Tomorrow to Be Brave: A Memoir of the Only Woman Ever to Serve in the French Foreign Legion

Tomorrow to Be Brave: A Memoir of the Only Woman Ever to Serve in the French Foreign Legion

by Susan Travers, Wendy Holden

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743200028
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication date: 06/26/2007
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 674,336
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Wendy Holden is the author of more than thirty books, nine of which were international bestsellers. She also worked as a journalist for eighteen years.

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Prologue

I sit alone in an armchair in my little apartment in Paris, staring out of the window. My beloved cat Pinky is on my lap. I told her that one day they would come, those who wanted to hear my secrets.

Others had been before, but I hadn't been ready and I turned them away or told them only scant details. They all had to be dead, you see - especially dear Nicholas. His death in 1995 gave me the freedom to speak, to unlock the memories of that remarkable time; memories that have never been erased, although I had destroyed my diaries to keep them from him. The thin leather-bound volumes contained handwritten accounts of events which might have hurt him, recollections too private to share of a time before, when my life - all our lives - had been so very different. I burned them to protect him, as he had always protected me. It was only after his body had been committed to the soil of his beloved France that I could begin to think of them again.

The fuss really began after I was widowed, thank goodness. First came the medal, which was offered out of the blue. In truth, I think they were a little surprised to find me still alive. During that simple ceremony, watched by my family and the few remaining veterans they could muster, I stepped up rather shakily with my walking stick to receive my award. General Hugo Geoffrey leaned forward, kissed me on both cheeks and pinned the Légion d'honneur — so coveted by those of us who'd served — to the lapel of my brown tweed suit. He was watched by another familiar face, now that of a five-star general, Jean Simon.

Peering into my heavily lined face with his one good eye, trying to remember the fresh-faced 'La Miss' he'd first met all those years before, Simon smiled politely at the peculiar old Englishwoman before him. I allowed myself a shrug of pride, nodding my acceptance of the accolade, albeit nearly sixty years late. I would add it to my other medals, eleven in all, including the most treasured — the Croix de Guerre with star — with which I was decorated in front of the entire brigade in Cairo, and the Médaille Militaire, presented to me on that heart-wrenching day in Paris.

Holding this latest award in my fingers, I studied the ornate green-and-white silk ribbon and thought of poor Nicholas, who had longed for it so badly but never received it. I thought, too, of my father, the indomitable Captain Francis Travers, awarded his medal after the First World War. He and I were probably the only father and daughter in the history of France to have both received the Légion d'honneur, and yet we were both English.

At the small reception held for me afterwards in the dining room of the sheltered home where I live, my fellow legionnaires — men I hadn't seen for several decades — shuffled shyly over to where I sat with my family, to offer their congratulations. There had never been a better time for teary-eyed reminiscences and yet none was forthcoming. There were few words to express what we felt. Watched by my curious fellow inmates — the old French ladies with whom I slowly decay — we must have made a strange spectacle. Stooped with arthritis and the pain of memory, each one of us still burned with the pride of having belonged to the 13th Demi-Brigade, Légion Etrangère.

We had all been there together, in Bir Hakeim. These men knew what it had been like, half-starved and parched and yet determined not to surrender. They knew of the role I had played, and why.

It was only when everyone had gone and I was left alone with my medals, that the others came - those who wanted to know. They are here now, asking me to tell them my story, tell them what it was really like. Their faces are young and fresh and untainted by death and war. They are dipping into my well of memories, before it dries...

Copyright © 2000 by Ted Demers and Rick Filon

Table of Contents

Prologue1
1A Well of Memories3
2Lonely are the Brave7
3Dreams of Freedom16
4The Wicked Lady23
5Lady in Waiting36
6African Dream48
7Among Strangers61
8The Finger of Fate82
9Days of Wine and Roses99
10Into the Cauldron128
11A Pyrrhic Victory152
12The Breakout172
13The Blood of Our Hearts193
14The Smell of Victory224
15A Page Turned250
16Drawing to a Close272
Acknowledgments277
Bibliography279
Index283

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Tomorrow to Be Brave: A Memoir of the Only Woman Ever to Serve in the French Foreign Legion 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderfully written account of a truly orginal woman. Susan Travers's account of her actions with the Free French forces during WWII is not only a compeling story but also a valuble addition to the history of that greatest of conflicts. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the history of the Free French or who just wants to read a face paced, informative, exciting tale of one woman's determination to live life on her own terms