1. In Memory of LAJ_FETT: Please share your remembrances and condolences HERE

Story [The Longest Day] Radio Londres | Kessel Run Challenge 2024

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Chyntuck, Jan 8, 2024.

  1. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Title: Radio Londres
    Fandom: The Longest Day
    Length: Series of vaguely interconnected one-shots
    Genre: All sorts
    Characters: Mostly OCs; possibly a few established characters from history or from the movie itself
    Timeframe: Unless otherwise specified, these stories take place in the evening of 05 June 1944
    Challenge response: Written in response to the
    Kessel Run Challenge 2024
    Notes: My nephew is going through a World War II phase and we’ve been watching a lot of movies together, so that I can explain to him bits and pieces of historical background. He particularly likes The Longest Day, and he’s absolutely fascinated by the two scenes where members of the French Resistance listen to the coded messages broadcast by the BBC. Only two of these messages are shown to spur the French into action in the film; this series of ficlets aims at exploring the (imaginary) meaning behind the rest of them.

    Edit 13/01/2024: It appears that (once again) I completely misjudged what is common knowledge and what isn’t, so here’s a primer on The Longest Day and the BBC coded messages.
    • The Longest Day is a non-fiction book by Cornelius Ryan that details the events of 6 June 1944, the first day of the Normandy landings. In 1962, it was adapted into a Hollywood film shot in docudrama style that features an all-star international cast (from John Wayne to Richard Burton to Arletty and back). I think it’s fair to say that this movie set the standard for WWII blockbusters, and it also manages to not exceedingly embellish historical events for the purposes of filmmaking.
    • Radio Londres was a London-based French-language radio station staffed by the Free French and hosted by the BBC between 1940 and 1944. It served as a counter-propaganda outlet to German-run Radio Paris and collaborationist Radio Vichy, and, among other things, broadcasted coded messages to the French Resistance. The Resistance groups had various ways of communicating with the Free French and the Special Operations Executive, but sending radio telegrams or surface mail collected by air or sea link was fraught with danger, and indeed many agents in charge of sending or delivering such messages were found and captured or killed. Broadcasting pre-agreed sentences on Radio Londres was thus a safe way to inform a Resistance group of a particular fact. The messages consisted of entirely innocuous sentences that didn’t mean anything to anyone but the recipient, who would just tune in and listen to see if anything was intended for them. In the months before the Normandy landings, the SOE flooded the airwaves with such messages, many of which weren’t intended for anyone in particular but sought instead to confuse the Germans by providing false leads as to what was truly up.

    Table of contents
    Les Français parlent aux Français – the view from London in the evening of 5 June 1944
    Le bracelet ajoute à votre charme – a little girl from Bordeaux receives unexpected news
    Sabotage – bits and pieces about the sabotage activities that accompanied the Normandy landings
    J’aime les chats siamois – the perspective of a hunting rifle
    Un philosophe mathématicien bourré d’explosifs – a high-value prisoner escapes
    Nacht und Nebel – two young Resistance fighters... don't escape
    Radio Paris ment, Radio Paris ment, Radio Paris est allemand… – a captured Resistance fighter has the strangest dream
    Morts pour la France – a collaborator gets his just desserts
    Il y a le feu à l’agence de voyages – yeah, there was only one bed...
    Le chimpanzé est protocolaire – a companion piece to Le bracelet ajoute à votre charme
    Il pleut toujours en Angleterrea princess-and-pauper romance set in the future of Mira_Jade's Victoria AU
    Il fait chaud à Suez – a game of cat-and-mouse between the Abwehr and a Resistance group in Normandy

    Last edited: Mar 26, 2024
  2. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Week 1 prompt: Write a story between 100 and 1,000 words that begins with the sentence: “The rain hadn’t let up in days, and all I wanted to do was scream.”
    Character: Unnamed OC
    Genre: Drama
    Word count: 687


    Les Français parlent aux Français

    London, 05 June 1944

    The rain hadn’t let up in days, and all I wanted to do was scream. I’d been in England for four years already – quite precisely four years at that, as I was one of the last Frenchmen evacuated from Dunkirk on 4 June 1940 – but I’d never seen such miserable weather. The last few days of May had been lovely, but on Saturday morning the skies of London darkened, and we suddenly had to put up with hurricane-like gales and downpours that reminded us all of mid-winter. There had been widespread chatter on the grapevine that the Allies were about to finally land troops in France in a major offensive against the Third Reich, but even though I was a measly lieutenant with limited understanding of tactics and strategy, I knew that no military leader in their right mind would launch the operation in these conditions.

    Like every evening, I stopped by the office of the Special Operations Executive to collect the coded messages for the French-language programme of the BBC. It was a courtesy that the Brits were extending to General de Gaulle, letting one of our officers ferry these little bits of paper to the voice of Free France instead of sending an Englishman, but many of us saw it as a reminder that Churchill was keeping us on the sidelines. De Gaulle hardly knew anything more than we did about the upcoming landings; the only difference was that he would be informed perhaps half an hour before the rest of us when they were underway.

    I tucked the envelope as deep as I could in my coat’s inner pocket and made my way to the unmarked vehicle that awaited to take me to the BBC headquarters. It had always amused me that the SOE provided a car. The coded messages I was carrying were just that – coded, not ciphered. They made sense only to the sender and the recipient, and that was why they could be transmitted in the open. Even if the Krauts had some dastardly plan to ambush me in one of London’s back alleys, it wouldn’t do them any good at all; they would merely be left reading a list of gibberish.

    On this rainy night, however, I was grateful for the car, as even those few metres in the open to embark and disembark had me drenched to the bone. The team of journalists that had been running Radio Londres since the Fall of France was there when I arrived, waiting for the clock to tick away the minutes before the evening broadcast, and I handed the batch of damp papers to Frank Bauer, whose sharp voice was said to carry better than others through German jamming. I then settled comfortably on the couch in the hallway and waited for the transmission to begin.

    It was a well-rehearsed routine. Radio Londres first sent out the opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony; then the speaker started with: “This is London! The French speak to their countrymen! Let us begin with a few personal messages.” He subsequently proceeded to read the sentences from the envelope I brought. None of us had the faintest idea what each one meant, but we knew that, somewhere at the other end of the airwaves, there was someone listening, and it gave us pride and hope.

    The day’s messages were as nonsensical as usual: “Tomorrow, molasses will turn into cognac”, “John has a long moustache”, “Sabine has the mumps and jaundice.” I had mostly tuned out the content, and I was listening to Bauer’s precise tones as he enunciated every syllable, when a particular line caught my attention. I remembered from my school days back home in Aix-en-Provence that “… fill my heart with a monotonous languor” was the second verse of Paul Verlaine’s poem Chanson d’automne, and I could recall quite clearly the first verse being transmitted only days earlier. I allowed myself a smile. I still had no idea what the message meant, but I could at least pat myself on the back for being observant. Perhaps sometime after the war, I would find out.



    This one-shot sticks quite closely to what actually happened in London in the evening of 5 June 1944. The weather was appalling, casting doubts on whether the landings could take place (although it turned out that it improved just enough to allow for them) and it was indeed Frank Bauer who read the coded messages that night (it’s the voice you actually hear in the movie). It’s also a fact that the staff of Radio Londres preferred Bauer’s voice for the messages, as they deemed that its timbre made it easier to hear through the noise and static of German jamming.

    The first stanza of Verlaine’s Chanson d’automne was broadcast in two parts on the BBC. The first line, “Les sanglots longs des violons d’automne”, was transmitted on 01 June and indicated that the invasion was imminent. The second line, “blessent mon cœur d’une langueur monotone”, indicated that the invasion would take place within the next 24 hours, and was a call to action for a specific Resistance group. In the movie, said group is seen organising the landing of French paratroopers and sabotaging a railway.

    The one element I made up is the idea that a French officer was in charge of ferrying the messages from the SOE headquarters to the BBC. I have no idea how the messages were sent across London, but I wanted to note the tension that existed between Churchill and de Gaulle, even this late into the war. It’s a historical fact that they didn’t like each other very much and that Churchill didn’t always keep de Gaulle in the loop; as a matter of fact, de Gaulle was apparently only informed that the Normandy landings might or might not happen on 04 June, less than 48 hours before they began.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2024
    study888, Vek Talis, Tarsier and 6 others like this.
  3. amidalachick

    amidalachick FFoF Hostess Extraordinaire star 5 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 3, 2003
    This is such a unique idea! I've always been fascinated by this aspect of WWII history, along with the more subversive history of radio in general.

    That really is what matters most. I loved this line!

    Again, this was so unique and an incredible start to your Run! I'm really looking forward to more. =D=
  4. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    I have been in what happened during WW2, reading all about it. see the films and documentaries since I joined the group here in Wijk aan Zee that keeps the Atlantic wall with the various bunkers restored to view by visitors. And recently more pieces were found in the Noordzee when the windmills were placed and they had to search for WW2 explosives.
    And with my mother remembering all since the war in the Ukraine started.
    A great start for your run
  5. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    What a fascinating and unique idea for a KR! I like the voice of this OC. He's willing to do his part and fill whatever tasks are demanded, but his natural curiosity about the meaning of the messages and the eventual outcomes or consequences based upon what the recipients do is quite understandable.

    It makes sense that there would be quite the frequent use of 'seemingly random nonsense' to convey vital intel. [face_thinking]

    study888, Kahara and Chyntuck like this.
  6. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Chosen One star 10

    Mar 26, 2001
    I am not at all familiar with this film and have mostly studied that era through Soviet and Jewish lenses. I’ve been interested in approaching it from another angle and this will be my motivation to learn more. I love the details and the context.
  7. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    It may came as no surprise to you if I say that I absolutely adore historical fiction, and this promises to be a most interesting collection of historical fiction, indeed! I just downloaded to read - though I want to watch the film myself before next week's post comes around - but I think that I can dive into this first post and leave semi-decent feedback based on the notes you yourself provided! :cool:


    I love how you took this prompt and applied it to the story - and in a way that's true to history, too. So fascinating! [face_thinking]

    Famous last words, it seems. :p

    I really appreciated how this explained the dynamics between these characters, and even nations - for good and the bad! Everything has that feeling of three-level chess, with one layer not entirely knowing what the other is doing, and that's scary, when it's your home and your loved ones on the line. [face_worried]

    Ooh, I like this detail!

