Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Betrayal by Award-Winning Author Anne Allen.


Treachery and theft lead to death – and love
1940. Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…
1942. Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return.
1945. Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.
2011. Nigel and his twin Fiona, buy a long-established antique shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth…
Searching for the rightful owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother's ghost to rest?
Who betrayed Leo?
Who knew about the stolen Renoir?
And are they prepared to kill – again?


Source: Advanced reader copy received from publisher.

Having read Anne’s last book, 'Echoes of Time', I couldn’t wait to read her latest, and I wasn’t disappointed. The novel alternates between WW2 and 2011 and is set on the beautiful island of Guernsey. 'The Betrayal' features twins, Fiona and Nigel, who discover a Renoir within the walls of their antique shop in 2011. When Nigel is found dead, and suicide is suspected, Fiona refuses to believe that her brother would end his own life and she sets out to uncover the truth. Unravelling the mystery will carry her on a journey back to 1940, and to the dark days of the German Occupation and the deportation of Jews.

The story is well crafted with beautiful scenes of the island of Guernsey springing to life and all things WW2 perfectly portrayed. Historical facts are seamlessly interwoven into the story which is well paced with realistic, well-developed characters set within a fascinating plot with twists and turns. All in all, it’s an engrossing read and one that will sweep you away to war, mystery and romance. I can highly recommend it.
Iphoto for email

About Anne

Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children, and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby.  Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.

By profession, Anne was a psychotherapist, but long had the itch to write. Now a full-time writer, she has written The Guernsey Novels, five having been published and the sixth, 'The Betrayal', is out now in paperback and ebook format. Follow the universal buy link below.

For all the latest book and writing news, be sure to follow Anne here:
Universal Buy Link: Amazon

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Cover Reveal: Red Stiletto Strategy

Today, I’m thrilled to be hosting the cover reveal for the Red Stiletto Strategy, by author & historian, Hunter S. Jones.

Publication Date 12th October 2017
ebook available to pre-order here
Genre: Historical Fiction

Born to an alcoholic, single mother in Texas, Luckie Stratton learns from a young age to keep her distance, avoiding getting close to anyone. She moves to LA as a young film actress, becomes enchanted by a swarthy English gentleman and flies to London in 1940 to join his secret British spy elites. The seductive blonde becomes an undercover assassin.

Armed with her charm, a switchblade and a Derringer, this femme fatale never fails her mission. Disguised as an anxious wife waiting for her British ‘husband’ to return from battle proves to be irresistible bait to Nazi covert operatives.

Tonight, she has a date with destiny.
Her newest lover is revealed as a double agent and she is given a Code Red: Order to Execute. But, the unexpected appearance of a handsome RAF pilot makes her lose her focus…her target…and betray her command.

Knowing the consequences of failure will make you either the hunter or the prey.

About the Author

DHunter-HeadColorDeb Hunter writes as Hunter S. Jones. She is passionate about the history of romance, science and music, a.k.a. sex, drugs and rock & roll. She has a popular history blog, and is the author of the bestselling Anne Boleyn story, Phoenix Rising and is a historian for Past Preservers Casting.

When she isn’t writing, talking or tweeting about kings, queens and rock stars, she’s living the dream in Atlanta, Georgia with her Scottish born husband. The WW2 short story, Red Stiletto Strategy, will be released on Amazon later in October. Look for Sexuality and Its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare to be launched in March 2018. It is her first collection of historical essays, and she is delighted to work with the talented team of Emma Haddon-Wright, Annie Whitehead, Jessica Cale, Samantha Wilcoxon, Judith Arnopp, Gayle Hulme, and Dr. Beth Lynne. To find out more, visit Hunter S. Jones’s website.

You can also connect with her on:

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

My Tribute To Guinea Pig Club Member Jack Perry

I'm very sad to share the news that RAF veteran and member of the infamous Guinea Pig Club, Jack Perry passed away on August 7th, aged 92.

