collect your ration if you lived in Birmingham. Maybe we’ll see similar Brexit inspired posters in the new year.

Station IX, which developed weapons and gadgets for SOE agents, created a small motorcycle called the Welbike. Although 3,641 bikes were produced they were rarely employed by the SOE. Instead they were issued to the 1st and 6th Airborne Divisions who used them during the Anzio and Normandy landings. The Welbike also featured at Arnhem during Operation Market Garden.

Bulgarian joke. Red Bull gives you wings. Vodka gives you 4×4 🤣

One for the album. Operation Zigzag has entered the Brazilian chart alongside John le Carre, Tom Clancy and Stieg Larsson 🙂

Eve at #1 for the first time 🙂

Philosophy humour.

I’m reading A Moment of War, Laurie Lee’s lyrical account of his time in the Spanish Civil War.

“Eulalia turned and smiled at me brilliantly, showing her tongue, her face cracking open like a brown snake’s egg hatching.”

Vertigo, what vertigo?! Acrobats do their thing on top of the Empire State Building, 1934.

A lovely weekend for my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series, #1 in America and Britain, and now in Australia 🙂

Fat Banished!

No exercise!

No diets!

No baths!

No ill effects!

No danger!

Easy to swallow!

The solution you’ve been waiting for, sanitised tape worms!

October 1944, the Allies cross the Belgium-Germany border and prepare to write the closing chapters of World War II with the defeat of Hitler’s brand of fascism.

My article about SOE agent Odette Sansom is on page 24 of this month’s Seaside News 🙂

Met a friend on the dunes 🙂

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #68

Dear Reader,

“We all have our time machines, don’t we. Those that take us back are memories…And those that carry us forward, are dreams.” – H.G. Wells, 21 September 1866.

19 September 1944. Dutch residents of Velp welcome British Sherman tanks of 30 Corps as they advance towards Grave and Nijmegen.

From The People’s Collection Wales. A common sight in the Victorian era and first half of the twentieth century, housewives scrubbing their front doorsteps.

A clean doorstep was regarded as a badge of pride.

Pictured, Mrs Blodwen Williams of Ynys-y-bŵl during the 1930s.

This week in 1946, filmmakers from twenty-one nations arrived in Cannes, an already-glamorous resort on the French riviera, and presented their films to their peers, establishing the Cannes Film Festival.

My Eve’s War Heroines of SOE series has entered the top five. We will start promoting the series during the autumn so I’m hoping it will attract more readers. From my point of view, it’s a great series to research and write.

Views from the Bwlch this week.

Health and Safety takes a holiday. Painting the Eiffel Tower in 1932.

Pictured in 1942, the long wave radio transmitter at Criggion Radio Station, mid-Wales. The centre was vital to British communications during the Second World War.

I’m researching songs of the Spanish Civil War. This is A Las Barricadas, To The Barricades, a rousing call to arms based on Whirlwinds of Danger, Warszawianka, a Polish song.

Eileen Nearne who, along with her sister Jacqueline, served in France as an SOE agent. After transmitting over one hundred messages, Eileen was captured by the Gestapo. However, she escaped. Read her remarkable story here https://hannah-howe.com/eves-war/eileen-nearne/

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx