Born to a life of privilege, Susan spends her childhood longing for excitement. After being expelled from finishing school for being too interested in men, she signed up with the Free French in 1940 and sailed to Africa where she traveled the country fighting the war and taking on lovers, eventually becoming a driver to General Koenig of the Foreign Legion. He was to become her lover and the man for whom she would risk everything. A military leader of Olympian detach, he was in private a sensitive soul, sharing poetry with Susan, including the piece from which the title of the book is taken, Tomorrow To Be Brave. He was also the man who helped change the face of Rommel's North African campaign.
At the great siege of Bir Hakeim , the general's troops were surrounded for fifteen days by Rommel's Panzer division. Susan refused to leave the General's side and evetually, at the wheel of his car, led the convoy of vehicles and men across the minefields as part of a daring mass breakout. Hailed as the heroine of the night, Susan was rewarded with the love and loyalty of the legion with whom she served as its only official female member ever.
In 1997 in a simple ceremony attended by the few remaining survivors of the corps with which she fought, the Legion presented Susan Travers, now a frail 88 year old, with the Legion d'Honneur--their highest award for bravery. She lives quietly to this day in a modest nursing home outside Paris where only a very few know what circuitous and fantastic a path led her there--until now.
|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.
Read an Excerpt
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
|1||A Well of Memories||3|
|2||Lonely are the Brave||7|
|3||Dreams of Freedom||16|
|4||The Wicked Lady||23|
|5||Lady in Waiting||36|
|8||The Finger of Fate||82|
|9||Days of Wine and Roses||99|
|10||Into the Cauldron||128|
|11||A Pyrrhic Victory||152|
|13||The Blood of Our Hearts||193|
|14||The Smell of Victory||224|
|15||A Page Turned||250|
|16||Drawing to a Close||272|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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