The 9:45 To Bletchley. Book 4 in the Dudley Sisters Saga – and Book 1 in Ena Dudley’s Series

THE 9:45 TO BLETCHLEY – Book 4 in The Dudley Sisters Saga

The 9:45 To Bletchley: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01GEVW3Z8/

In the midst of the Second World War, and charged with taking vital equipment via the 9:45 train, Ena Dudley makes regular trips to Bletchley Park, until on one occasion she is robbed. When those she cares about are accused of being involved, she investigates, not knowing whom she can trust. While trying to clear her name, Ena falls in love.

Excerpt from Chapter Seven

A squally March wind gusted along the platform of Rugby’s railway station. Ena turned her back on it, dropped her head, and peered under the brim of her hat. What had begun as drizzle when she arrived at work that morning had turned into sheeting rain.

      The railway tracks started to whine and Ena looked to the north. A black steam engine blundered into view, its brakes screeching as it slowed down before coming into the station. She looked across the concourse to the ticket office.  Mr Silcott was next in the queue. She watched him bend down and speak into the round porthole in the glass window. Above him the clock said 9:40. They would make the 9:45 to Bletchley.

      Ena stepped back from the platform’s edge as the hissing train clunked to a halt. Before steam from its engine engulfed her, she looked at the ticket office again, Mr Silcott wasn’t there. She scanned the concourse, looked up and down the platform, he was nowhere to be seen.

      The reinforced suitcase containing her work was heavy. She swapped it from her right hand to her left and rolled her right shoulder. Going to Bletchley Park with the boss was important. And thinking about her work; the rotors and the complicated wiring, the casing on the X-board that only she was trusted to fit, made her feel important. Nervous too. Her stomach was doing cartwheels. She wished Mr Silcott would hurry up.

      Ena swapped the suitcase back to her right hand, looked through the steam and rain, and there he was. In his camel coloured overcoat and brown trilby – Mr Silcott was coming out of the Gentlemen’s lavatory.

      ‘Here we are, miss,’ the station porter said, opening the door of the carriage. ‘Can I take your case?’

      ‘No thank you, I can manage.’ Ena hitched the string of her gasmask box further onto her shoulder and, holding her handbag in one hand, the suitcase of work in the other, struggled up the steps.

      Standing in the doorway of the train, she saw Mr Silcott running across the platform. She needed to attract his attention so, putting the case down gently, she waved out of the window. He didn’t see her. Shielding his face with one hand and holding the brim of his hat with the other, he turned his back to the wind, wrenched open the door at the other end of the carriage and disappeared inside.

     Ena picked up the suitcase and heaved it along the narrow corridor, resting it every now and then on her knees to peer through the glass in the doors. In the last compartment she spotted Mr Silcott sitting by the window reading his newspaper.

      Breathing a sigh of relief, Ena pulled open the door. ‘Thank goodness I’ve found you.’ Hauling the suitcase into the compartment she stood it down beneath the window, flung off her handbag and gasmask and, exhaling loudly, dropped onto the nearest seat. ‘Oh!’

      The man looked up from his newspaper, his fair eyebrows raised with surprise. ‘Hello.’

      ‘Hello?’ Ena felt her cheeks blush with embarrassment. The man sitting opposite her was not her boss. Ena studied his face. His square jaw, blond hair and pale grey-blue eyes looked familiar. ‘Excuse me, have we met?’

      ‘Yes, some time ago. You were with a fair-haired young woman. I was going to my company’s head office in Bletchley.’

      The only female Ena had travelled to Bletchley with was Freda. She traced back in her mind the times she and Freda had travelled to Bletchley. Then she remembered him talking to Freda. Distracted, concerned about Mr Silcott, Ena nodded.

      ‘You look worried; is there anything I can do to help?’

      ‘No, it’s all right. I saw my boss get on the train at this end of the carriage and, as this compartment is the nearest one to the door, I thought he would be in here.’

      ‘What does your boss look like?’