He was an amazing man, a friend to so many, a husband, father and grandfather. His outlook on life, given his own horrific injuries sustained during WW2, was simply incredible. He was helped so much by the plastic surgeon, Sir Archibald McIndoe and the men in the Guinea Pig Club whom he referred to as a 'band of brothers'. In return, Jack has given so much back, helping others similar to himself, suffering with life-changing injuries as a result of burns. Just as he was shown the pathway back to the living, he too has always tried to help others follow that path.

Jack left school at the young age of fourteen and joined the Air Training Corps at sixteen. At eighteen he volunteered as air crew but was chosen for pilot training initially, before training as a flight engineer. Jack was then seconded to 6 Bomber Group and flew with a Canadian crew.

On 31 August 1944, Jack reported an issue with the fuel warning light on the control panel to the pilot and the control tower. However, they were instructed to continue with their mission. As the Halifax took off and climbed to 300 feet it exploded over RAF Topcliffe, North Yorkshire. Jack was thrown clear and when he came too, he returned to the burning wreckage to try and save the tailgunner, but his actions were in vain.
Halifax Bomber Image via Wikimedia Commons

He later discovered that the cause of the accident was a nut which had not been properly sealed on a fuel outlet pump.

Of the eight crew members, the tail gunner was killed and several others, including 19-year-old Jack Perry were terribly injured. His hands were badly burned along with his face and ears and he would go on to have 31 operations and skin grafts over the years.

Of his early treatment and recovery period, Jack once recalled how people reacted to him outside. "People coming towards you saw your face and they couldn't stand it. They would either weep and cry or walk on the other side of the road." But of McIndoe, he said, "McIndoe was a wonderful man and a brilliant surgeon. He was very protective over us."
Sir Archibald McIndoe with the 'Guinea Pigs'

Jack and his fellow guinea pigs offered their support to modern-day servicemen injured in the wars in the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan. His club tie became quite shortened and frayed over the years because when ever he heard that somebody he knew had been in a bad accident, he would snip off a piece and post it to them.

In a previous interview Jack said, "I am very proud to be a guinea pig and I try to help anybody I can. It means everything to me. I’m proud to be associated with such a fine body of men and wonderful surgeons and nurses. I would do everything again."

"Being a Guinea Pig to me is something I've always cherished. It's been my life for the last 45 years. We are a band of brothers!"

Jack Perry married after the war and went on to have a successful career as a draughtsman. He and his wife Mary were married for over 66 years and had three children, two grandchildren and a great grandchild.
He worked tirelessly for the Guinea Pig Club and was the Social Secretary, organising many things including social functions.
Jack Perry

Thank you for your service. Blue Skies, Sir.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Dunkirk: Thank Grace, Chamberlain, And Hitler!

In continuation of this epic Dunkirk week, please welcome author Jeremy Strozer who has written a fantastic guest post. Welcome Jeremy and thank you so much for being here.

When the German tanks approached within a few miles of the almost empty and undefended port city of Dunkirk, they halted. General Rundstedt, in charge of the German forces in the area, ordered them to halt to resupply and rearm, and prepare for the next leap into France. Not satisfied with the pace at which he was advancing his army, German High Command ordered Rundstedt to attack. Hitler, asserting his authority over the General Staff, rescinded the attack order, demonstrating he, not the Generals, was in control of the German Army. Hitler’s need to demonstrate he was in charge was one factor in saving the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), as well as many of its allies, allowing them to escape through a soon to be defended and evacuated port of Dunkirk.

What Hitler and his underlings did not expect is the will of the one they thought to be a dupe because of his actions in Munich less than two years earlier. Neville Chamberlain, still the head of Government in the UK until May 10, played a key role in both choosing Winston Churchill as the next Prime Minister, and deciding to evacuate the BEF from the Continent.  When Chamberlain met with the King to provide his resignation, he advised the king to invite Churchill to become Prime Minister instead of Lord Halifax (the man already looking for a way to reach out to Italy for mediation with Germany). Then, in a momentous War Cabinet meeting on the night of May 28, Chamberlain sided with Churchill, against Halifax, as the key vote, to fight on, against the odds.

