• Prologue

    ‘The Rundetaarn…’ author visit to Copenhagen


    ‘GERMAN TROOPS ENTER RHINELAND…’ Front page headline, Evening Standard, Saturday March 7, 1936

    ‘Spike Island…’ described in: Philip Hoare. Spike Island: The Memory of a Military Hospital. Fourth Estate, 2010 p.17

    ‘Spion Kop…’ refers to a battle fought on 24th January 1900. In: Thomas Pakenham, The Boer War, (First published 1979), Abacus, 1992 (Chapter 25)

    ‘won a medal for his actions…’ refers to Queen’s South Africa medal. Seen by author during visit to: Army Medical Services Museum, Aldershot

    ‘Queen Victoria herself…’ Queen Victoria visited the hospital at Spike Island on 31 May 1900 (Hoare, p. 173)

    ‘When fate arrives…’ Arabic proverb, in: Peter McDonald, Oxford Dictionary of Medical quotations, OUP, 2004

    ‘trapped in a cemetery…’ refers to Wallemollen cemetery, near Passchendaele.
    In: A.D. Carbery. The New Zealand Medical Service in the Great War 1914 – 1918. Whitcomb & Tombs Ltd, Auckland 1924 (Chapter 15) Available on-line:

    ‘electrical shock therapy…’ described in: Yealland and Farquhar. Hysterical disorders of warfare, Macmillan London, 1918

    ‘surgeon’s box…’ box and contents seen by author on visit to Winchester Discovery Centre exhibition (on loan from the National Museum of the Royal Navy)


    ‘to a mountain called Pike’s peak…’ In 1911, two Oxford respiratory physiologists, John Scott Haldane (1860 – 1936), fellow of New College, and Claude Douglas (1882 – 1963) fellow of St. John’s College, conducted a high altitude research expedition at Pike’s Peak, Colorado.
    (In this book, ‘Jonners’ is based on JS Haldane and Kynance is loosely based on Douglas)

    ‘Two brothers and eight cousins…’ remark attributed to evolutionary biologist JBS Haldane (1892 – 1964), the son of JS Haldane. He is supposed to have made the workings out on the back of an envelope. In: Stephen Jay Gould, Ever since Darwin. First published 1978 (Chapter 33)
    Also in: John Maynard Smith, The Theory of Evolution. First published 1958, Penguin books (Chapter 12)

    ‘I feel that the right thing to do…’ from ideas about saving a drowning man and ‘the Moral Law’, in: C.S. Lewis. Mere Christianity, First published, 1952 (Chapter 2)


    ‘outside Moscow…’ Mark Arnold-Foster, The World at War, Pimlico 2001 (Chapter 8)

    ‘He’s gone for a Burton…’ In: Sinclair Mckay, The Secret Life of Fighter Command: The Men and Women who beat the Luftwaffe, Aurum Press Ltd 2015 (Chapter 8)

    ‘for each operation…shoot down a bandit…’ In: Geoffrey Page, Shot down in flames, Grub Street, 1999
    Later in the war, Page shot down one German for every one of his 15 wartime operations.

    ‘27 gallon header tank…’ in: Murray C. Meikle, Reconstructing Faces: The art and wartime surgery of Gillies, Pickerill, McIndoe and Mowlem, Otago University Press, 2013 p. 127

    Emily Mayhew, The Reconstruction of Warriors, Greenhill Books 2004 p. 48 (describes the self-sealing system and the absence of this in the header tank of a Hurricane)

    ‘the airman’s burn…’ Meikle pp. 126 – 128 (and plates 17 and 18), Mayhew pp. 44 – 45

    ‘Millionaire’s mob…’

    ‘Oxford and Cambridge ski race…’ partly based on ski-career of James Palmer-Tomkinson (1915 – 1952),
    Also inspired by Roger Bushell (1910 – 1944), winner of Oxford-Cambridge ski race in 1931, later RAF pilot in the ‘Millionaire’s mob’ in 1932. Shot down 23 May 1940, he escaped from Stalag Luft III POW camp in 1944 only to be re-captured and executed by Gestapo. (In: Paul Brickhill, The Great Escape, Faber and Faber, 1951)

    ‘The first day of the Battle of Britain…’ 13th August 1940, ‘Eagle Day’

    ‘over by Weymouth…’ Harry Shaw’s exploits that day based on those of: Pilot Officer H.C. Mayers (1910-1942) of the 601 squadron, who, on 13th August 1940 shot down a Ju-88 in the morning, before being shot down himself that afternoon over Portland (he baled out and was rescued, but died later in the war).

    ‘BANG, BANG, BANG…’ based on Page’s vivid description of being shot down, in: Page (Chapter 16) (He was actually shot down on 12th August 1940)

    ‘could hardly pull the ripcord…’ ibid

    ‘you stupid pair of fucking bastards…’ ibid

    ‘Perseids…’ annual meteor shower peaking on August 12th. Records of it date back around 2000 years. In: Jacqueline Mitton. Cambridge Illustrated Dictionary of Astronomy, Cambridge University Press, 2007

    ‘converted chocolate tin…’ information and photographs of the Queen Victoria Chocolate tin on the National Army Museum website:

    ‘a tubed pedicle…’ In: Meikle pp. 81 – 83


    ‘but the medical course had stayed the same…’
    This anecdotal piece also details the ‘pulling up spuds’, mentioned later in the same chapter.


