The three nights Blitz, February 1941

In February 1941, Swansea became the first place outside London to suffer three consecutive nights of bombing.

 

During the dark nights of February 19, 20 and 21 the bombers came back almost constantly, killing 230 people and injuring more than 400 more.D 235-1-7 Ben Evans

Ports like Swansea had become priority targets for the Luftwaffe.

On duty in the city that February 1941 was Elaine Kidwell, a 17-year-old who had lied about her age to become one of the youngest air raid wardens in Britain.

D 235-1-33 Castle Street-College Street

During one of the raids she almost lost her life when a parachute mine exploded.

“Everybody was blown, and I was blown right across the road, crashed into a wall, and I didn’t have any breath in me,” she told me a few years ago. “Anyway I was coming around and I went into my pocket, and I wish I hadn’t it, because I’ve had my leg pulled about it ever since, I took my lipstick out and I put it on.

“I got my breath back, and he said to me – one of the wardens did – ‘That’s your armour, isn’t it?’. ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘As long as I’ve got my lipstick on I can face anything!’

P-PR 95-4-3a Blitz from Milton Terrace

 

 

A woman called Nora, a heroine of WW2

Currently reading Sarah Helm’s book ‘A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE’.

It’s a fascinating portrait of the SOE officer who looked after agents heading into the field.

The remarkable Noor Inayat Khan features prominently.

Noor (she later used the name Nora) was born in 1914 in Moscow to an Indian father and an American mother. The family moved to Paris, where she was educated. She later worked writing childrens’ stories.

noor1

 

Noor escaped to England after the fall of France and in November 1940 she joined the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force). In late 1942, she was recruited to join SOE as a radio operator.

In June 1943 she was flown to France to become the radio operator for the ‘Prosper’ resistance network in Paris, with the codename ‘Madeleine’. Many members of the network were arrested shortly afterwards but she chose to remain in France and spent the summer moving from place to place, trying to send messages back to London while avoiding capture.

In October, Noor was betrayed by a Frenchwoman and arrested by the Gestapo.

noor2

In November 1943, she was sent to Pforzheim prison in Germany where she was kept in chains and in solitary confinement. Despite repeated torture, she refused to reveal any information. In September 1944, Noor and three other female SOE agents were transferred to Dachau concentration camp where on 13 September they were shot. Noor was 30.

noor3

For her courage, Noor Khan was posthumously awarded the George Cross in 1949.

 

 

‘Superb’ thriller now only 77p!

FAREWELL LEICESTER SQUARE is now only 77p on KINDLE.

farewell1

2005. Terrorists target London in an attack which makes headlines around the world.
Elsewhere, a fishing boat makes a remarkable find: a World War II bomber, hundreds of miles from where records show it disappeared.
The two events combine when journalist Jon Kilkade takes a blood-curdling phone-call.
It describes a suicide mission to destroy London. Not in 2005, but during the chaotic final months of the Nazi Third Reich.
The action in this fast-paced novel switches from occupied Jersey to the lives of SOE and Resistance fighters in Belgium.
At its heart is a deadly circle of Nazi fanatics intent on creating a final blitz which would see the people of London wiped from the face of the earth.
A riveting thriller in the tradition of Jack Higgins and Alistair MacLean.

WHAT READERS SAY:

Superb thriller.”

A great tale of WW2 daring, intrigue and heroism told in a gripping way.”

Captivating from beginning to end. A thoroughly enjoyable read.”

The story keeps the reader wanting to find out what will happen next.

Superb. I loved this novel for so many reasons – believable characters, excellent research and an exciting plotline. I was caught in the storytellers trap from beginning to end.”

A good enjoyable read. Kept me captivated from start to finish.”

Excellent thriller. It’s well researched – lots of stuff about SOE and the resistance.”

Thoroughly enjoyable read.”

An almost excellent read. If you enjoyed the TV series “Secret Army” and “Kessler” then this book has the same feel about it.”

“For every German soldier ten Italians had to die…”

Remarkable footage of the moment SS war criminal Erich Priebke was confronted by a television journalist in 1994.

Priebke died at the age of 100 earlier this month. He was under house arrest in Rome.

He had found himself back in Italy after this confrontation in which Sam Donaldson of ABC doorsteps him in Argentina.

As a result of the interview Priebke was extradited to Italy and sentenced to prison for his part in the 1944 Ardeatine Caves massacre in Rome.

Five Stars: “A great tale of WW 2 daring, intrigue and heroism”

Farewell Leicester Square
Farewell Leicester Square

2005. Terrorists target London in an attack which makes headlines around the world.

Elsewhere, a fishing boat makes a remarkable find: a World War II bomber, hundreds of miles from where records show it disappeared.

The two events combine when journalist Jon Kilkade takes a blood-curdling phone-call.

It describes a suicide mission to destroy London. Not in 2005, but during the chaotic final months of the Nazi Third Reich.

The action in this fast-paced novel switches from occupied Jersey to the lives of SOE and Resistance fighters in Belgium.