    The French speaking to their countrymen, indeed. [face_love]

    You did a great job with these lines of code! I entirely felt drawn in to both the time period and the subterfuge! [face_appalause]

    Because this is what it all boils down to in the end. [face_love]

    This is such an incredibly unique project to tackle for a Kessel Run, and I am truly, truly intrigued to see where this collection goes as it grows! [face_dancing] =D=

  8. Kahara

    Kahara FFoF Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 3, 2001
    I'm unfamiliar with the film, but that doesn't detract from this at all. :) It's really cool to read about the details of an aspect of the history around this period that I haven't heard as much about. It's surprising and fascinating that something as seemingly small as who reads the broadcast could affect it getting through.

    Really liked this part; it brings home how much of a leap of faith this kind of communication was on either side. As well as how it could serve the double purpose of making those sending and receiving them feel less alone. @};-
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2024
    Vek Talis, study888 and Chyntuck like this.
  9. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing! The Covid-induced brain fog subsided just enough to allow me to write a ficlet for the week 2 prompt, but before I post it, here are a few replies to your comments.

    To begin with something very general, it looks like I grossly misjudged the popularity of The Longest Day. It's on TV every year over here, and combined with the all-star cast I imagined that everyone has seen it more than once, but that's apparently not the case :p so I included a primer in the OP. I can't recommend this movie enough; I'm not much of a war movie person, but this one just has everything you can wish for in a Hollywood interpretation of one of the most important events of the 20th century. I also included a primer about Radio Londres; the history of the BBC's foreign-language programming during the war is quite well-known in Europe but understandably less so in North America. The title of the first ficlet, "Les Français parlent aux Français" (i.e. "The French speak to their countrymen") is quite possibly the most famous sentence uttered on French-language radio in history.

    @amidalachick Thank you! I'm also absolutely fascinated by the history of radio in general (it's my absolutely favourite medium to this day) and Radio Londres in particular has a special place in my heart. So many extraordinary things happened on those airwaves, and I hope I'll manage to feature a few of them in this series, even if I have to work around the limitations that come from our 70-year rule for real-person fic. I mean, who needs fiction when the stories just write themselves from reality?
    There was an interview with a very old Frank Bauer, the man who read the 'personal messages' on French TV a few years ago, and he commented at great length about the fact that, day after day after day, he read these sentences without knowing what they meant and could only hope that someone was listening.
    Thanks again!

    @earlybird-obi-wan Thank you! I haven't visited the Atlantic coast of the Netherlands, but I've been many times to Northern France, and the landscape there is similarly dotted with bunkers of the Atlantic Wall – many of which are now on the edge of the cliff because of erosion, and I even saw one once that was literally hanging from a steel rod (I imagine it's fallen overboard by now). I read a little about Radio Oranje while preparing for this series, and as I understand it it was quite similar to Radio Londres; I imagine your mother was a listener :D

    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Thank you! One thing I've always found fascinating with espionage and intelligence is that so many people need to be involved for it to happen, yet 99.9% of them must be willing to work without ever knowing what it is they're doing, exactly – and it's a fact that the Special Operations Executive ran a tight ship during the war; they did such a good job at keeping things under wraps that the Nazis never saw one of the biggest military operations in the history of humankind coming their way.
    This is the absolute beauty of the 'personal messages' in my view. The Germans could listen to them over and over and over; if they couldn't get their hands on the sender and the listener, they never found out what they meant.

    @DarthIshtar Thank you! I've also read a lot about the Soviet side of the war, and while this is where the true military epic happened (I mean, the Soviets won the war through sheer brute force and were well on their way to succeeding whether the Allies landed in Normandy or not) I find that the western European aspect is very interesting as well on the intelligence front. The French Resistance was not a mass movement like the ones in countries like Greece and Yugoslavia, and the position of the French government-in-exile in London was precarious at best, but what made France such a valuable ally was the presence of so many military intelligence networks that fed the Allies all the information they needed to plan for large-scale landings. I hope you'll enjoy the movie and/or the book The Longest Day if you get around to seeing/reading it; the movie does take a few liberties with history, but there's nothing particularly cringeworthy in there, and it's just one of those 1960s epics where you feel that they don't make 'em like that anymore.