    ‘Blackout boards…’ in: Philip Larkin. Jill, (first published 1946, The Fortune Press). The novel is set in wartime Oxford (specifically St. John’s College which Larkin attended)

    ‘Leaflet for enlistment in the SS-Special Purpose Troops ad Death’s Head Units…’ Entry criteria for Waffen SS, in: Adrian Weale. ‘The SS a new history’ Abacus 2010 pp. 203-6

    ‘Where are all the eggs? …’ In June 1942, the Ministry of Food set the maximum cost of any meal served in restaurants to five shillings. As a consequence, restaurants became more frugal in what they chose to offer, or opted to serve smaller portions in order to make a profit ( – British Wartime Food). In the scene, the Caf owner has chosen to limit the usual number of eggs (my fictional interpretation of the new restrictions), and is being economical with the truth when he tells Ed: “only one egg per meal now – new rule”.

    ‘the skin there blushes…’ personal communication with Professor of Plastic Surgery (retired), M.D. Poole. He also helped with other surgical details, including the formation of tubed pedicles.

    ‘my oldest son’s squadron…’ refers to John Gillies – shot down on the same day as Roger Bushell (23 May 1940 and afterwards a POW until the war’s end)
    In: Meikle pp. 176 – 177

    ‘my father had rowed…’ Hunston’s father’s Oxford rowing pedigree is based on that of R. Carr (Blue 1896, 1897, 1898). In: G. C. Drinkwater. ‘The Boat Race’, Blackie and Son Ltd, 1939

    ‘1904. Sat in the seven seat…’ Harold Delf Gillies (Meikle pp. 29 – 30)
    Also in: Drinkwater (Gillies weighed 10 stone 5lbs, average weight of Cambridge crew 11 stone 8 ¾lbs)

    ‘My cousin runs the place…’ refers to the Plastic surgeon Archibald Hector McIndoe (1900 – 1960), in: Meikle p.108

    ‘Sir Harold Gillies…’ Plastic surgeon, 1881 -1960, Miekle p. 108

    ‘Able-Seaman Vicarage…’ Miekle pp. 81 – 82



    ‘Ward Three’ the ward for burnt pilots, photographs seen by author at East Grinstead Museum
    Miekle p. 124 -125, Mayhew p. 65

    ‘It was a perpetually sultry place…’ Sebastian Faulks, The fatal Englishman, Vintage 1996, p. 152

    ‘the bathroom…’ Saline baths described in: Mayhew: p. 63, Miekle pp. 128 – 129
    Scene inspired from a photograph seen by author at East Grinstead Museum.
    Also from a quote in: Stout and Duncan, War, Surgery and Medicine, Historical Publications Branch, 1954, Wellington (Chapter 15)

    Available on-line:

    ‘An assistant was actually removing, under an anaesthetic, an extensive coagulum from both legs of a burnt patient. Most of it was floating on a bath of foul smelling pus.’

    ‘Tannafax…’ Author visit to Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London
    Miekle pp. 127 – 129
    Mayhew pp. 58 – 66
    Kevin Brown, Fighting Fit: Health, Medicine and War in the twentieth century, The History Press Ltd, 2008 pp. 115 – 117

    ‘useless spindle-shaped appendages…’ Miekle pp. 136 – 137 (based on the hands of Pilot Officer Geoffrey Page)

    ‘the Boss…’ McIndoe was known as ‘The Boss’ in East Grinstead. In: Mayhew p. 75

    ‘The Boss had presented a photographic record…’ Royal Society of Medicine, The Lancet, Nov 16, 1940, 621-22
    Also in: Mayhew p. 61

    ‘a surgeon called Burges…’ Burges is loosely based on a celebrated surgeon of the day, William Ogilvie (1887 – 1971). In: Mayhew pp. 65 – 66

    ‘he claims he has never treated a single hand burn…’ exchange between McIndoe and Ogilvie.  ibid

    ‘to the Royal Masonic soon after…’ the experience of downed RAF pilots Richard Hillary and Geoffrey Page.
    In: Richard Hillary, The Last Enemy, (First published by Macmillan & Co 1942), Pimlico edition 1997
    Faulks p. 149
    Page p. 101

    ’62 General Hospital in Tobruk…’ In July 1942 an experiment carried out at 62 General Hospital, Tobruk, was reported wherein one limb of a patient had been treated by tanning and the other corresponding limb by sulphanilamide and tulle gras dressing. One hundred cases were so treated, and it was demonstrated that the tanned cases were not nearly as satisfactory as the others. This was the end of tanning in the MEF. 
    (In: Stout and Duncan.)

