Page 109. " Office workers on their lunch break sat in striped deckchairs on the grass of Green Park where they threw bread to scraggy ducks. London still functioned. "
Dig For Victory (poster)
Public DomainDig For Victory (poster) - Credit: Imperial War Museum, London

London still functioned, but it was a very different place in wartime.  German bombs had destroyed two million homes, every window was blacked out, food was scarce, lawns had been dug up for vegetables, many of the men were enlisted, most of the children had been sent to live with strangers in the countryside, and those office workers probably each had a gas mask beside their deckchairs.

Page 110. " The Times reported no good news from the Eastern Front, where Hitler’s armies continued to move into Russia "

 

Following the Battle of Britain, Hitler abandoned his invasion plans and turned his armies against his former ally, the USSR.  Operation Barbarossa began on 22 June 1941, and turned into the most costly and devastating military campaign in history. 4.5 million troops attacked along a 1,800 mile front.

Ultimately, it failed - just as Napoleon's invasion of Russia failed - because Hitler had underestimated both the strength of Soviet resistance and the ferocity of the Russian winter.  The German army lost over 700,000 men in the first five months.

However, unlike Napoleon, the German army remained in possession of significant tracts of the USSR, and long after Operation Barbarossa concluded in January 1942 the two armies clashed over cities such as Voronezh and Stalingrad.  Over 5 million Axis troops died on the Eastern Front, along with 9 million Soviet troops.  Civilian deaths have been estimated at 15 million.  It was a war of extermination.

                                     

Page 113. " Apparently he was in a Lysander "

Westland Lysander
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeWestland Lysander - Credit: Paul Maritz
The Westland Lysander was used by the RAF and the Canadian and US Airforces for its ability to take off and land on  any rough pathway or field.  This capability made it highly suitable for secret missions requiring a landing in enemy territory.  The planes were designed to carry one passenger, but could take three if necessary.

A special squadron of black-painted Lysanders was formed to support the SOE's missions into Occupied France.

The aircraft was named after the Spartan general who defeated the Athenians in 405BC.

Page 121. " they offered to instruct her in silent killing "

 From 1943 the SOE was led by Brigadier Colin Gubbin... He was a great believer in guerilla movements and wanted to ensure that agents were well trained in arms and explosives and had a complete idea of the ethnology of the place they would be working in. He secured remote country houses in the Highlands of Scotland to train his agents in arms.  

from Spy Princess – The Life of Noor Inyat Khan by Shrabani Basu 

Page 122. " Louveciennes, the village the Impressionist painters had made seem essential "

 

Louveciennes
Public DomainLouveciennes - Credit: Alfred Sisley

 Louveciennes was a traditional French village that has now been absorbed into the western suburbs of Paris.  It was a favourite subject for the Impressionist artists Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)and Camille Pissarro (1830-1903).

 

Pissarro eventually settled there with his family in 1866. Renoir and Monet also painted in the area.

 

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