    @Mira_Jade Thank you! I hope you enjoy the movie (and, eventually, the book, because I know that the bookworm in you won't resist reading it :p ) but in truth it's not necessary to have seen or read it to understand what happens here.
    [face_laugh] I laughed out loud when I saw the prompt. One reason I thought this KR concept could work is that it would allow me to deal with the compulsory word/sentence aspect of the prompts, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect that the opening sentence of the first prompt would just fit seamlessly in my first story like that!
    Totally! (Not commenting any further until you've seen the movie, you'll understand why.)
    The relationship between de Gaulle and Churchill was... complicated. Actually, the relationship between de Gaulle and everybody else was complicated! De Gaulle was a relative unknown when he arrived in London in June 1940, and his claim to represent the legitimate French state felt very much like something he pulled out of his backside. He had to fight very hard to be recognised as the representative of France-in-exile, and even in the morning of the Normandy landings, he wasn't among the heads of state that addressed their people on the radio because he'd just found out that the Americans were planning to force on France a colonial-style currency to replace the French Franc.
    The ideal POV character for this first story IMO would have been Frank Bauer himself, since he spoke at great length after the war of the fact that, day after day, he was made to read a whole bunch of gibberish that he didn't understand, but he would fall under the 70-year rule, so I went for an OC. It's an absolute historical fact that his voice was deemed the best to break through German jamming; when you watch the movie you'll understand why.
    As I mentioned above, this is possibly the most famous sentence ever uttered on French-language radio since the day radio came into existence. Frank Bauer himself said it no fewer than 517 times!
    These were all legit coded messages that were transmitted on the BBC on 5 June 1944. I wanted to play around a little with the irony of the situation here, that the one sentence our OC could notice would be the one that actually announced Operation Neptune, but he had no way of knowing that... until the next morning!
    Thanks again!

    @Kahara Thank you! I'm glad to have you on board. I hope you get around to watching and enjoying the film at some point, but it's absolutely not necessary to understand what happens in these stories.
    It's amazing, isn't it? When we say "jamming" in WWII, we're not talking about the high-tech jamming we imagine in SW fanfic :p The Germans were basically trying to blanket the frequencies with background noise, but they didn't know what frequency the BBC would be using, so most of the time it just resulted in minor interference, and a clear, sharp voice made the difference.
    "Feeling less alone" was certainly an unintended side effect of these personal messages. Thousands, even tens of thousands of people tuned in to the BBC every day and heard the random messages, and only a select few understood their contents – but for the public at large, the messages meant that the French government-in-exile was talking to individual in occupied France, and it must have meant an awful lot.

    Thanks again for the kind reviews, and thank you to everyone who stopped by to read! Week 2 coming right up.
    Kahara, amidalachick and Mira_Jade like this.
  10. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Week 2 prompt: Write a story between 400 and 800 words in which a character admits a secret to another character without directly speaking to them
    Characters: OCs
    Genre: Fluff
    Word count: 501


    Le bracelet ajoute à votre charme

    Bordeaux, 05 June 1944

    Pauline pouted when Maman stood up to turn on the radio set. “Do we have to listen to this again?”

    “But darling,” Maman objected, “you like listening to the radio, don’t you?”

    The child grimaced. “Not to this. We don’t even know what they’re saying.”

    Papa smiled. “Oh, but we do.” He patted the couch for her to come and sit at his side and lowered his voice conspiratorially. “They’re telling us secrets.”

    At this Pauline rolled her eyes. “That’s not true.”

    “How so?”

    “Because they’re secrets, Papa,” she retorted with an emphatic sigh. “People who keep secrets don’t broadcast them on the radio.”

    “Ah, but these are special secrets,” Papa said with a twinkle of mischief in his eyes. “Only the people they’re intended for can understand them.”

    That didn’t make sense. “So there’s a secret intended for us every night?” she challenged.

    “No,” Papa conceded. “But maybe someday there will be.” He placed a finger on his lips. “Hush now. The broadcast is about to begin.”

    She swallowed back her frustration and huddled into his warmth. She knew that there was something they weren’t telling her – they hadn’t been listening to the radio like this before, and when they had they’d always made sure she was tucked away in bed, but since Julien had left with Uncle Tristan last month they tuned in every night and they let her stay awake and sit with them. She tugged absentmindedly at the bracelet around her wrist. It had been a gift from Julien, and he’d made her promise that she would always wear it until he came back. She wasn’t sure where he’d gone – yet another secret that everyone was keeping from her – but Maman always said that Uncle Tristan would take good care of him.

    Maman stopped fiddling with the knob when they heard the four little notes that signalled the beginning of the radio show, and they listened in silence to the secrets they couldn’t understand: “John has a long moustache; The weather is hot in Suez; The Trojan War will not take place; This bracelet adds to your charm –”

    Papa’s entire body jerked. He gathered her close and held her tightly, and Maman leapt to the couch to hug them too, and they were both laughing and crying at the same time. The man on the radio was still reading – “The dice are on the table; Lilac trees will bloom in the spring; Edward’s dog had five puppies on 7 January” – but they weren’t paying attention anymore. Pauline was trying to extricate herself from her parents’ embrace lest she suffocated when Maman finally pulled back and planted a long, warm kiss on her forehead. She then pointed at the child’s wrist and repeated: “This bracelet adds to your charm.”

    “I don’t understand,” a thoroughly confused Pauline said. “What does it mean?”

    “It means, my darling girl,” – and Maman paused to plant yet another kiss on her brow – “that your big brother and Uncle Tristan have arrived in London.”