    ‘Number 9 cream…’ Mayhew pp. 67 – 69

    ‘Sister Meally…’ the Sister of Ward 3 throughout the war years

    ‘a Czech pilot…’ based on the experiences of two Czech pilots Josef Capka and Alois Ciska; French Foreign Legionnaires who joined the RAF’s all Czech 311 squadron after the fall of France. (Miekle pp. 155 -156)

    ‘batch of blues to be burnt …’ Miekle p. 126

    ‘special park benches…’ Author visit to: Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London,

    ‘Whitehall complex…’ Miekle p. 130, Mayhew pp. 158 – 159,

    ‘Cinema seats…’ Mayhew p. 159

    ‘Louis fight Schmeling…’ refers to heavyweight boxers Joe Louis (USA) and Max Schmeling (Germany) who had two famous fights (1936 – win to Schmeling, and 1938 – win to Louis).

    ‘dusted him with sulphonamides…’ seen by author during visit to: Army Medical Services Museum, Aldershot
    Mayhew, p. 62, Miekle p. 128, Stout and Duncan (Chapter 1)


    ‘Freya Nielsen, the photographer…’ In 1940, McIndoe’s team had a photographer, a ‘Miss Lehmann’. (Miekle p. 125)

    ‘Robert Capa’s…’ war photographer (1913 – 1954)

    ‘Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls…’ published in 1940 (Charles Scribner’s sons)

    ‘I think it’s a fake…’

    ‘you’ve certainly had your bark knocked off…’ McIndoe quoted in: Faulks, p. 154

    ‘what Galen said…’


    ‘The Devil’s jumps…’

    ‘had shot down a Junkers 88…’
    Pat Burgess, Andy Saunders, Battle over Sussex 1940, Middleton Press, 1990 p. 77

    ‘Minutes later, I was leading ‘A’ flight…’ the actual dogfight described in:

    ‘the Devil taunted Thor…’ and other aspects of local folklore described, in: Jacqueline Simpson. Folklore of Sussex (originally published by B.T.Bastford 1973), The History Press 2009 (Chapter 6)

    ‘metallic rotor…’ oil gear remnant of crashed Ju-88 (shot down in May 1943, recovered in 1972) seen by author in: Tangmere Military Aviation Museum, Chichester

    ‘How many baled out? …’ their names were: Franz Rossler, Kurt Brieger and Kurt Seitz

    ‘with a bronze plaque attached…’ the actual citation reads:
    1915 -1940
    (Author visit to remembrance stone which lies on the South Downs Way a few hundred yards west of the Devil’s Jumps)

    ‘Death’s head…’ see photograph


    ‘the word ‘cottage’ had been removed…’ seen on museum display, East Grinstead Museum, East Sussex
    Miekle p.124

    ‘- the kissing bench – …’ visited by author.

    ‘Veronica Lake…’ actress 1922 – 1973

    ‘Russell Davies de-sloughing forceps…’ seen in Museum display case exhibiting surgical instruments at the East Grinstead Museum, East Sussex


    ‘There was an art deco style café there…’ from photograph in East Grinstead Museum, East Sussex

    ‘Guinea pig club…’ in Miekle (Chapter 9) and Mayhew (Chapter 3)

    ‘smart burgundy ties…’ seen on display at East Grinstead Museum, East Sussex

    ‘Bellevue Spur…’

    ‘in an asylum…’ Hoare p. 216 (Chapter entitled: ‘D block’)

    ‘The plane was German…’ on 9th July 1943 the Whitehall Cinema in East Grinstead was hit by a lone German bomber thought to have strayed from a group. A double feature was being shown – a Hopalong Cassidy cowboy film first, hence the large amount of children present, to be followed by a Veronica Lake film (‘I married a witch’). At 5.05pm an air raid warning was sounded but largely ignored as this was a common occurrence. At 5.17pm two bombs smashed through the roof of the cinema, landing in the front seats. In the six seconds before they exploded some managed to escape. Other bombs landed in the town. 108 were killed and a further 235 injured. Many were buried in a communal grave the following week.
    From panel displayed at East Grinstead Museum, East Sussex.

    ‘They’ll be bringing the injured here…’ 53 of the injured were treated at the QVH, including two of the hospital staff. One nurse lost her life. (Panel at East Grinstead Museum, East Sussex)

    ‘Levallois technique…’ from Neanderthal display at Manchester museum, The University of Manchester


    ‘Agenten funk…’ In: Christopher Vasey. Nazi Intelligence Operations in Non-occupied Territories: Espionage Efforts in the United States, Britain, South America and South Africa, McFarland & Company Inc. Publishers, 2016 p. 204

    ‘Abwehr…’ German Military intelligence organisation (1920 – 45), in: Chris McNab, Britain’s secret war 1939 – 1945, Pitkin Publishing, 2012 p. 4

    ‘make a rendezvous with a seaplane…’ Freya Nielsen is loosely based on the female Abwehr spy Vera Eriksen (aka. Vera Schalburg).

