Page 3. " “He was crossing the coast of England: chalk cliffs, sailing dinghies moored for better days, seaside towns "

White Cliffs of Dover
GNU Free Documentation LicenseWhite Cliffs of Dover - Credit: Piotr Kuczynski
The white chalk cliffs of Dover, in East Sussex, lay on the principal RAF flight route across the English Channel during the war.

The cliffs were imortalised in the song The White Cliffs of Dover by Vera Lynn, the wartime English singer known as “The Forces Sweetheart”.

Vera Lynn has recently had an astonishing comeback with this album.

Google Map


Page 12. " We’ve finally got a man into G section "

"G section" is fictitious, but is effectively the French section of the Special Operations Executive, the wartime unit set up by Churchill to promote resistance and sabotage behind enemy lines.  The SOE brought together pre-existing units from MI6, the War Office and the Foreign Office to wage war "by other means".  It was occasionally known as The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.  Winston Churchill said the purpose and intent of the SOE was“to set Europe ablaze” and liberate the continent from German occupation.

The SOE operated right across occupied Europe, and enjoyed particular successes in Yugoslavia and Greece.  The US Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the CIA, was partly modelled on the SOE.

When Clement Attlee won the 1945 general election, he immediately shut down the SOE, eliminating a worldwide intelligence network of thousands of people.  A handful were taken on by MI6; the rest had to return to peacetime roles.  

SOE Memorial at Valençay, France

Page 13. " You could have joined the WAAF, if you wanted to do something for the war. Or the FANYs. "


WAAF Recruitment Poster
Public DomainWAAF Recruitment Poster - Credit: Crown Copyright

WAAF: Women’s Auxiliary Air Force

In anticipation of the coming war, the WAAF was formed on 28 June 1939, merging a number of pre-existing women's units.  WAAFs stayed on the ground, working in communications, radar, meteorology, operations planning, parachute packing and transport.  By 1943, 180,000 WAAFs had enlisted.


FANY: First Aid Nursing Yeomanry

Set up in 1907 as an all-women first aid unit linking the front line with field hospitals, the Yeomanry was so-called because its members were orginally on horseback.  Later, FANYs drove ambulances and military vehicles, and provided technical support to other units.


Page 15. " powdered eggs "

Creative Commons AttributionEggs - Credit: woodleywonderworks
Supplies of powdered eggs were imported from the US, starting in May 1941.  Each family was allowed a ration of one packet of dried egg powder - equivalent to 12 eggs - every 8 weeks.  Egg powder was an important source of protein at a time when domestic food supplies were scarce.


Page 22. " He had survived but did not seem to feel himself lucky. Deprived of the daily emergencies of war, he had lost his framework of denial. "

Trench Warfare
Public DomainTrench Warfare - Credit: Illustrated London News
After World War I, pioneering research was carried out into the causes and treatment of "shell-shock", or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as it became known: a natural emotional reaction to a deeply shocking and disturbing experience. 

The Regeneration trilogy by Pat Barker tackles this difficult subject.


Charlotte Gray is the daughter of Captain Gray, the commanding officer of Stephen Wraysford in Birdsong.