For most of the 2nd World War the RAF flew small aircraft into Occupied France at night, landing and taking off in total secrecy. Their mission was to transport agents to and from France to support the activities of the French Resistance and SOE. The chronicle of these operations tells an extraordinary adventure story, full of danger for both agent and aviator. Hugh Verity flew many of the missions recounted in We Landed by Moonlight and was probably the most outstanding pick-up pilot of them all.
The Story of Secret Agent Pearl Witherington: the 'real Charlotte Gray'
Author: Carole Seymour-Jones
Pubpsher: Hachette UK
Category: Biography & Autobiography
On the night of the 22 September 1943 Pearl Witherington, a twenty-nine-year-old British secretary and agent of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), was parachuted from a Halifax bomber into Occupied France. Like Sebastian Faulks' heroine, Charlotte Gray, Pearl had a dual mission: to fight for her beloved, broken France and to find her lost love. Pearl's lover was a Parisian parfumier turned soldier, Henri Cornioley, who had been taken prisoner while serving in the French Logistics Corps and subsequently escaped from his German POW camp. Agent Pearl Witherington's wartime record is unique and heroic. As the only woman agent in the history of SOEs in France to have run a network, she became a fearless and legendary guerrilla leader organising, arming and training 3,800 Resistance fighters. Probably the greatest female organiser of armed maquisards in France, the woman whom her young troops called 'Ma Mère', Pearl lit the fires of Resistance in Central France so that Churchill's famous order to 'set Europe ablaze', which had brought SOE into being, finally came to pass. Pearl's story takes us from her harsh, impoverished childhood in Paris, to the lonely forests and farmhouses of the Loir-et-Cher where she would become a true 'warrior queen'. Shortly before Pearl's death in 2008, the Queen presented her with a CBE in Paris. While male agents and Special Force Jedburghs received the DSO or Military Cross, an ungrateful country had forgotten Pearl. She had been offered a civilian decoration in 1945 which she refused, saying 'There was nothing civil about what I did.' But what pleased her most was to receive her Parachute Wings, for which she had waited over 60 years. Two RAF officers travelled to her old people's home and she was finally able to pin the coveted wings on her lapel. Pearl died in February 2008 aged 93.
On the night of 17-18 August 1943, RAF Bomber Command attacked a remote research establishment on the German Baltic coast. The site was Peenemnde, where Hitler's scientists were developing both the V-1 flying bomb and the V-2 rocket whose destructive powers could have swung the course of the War. The raid was meticulously planned and hopes were high. But the night sky was so cloudless that the British bombers presented an easy target for German night fighters, and over 40 were lost. Martin Middlebrook draws on the memories of over 400 people involved in the dramatic events on that night: RAF and Luftwaffe aircrew, German personnel at the research site and foreign labourers who had been forced to work there. The result is a truly compelling account of this hazardous attempt to disrupt Hitler's V-weapons programme.
Release on 2012-12-19 | by John Grehan,Martin Mace
The Official List of SOE Casualties and Their Stories
Author: John Grehan,Martin Mace
Pubpsher: Pen and Sword
The Special Operations Executive was one of the most secretive organizations of the Second World War, its activities cloaked in mystery and intrigue. The fate, therefore, of many of its agents was not revealed to the general public other than the bare details carved with pride upon the headstones and memorials of those courageous individuals.Then in 2003, the first batch of SOE personal files was released by the National Archive. Over the course of the following years more and more files were made available. Now, at last, it is possible to tell the stories of all those agents that died in action.These are stories of bravery and betrayal, incompetence and misfortune, of brutal torture and ultimately death. Some died when their parachutes failed to open, others swallowed their cyanide capsules rather than fall into the hands of the Gestapo, many died in combat with the enemy, most though were executed, by hanging, by shooting and even by lethal injection.The bodies of many of the lost agents were never found, destroyed in the crematoria of such places as Buckenwald, Mauthausen and Natzweiler, others were buried where they fell. All of them should be remembered as having undertaken missions behind enemy lines in the knowledge that they might never return.
When sixteen-year-old Cynda goes to stay with her father and his second wife, Susan, at their remote bed-and-breakfast inn in Maine, everything starts off well despite legends about ghosts and a murder at the inn. But Cynda feels like a visitor in Dad's new life, an outsider. Then intense, handsome stranger Vincent Morthanos arrives at the inn and seems to return Cynda's interest. At first she is blind to the subtle, insistent signs that Vincent is not what he seems-that he is, in fact, a vampire. Can Cynda free herself-and her family-from Vincent's power before it's too late? Full-bodied characterizations and page-turning suspense ensure that this eerie, riveting novel will appeal to middle school fans of mystery and horror.
Release on 2016-12-20 | by Peter Kaák,David Gunby
Author: Peter Kaák,David Gunby
205 Group RAF mining operations over the River Danube in 1944. The product of research in British, Australian, South African, German, Hungarian and Slovak archives, 'Gardening by Moonlight' is about one of the least known and most effective of the Royal Air Force's bombing campaigns of the Second World War. Operating from a group of bases around Foggia, in Central Italy, the RAF's 205 Group mined the River Danube intensively between April and October 1944, radically curtailing the movement of Axis river shipping and at times halting it altogether. The Wellington and Liberator crews had to sow their mines (hence the slang term 'gardening') at low level on moonlit nights, running the gauntlet of night fighters, flak and balloon barrages. Their courage, skill and sacrifice are celebrated in what is an important account of a virtually unknown aspect of the war in the air.