    On September 29th 1940, Eriksen and two male spies were landed by seaplane off the Scottish coast, rowing ashore in a rubber dinghy. They were all soon arrested, because of basic errors in tradecraft; a stationmaster noticed their soaking shoes and one of the men’s wallets was crammed with far too many banknotes (£327).
    An examination of their luggage revealed a Mauser pistol with 19 rounds of ammunition, a flick knife, wireless equipment, a list of RAF bases, batteries and a torch marked ‘Made in Bohemia’. The men were later executed at Wandsworth prison in1941, whereas Erikson remained in custody at ‘E’ wing at Holloway prison, and then at Aylesbury prison until the end of the war, when she was released.
    It is not known for sure why she was spared; it was rumoured that while spying in London in 1938, she had an affair with a prominent member of British society – the result, a son.
    Another theory is that she was a double agent. After the war, the British issued her with a new identity, under which she lived for many decades. One report has her settling on the Isle of Wight with her young son.

    ‘brand new tweeds, plus fours…’

    ‘Attached to one side of the coin…’


    ‘hypnogogic hallucinations…’

    ‘the Trundle…’

    ‘The day Tom was killed I saw him…’ Richard Shaw seeing Tom’s ghost comes from an SAS soldier who ‘saw’ a comrade in England even though he had just died in the Falklands (in: Frank Collins’s Baptism of Fire, Doubleday 1997)


    ‘Patton’s Seventh Army…’ Patton entered Palermo on 22 July

    ‘a mansion block …’ Although the Special Operations Executive was based at 64 Baker Street, they conducted their interviews in room 321 of the Northumberland Hotel. In: Terry Crowdy, SOE Agent: Churchill’s secret warriors, Osprey Publishing 2008, p. 14

    ‘Ministry of Information propaganda posters…’ the one described seen by author at Tangmere Military Aviation Museum, Chichester

    ‘Never, never, never…’ excerpt from speech Winston Churchill gave to schoolboys at Harrow, Oct 29th, 1941. Recording available at:

    Neues Volk…’ Nazi era poster of the disabled patient seen by author in museum ‘The Topography of Terror’, Berlin

    ‘set Europe ablaze…’ in: Crowdy, p. 9

    ‘Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare…’ in: Douglas Boyd. Blood in the Snow, Blood on the grass: treachery, torture, murder and massacre – France 1944, The History Press, 2012 p. 23

    ‘F section…’ the F section interviewer’s name was Selwyn Jepson. The head of F section was Maurice Buckmaster. In: Crowdy, pp. 14 – 16
    Pirbright and Stringer are loosely based on these two characters.

    ‘Commando order…’ in: Max Hastings, Das Reich: The march of the 2nd SS Panzer Division through France, June 1944 (first published 1981 by Michael Joseph Ltd), Pan Books 1983


    ‘the Captain…’ character loosely based on a combination of Captain W.E Fairbairn (1885 – 1960) and Captain E.A. Sykes (1883 – 1945), close combat trainers to SOE operatives in WW2 and co-designers of the F-S Commando Knife.
    In: Crowdy pp. 20, 26

    ‘a double edged blade…’ the F-S commando knife (seen by author at SOE display, Tangmere Military Aviation Museum), also in Crowdy p. 26
    Elizabeth Kate Vigurs, The women agents of the Special Operations Executive F section – wartime realities and post war representations DPhil thesis, The University of Leeds, September 2011, p. 47

    ‘It’s essential for the knife to have a good stabbing point…’ W.E. Fairbairn, All-in Fighting (Originally published by Faber and Faber Ltd 1942) This edition published by The Naval & Military Press Ltd, p. 95

    ‘silent killing…’ Crowdy pp. 19 – 26, Vigurs p. 44 – 48

    ‘Shanghai Police Force…’ in Crowdy p. 20
    Also in: W.E. Fairbairn and E.A. Sykes, Shooting to live with the one-hand gun, originally printed Oliver and Boyd, London 1942

    ‘Carotid artery…’ table of various bleed-out times in: Fairbairn (All-in Fighting) p. 96

    ‘Codename…’ Vigurs p. 42

    ‘some of you bourgeois liberals…’ based on comment by Fairbairn (All-in Fighting, from Introduction)
    ‘Some readers may be appalled at the suggestion that it should be necessary for human beings of the twentieth century to revert to the grim brutality of the Stone Age in order to live. But it must be realised that, in dealing with an utterly ruthless enemy who has clearly expressed his intention of wiping this nation out of existence, there is no room for any scruple or compunction about the methods to be employed in preventing him.’