At its heart is a deadly circle of Nazi fanatics intent on creating a final blitz which would see the people of London wiped from the face of the earth.

A riveting thriller in the tradition of Jack Higgins and Alistair MacLean.

SOME OF THE 5***** REVIEWS ON AMAZON:
“A thoroughly enjoyable read. Full of intrigue and some shocks along the way. Historical wartime descriptions are incredibly accurate and deftly pull you into the story. It’s almost as if you’re there. Looking forward to the next one by Mr Kilkade.”
*****
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale of intrigue and heroism
“A great tale of WW 2 daring, intrigue and heroism told in a gripping way. Well researched and I’m sure based on detailed gleaned from true stories of the people who risked their lives to help other. Recommend.”
*****
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb thriller
“The book starts in the modern day but soon goes back to WWII and sets up an interesting character who escapes Jersey before the island is occupied by the Nazis. I didn’t know where the story was going and it really zipped along once the main mission started. Lots of action and intrigue. Loved it and well worth a read.”
*****
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!
“I loved this novel for so many reasons – believeable characters, excellent research and an exciting plotline. I was caught in the storytellers trap from beginning to end.
If you like history and true to life characters and a smashing plot, this is the book for you.”

This Day In History: The story behind Avenue Georges Mandel

Photo street in Paris named after Georges Mandel who was killed by the Milice, 1944Spotted in Paris: this street named after executed politician, Georges Mandel.

Mandel died 69 years ago today, on July 7, in 1944 at the hands of the Milice, a paramilitary force which collaborated with the Nazis.

Born in 1885, into a prosperous family (his given name was Louis-Georges Rothschild, though he was no relation to the banking family), Mandel’s political career began at age 21 as a member of the personal staff of French Premier Georges Clemenceau. He went on to serve in the National Assembly from 1919 to 1924, and then again from 1928 to 1940.

In 1940, he was transferred to the Ministry of the Interior by then French Premier Paul Reynaud, with whom he shared the conviction that no armistice should be made with the German invaders, and that the battle should continue, even if only from France’s colonies in Africa.

After the resignation of Reynaud and the establishment of the Petain/Vichy government, Mandel sailed to Morocco, where he was arrested and sent back to France and imprisoned.

He was handed over to the Germans, and put in concentration camps in Oranienburg and Buchenwald.

Mandel was returned to Paris on July 4, 1944, as a hostage. While being transferred from one prison to another, he was captured by the Milice

Three days later, the Milice took Mandel to the Forest of Fontainebleau, where they executed him. He was buried at Passy Cemetery. 

As he was being handed over to his countrymen by the German SS, he is said to have stated: “To die is nothing. What is sad is to die without seeing the liberation of the country and the restoration of the Republic.”

The graves of Abbeville (WW1)

Abbeville cemetery
Abbeville cemetery

Abbeville was an important town for the Allied armies throughout much of the First World War.

It housed the headquarters of the lines of communication and three army hospitals.

Its cemetery contains more than 2,500 World War 1 graves and several hundred from World War 2.

The cemetery contains around 3,000 graves
The cemetery contains around 3,000 graves

The cemetery consists of the communal section and an extension which was begun in September 1916.

I took these photographs during a visit there a few years ago.

Here are a few of those buried there. Private Charles Leslie Bibby, of the King’s Liverpool Regiment.

Charles Leslie Bibby
Charles Leslie Bibby

Private E Edwards, of the 9th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

E Edwards
E Edwards

William Sheehan, of New Ross, County Wexford, who served in the Royal Irish Regiment.

William Sheehan
William Sheehan

The town also played an important role in the Second World War.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes: “Abbeville was a major operational aerodrome, but the town fell to the Germans at the end of May 1940. On 4 June, an attempt was made by the 51st Division, in conjunction with the French, to break the German bridgehead, but without success. Towards the end of 1943, eight large ski shaped buildings appeared near Abbeville. These proved to be storage units for flying bomb components and they were heavily bombed by Commonwealth air forces. Abbeville was retaken on 4 September 1944 by Canadian and Polish units.”

This memorial is in the town.

Abbeville memorial
Abbeville memorial

Cover image for new edition of ‘Farewell Leicester Square’

‘Farewell Leicester Square’

Very excited to receive the cover image for the new e-edition of ‘Farewell Leicester Square’.

The Kindle version of the book is on sale at a special price at the moment so please check it out!

There have been so many great reviews so far. Thanks to all the readers who have contacted me.

“A superb thriller… I didn’t know where the story was going and it really zipped along… Lots of action and intrigue. Loved it.”

“Captivating from beginning to end. A thoroughly enjoyable read. Full of intrigue and some shocks along the way. Historical wartime descriptions are incredibly accurate and deftly pull you into the story. It’s almost as if you’re there. Looking forward to the next one by Mr Kilkade.”

“Excellent thriller…  Fast plot and lots of action and builds to a very exciting climax over London. I loved it.”

“A must read. Thoroughly enjoyable read. Captivates the readers imagination.”

Thanks!

Don’t forget to let me know what you think of the new cover.