Rabbit holes, Heroes and Bunkers

Rabbit holes, Heroes and Bunkers

Not a strange, new Role Playing Game….

Not fantasy related today but just an observation regarding connections. Or as Douglas Adams’ Holistic Detective, Dirk Gently, would put it: ‘the interconnectedness of all things.’ For an inquisitive mind, the fascinating thing about the internet is not only the number of rabbit holes you end up in, but the fundamental interconnectedness and how you often end up at the same place.

Take this for instance:

After uploading my ebook – Maingard Chronicles (Book 1), The Darkness Rising – to various sites, (Amazon, Smashwords, B&N etc – did I say it’s on pre-order now for a 25th June release?) I checked to see if the uploads had worked properly. Searching under ‘Darkness Rising’ or ‘Northwood’ might have returned a few items, so I went for the weirdest word in the title, ‘Maingard’. After all, I had made it up along the lines of Midgard and Asgard to represent the mortal world.

My book (left) appeared in the search but also the book on the right did: Behind Enemy Lines with the SAS: The story of Amedee Maingard, SOE Agent. A young Mauritian who volunteered for the British Army, joined the Special Operations Executive and parachuted into France to work behind the enemy lines. There he supported and helped organize the resistance. After the Allies landed on D-Day, he worked with SAS forces in disrupting German supplies and reinforcements. A total hero. I thought nothing more of it and carried on.

A few days later, I (along with child number 4) checked over the insides of the WW2 bunker in our field. We hadn’t been inside for a couple of years. I later posted the pics on Facebook as a bit of fun and looked to add some more information. I found the Defence of Britain database that lists the position of various military fortifications from WW2. Sadly, two others that were in the vicinity have been lost to erosion, but ‘ours’ still stands.

1) Looking north towards Hornsea
2) Looking towards the cliff

Searching for Yorkshire Bunkers separately (this is Yorkshire – their ones are better after all) I came across another site that told of hidden bunkers of a unit called the BAU – and not the FBI one from Criminal Minds! The British Auxiliary Units were men who formed the last line of defence against an invasion, and had hidden bunkers filled to the brim with weapons. These men, taken mostly from trades that had been protected from conscription such as farmers and gamekeepers, had extensive local knowledge. They were trained in guerilla activities such as assassinations and sabotage. They told no-one of their orders and kept their secrets – and, reading on, you can see why.

Their task, once an invasion had happened, would have been to simply disappear. Melt away from family, ‘desert’ from Home Guard squads – just disappear. They would then wage war against the invaders and collaborators using their hidden caches of weapons. They would have assassinated officers, destroyed supplies and railways – and also eliminated those working with the Germans. They were also ordered to eliminate anyone who had discovered their secret caches or those that could give them away – their commanding officers, local bobbies who had signed off on their background checks etc.

Completely ruthless (but see below) and they were expected to survive 12 days.

After the fall of Berlin, a force of die-hard SS men, known as the Werewolves, carried out similar tactics against the victorious allies.

Now what has this to do with Maingard – either my book or Louis Pierre Rene “Amédée” Maingard de la Ville-ès-Offrans CBE?

After the threat of invasion had disappeared, these extremely well trained men were disbanded and many enlisted, joining the SAS. They were parachuted deep into France on D-Day to connect with the French Resistance and disrupt reinforcements and supplies that were heading for the Normandy beachheads. One group took part in Operation Bulbasket in the Poiters area. There they liaised with Maingard who helped them connect with the Maquis. They moved base regularly to avoid detection and at one base, Maingard told them that the locals knew it’s location and advised them to move. They did so but returned a few days later when the new location was unviable.

That location had become known to the Germans and they were attacked, resulting in the majority of the force becoming captured. 34 SAS men and 7 Maquis, along with a downed USAF pilot who had joined them were exectuted.

Maingard carried on working behind enemy lines, an extremely dangerous task, until the liberation of France. After the war, he returned to Mauritius and became a successful businessman, founding Air Mauritius in 1967 and developing the tourist industry there. He passed away in 1981 aged 62.

Truly coming full circle and proving the interconnectedness of all things would be for me to add “and a month before I started searching this, I booked a holiday to Mauritius…” but unfortunately I didn’t. However, the backstory of one of my main characters in my novel does involve him fighting a long and arduous guerilla war in much the same vein as Amedee Maingard and the men of Operation Bulbasket.

We use the term ‘Heroes and Heroines’ in fantasy literature an awful lot. They become characters and ‘real’ inside our minds and imaginations – and as authors and readers, we put them through the grinder and push them to the limit. We shouldn’t, however, forget that there are real Heroes and Heroines who have been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, and for some, paid the ultimate sacrifice. And for those, we should be extremely grateful.

  1. & 2) Carl Northwood

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