    ‘second lieutenant…’ Crowdy p. 16

    ‘’Student Assessment Board’ at STS 7…’ ibid p. 18, Vigurs p. 39, SOE display, Tangmere Military Aviation museum

    ‘group exercises…’ Vigurs pp. 41 -42

    ‘By the end of four days…’ Crowdy p. 18

    ‘STS 21…’ training centre at Arisaig, Scotland. In: Crowdy p. 19, Vigurs pp. 43 – 44, SOE display, Tangmere Military Aviation museum

    ‘the cooler…’ Crowdy p. 17

    ‘practised on straw dummies…’ Vigurs p. 45

    ‘in a set of moves…’ listed throughout Fairbairn (All in fighting)

    ‘kick the bastard in the bollocks…’ Crowdy p. 23, Fairbairn p. 114

    ‘red lipstick lines…’ in Vigurs p. 46

    ‘In most shooting affrays…’ Fairbairn and Sykes (Chapter 1 ‘Purposes of the pistol’)

    ‘Hip level with a bent arm…’ ibid (Chapter 4 ‘Training: advanced methods’), also Crowdy p. 20

    ‘double tap…’ Fairbairn and Sykes (Chapter 7 ‘Stopping power’), Crowdy pp. 22 – 23

    ‘Shanghai, 1927…’ anecdote told in: Fairbairn and Sykes (Chapter 4 ‘Training: advanced methods)

    ‘You will use an automatic…’ ibid (Chapter 2 ‘Choosing a pistol’)

    ‘Boys take the colt 45s…’ Vigurs pp. 48 – 49

    ‘shoot four people in a room…’ ibid p. 50

    ‘In a forest, we fired at cut-outs…’ Crowdy p. 22- 23

    ‘the Bren and the Sten…’ in: Hastings (Appendix B), Crowdy p. 23
    Also in: Paddy Ashdown. The Cruel Victory: The French Resistance, D-Day and the Battle for the Vercours 1944. William Collins, 2014 p.129.
    Ashdown states that: ‘The Sten was a truly dreadful weapon, often as lethal to its owner as it was to the enemy…its habit of going off and unleashing a whole magazine when dropped also caused the accidental death of a good number of Maquisards…’

    ‘The ‘gammon’ grenade…’ Hastings p. 269

    ‘We all sat in a trench…’ Vigurs p. 52

    ‘Demolitions…’ Vigurs, p. 51, Crowdy pp. 26 – 28

    ‘hidden in innocent objects…’ SOE display, Tangmere Military Aviation museum
    Also in: McNab p. 18

    ‘dizzy platform…’ Vigurs p. 41

    ‘twenty four hour exercise…’ Crowdy p.30

    ‘I suddenly ‘felt’ Tom walking next to me…’ based on based on a phenomenon experienced by people in acute danger or exhaustion. In: John Geiger The Third Man factor: surviving the impossible, Cannongate Books, 2009


    ‘Beaulieu estate…’ SOE display, Tangmere Military Aviation museum, Crowdy p. 30, Vigurs p. 59

    ‘I never went on the parachute course…’ Not all applicants did the parachute course. In: Vigurs pp. 53 – 54

    ‘Xavier Bonnet…’ agents being issued with new identity, in Crowdy p. 56

    ‘twenty two words a minute…’ Vigurs p. 55

    ‘STS 52…’ Crowdy p. 47 (Thame Park)

    ‘Too many radio-operators are getting caught…’ ‘The average radio operator had a life expectancy of six weeks to 3 months’, in Crowdy p. 50. ‘No more than six months’ in: Ashdown p. 131

    ‘a type of wax they can use called Culloden…’ details of plastic surgery carried out on SOE operatives:
    Also in: Crowdy p. 56

    ‘a Holy Order in Paris…’ refers to Bon Secour nuns. In: Vera Whittington. Gold and Typhoid: two fevers. A social History of Western Australia 1891-1900. University of Western Australia Press, 1988, p. 21

    ‘Sisters of the St John of God…’ ibid

    ‘STS 31…’ SOE display, Tangmere Military Aviation museum

    ‘never ask for a ‘café noir’…’ Vigurs p.59

    ‘Women weren’t allowed cigarette rations…’ ibid.

    ‘Madame gave me a French novel to read…’ refers to: Alain Forunier. Le Grand Meaulnes, published 1913

    ‘large oil refinery…’

    ‘letters were strictly monitored…’ Crowdy p. 58

    ‘A ‘cut out’ in spy parlance…’ Crowdy p. 32

    ‘I employed the techniques taught in the ‘clandestine living’ classes…’ ibid

    ‘my ‘get out of jail’ card…’ ibid

    ‘Department A…’ ibid p 30

    ‘CONFERENCE ROOM…’ from the information film: ‘Now it can be told’ 1944, which details the entire SOE process from recruitment interview through to deployment and uses SOE agent Jacqueline Nearne in the filming.

    ‘I was stripped…’ Crowdy pp. 32, 33 – 34

    ‘Le bain…’ details in: SOE display, Tangmere Military Aviation museum
    Hastings p. 112
    The phrase ‘Verscharfte Vernehmung’ comes from article in: ‘The Atlantic magazine’ May 29 2007
    The cold bath technique is also mentioned in relation to Klaus Barbie by his victims.