These two actions, by the man history has tarred with the moniker “Appeaser” allowed Churchill to lead The British Empire and its Dominions through the dark years before The United Nations banded together to tear down The Third Reich, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan.

Hitler did not believe the British could save their army. He was wrong.

Hitler thought the British would sue for peace. They almost did, and would have, had it not been for Neville Chamberlain’s key vote on the 28th.

Hitler failed in one key component of war: When you capture the enemy’s army, destroy it.

Thank grace Hitler made that fateful error. Thank Chamberlain for laying the groundwork for Churchill. Thank Churchill for leading the Allies to Victory! (Oh, and thank The Soviet Union for ripping the guts out of the Germans, as most of the losses were on that front, lest we forget.)

Early on the morning of June 5, 1940, two high-level officers from Germany’s Luftwaffe made their way along the broad, sandy beaches near the northern French port of Dunkirk. It was the morning after the last of an eclectic armada of naval and civilian vessels, large and small, from across England carried off the remnants of the British Expeditionary Force before the Germans captured Dunkirk.

The two officers were General Hoffmann von Waldau of the Luftwaffe General Staff and General Erhard Milch, the administrator of the German air forces and the Inspector-General of the Luftwaffe, as well as deputy to its chief, Field Marshal Hermann Goring. That morning they met with Goring, convincing him that England needed to be invaded at once to take advantage of the low British morale and vulnerability from having left all its military equipment in France. Goring was convinced, but he was not the man who made the ultimate decision. The halting of the tanks before the capture of Dunkirk had made that very clear.

What is below has been extracted from Threads Of The War, Volume III by Jeremy Strozer. This is the third book in the Threads of The War series. The first two books in this series are on sale for $0.99 right now.


I squint my eyes to protect against the snowstorm of torn paper shreds and airborne stitches of discarded soiled clothing blowing in every direction by the brisk dawn breeze. I scan across the flotsam and jetsam of the defeat-littered beach.

They are literally naked now.

Heavy guns, lines and lines of disabled trucks, hundreds of abandoned and broken bicycles, countless mounds of inoperable rifles just tossed onto piles, and thousands of discarded warn-out shoes are strewn across a beach touched at water’s edge by dozens of sunken ships and boats.

An army lost everything here.

Vast piles of both consumed and untouched canned goods intermingle with haphazardly deposited eating utensils, trash, and rotting food. We approach a huge pile of empty wine and whiskey bottles, most likely taken from an officer’s mess and downed by the men desperately and impatiently awaiting rescue from calamity.

“Here is the grave of British hopes in this war!” von Waldau declares as his polished boot, now covered in sand, kicks a bottle out of the pile.

Fanning his right arm in an arc across our sightline of the bottle pile, he pronounces, “And these are the gravestones!”

Shaking my head, I stare through the mist at wrecked British ships in the shallows and at evidence of the British Army’s disarray all around.

Is he mad? This is debris and discarded detritus of war, but there are few bodies here. They may be unarmed now, but that can change quickly.

“They are not buried yet,” I declare in a soft voice before pausing for a moment. In an even softer voice, almost imperceptible to myself, I let escape, “We have no time to waste.”

With the opening of Christopher Nolan’s movie Dunkirk this Friday, I’m pleased to share with you the news of the Dunkirk Week WWII Epic Book Sale. From 7/21-27, more than 50 authors of the FB Second World War Club have joined together to offer you their WWII novels, most at 99c.

Our novels range from military war tales, home front drama and sagas, harrowing accounts of the Holocaust, gripping spy thrillers, moving wartime romances, and much, much more. To see our great selection of WWII books, go to:

We’ve also got some great giveaway prizes, including the Grand Prize of a paperback copy of Joshua Levine's Dunkirk: The History Behind the Motion Picture. No purchases are necessary to enter the drawing. Come visit our book sale page to find out more details about our prizes and how to win.