        There was something about the man that Ena didn’t like, but she needed to know if he’d seen Mr Silcott. ‘He’s in his mid-fifties, about five feet ten inches tall. black hair with grey in it, and he’s wearing a camel overcoat and brown trilby.’

      The man shook his head. ‘Sorry.’

      Ena blew out her cheeks. ‘He’s got my ticket. I’d better go and find him.’

      ‘If you want to leave your case here while you look for him. I’ll keep my eye on it for you–’

      ‘I can’t do that. Thank you anyway,’ she said, picking up her belongings. Ena walked the short distance back to the next compartment. Mr Silcott wasn’t in there, or the next. She described him to everyone she met. No one had seen him.

China Blue – the third book in The Dudley Sisters Saga. Claire Dudley’s Secret Wartime Love.

CHINA BLUE – Book 3 in The Dudley Sisters’ Saga http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00XD85NQW/

At the beginning of World War Two, Claire Dudley joins the WAAF. She excels in languages and is recruited by the Special Operations Executive to work in German occupied France with Captain Alain Mitchell, of the RCAF, and the French Resistance. Against SOE rules Claire falls in love. The affair has to be kept secret. Even after her lover is taken by the Gestapo, Claire cannot tell anyone they are more than comrades. As the war reaches its climax, Claire fears she will never again see the man she loves.

An excerpt from China Blue. Chapter Thirteen.

Café La Ronde was packed with Germans. Claire looked around. Alain wasn’t there. The clock above the counter said five to twelve. She asked for a cup of coffee and found a table for two with a good view of the door. She would see Alain when he came in.

      The waiter arrived and placed a cup of coffee and a small dish in front of her. Claire dropped a couple of coins into the dish and lifted the cup without taking her eyes off the door. She looked at the clock again. Ten minutes past twelve, Alain was late.

     Suddenly several customers jumped up, left their seats, and ran to the window. Claire took her basket and joined them. Half a dozen German soldiers had surrounded a man demanding to know who he was. ‘Damn bullies,’ she said under her breath. A staff car screeched to a halt in front of the café, blocking the view.

      Several men cursed and a couple went outside to see more clearly what was going on. Claire followed. A soldier ran to the car and opened the back door. A tall hard-faced captain with skeletal features and small piercing eyes, wearing the dark field green uniform of the Waffen SS – the death mask on his peaked hat highly polished – stepped from it and strode across to the pack of grey uniforms. A corporal broke the circle to let the SS officer in, and Claire gasped. The recipient of the German soldier’s victimization was Alain.

      ‘Halt!’ the SS officer shouted.

      The soldiers did as ordered and moved away. With a sardonic lopsided smirk, the SS officer ordered Alain to produce his identity papers. Alain put his hand inside his jacket and the officer drew his gun. Alain put the offending hand in the air and held his jacket open with the other. The officer nodded sharply to one of the soldiers, who snatched Alain’s papers roughly. The soldier handed the folded document to his superior.

      ‘I’m afraid,’ Alain said, ‘there has been a mistake. I’m–’

      ‘Silence!’ the captain shouted. Alain stopped speaking immediately and bowed his head. The SS officer circled him, hitting the palm of his black leather-gloved hand with his truncheon. ‘English pig!’

      ‘No.’ Alain straightened. ‘I’m–’

      ‘I said silence!’ Snarling, the officer raised the truncheon and brought it down on Alain’s left shoulder. The force of the blow sent Alain sprawling to his knees. ‘Get up!’ the German shouted. Alain stumbled to his feet and the officer brought the truncheon down again, this time sideways across his face. Alain’s cheek split open on impact and Claire saw him wince as he fell to the ground. Blood gushed from the wound, but the brave Canadian said nothing.

       The officer flicked his hand at two soldiers. ‘Take him to headquarters.’

      Both clicked their heels. ‘Hauptsturmführer!’ they said as one, and hauled Alain to his feet.