    Beyond being a mindless piece of fluff involving a little girl, which is something I always enjoy writing, this ficlet also illustrates the fact that the BBC messages were often used to signal to a particular listener that someone had arrived in London, either by Westland Lysander or via Spain, Portugal and French North Africa. The traveller would simply agree upon a coded sentence with his group before leaving France and asked Radio Londres to broadcast it upon arrival. Of course, this applied only to members of Resistance groups on ‘official’ missions, not to random individuals who managed to cross into England on their own and lacked the connections to have a personal message transmitted on their behalf – the latter spent months and even years unable to send any news at all to their friends and families, who had no idea where they had disappeared to. For the purposes of the story above, you can safely assume that Uncle Tristan is a Resistance figure who chose for a reason or another to take along his nephew Julien on this final trip to London.

    More generally, this week’s prompt was an unexpected challenge to me, as it fits the concept behind this entire thread so well that I could have written pretty much any one of the stories I have in mind. I ended up writing an all-new one because I thought that this was a brilliant opportunity to showcase the sheer genius of broadcasting secrets in the open for everyone to hear. The ‘personal messages’ of Radio Londres used to drive the Nazis nuts, because there was nothing they could do about them – which is why they tried so badly to jam the broadcast, but to no avail.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2024
  11. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Wonderful exchange where Pauline's not wanting to listen to the cryptic radio messages but the entire family gets a wonderful surprise.
    amidalachick, Kahara and Chyntuck like this.
  12. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    A perfect exchange and a wonderful surprise for Pauline to know that her brother and uncle Tristan have arrived in London
  13. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Chosen One star 10

    Mar 26, 2001
    I really liked the component pieces of this as well as the resolution.
  14. amidalachick

    amidalachick FFoF Hostess Extraordinaire star 5 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 3, 2003
    This is such a lovely family moment on its own but the wider context makes Papa and Maman's joy and relief at hearing that message so palpable. I can just imagine them worrying and wondering as they listen night after night, so for them to finally get the good news they've been waiting for is exciting!

    But maybe not so exciting for Pauline. I'm a lot older than she is and I still feel like that sometimes. :p

    I love how the messages are just these simple sentences. Sometimes simple, hiding-in-plain-sight, is best.

    Aww! This made me smile.

    Very much looking forward to more! =D=
  15. Seldes_Katne

    Seldes_Katne Force Ghost star 3

    Mar 18, 2002
    I must confess that I'm not familiar with The Longest Day (either novel or movie), and World War II usually got "short shift" in my American History classes (focus was usually on the pre-colonial period to the end of the American Civil War), so I have only a general knowledge of this time period. My mother was the history enthusiast in my family, and she was mostly interested in the Colonial and Civil War eras. There are, of course, very few WWII battle sites in the U.S., although I have visited the graveyard on Ocracoke Island (the Outer Banks area of North Carolina) for the British submarine sailors killed defending the US coastline.

    However, despite my less than stellar knowledge of the time period (or perhaps because of it), I find your stories fascinating. What clever ways people have of conveying information! I'm familiar with the Navajo Code Talkers of WWII, who helped develop an unbreakable code based on a language unknown outside their lands in the U.S., but Radio Londres is new to me. I think the real draw of these stories is that they, like all good fiction, focus on people -- their actions and reactions to what's happening around and to them. Even taking the smallest part in great, world-wide events is notable -- doing whatever you can, even if you're not certain anyone is listening or will ever know.
  16. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    D-day started the liberation of France, Belgium and the Nethelands saving my parents. My mom still remembers that day
    DarthIshtar, Kahara and Chyntuck like this.
  17. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    I still can't believe how well the prompts seem to be tailor-made for these stories! [face_hypnotized] :eek: For your Week Two, once more, it was such a seamless blend - this could have been the theme behind your entire collection even, and quite is: the revealing of a secret by indirect means. Yet, here, I love how you brought this down to a personal level to show how these coded messages helped one family, in particular. [face_love]

    I was smitten right away; what a perfect POV to choose for this story! Because, for a child, this is another layer of secrets within secrets.

    So much power in these words! [face_hypnotized] [face_love]

    This hurt, when I understood exactly where her uncle and brother had gone. Of course her parents are going to hold her a little bit closer and not let go so easily. =(( [face_love]

    So, so personal! :_|


    I swear that I felt a bit like laughing and crying too - the giddy relief of this was just so palpable! [face_love]

    Such an A+ detail to include from the POV of a little girl! [face_laugh] :p


    I loved this note - and all your notes, and your replies too - because, as much as any totalitarian dictatorship has to attack hope, first and foremost, here it is thriving, against all odds. [face_love]

    This remains an EXCELLENT response to the challenge, and truly enjoyable for my inner history nerd! I can't wait to see how you tackle Week 3 next. [face_mischief] ;)

    =D= [:D]
    earlybird-obi-wan and Chyntuck like this.
  18. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing! I wrote my drabbles for week 3 (le gasp) but before I post them a few replies.

    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha @earlybird-obi-wan Thank you both! One aspect that I don't see often discussed of the French Resistance is how families, and in particular small children, had to be kept in the dark about Resistance activities. There are many members of the Free French who didn't even inform their families that they were "disappearing" in order to join de Gaulle, but small children in particular would have to be kept out of the loop because they couldn't be trusted not to reveal this information. I have a whole background to Pauline's story that I may develop in a future fic for this challenge if the prompts allow.