    ‘the ‘honey trap’…’ Crowdy p. 33, McNab p.10

    ‘They’ve assigned Rommel…’ refers to Erwin Rommel, 1891 – 1944 (Wermacht Field Marshall)

    ‘a pair of gold cufflinks…’ in Crowdy p.60


    ‘Lysander aircraft…’ Crowdy p. 60, SOE display, Tangmere Military Aviation museum

    ‘There was a full moon…’ ibid p. 59, also: SOE display, Tangmere Military Aviation museum, also SOE information film

    ‘SOE ‘dispatcher’…’ SOE information film

    ‘pluck bright honour…’ William Shakespeare. Henry IV part 1, Act 1 scene 3

    ‘ladder attached to the port side…’ SOE display, Tangmere Military Aviation museum

    ‘told us Eisenhower had been in for dinner…’ Eisenhower stayed at the Ship Hotel, Chichester from Wednesday 19th April – Saturday 22nd April 1944 when visiting troops preparing for the Invasion of Europe. A dinner was given for the general by the RAF on the occasion of his visit. (Author visit to Ship Hotel; now called ‘Chichester Harbour Hotel’)

    ‘The cottage served as the ‘ops’ centre…’ SOE display, Tangmere Military Aviation museum

    ‘My inventory…’ ibid, also SOE information film

    ‘tailors had made our clothes…’ in Crowdy p. 56, also SOE formation film

    ‘silk escape map…’ SOE display, Tangmere Military Aviation museum

    ‘Escape cards…’ ibid

    ‘his code-name was Nestor…’ Hastings p. 56

    ‘a short, quirky phrase…’ SOE information film

    ‘The map was a composite strip of France…’ details on the Lysander flight, including how the pilot’s maps were made and stuffing them in a flying boot. From: Hugh Verity. We Landed by Moonlight. Crecy Publishing Ltd, 1978. p. 22

    ‘letters of the day…’ SOE display, Tangmere Military Aviation museum

    ‘The boffins at ‘Station IX’…’ ibid

    ‘the orange aerial wire…’ ibid

    ‘S-phone…’ ibid

    ‘the flare-path…’ ibid

    ‘Got bogged down in a muddy field one time…’ ibid

    ‘Commandant Jack…’ Hastings p. 56

    ‘Hercules…’ ibid p. 166

    ‘the ‘De Lisle’ silenced carbine…’ in McNab pp. 10, 18
    Weapon seen by author hanging on the wall of the Artists’ Rifles Clubhouse, Bisley Camp, Surrey

    ‘They’re poor, they’re radical…’ Hastings p. 66


    ‘‘FTP’ Resistance…’ Hastings pp. 24 – 25, 279 – 80, Boyd pp. 18, 103

    ‘‘Das Reich’ 2nd SS Panzer Division …’ Hastings p. 4, Boyd p. 102

    ‘agreeing to send my parents regular updates on my behalf…’ Crowdy p. 58

    ‘Kynance bag…’ actually the ‘Douglas Bag’, used for collecting gas samples in respiratory physiology. Named after Claude Douglas (see also Chapter 3).

    ‘Milice…’ refers to the Vichy paramilitary police force. In: Hastings p. 280, Boyd p. 30


    ‘A’ pills for airsickness…’ Crowdy p. 57

    Self Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion…’ title of book by Emile Coue (1857 – 1956), published 1920

    ‘Feldgendarme…’ Hastings p. 128

    ‘the Sipo, the Kripo…’ Crowdy p. 32

    ‘Kettenhunde…’ Hastings p. 128

    ‘la collaboration horizontale…’ Boyd p. 168

    ‘They say she lived out her days in a cave in the mountains near there…’ from feature: In the footsteps of the Apostles, National Geographic, March, 2012

    ‘a strict schedule to follow…’ Crowdy p. 46, 48

    ‘Morse ‘signature’…’ ibid p. 46

    ‘banks of other operators…’ ibid

    ‘letter one-time pad’ ibid p. 38, for example of this, see:

    ‘twelve million ways a five letter word could be encrypted…’: explained in you-tube video:

    ‘German DF – direction finders…’ Crowdy p. 48, SOE information film

    ‘pianists…’ Ashdown p. 130, Crowdy p. 48


    ‘One evening, a week after our arrival…’ As a general rule, replies from the Home Station were sent out between 2100 and midnight. In: Crowdy p. 46

    ‘Even before the 1936 Olympics…’, also in: Daniel James Brown. The Boys in the boat Pan, 2014 p.226

    ‘talking about a mass execution he’d witnessed near Minsk…’ account based on testimony of Karl Wolff. In: Weale. P. 322

    ‘BMW R75…’

    ‘Ici Londres…’ SOE information film


    ‘cylindrical metal canister…’ ibid, also: SOE display, Tangmere Military Aviation museum

    ‘Ricard’ Pastis…’

    ‘at a place called Lascaux…’ Richard Leakey, Human Origins. Phoenix, 1996 p. 40

    ‘in its innermost recess…’ Leakey p. 46 (certain animals occupy certain parts of caves with carnivores mostly occurring deep in the cave system)

    ‘a chimera…’ ibid pp. 44, 53

    ‘the Unicorn…’ ibid p. 44

    ‘as jealous as a Spaniard…’ Simile used by Alexander Dumas (1802 – 1870) in the third book of his D’Artagnan Romances, Louise de la Valliere (serialised from 1847 – 1850).