      The commotion had brought people out of their houses and shops. Inquisitive at first, they stayed to watch the sport. Elbowing her way to the front of the crowd, Claire caught Alain’s eye. The lines on his forehead deepened when he saw her and he shook his head. Tears filled her eyes as she pushed her way towards him.

      ‘No!’ he shouted. Struggling, he continued, ‘Leave me! Go!’

      Claire stopped. Alain was shouting to her, telling her to leave. But because he was being dragged away by German soldiers they assumed he was shouting at them and punched him in the stomach. He doubled over. Claire screamed. She had caused her brave lover to be hurt again.

. She could see the SS officer’s black Mercedes. She pushed through the oncoming tide of people and there he was, getting into his car. She broke away from the crow and raised her arm. But before she had time to attract his attention, someone grabbed her from behind and pulled her back into the throng. She struggled to free herself, twisting and kicking. ‘Now, now, my little tiger of a wife!’ she heard a familiar voice say. ‘Why so passionate about a stranger? Save your passion for me in our bed.’

      Several men nearby began to laugh. Claire glared at them. ‘Ouch! Very well, husband,’ she shouted. ‘Not so tight, you’re hurting me.’

      Frédéric Belland relaxed his grip. ‘Shush, Claire. It is too late. You can do nothing to help Alain now.’ Tears streaming down her face, Claire let Frédéric lead her away. At the end of the road she looked back. Alain and the Germans were gone. The crowd had dispersed. The square was empty.

Applause – Margot Dudley’s Story. From usherette to the leading lady of a West End show during the London Blitz in WW2

APPLAUSE. Margot Dudley’s story and book two in the Dudley Sisters Saga.

Applause: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00J7Y5LCW

‘Look out!  Stop!’

     Margaret didn’t look. She didn’t stop until she was pushed into a doorway. ‘What–?’ was all she had time to say before her body slammed into the door.  With the wind knocked out of her, Margaret gasped for breath.  She struggled beneath the body of a man twice her size until she found a pocket of air, and inhaled deeply.  A combination of sweat and brick dust filled her nostrils.  Her mouth snatched for air and she began to choke.  Her captor didn’t relax his grip.  He held her tightly as tiles from the roof of the once quaint Jardin Café on Maiden Lane, in London’s Covent Garden, crashed onto the pavement where Margaret had been standing seconds before.

     The cracking, splintering sound of snapping slates gave way to a heavier, duller sound like rolling thunder.  With a vice-like grip, the man shielding Margaret took hold of her wrist and threw himself at the door they were leaning on.  The door groaned, and the wood splintered at the side of the antiquated brass keyhole, but it didn’t give way.  Still holding her, the man lunged again.  This time there was a loud crack and the lock buckled beneath his powerful body.  The door burst open, propelling Margaret through its gaping entrance as the chimney from the café’s roof crashed to the ground, missing them by inches. 

     Frightened for her life, Margaret stumbled into the darkness, lost her footing, and slid bottom-first down a flight of stone steps.  The strap on her handbag snapped and the bag flew through the air, scattering its contents over the ancient flagstones.  With the cardboard box of her gas mask digging into her ribs, Margaret came to a halt beneath a huge wooden cross.

     Dazed and bruised, she looked around.  She could see by the beam of daylight shining into the small vestibule that she was in the entrance of a church.  She could hardly believe her eyes.  She had walked down Maiden Lane a dozen times before; she’d had tea in the café, bought postcards from the bookshop opposite to send home, but she had never seen a church.  Now she was sitting at the bottom of a flight of steps looking up at a soulful figure of Jesus on the Cross.

     ‘Have you had enough of life, young woman?’ the burly workman bellowed from inside the door at the top of the steps.

     ‘What do you mean?’ Margaret said, coughing and spluttering.

     ‘That was a bloody stupid thing to do.’

     ‘You’re the stupid one, for pushing me down these stairs.  I could have broken my neck.’ She put her hand up to shield her eyes and peered at him through swirling brick dust.     

     ‘Didn’t you see that bloody great big sign sayin’ No Entry?’

