Romance in War Series – Book 2
Copyright © Louise Roberts 2017 – 37,403 word Historical Romance Novella
Completed – Available for publication.
On a dark night in July 1944, Special Operations Executive agent, Simone rows ashore from a submarine at the small fishing town of Golfe-Juan on the Cote d’Azur. She meets the Resistance Leader Francois Renaud with whom she had had a romantic affair during a mission in northern France several months previously. Together they engage in subterfuge operations against the German forces in the lead up to the Allied landings code-named Operation Dragoon scheduled for the following month.
Although their relationship is re-awakened, the tension of their exploits and of the possibility of being caught by the Gestapo from information leaked by traitors in their midst, causes some instability. However love has a way to conquer doubt, but as their love deepens so too does the risk of them making mistakes.
Will Francois be able to concentrate on the most important mission yet to come, or will his love for Simone lead to a moment’s carelessness that could be their undoing?
Author’s Historical Note
Although Dragoon Serenade is purely fictional, it is however based on actual events, and concentrates on the unsung heroes of World War Two; the men and women who fought the enemy behind the scenes, as though ghosts.
Unlike soldiers, pilots, and sailors, who, if caught, were imprisoned for the duration of the war, the ‘ghosts’ were executed without trial or dignity.
The men and women of the British Special Operations Executive were highly trained and were specifically used for espionage, sabotage, assassinations, and reconnaissance. The SOE was formed in July 1940 when three existing secret departments were merged. Although the aims and objectives of the SOE changed throughout its existence [it was dissolved on 15th January 1946], its primary roles were to work in conjunction with military operations. In all there were just over thirteen thousand people involved in the organisation, and very few people knew of its existence.
Agents came from all walks of life, from nobility to working class, and it is rumoured there were many which had criminal backgrounds. The primary requirement for an agent was their knowledge of the country they were to operate in, including fluency in the language. Those with dual nationality were prized most of all.
The sad thing is that despite the importance of these operatives there were many in the regular armed forces and in government who disapproved of the methods employed by the SOE. They were regarded as engaging in ‘ungentlemanly’ warfare, or that they were purely assassins, and as such, most of the time they were denied means of transport to carry out their operations.
Female agents were initially used as either radio operators or couriers, but as time passed they too were trained in the use of weapons, and unarmed combat.
Although Resistance fighters had been formed when these people’s countries capitulated to the German forces, it was the SOE who coordinated them into organised fighter networks, ensuring they were supplied with military stores. This was particularly the case in France during the lead up to the invasions of Normandy and the Cote d’Azur.
As mentioned in the text of my story, Operation Dragoon was the name given to the invasion of southern France. The assault forces were made up of American, Free French, and British military personnel totaling approximately two hundred thousand. The number of resistance fighters that participated in helping the Allies with local knowledge, guiding them through their countryside, is unknown.
There is a vast amount of information available on the subject of Operation Dragoon, the SOE, and Resistance heroes, far too much to mention here. Any of my readers who are interested on learning more can begin at the following websites:
In the French towns I have visited there are memorials that have been erected in recognition and gratitude of the sacrifice made by their freedom fighters.
At Le Dramont located near St. Raphael marks the spot where some twenty thousand GI’s from the 36th Texas Infantry Division established a beachhead in armoured vehicles on August 15th 1944. The following memorial is visible today in their honour:
In the town of Antibes, not only do they have such a memorial, but there is also one in recognition of the submarine HMS Unbroken and crew that delivered Captain Peter Churchill on 21st April 1942 who had been sent to France to assist the resistance fighters. The memorial plaque was presented to Major Camille Rayon (code name: Archiduc).
Finally, on a personal note, I was very pleased, actually very honored to know, whilst I was conducting my research on Operation Dragoon, the SOE, and the French Maquisards (Resistance fighters), that just across the road from where I currently reside at Golfe Juan, the Port of Camille Rayon is named after the Maquisard hero that is mentioned above.