    @DarthIshtar Thanks! This was a little challenging to write, TBH, because I had to give enough clues to the characters' background in not-so-many words. I'm glad it worked for you!

    @amidalachick Thank you!
    There's a lot in French WW2 literature about how risky it was to try and cross into England, which happened in a variety of ways, primarily Lysander planes sent to pick up resistance members, or individuals or even caravans crossing on foot into Spain. There's also quite a bit about the people who stayed behind, and who hung onto every word broadcast on Radio Londres in the hope of hearing that their friend or family member had arrived safely.
    Aren't they? In this story I used only those sentences that are heard in The Longest Day, and I have to admit that they are the tamer ones. As you'll see in my next entry, there were a few pretty wild ones as well. Thanks again for reading!

    @Seldes_Katne Thank you! As usual, your comment made me take a step back and think, and it makes perfect sense that there would be less focus on WW2 in the US – after all, it isn't America's great war, is it? It reminded me of my reaction to the WW1 monuments when I went to France as a student. In Greece we hardly talk about WW1 at all, because we entered the war in 1917 and didn't do much, but France lost a million and a half men, so of course they would have these monuments to the fallen even in the smallest village. I also learned thanks to you about the graveyard on Ocracoke Island and the Navajo Code Talkers, which I'd never heard of – and this, of course, highlights once more the difference in our perspectives on both sides of the pond.

    @Mira_Jade Thank you!
    I know, right? You'd think I had a direct line to Viari's brain when I chose this theme for my KR.
    Thanks! I had to challenge myself a little for this prompt, so as not to write one of my "ready-made" ideas, and I quickly settled on the idea that I would write from the POV of a child, because what child likes to have secrets kept from them?
    It must have been a very difficult position for parents in this situation, having to balance their pride and their anguish at the idea that their son was embarking on a dangerous journey to join the Free French, and at the same time to manage the situation at home for the secret not to be revealed to the wrong people because of a younger child who doesn't understand the risks.
    Thank you! In the various WW2 memoirs I read, there are several scenes of this type. My own twist on it was to show it through the eyes of a child who doesn't quite understand what is at stake.
    I think we've all been there. "Mom, lemme go, lemme go!" :p
    Haha! And this became the moment when Pauline stopped going to school until the liberation of Bordeaux, lest she spilled the beans :cool:
    Thanks! There's an abundance of notes in my coming entry too (as a matter of fact, the notes are longer than the entry :p ) and I'm glad they're useful for context. TBH I feel that I'm barely scratching the surface of the context I should provide, but I'm doing my best to have the essentials in there, and I'm happy to field questions and provide a bibliography for the nerds among us.

    Thanks again to all readers, reviewers and lurkers! Next entry coming right up.
  19. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Week 3 prompt: Write a set of 5 drabbles with the following prompts: midnight, endeavour, inheritance, disaster, horizon – to which I added the bonus prompts ‘temerity’ and ‘crackle’
    Characters: unnamed OCs, a few named and unnamed historical figures
    Genre: drama
    Word count: 7 x 100 = 700
    Notes: There were seven nationwide sabotage plans that were activated by BBC messages on 5 June 1944, so I needed 2 extra prompts in order to write one drabble for each. The random number generator chose them from UDC X for me. You’ll find historical details in the endnotes.



    La girafe a un long cou
    (prompt: midnight)

    It was shortly after midnight and the entire region was in an uproar. Those who still lived in the villages were moving towards their combat units; those who were already in the maquis prepared the night’s operation. Nobody knew exactly what was going on, but they’d been warned that, should they hear “The giraffe has a long neck” on Radio Londres, they were to take measures to ensure that the 2nd SS Panzerdivision ‘Das Reich’ stayed put in Limousin. Well, it was nothing they hadn’t done before. A few judiciously placed bombs along the railways would take care of it.

    Les carottes sont cuites
    (prompt: temerity)

    There weren’t many of them left, but they would do their duty. As soon as they heard “The carrots are cooked” on Radio Londres, the survivors of Maquis Bir-Hakeim gathered around their new leader and discussed their options. They were known for their temerity – it had led most of them to their deaths in May – but they wouldn’t be defeated when victory was at hand. Soon they had identified on the map the best spots: fell a few trees here, drop a few boulders there, and the Nazis wouldn’t be able to move their troops on the roads around Clermont-l’Hérault.

    Messieurs faites vos jeux
    (prompt: inheritance)

    Pierre Georges grinned when he heard “Gentlemen, place your bets” on Radio Londres. It was his cue to destroy the local German ammunition dump, but what he had in mind was more… subtle. Party discipline prompted him to follow orders faithfully; however, as Colonel Fabien, he was known for his daring operations and he had a reputation to keep. In this case, he firmly intended to capture what he could of the depot before blowing up the rest.

    After all, it was only fair that the Resistance should inherit German weaponry. They were going to need it anyway, weren’t they?