     ‘I didn’t have time to look.’ Margaret put on her best voice, emphasising the aitch in have. ‘I was on my way to a very important job interview and didn’t want to be late,’ she said, in an attempt to justify her stupidity while biting back her tears.

     ‘You could’ve been killed, never mind late!’ the man hollered, and he stormed off.

     ‘I’m sorry!’ Margaret shouted after him, but he had gone.  She could have been killed, and so could he.  The workman had put his life at risk to save her and she hadn’t even thanked him.  As the reality of the danger she’d put them both in hit her, tears welled up in her eyes.  She looked up at the figure of Jesus on the Cross.  Engraved above his head were the letters INRI – Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.  At his feet was a brass plaque with the words Welcome to the Church of St. Saviour.  Margaret burst into tears.

      On grazed hands and knees, Margaret picked up her comb, lipstick and powder compact, which now had a cracked mirror and was covered in brick dust.  Returning them to her handbag, she sat back on her heels and looked at her hands.  How can I go to a job interview looking like this? she thought.  But if I don’t go, the builder who saved my life would have risked his life for nothing.  And what would Anton Goldman say?  I’ve pestered him to get me the interview for more than six months.  

      ‘Anyone would think you don’t want this job in the theatre,’ she said to herself.  She did want it.  She wanted it badly.  Getting a job as an usherette was only the beginning.  One day she was going to be an actress and sing and dance in a West End show.  It was what she had dreamed of all her life.  She was going to be famous and she wasn’t going to let a bit of muck, or a few cuts and bruises, stop her.

Excerpts from Foxden Acres. Book 1, Chapter 1, The Dudley Sisters Saga.

Meet Margot, Claire and Ena in Bess Dudley’s story about friendships, loyalty, love and loss – and starting again.

 


An excerpt from Foxden Acres, Chapter One.

Bess fled down the stairs and ran across the marble hall to the front door.  She turned the handle, flung open the door and was through it in a flash.  She spun on her heels and pulled the large brass knob, until she heard the door click shut.  Holding onto the doorknob to steady herself, she caught her breath.  ‘Done it!’

     ‘Done what?’ someone standing behind her demanded. 

      Bess froze.  A wave of panic went through her.  She needed to compose herself – and quickly.  She lifted her head, stood as tall as she could, and turned to face her inquisitor. 

     ‘Who are you and what are you doing?’ he barked. 

     Bess opened her mouth, but was too shocked to speak.  The man standing in front of her was James Foxden, her brother Tom’s childhood friend and heir to the Foxden Estate.  She made a dash for the semi-circle of stone steps that would take her down to the drive, but James Foxden sidestepped and blocked her passage.  He threw down his cigarette, and without taking his eyes off her, ground it beneath the sole of his shoe.  ‘I asked you a question.  Who are you and what are you doing here?’ 

     ‘That’s two questions…  Which would you like me to answer first?’  

     James Foxden didn’t reply but kept looking at her, the frown lines on his forehead deepening.   ‘Just a minute…?’ 

     Bess watched the expression on James Foxden’s face turn from a scowl to a look of surprise. Then he roared with laughter.  ‘It’s young Elizabeth, isn’t it?  Tom’s sister?’  He extended his hand in formal greeting.

     Bess’s eyes flashed.  ‘Yes, I am Tom’s sister.’  Taking his outstretched hand, she thought how full of himself Tom’s old friend had become.  ‘Bess Dudley, how do you do?  Your father invited me to study in the library,’ she exaggerated, ‘and I lost track of the time.  Goodbye.’ 

    ‘Don’t go.  I haven’t seen you for years, not since I moved to live in London.  I hear you’re down there too, at a Teachers’ Training College.  How are the long and lonely corridors of academia?  How are your parents, your sisters?  How’s Tom?  Father tells me he’s doing a terrific job in Suffolk.’ 

     Bess wasn’t sure whether James Foxden was being patronising or whether he was genuinely interested in her family.  She gave him the benefit of the doubt.  ‘My parents are well, thank you, so is Tom.  He’ll be at home now; he’s here for the New Year.’