We’re also bringing to you:

1. A two-part blog series about the Dunkirk. You can read the excellent blog posts to learn more about this historical event by two of our authors, Suzy Henderson (The Beauty Shop) and Jeremy Strozer (Threads of War), here:

2. Readings by The Book Speaks podcast of excerpts from All My Love, Detrick by Roberta Kagan plus another novel, both of which are part of the Dunkirk Week Book Sale:

3. Our authors’ pick of the Top 40 WWII Movies:

The Second World War changed our world forever. In our stories, we strived to bring you a glimpse of what happened and how everything happened through the eyes of our characters and to let you share their feelings, emotions, fears, and hopes. We are thankful that director Christopher Nolan is bringing this important part of history to the attention of the wider public, and we will try to continue what he had done through the stories we tell.

We hope you enjoy our books and this experience.
Jeremy Strozer

Author of: 
Threads of The War: Personal Truth-Inspired Flash-Fiction of The 20th Century's War, Volumes 1-3

Monday, 17 July 2017

Dunkirk: The Wider Picture

Christopher Nolan’s epic new movie, ‘Dunkirk’ has created a buzz and looks set to be a box office hit, but what do we really know about Dunkirk? The biggest evacuation of military forces. The ‘little ships’ whose owners bravely volunteered to aid the rescue. The British Expeditionary Force returning home, dirty, exhausted, hungry and wounded. Relieved to be home, and yet worried that the public would brand them as cowards for running away, leaving the Germans to claim a fallen France as the victors. They need not have worried. Upon their arrival on English soil, the men of the BEF were surprised and relieved to receive a hero's welcome. But Dunkirk is far more than this – the wider picture extends beyond the beaches, beyond any physical evacuation and involved many sacrifices.

When Hitler gave the order on May 9th, 1940 to invade France, Belgium, and Holland, the Blitzkrieg forces stormed through the front lines of the Belgian and French army and Holland capitulated. It soon became clear that the Germans had the upper hand, gaining ground, military targets and, ultimately, beating the men of the British Expeditionary Force into a harsh retreat towards the French coast, towards Dunkirk.

Meanwhile, a mass exodus of civilians was on the march along rural roads and lanes, as people packed up their possessions and tried to flee the advancing German army. They clogged up roads and hampered the retreating BEF as the Luftwaffe swept overhead strafing and bombing indiscriminately, forcing people to dive into roadside ditches for cover. For some, it would become their final resting place. Chaos swirled all around and for the refugees and troops, it was hell.

Back in England, from the streets of Dover, the sounds of warfare sailed on the breeze across the Channel, leaving people in no doubt about the barrage that was taking place less than forty miles away.
For Churchill and his commanders, the situation was clear. This was not to be their victory and the only option was to rescue their men. Churchill knew that survival of the BEF was essential for the road to victory. And so on May 22nd, from the Dynamo room in the tunnels beneath Dover Castle, preparations to evacuate the troops were in progress. The man in charge was Vice-Admiral Bertram Ramsay and the codename for the rescue was “Operation Dynamo.”

Churchill. Image courtesy of
On May 23rd, the order was given to evacuate. Lord Gort, the Commander-in-Chief of the BEF, ordered the majority to retreat and make their way to Dunkirk for evacuation, retaining a number of units behind to hold the Germans back long enough to enable the rescue of the troops. The Belgian and the French army also continued the fight, assisting the BEF.

However, on May 24th, Hitler made a surprising move, one that continues to thwart historians. He ordered the Panzer division to stand down, instructing them to “halt”, an order that was to give the BEF their best chance to retreat and evacuate. Despite this, the Luftwaffe continued to bomb and strafe the Allied forces, civilians, and the beaches. When the port of Calais fell on the 26th, Dunkirk became the only viable escape route.

Just before 7 pm on May 26th, 1940, Churchill gave the order for Operation Dynamo to begin.