    ‘on 6th June, everything changed abruptly…’ date refers to D-day (Arnold-Foster, Chapter 12)

    The supreme battle has begun…’ Hastings p. 81

    ‘at the BCRA…’ ibid p. 279

    ‘the Great Asparagus…’

    ‘the ‘Das Reich’ will mobilise quickly…’ Hastings p. 5 (‘2nd SS Panzer Division will…be concentrating in a forward area by D+3’ argued a British Intelligence assessment of German armoured capability)

    ‘Kiev, Minsk, Kharkov…’ Boyd p. 106

    ‘entrain their heavy armour…’ Hastings p. 162 (signal to German Army High Command on 10th June from General Lammerding: ‘…entrainment of tracks 2 SS Pz Div Das Reich at earliest 12.6.44 at 00.00 Perigueux’)

    ‘block the road at Terrasson…’ ibid p. 164

    ‘shot three inhabitants…’ ibid p. 165

    ‘This town has three thousand inhabitants…’ ibid p. 166

    ‘an FTP uprising in Tulle…’ ibid (Chapter 5 ‘Tulle: the Liberation’), Boyd (Chapter 12 ‘Atrocities on both sides)

    Hastings p. 50, 63- 64

    ‘A few of them were wearing the chain plate necklaces…’ ibid p. 134

    ‘an SS reconnaissance battalion…’ ibid p. 124, Boyd p. 105

    ‘atrociously assassinated…’ Boyd p. 108

    ‘Tivoli cafe…’ Hastings p. 137, Boyd p. 109

    ‘one of their translators…’ refers to Paula Giessler, an interpreter. She was afterwards known as ‘la chienne’ (the bitch) by the women of Tulle. In the 1951 war crimes trial she was sentenced to 3 years, but set free within a matter of months, in 1952. It is reported that some years after her release she visited Tulle with a group of German tourists, but did not linger long. (Boyd pp. 107 – 108, 112 – 113, Hastings p. 137, 260)

    ‘I even saw an SS soldier sketching the scene…’ The drawing appears in the Illustration section in Hastings.

    ‘They stopped short of one hundred and twenty…’ The final number was 99. Hastings p. 139, Boyd p. 109

    ‘Little Russia…’ Boyd p. 160

    ‘The Church of Saint Sour…’ legend in: Sabine Baring-Gould, Castles and Cave dwellings of Europe, published 1911 (Chapter 4)

    ‘It’s a half-track…’ Hastings p. 271

    ‘Tied to the front…’ ibid p. 100 (Maurice Vergne, a resistance fighter, was picked up from the roadside at Cressenac and draped across the bonnet of one of the Das Reich half-tracks)

    ‘Panzer V tank…’ Hastings p. 269 – 270

    ‘they started attacking…’ details on SS battle tactics from an excellent lecture by novelist Paul Watkins to an American WW2 book club

    ‘peas-pattern’ capes…’ ibid

    ‘corralling the population…’ Hastings p. 166

    ‘They were all tall…’ and other physical requirements of SS soldiers, from lecture by Paul Watkins, also in: Weale pp. 203 -206

    ‘Buildings were burning…’ Hastings p. 166

    ‘An SS man with a medic’s arm-band…’ ibid

    ‘Because it’s his wedding anniversary…’ ibid

    ‘There was no sparing Limouzy…’ ibid (The resistance prisoner was hanged in the town square and the population was spared). The description of how the SS carried out the hanging is partly based on witness accounts and a drawing of the Tulle hangings. (Boyd pp. 108 – 109, Hastings, Illustration section)

    The balcony from which Limouzy was hung on 10/6/44 still exists in Terrasson and his fate is remembered in a simple wooden plaque. (Real name: Limouzy Fernand). Translated, it reads: ‘Here on 12th June 1944, the Germans hung Limouzy Fernand, Resistance Fighter, picked up wounded from the field of battle.’

    ‘cut Limouzy down…’ Hastings p. 167

    ‘help knock out some of the flat beds…’ ibid


    ‘his blood group…’ Paul Watkins lecture

    ‘the sorrow that has no vent in tears…’ quote from Henry Maudsley (1835 – 1918). In: The Wordsworth Dictionary of Quotations, third edition (Edited by Connie Robertson). Wordsworth Editions Ltd 1998

    ‘The engraving on the case…’ cigarette case seen at: Tangmere Military Aviation museum

    ‘In our circle, it was nothing…’ Hastings p. 257 (based on the recollection of an SS veteran who had taken part in the destruction of Oradour), also in Boyd p. 106 (Similar sentiment expressed by Major Kowatch, referring to Tulle massacre: ‘We hanged more than 100,000 at Kiev and Kharkov. What we are doing here is nothing to us.’) The Kiev episode refers to the massacre of Babi Yar. In: Weale pp. 316 -320

    ‘In a killing facility called Belzec…’ description of the gas chamber process based on the first-hand account of medic and SS-technical officer, Kurt Gerstein, in: Weale pp. 348 – 352

    ‘peppermint tea can be useful…’ peppermint is a well-known treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