     ‘Good, perhaps we can–?’  At that moment an elegant young woman with black hair styled in a fashionable bob, wearing an evening gown of cherry-red velvet, appeared at the door – and James let go of Bess’s hand.

     Acknowledging Bess with a smile, more polite than friendly, the young woman looked coquettishly at James. ‘James, you promised me this dance.’  Then, without waiting for a reply, she half-walked, half-waltzed back to the ballroom, but didn’t enter.  She stood in the doorway, swaying to the music. 

     Bess turned to leave.  ‘Do you have to go?’ James asked. ‘Come and join the party.’ 

     ‘Thank you, but I’m not dressed for a party.’  Bess held her only winter coat firmly in place so the simple grey shift beneath it couldn’t be seen.  ‘Besides, my parents are expecting me.’

     ‘Of course.  Wish your family a happy New Year and give Tom my best.  Tell him to come up when he has time and we’ll go to the Crown for a drink – it would be good to catch up.’  James stood aside to let Bess pass.  ‘Will you be safe walking home on your own?’ he asked as she drew level.

     Her heart was thumping so loudly in her chest, she felt sure he’d hear it. ‘Yes, I’ll be fine.  I love walking home on nights like this,’ she said, gazing up at the full moon in the clear winter sky.  Sensing James was watching her, she brought her focus back to earth and for the longest moment found herself looking into his eyes. 

     Embarrassed by the intimacy of the situation, she said, ‘Happy New Year,’ which broke the spell, and she ran down the steps. 

     ‘Happy New Year… 

     By the way,’ he called after her, ‘what was it you’d done?’

     ‘Done?’

     ‘Yes, when you left the Hall you said, “Done it!”’

     ‘Oh, that!’  Bess didn’t stop.  ‘I’d left without being seen.’

     ‘But you haven’t…’ His words were lost in the cold night air.

An excerpt from Foxden Acres, Chapter One.

Bess fled down the stairs and ran across the marble hall to the front door.  She turned the handle, flung open the door and was through it in a flash.  She spun on her heels and pulled the large brass knob, until she heard the door click shut.  Holding onto the doorknob to steady herself, she caught her breath.  ‘Done it!’

     ‘Done what?’ someone standing behind her demanded. 

      Bess froze.  A wave of panic went through her.  She needed to compose herself – and quickly.  She lifted her head, stood as tall as she could, and turned to face her inquisitor. 

     ‘Who are you and what are you doing?’ he barked. 

     Bess opened her mouth, but was too shocked to speak.  The man standing in front of her was James Foxden, her brother Tom’s childhood friend and heir to the Foxden Estate.  She made a dash for the semi-circle of stone steps that would take her down to the drive, but James Foxden sidestepped and blocked her passage.  He threw down his cigarette, and without taking his eyes off her, ground it beneath the sole of his shoe.  ‘I asked you a question.  Who are you and what are you doing here?’ 

     ‘That’s two questions…  Which would you like me to answer first?’  

     James Foxden didn’t reply but kept looking at her, the frown lines on his forehead deepening.   ‘Just a minute…?’ 

     Bess watched the expression on James Foxden’s face turn from a scowl to a look of surprise. Then he roared with laughter.  ‘It’s young Elizabeth, isn’t it?  Tom’s sister?’  He extended his hand in formal greeting.

     Bess’s eyes flashed.  ‘Yes, I am Tom’s sister.’  Taking his outstretched hand, she thought how full of himself Tom’s old friend had become.  ‘Bess Dudley, how do you do?  Your father invited me to study in the library,’ she exaggerated, ‘and I lost track of the time.  Goodbye.’ 

    ‘Don’t go.  I haven’t seen you for years, not since I moved to live in London.  I hear you’re down there too, at a Teachers’ Training College.  How are the long and lonely corridors of academia?  How are your parents, your sisters?  How’s Tom?  Father tells me he’s doing a terrific job in Suffolk.’ 