With the might of the German army and time upon them, Churchill and his commanders realised that the Royal Navy did not have the capacity to carry out the operation alone. Multiple trips would be required and they had to act quickly. Even though it had already been deduced that they would be lucky if they rescued around 40,000 men, the Admiralty reached out to civilians, asking for boats to aid the mission. Many answered the call, some allowing their small vessels to be requisitioned and manned by the Navy while others insisted on coming along themselves, willing to risk their lives to aid their fellow countrymen. The ‘little ships’ were around 900 in number and comprised of a mix of fishing boats, yachts, ferries and other vessels.

British troops line up on the beach at Dunkirk to await evacuation.Image courtesy of the IWM, in the public domain. Source:

For the British Navy who surveyed the port from their ships, the scene was one of total carnage. Smoke billowed upward as fires raged and the small port glowed red while the Luftwaffe buzzed all around bombing and strafing. In the days that followed, a number of ships would be sunk.
The Luftwaffe attacked relentlessly, bombing the town and the docks, taking out the water and power supply and killing civilians in the process.

Meanwhile, a sea of khaki continued to stream across the dunes and beaches. Men formed orderly lines on the Dunkirk Mole – a long, stone and wooden jetty – enduring attack after attack by the Luftwaffe. There was no pushing or shoving, according to one eyewitness, and the men obeyed commands and maintained ranks. At this point, the majority of the BEF was still outside of Dunkirk.
British troops embarking onto ships during the evacuation from France, June 1940. Image source: Press Agency photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
On the beach, the dead and wounded troops lay all around amid dead and decaying horses and abandoned military vehicles and artillery. Many dug holes for shelter while waiting and for some, it would be their final resting place. Even as night fell, the Luftwaffe did not rest. Stukas screamed overhead, illuminating the night sky with flares to lead them to their prey, releasing their bombs and strafing the helpless troops. Hospital ships, easily identified with red crosses, were also prey, and, according to one eyewitness, after one ship had just boarded wounded men and set sail, it was attacked by six Stuka dive-bombers. Within seconds it was an inferno, and the screams of dying men could still be heard an hour later.

British ships rescuing the Allied troops under German Stuka fire at Dunkirk (France, 1940). Image Source: Divide and Conquer (Why We Fight #3), directed by Frank Capra. Public Domain (U.S. War Department):

Beyond the beaches, Lord Gort’s troops were selflessly fighting, determined to hold back the Germans for long as possible. The 2nd Royal Norfolk’s HQ was at Cornet Farm, one mile north of Le Paradis. Across the road, men of the 1st Royal Scots hunkered down to fight alongside them. Cut off from the rest of their units, they had already been informed that they were on their own. They held out as long as they could against the 14th Company, 1st Battalion of the 2nd SS Infantry Regiment. By late afternoon, however, they were out of ammunition. The farmhouse had been destroyed in the heavy bombardment and the Royal Norfolk’s were forced to flee to a cowshed. The German commander of the Totenkopf Division’s third regiment was killed in the battle.

By now there were only 99 men left alive and Major Lisle Ryder, the commanding officer of the 2nd Norfolk’s, ordered his men to surrender. As they filed out of the cowshed waving a white flag, the Royal Scots did the same, but from their position on the other side of the road, they surrendered to the Wehrmacht and were taken as prisoners. The Norfolk’s, meanwhile, surrendered to the SS. The Deputy Commander, SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer (Captain) Fritz Knochlein ordered his men to strip the British of their weapons after which they were marched to another barn. Two machine guns were set up as the British were lined up against the wall. The Germans opened fire and any survivors were subsequently bayoneted.

Miraculously, two men survived. Shot in the arm, William O’Callaghan played dead and so avoided being bayoneted. Albert Pooley was also alive although he had a shattered leg. O’Callaghan helped Pooley away where they survived for three days in a pig sty, eating raw potatoes and drinking muddy water before the farm owners found them. They were offered shelter and help but when the Wehrmacht later arrived, they were discovered and taken prisoner. Pooley was repatriated in 1943, after having his leg amputated in a Paris hospital. Both men survived the war.