    Tante Amélie fait du vélo en short
    (prompt: endeavour)

    The little party of German antifascists knew that their message would be “Aunt Amelia rides a bicycle in shorts” but they still laughed heartily when they heard it on Radio Londres. Who came up with these sentences anyway? Yet the moment of levity didn’t last long. A pincer movement by the SS had forced them to scatter in small groups in the mountains of Lozère and there was no time to bring everyone together. The dozen or so who were here would endeavour to carry out the mission: cut off the power lines and leave the Nazis in the dark.

    Un ami viendra ce soir
    (prompt: horizon)

    She didn’t see the fuel depot go up in flames – the peninsula of Berre blocked the view to the horizon from Istres – but she heard the sound of the explosion roll over the still waters of the lagoon. For all the years the old dinamitero had spent here, he didn’t speak much French. It was her task to listen to Radio Londres and tell him about messages. He’d given her a feral smile when she said that “A friend will come tonight” had been transmitted. The fascists – and Franco – had taken away his homeland. The time for payback had come.

    La vache saute par-dessus la lune
    (prompt: crackle)

    The maquisards of Mont Ventoux weren’t able to respond immediately when Radio Londres broadcast their message “The cow jumps over the moon.” As a matter of fact, they’d considered outright disbanding their unit after the siege of Sault and the mass arrest of its population. But news of the Normandy landings gave them courage, and on 8 June, they made their move and occupied Valréas. Their first act was to cut off the telephone and telegraph lines. They could only imagine the frustration of the Gestapo agents who would hear only crackling static when they tried to call for help.

    Le chamois des Alpes bondit
    (prompt: disaster)

    Looking back two months later at the disaster that had befallen them, the survivors could only acknowledge how wrong they had been to interpret the message “The Alpine chamois leaps” as a call to arms. Yes, the Vercors plateau was a natural fortress, and yes, their maquis was thousands strong – but they were inadequately armed and trained, and they should have focused on conducting small-scale operations against German and milice command posts. Instead, the Free Republic of Vercors had lasted only weeks, and while those had been heady times, it had ultimately gone out in a blaze of tragic glory.



    Seven nationwide sabotage plans were launched together with the Normandy landings, with a purpose to make German communications and troop movements difficult but also to create the impression that developments in Normandy were only a small part of what was happening. These plans were: Plan Vert (a sabotage campaign to destroy the French railway system), Plan Tortue (to sabotage roads), Plan Rouge (to destroy German ammunition dumps), Plan Bleu (to disable power lines), Plan Violet (to disrupt telephone and telegraph communications), Plan Noir (to attack German fuel depots) and Plan Jaune (to attack German command posts).

    The coded sentences used in these drabbles are all legit BBC messages that were broadcast on 5 June 1944. “La girafe a un long cou” and “Le chamois des Alpes bondit” were intended for the Maquis du Limousin and the Maquis du Vercors respectively, and it’s known that “Les carottes sont cuites” and “Messieurs faites vos jeux” were meant to activate sabotage activities, although it’s unclear which groups were supposed to take action upon hearing them. As for the rest, I just made a selection from the extremely long list I had available. Radio Londres broadcast over 200 messages on 5 June 1944 alone, and to this day it remains unknown which message meant what and to whom. It must also be noted that many of the messages that flooded the BBC airwaves from 1 June onward were bogus; their purpose was to mislead the Germans into thinking that more was going on than they could actually see.

    To the extent that I could, I sought to associate each sabotage plan with a group that is known for having carried out such activities, with a particular focus on the maquis, i.e. the rural guerilla bands of fighters that were active primarily (but not exclusively) in the southern half of France. I also tried to highlight a few elements of the Resistance that I find noteworthy. Here are a few particulars (and bring out your maps of France, because you’re probably going to need them!)

    The Maquis du Limousin, located in the north-western section of the mountain area that covers central France, was one of the largest and most active French maquis in World War II. In the spring of 1944, it began a war of attrition against the 2nd SS Panzerdivision ‘Das Reich’, which had been relocated to the nearby town of Montauban. Once the Normandy landings took place, the maquis was tasked with delaying the movement of this division towards the Atlantic front, which they did with limited success as the SS didn’t hesitate to retaliate massively against the local civilian population, most notably with the massacres of Tulle and Oradour-sur-Glane.

    The Maquis Bir-Hakeim, named after the Battle of Bir-Hakeim fought by the Free French in Libya in 1942, was a small insurgent group but one particularly noted for its audacity. It operated in the Cévennes mountains of southern France and remains controversial for the fact that it didn’t take in consideration the risk of Nazi retaliation against the local population. On 28 May 1944, the group was surrounded by German forces in the village of La Parade (Lozère) and suffered many casualties. The survivors escaped to the village of Mourèze, near Clermont-l’Hérault, where they were able to regroup and participate in the remainder of the armed struggle as part of the 1st Free French Division.