     Bess wasn’t sure whether James Foxden was being patronising or whether he was genuinely interested in her family.  She gave him the benefit of the doubt.  ‘My parents are well, thank you, so is Tom.  He’ll be at home now; he’s here for the New Year.’

     ‘Good, perhaps we can–?’  At that moment an elegant young woman with black hair styled in a fashionable bob, wearing an evening gown of cherry-red velvet, appeared at the door – and James let go of Bess’s hand.

     Acknowledging Bess with a smile, more polite than friendly, the young woman looked coquettishly at James. ‘James, you promised me this dance.’  Then, without waiting for a reply, she half-walked, half-waltzed back to the ballroom, but didn’t enter.  She stood in the doorway, swaying to the music. 

     Bess turned to leave.  ‘Do you have to go?’ James asked. ‘Come and join the party.’ 

     ‘Thank you, but I’m not dressed for a party.’  Bess held her only winter coat firmly in place so the simple grey shift beneath it couldn’t be seen.  ‘Besides, my parents are expecting me.’

     ‘Of course.  Wish your family a happy New Year and give Tom my best.  Tell him to come up when he has time and we’ll go to the Crown for a drink – it would be good to catch up.’  James stood aside to let Bess pass.  ‘Will you be safe walking home on your own?’ he asked as she drew level.

     Her heart was thumping so loudly in her chest, she felt sure he’d hear it. ‘Yes, I’ll be fine.  I love walking home on nights like this,’ she said, gazing up at the full moon in the clear winter sky.  Sensing James was watching her, she brought her focus back to earth and for the longest moment found herself looking into his eyes. 

     Embarrassed by the intimacy of the situation, she said, ‘Happy New Year,’ which broke the spell, and she ran down the steps. 

     ‘Happy New Year… 

     By the way,’ he called after her, ‘what was it you’d done?’

     ‘Done?’

     ‘Yes, when you left the Hall you said, “Done it!”’

     ‘Oh, that!’  Bess didn’t stop.  ‘I’d left without being seen.’

     ‘But you haven’t…’ His words were lost in the cold night air.

She Casts A Long Shadow

She Casts A Long Shadow is the 8th book in the Dudley Sisters Saga and the third book in Ena Dudley’s series. It is a stand-alone sequel to The 9:45 To Bletchley and There Is No Going Home.

Preparing to expose a colleague of her husband Henry, as the mole at MI5, Henry is abducted by Special Branch and Ena is thrown into a murder case.

All the evidence points to Henry having killed the mole, which tells Ena Henry is being framed. Close to finding out the truth, Ena is suspended from her job at the Home Office and the investigation is blocked by Special Branch.. Only her sisters, who come to London to help her and her old friend Inspector Powell, believe Henry is innocent.

Help comes from an untrustworthy character. A deal is agreed: A ticket to Austria in return for the names of the mole’s associates, evidence to solve two of Ena’s cold cases, and the proof that Henry is innocent of murder. The catch? Ena accompanies the character to Austria as insurance.

She Casts A Long Shadow: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B089JDCR8D/

In paperback, e-Book, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

Coming soon, is book 9 in The Dudley Sisters Saga and book 4 in Ena Dudley’s series – Old Cases New Colours.

Ena is sick of living in the shadows of spies and corrupt politicians, leaves the Home Office and sets up on her own. Dudley Green Associates, Private Investigation Agency, 8 Mercer Street, Covent Garden, London.

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75th Anniversary of VE Day

Newspapers called it a momentous day with headlines, “Germany Capitulates!”  and “Unconditional surrender.” And, quotes from the King’s speech, “The war is over. After five years and eight months complete and crushing victory has crowned Britain’s unrelenting struggle against Nazi Germany.”

Seventy-five years ago, on 7 May 1945, after almost six years of war that had cost the lives of millions; destroyed families, homes, towns and cities, the war with Nazi Germany came to an end. The Channel Islands were free again and Yugoslav troops liberated Zagreb, which until then was the capital of the Nazi-backed ‘Independent’ state of Croatia. Japan, however, kept the war raging. Not until 14 August was its leaders persuaded to surrender. Even then the Act Of Surrender wasn’t signed until 2 September.