William O’Callaghan and Albert Pooley arrive at war crimes tribunal in Hamburg after the war. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
When Pooley returned home, he told authorities what had happened, but was not believed. It was only in 1946 when he visited Le Paradis and was interviewed by the Nord Éclair, a local newspaper, that the British took note and investigated. Knochlein was eventually found, put on trial and found guilty. On January 28th, 1949, he was hanged. Tragically, this was not the only massacre during the Dunkirk evacuation, or indeed the war.

Image courtesy of BH Photography. Spitfire
©2015, Barry Henderson. All Rights Reserved.

As the BEF evacuated, the RAF was ordered to protect them, and over the nine days of Operation Dynamo, they flew around 3500 sorties, fighting vehemently to deny the Luftwaffe complete air supremacy and thus ensure the success of the evacuation.
They claimed 262 enemy aircraft and lost 106 aircraft and around 80 pilots were KIA, losses that were far greater than during the later Battle of Britain. 

The RAF’s part in the operation has often been unrecognised, underestimated and perhaps even unappreciated by many of the troops on the ground. However, Churchill at least attempted to correct any oversight in his speech on June 4th, remarking, “Wars are not won by evacuations. But there was a victory inside this deliverance, which should be noted. It was gained by the Air Force. Many of our soldiers coming back have not seen the Air Force at work; they saw only the bombers which escaped its protective attack. They underrate its achievements. I have heard much talk of this; this is why I go out of my way to say this.” He hailed the fighter pilots as "noble knights", and referred to Operation Dynamo as a “miracle of deliverance.”

While we recognise the selfless sacrifice of the troops who stayed behind and the RAF's role, we will remember the Royal Navy and civilian sailors, moored at sea for hours each day and night amidst a hail of bombardments while troops boarded. They valiantly carried on even when attacked, and ships sank, and men died. Even the journey back to England was perilous as mines and enemy U-boats lurked in the Channel. For those manning the "little ships", it was a trying, harrowing journey. Some boats refused to return after the first crossing, but many returned, making multiple voyages until the last of the men were safe.

Image courtesy of the IWM & in the public domain. Source:

Only around 7,500 men were taken off the beach on the 27th May, as a result of the heavy aerial bombardment that day, but numbers would increase steadily until around 338,000 men had been rescued, ending Operation Dynamo on June 4th, 1940. Some of the troops ordered to stay behind and fight were either killed in action or surrendered, only to be brutally murdered in cold blood. Some managed to escape and evade, but the majority became prisoners of war.
Operation Dynamo was a combined effort involving the land, air and sea forces. Without it, and without the selfless sacrifice of some of Lord Gort’s troops who remained behind, the BEF would never have been able to escape, leaving Britain to face an even darker future, her history irrevocably altered. This was the wider picture.

Troops evacuated from Dunkirk enjoying tea and other refreshments at Addison Road station in London, 31 May 1940.

By Saidman (Mr), War Office official photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Charlie Waite, a greengrocer from Essex said in an interview some years ago that he was sent to France in April 1940, having barely received any training. He was captured at Dunkirk and spent the rest of the war in captivity, returning to England finally in 1945. He spoke of his comrades after they returned home, saying, “It was humiliating for them. After the war, they suffered a sense of failure, and didn’t feel they’d shared in the great victory over Nazism.” Charlie was on the thousand-mile forced march in the harsh winter of 1944 during which a number of men perished.

Dunkirk Memorial at Dover. Image source: Eluveitie (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

When Dunkirk fell, around 40,000 French troops were taken prisoner. In the town of Dunkirk, around 1,000 locals were killed during the air raids while 126 merchant seamen lost their lives in the operation.
Around 40,000 men of the BEF were captured and marched away as prisoners of war, sent to camps and forced to work in the harshest of conditions with very little food and water. Some died there and many of those who returned home suffered psychologically for various reasons, including being largely forgotten by the British public and by a government who sent them to war. Their contribution should always be remembered, along with all those who gave their lives to assure our freedom today.

Hitler’s decision at Dunkirk undoubtedly set the course for the rest of the war which would ultimately result in Germany’s downfall. The majority of the BEF was saved. Britain was not lost and she would continue to defend her shores and be ready to fight another day.