    ‘honour dagger…’ Paul Watkins lecture

    ‘Order of the Day…’ Hastings pp. 178 -179

    ‘gamma symbol in a circle…’ from: photograph in Boyd

    ‘milicien…’ the name for members of the Milice. (Boyd p. 30)

    ‘Panzer Divisions in the fifth year of the war are too good for this…’ based on report by the Das Reich Division Commander, General Lammerding on 10/6/44, on dealing with the local resistance. (Hastings p. 161)


    You’re going to paradise…’ words said to a prisoner by a milicien. Boyd p. 155

    ‘pulled up outside a factory…’ after the departure of the Das Reich on 11th and 12th June, the laboratory of the Arms factory at Tulle was used as a torture chamber by the SD and miliciens in attempts to identify the members of the FTP band who had attacked town. The methods employed included beating with coshes, and the use of acid. (Boyd p. 112)

    ‘Sicherheitsdienst…’ the SD, an SS security service operating under the orders of Himmler, closely linked to the Gestapo. (Hastings p. 281)

    ‘Lieutenant Schmerz…’ loosely based on Lieutenant Walter Schmald, a translator for the SD, who was involved in the Tulle Massacre and who tortured FTP suspects for several weeks afterwards in the Arms factory. (Hastings p. 132, Boyd, 107 – 109, 112 – 113)
    (Schmerz’s physical description – the haircut and the cigarette position – is based on that of an SS officer called Hoss, from photograph in: Weale)

    ‘I hid all night in a burning building…’ Hastings p. 132

    ‘General Lammerding was merciful…’ refers to General Heinz Lammerding, Commanding Officer of the Das Reich Division. He survived the war, and despite being sentenced to death in absentia by a 1953 War Crimes tribunal in Bordeaux, lived out the rest of his life Dusseldorf as a civil engineer, dying in 1971.
    (Hastings pp. 16 – 17, 130 – 131, 261, Boyd pp. 113, 122)

    ‘Hotel St Martin…’ Hastings p. 112 (An SD team was based there, and the place was notorious for the torture sessions carried out in its baths)

    ‘My legs were tied to a bar…’ typical torture tactics carried out on SOE agents: in 1944 Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas (codename ‘The White Rabbit’) endured over 2 months of torture in Paris by the Gestapo, including immersions in ice-cold water, head down with arms and legs chained. He steadfastly refused to disclose any information and subsequently managed to survive the Buchenwald camp, eventually dying in Paris in 1962.
    Odette Sansom (codename ‘Lise’) was captured in 1943 near Annecy and tortured at Fresnes prison near Paris where she had all her fingernails pulled out. Like Yeo-Thomas, she gave nothing away and managed to survive the war (after imprisonment at the Ravensbruck camp). She died in 1995 at the age of 82.
    (SOE display, Tangmere Military Aviation Museum)

    ‘strange geometric patterns…’ Leakey p. 52 (the first stage of hallucination – so called ‘entoptic’ images)

    ‘a female, feisty little thing…’ refers to SOE agent Violette Szabo (codename ‘Louise’). In 1941 she had married Captain Szabo, a French Foreign Legion officer who was subsequently killed in action at El Alamein. The loss made Violette join the SOE. After parachuting into the Limoges area for D-day she was captured soon after, following a fire-fight with troops of the Das Reich Division. She was sent to Ravensbruck Concentration camp and executed in January 1945. (SOE display, Tangmere Military Aviation Museum)


    ‘if he was still alive…’ Only one man in three from the Das Reich Division came out of Normandy with his unit. Hastings p. 246

    ‘SOE was disbanded…’
    Crowdy p. 8

    McNab p. 32 (the SOE was disbanded 15th January 1946)

    ‘drove them down the long hospital corridors…’ Hoare p. 272

    ‘the Das Reich had been erased from the face of the planet…’ Hastings p. 259

    ‘Oradour-Sur-Glane…’ ibid (Chapter 9)

    ‘No other agent has managed to convince his captors…’ Ahab’s release from his interrogation is not entirely without foundation.

    In 1944, an SOE agent called Anthony Brooks (1922 – 2007) – Codename ‘Alphonse’, who had helped hinder the progress of the 2nd Panzer Division ‘Das Reich’ in the area of Montauban – was arrested near Lyon and interrogated at Montluc prison. Despite having 72,000 francs on his person, his cover story stood up so well that he received an apology from his German inquisitor, the two even exchanging a ‘Heil Hitler’ when Brooks was released. After the war he worked for British Intelligence.
    From SOE display, Tangmere Military Aviation Museum

    ‘he was captured soon afterwards…’ refers to Lt. Schmald’s capture and execution by the resistance. (Hastings p. 263, Boyd p.113)

    ‘Holding back the Das Reich…’ Professor Foot, in his official history of the SOE French section, wrote of the Das Reich: ‘The extra fortnight’s delay imposed on what should have been a three day journey may well have been of decisive importance for the successful securing of the Normandy bridgehead…’
    (Foreword in Hastings)

    ‘Eisenhower himself…’ Hastings p. 252

    ‘Wolf’s hook…’

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