Let’s Celebrate

For the first time in nearly six years, there were weather reports in newspapers and on the wireless. St Thomas’s Hospital, which like all other hospitals had worked tirelessly to save the lives of injured servicemen and woman, repeatedly sounded the Morse for Victory and the families of MPs, gathered for the Prime Minister’s address to parliament, waved flags on the terrace overlooking the Thames.

Although some servicemen’s clubs provided tea and sandwiches on the house, by early afternoon restaurants had sold out of food and there were no Allied flags to be had for love or money. Money being the operative word, as enterprising businessmen cashed in. And, as dusk fell, not only were government buildings, town halls and churches across the country floodlit, but lights in houses all over Great Britain were switched on. The blackout ignored; blinds at last redundant.   

Churchill gave the order to party!

Millions of people in cities, towns and villages threw street parties. I interviewed a lady who was ten years old when WW2 ended. Pamela told me about the street party where she and her mother lived. “I remember my mum saying there was a very important broadcast by Mr Churchill on the wireless. I had to sit quietly and listen. I can’t remember his exact words, but he said the German war is at an end. I have since learned that the broadcast ended with him saying, “Advance, Britannia.”

VE Day Street party in Regent Street Lutterworth
(Photograph Derek Day)

     Pamela continued, “The next day I looked out of my bedroom window to see all our neighbours in the street. They were bringing out tables and chairs – and two brothers brought out a piano. Everyone put what rations they had on the tables. Some people had sugar, other’s butter, some milk. Mum took chairs for us to sit on and two plates, cups, knives, forks and spoons. I don’t remember her baking that day, but she must have done because she made a sponge cake with jam in it, which with a jelly – we always seemed to have jelly – and a jug of lemonade was our contribution to the party. We were never short of bread. Mum used to put our ration of butter in a bowl, add milk and beat it. That way the butter went further. Everyone grew vegetables and fruit in their gardens and we all kept laying hens. I remember we had egg sandwiches – and fish and meat paste sandwiches.  And I remember the man playing the piano and everyone singing Vera Lynne’s wartime songs.”

The streets of London were packed. People sang and danced in Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, down the Strand to Trafalgar Square, down Whitehall to the Houses of Parliament and along The Mall to Buckingham Palace.  Bands in Whitehall played Land of Hope and Glory and when Prime Minister Winston Churchill appeared on the balcony of the Ministry of Health the Guard’s band played “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” ending with a rousing three cheers. At this, the overjoyed Mr Churchill took off his hat and waved it at the crowd.

The Prime Minister was cheered as he arrived for lunch at Buckingham Palace. Later the crowds outside chanted “We want the King!” who, later, appeared on the balcony with the Queen, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret – and PM Churchill.

In the evening Buckingham Palace was floodlit as was St. Paul’s Cathedral

Not everyone celebrated VE Day. 

For people who had lost loved ones, or their loved ones were still fighting overseas in the Far East and the Pacific – where, in the final months of the war there were heavy casualties –   it was a day of mixed emotions. Although they were happy that the war was over, for thousands of widows and mothers who had lost children in the war, celebrating VE Day was a bitter-sweet occasion because their loved ones would not be coming home.  

     The first services of thanksgiving were in St. Paul’s Cathedral and St Martin’s-in-the- fields.  A woman whose husband was killed in Italy two years earlier said, “Today I feel all pent-up. Not exactly bitter but sad to think that my husband won’t be coming back with the others. I’ve got to remake my life and carry on for the sake of my little girl. I feel much better coming and sharing in this thanksgiving service.”

The impact of war, personally and nationally.

The economic cost of the war almost bankrupted Britain, resulting in post-war austerity.  Clothes rationing lasted until 1949, food rationing until 1954 – and the far-reaching political effects ranged from the fall of the British Empire to the Cold War.