While we all anticipate the upcoming release of director Christopher Nolan's summer blockbuster movie “Dunkirk", the authors of the Facebook Second World War Club have joined together to offer you more tales of WWII beyond Dunkirk. 

From 7/21 to 7/27, more than 50 WWII fiction authors will discount their books to 99c to bring you back in time to witness the harrowing experience, as well as stories of courage, bravery, and sacrifices, in a war that impacted the entire world. This also includes my WW2 novel, The Beauty Shop.

Don’t miss this chance! Visit:

Also, if you'd like the chance to win a signed paperback, click on the link for details of the giveaway - there are only two days left to enter so don't delay.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Dunkirk - Praying for a Miracle

The evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force took place between May 26th and June 4th, 1940. It was a miracle that around 338,000 men were rescued and brought back to Britain. It is a miracle they made it off the beach at all, given the fact that they were cornered, and stuck with nowhere to go, right in the midst of hell. While Hitler had ordered the elite Panzers to stand down, the Germans continued to shell the men on the beach and the Luftwaffe bombed and strafed from the air. It was chaos, everywhere you looked.

A sea of khaki engulfed the beach as tens of thousands of soldiers milled around with nowhere to go. All just waiting amidst the confusion, amidst the bombs, while friends and comrades fell all around them, either dead or wounded. Commanding officers had no idea what was happening and struggled to find out. For the rest of the men, it seemed hopeless. They could almost see England, lying across the Channel - home. 

One eyewitness recalls the sight that met him when his battalion finally arrived on Bray-Dunes. Looking out to sea, columns of soldiers were four-deep, wading out into the sea, only stopping once the water was shoulder-height. They were waiting for the little boats to come and take them out to the awaiting ships further out. Their lines wriggled rhythmically with every rolling wave.

On the beach, the dead and wounded lay all around. Those fatally wounded lay dying, either quietly, or crying out for their mothers, their fear and pain engulfing them as they waited for the inevitable. The medics had done their best, but it was hopeless.

Throughout it all, the Stukas returned, defiant and determined, their attacks relentless as they dived screaming from the sky like a host of angry hornets to release their bombs before swiftly climbing away. Aircraft then machine-gunned the beach, cutting through the lines of men in the water and on the mole - the Dunkirk jetty. More men fell, either killed or wounded, and the dead floated in the water, gently pushed aside by those in the line who were waiting, always waiting, sometimes for many hours. One soldier later recalled counting three tides while waiting in the water before he boarded a ship.

Many of the boys on the beach were a sorry sight. They were not all well-trained, experienced soldiers. Many were simply young lads, eager to do their bit. One such private recalled how his training amounted to firing about ten rounds on Salisbury Plain, prior to being shipped to France. Another recalled being given a rifle, but no ammunition. They were all so poorly equipped. 

As night fell and darkness closed in all around, still the Stukas came, firstly dropping parachute flares, illuminating the sky before dropping their bombs and strafing the helpless troops.

After one Stuka raid, men stood on the beach crying while others sank to their knees and prayed. Some dug holes in the dunes, desperate to have shelter from the bombs. When one soldier found two young privates sheltering in his foxhole, he told them they could stay and he went elsewhere. They were later killed when a mortar landed beside them. 

But even though the Luftwaffe seemed intent on finishing off all those men on the beach, the fact that the Panzers had halted, and the fact that some of the BEF along with the French were still fighting rear guard action against the Germans, gave the BEF a greater chance of being rescued. It bought time and now today, on the 27th May 1940, men were boarding ships. Unfortunately, only around 7,500 men would be successfully evacuated today as a result of the heavy aerial bombardment by the Luftwaffe.

For the men still waiting, still praying for a miracle, it must have seemed impossible. For the fortunate number who made it aboard a ship that day, the relief they felt was immense but yet they worried about how they would be received back home. They felt they were running away from the enemy - they were cowards and surely the people back home would see them as such.