As the 75th anniversary of D-Day approaches, I thought I would post a small section of my novel THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET which takes place on the morning of 6 June 1944.
At five o’clock on the morning of the 6th of June, Louise jerked awake to the sound of planes overhead.
At first she thought it must be an air raid and she was going to have to decamp to the cellar, but there were no sirens blaring, and in any case, German bombers invariably came in from the east or south-east. These planes sounded as though they were travelling in the opposite direction.
And then she heard her mother’s footstep outside her door.
‘Louise, are you awake?’
Louise got out of bed and opened the door. ‘What is it?’ she said. ‘What’s happening?’
‘I think it’s started,’ her mother said. She sounded breathless. Turning off the landing light, she went straight to the window and opened the blackout curtains. ‘Yes,’ she whispered in awe. ‘Look.’
Louise joined her at the window. It was still dark, but for the first time in nearly a week, the sky was clear, and as her eyes acclimatised, she saw a mass of shapes slowly moving overhead. West to east. Towards the coast. Towards France.
‘Oh my God,’ she said. She put a hand to her mouth. The planes were almost wingtip to wingtip, many towing gliders. They were all painted in black and white stripes, presumably to aid recognition among inexperienced Allied troops, and to prevent incidents of so-called friendly fire.
As she watched them in amazement, she couldn’t help thinking of the thousands of young men on board. And of the ones presumably even now heading out across the Channel, or perhaps already struggling off landing craft on dark French beaches. Young men like Moses and Ben, and the Carter boys. What were they thinking now?
Suddenly it all seemed terribly real. The campaigns in North Africa and Italy had been so far away. This was here. This was now. And nobody knew how strong the German resistance would be, what carnage would ensue, how many lives would be cut short. Today. Tomorrow. However long it took.
She felt tears springing to her eyes and saw that her mother was similarly affected. Suddenly they were holding hands. Then somehow Louise was in her arms. As she clung to her mother, feeling the bony shape of her shoulder, smelling the perm in her hair, she realised it was probably the first time they had embraced since she was a child.
‘What do we do now?’ she whispered.
Celia drew in a long, shuddering breath. ‘I think the best thing we can do,’ she said, ‘is to go downstairs and make a cup of tea.’
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET is the 5th book in Helen Carey’s best selling Lavender Road series. For more information about Helen or her novels, please click the page links above or visit her website at www.helencareybooks.co.uk