     Sadly, there are still wars and conflicts in many parts of the world, but, although our servicemen and women are still called upon to fight, on the whole, the people of Great Britain are lucky.

VE Day – 75th Anniversary Celebrations

In WW2 there were two Royal Airforce Aerodromes within two miles of my hometown of Lutterworth – RAF Bitteswell and RAF Bruntingthorpe. Bitteswell is now a large industrial park. But Bruntingthorpe, which in the war was a heavy bomber airbase, still operates as an aerodrome. On 8 and 9 May a thousand people had bought tickets to attend a wartime charity dinner-dance held in an aeroplane hangar at Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome. Now, because of Covid-19, it has been cancelled.

            However you plan to celebrate the anniversary of VE Day, stay safe.

Article by Madalyn Morgan

Leicestershire RNA Chapter Meeting at the Belmont Hotel

The Belmont Belles on the first meeting of 2020 – Friday February 7th

Six Belmont Belles with some of their books

Theresa and Maddie at the Chapter meeting

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Theresa Le Flem and Madalyn Morgan

It was good meeting. Lots of author friends were there. Theresa and I had fish finger sandwiches, which were yummy. Anyone with writing news – book launches or stories published in magazines shared, and afterwards there was a talk by agent, Kate Nash, on what genres and settings were fashionable in fiction.

Tuesday Guest Feature – Madalyn Morgan

Thank you for featuring The Dudley Sisters’ Saga on your fabulous Blog Patricia. I love the design of the poster with the book covers and photograph, Thank you very much.

Patricia M Osborne

It gives me great pleasure to welcome author, Madalyn Morgan, to ‘Patricia’s Pen’. Madalyn has come along to talk about her writing and in particular ‘The Dudley Sisters.’ Without further ado, let’s go over to Madalyn.

Madalyn Morgan (1)

The Dudley Sisters

Madalyn Morgan

Several things happened while I was doing a creative writing course with the Writers Bureau in Manchester. I have always been fascinated by the achievements of women in the Twentieth Century – especially in WW1 and WW2. My mother used to tell me about her life in the second world war; the work she did, the dances she went to, and the many letters she wrote to servicemen overseas. (She had a Polish penfriend called Vanda, which is my middle name.) My mum had a fascinating life, so when it came to the biography module, I wrote about her. My tutor liked the work but said, as mum and…

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Extract: There Is No Going Home – Video 4

Listen to the beginning of my novel There Is No Going Home.

This is the last of four videos which introduces you to the story.

London 1958, Ena recognises a woman who she exposed as a spy in WW2. Ena’s husband, Henry, an agent with MI5, argues that it cannot be the woman because they went to her funeral twelve years before.

Ena, now head of the Home Office cold case department, starts an investigation. There are no files. It is as if the woman never existed. Suddenly colleagues who are helping Ena with the case mysteriously die… and Ena herself is almost killed in a hit-and-run.

The case breaks when Ena finds important documents from 1936 Berlin that prove not only did the spy exist, but someone above suspicion who worked with her then, still works with her now.

Fearing for her life, there is only one person Ena can trust… or can she?

Watch the first video here

Available to buy on Amazon

Extract: There Is No Going Home – Video 3

Listen to the beginning of my novel There Is No Going Home.

This is the third of four videos which introduces you to the story.

London 1958, Ena recognises a woman who she exposed as a spy in WW2. Ena’s husband, Henry, an agent with MI5, argues that it cannot be the woman because they went to her funeral twelve years before.

Ena, now head of the Home Office cold case department, starts an investigation. There are no files. It is as if the woman never existed. Suddenly colleagues who are helping Ena with the case mysteriously die… and Ena herself is almost killed in a hit-and-run.

The case breaks when Ena finds important documents from 1936 Berlin that prove not only did the spy exist, but someone above suspicion who worked with her then, still works with her now.

Fearing for her life, there is only one person Ena can trust… or can she?

Look out for the next instalment…

Available to buy on Amazon