    Pierre Georges (1919-1944), better known by his nom de guerre Colonel Fabien, was a French communist and the first Resistance fighter who assassinated a German soldier, namely Alfons Moser, in broad daylight in the Barbès-Rochechouart metro station in Paris on 21 August 1941. Around the time of the Normandy landings he was the leader of the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (communist armed resistance) for the south of Paris, which is why I gave him this imaginary mission of blowing up the local ammunition depot. He was killed by a landmine near Mulhouse in December 1944, as he prepared to cross the Rhine with the Free French forces. (If you ever go to Paris, there are a square and a metro station named after him.)

    About German antifascists: yes, there was a maquis led and staffed by German antifascists! There were three different ones, as a matter of fact. They merged under the name Maquis Montaigne and operated in Lozère under the leadership of German communist Otto Kühne. This smallish party had to scatter after the SS were about to surround them in La Rivière (Lozère) on 5 June 1944, but they were able to rally and resume their struggle until the final liberation of France.

    There were also many Spanish republicans who participated in the French Resistance, and these drabbles were an opportunity for me to mention them. When I was a student in France, I had a friend whose grandparents were Spanish anarchists who had come to France as refugees after the Spanish Civil War. Even after 50+ years in France they didn’t speak French. They were my inspiration for this drabble. The Etang de Berre is a brackish water lagoon near Marseilles which has been a major industrial area since the 1930s; it features in particular several oil refineries. The British bombers made sure to spare the refineries during the final phase of the war in order to facilitate the reconstruction of France, but I assumed that there would have been nearby fuel depots that were targeted by the Resistance as part of Plan Noir.

    The Maquis Ventoux, based on the mountain of the same name in Provence, was the largest maquis of southern France. It was a target of particular interest for the Gestapo and was indeed scattered and decimated after a major Gestapo operation in the town of Sault on 3 June 1944. However, the surviving maquisards rallied upon hearing the news of the Normandy landings a few days later and resumed operations as early as 8 June. Their occupation of the town of Valréas and subsequent disruption of telecommunications there is a historical fact.

    The Maquis du Vercors was probably the largest French maquis, located on the Vercors plateau, a true natural fortress surrounded by cliffs in the French Prealps, and its history is possibly the most glorious but also most tragic moment in the history of the French Resistance. The 4000 men assembled there blocked all access to the plateau as soon as they received word of the Normandy landings and proclaimed the Free Republic of Vercors as liberated French territory shortly thereafter. Despite massive airdrops of weapons and supplies from the Allies in the following weeks, the maquisards weren’t able to push back the German assault that landed 10,000 men (both German troops and collaborationist French miliciens) on the plateau. There were countless casualties. The town of Vassieux-en-Vercors is one of only 5 cities that was awarded the Ordre de la Libération and hosts a memorial to the fallen.

    There’s a lot more I could write here, but these endnotes are already considerably longer than the drabbles themselves, so I’m going to stop. I’m happy to provide a bibliography for anyone who is interested though!
  20. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    Great use of the seven prompts. I have read a lot about those messages in various books and have been to the beaches and villages in Normandy where our tourleader mentioned some of the messages
  21. Theodore Hawkwood

    Theodore Hawkwood Jedi Master star 2

    Jun 17, 2014
    Excellent use of the prompts and love the expansion to seven and all relating to the Second World War's Normandy landings. I had read about the assorted Resistance activities across Europe through the years, but I like how the drabbles bring them to life here.

    You're clearly someone who's done their homework about the subject matter they're writing about.
  22. Seldes_Katne

    Seldes_Katne Force Ghost star 3

    Mar 18, 2002
    I can 't decide whether I find your drabbles or your endnotes more interesting for this challenge. There's enough information in the drabbles themselves that I could tell what was going on, but the explanations afterwards really brought them to life. In this age of social media, we've seen all kinds of coordinated events, marches and protests, but these folks had none of that and still pulled this multi-pronged response off anyway.

    Thank you for choosing this fascinating topic for this year's Kessel Run challenge.
  23. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Fascinating sentences to convey messages that pinpoint the nature of the sabotage. =D= I chuckled at Aunt Amelia rides a bicycle in shorts. [face_mischief] And the Cow Jumped Over the Moon, so inocuous but it communicates just what is needed. =D=
  24. amidalachick

    amidalachick FFoF Hostess Extraordinaire star 5 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 3, 2003
    These are beautifully written and I'm so glad you gave us seven to read instead of just five. :D But I also have to echo the other commenters who find your endnotes equally as fascinating as the drabbles themselves! Knowing this really happened makes reading these even more special. [face_love]
  25. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing!

    @earlybird-obi-wan Thanks! I think you and I have been on the same tour of the Normandy beaches :) It's really a fascinating place with the ruins of the bunkers and the many military cemeteries; it feels almost odd to think that such a savage war was fought in such an idyllic place.

    @Theodore Hawkwood Thank you and welcome to this thread! I did indeed do quite a bit of homework about this topic, though it actually began in order to answer my nephew's questions, who keeps asking me about everything and anything on the assumption that "Auntie Chyn knows" :p But as I read things to answer him I found myself going down a rabbit hole of research, and what you're reading is the result of that.

    @Seldes_Katne and @amidalachick Thank you both! I'm glad that you find the endnotes useful and interesting. There are moments when I feel a little ridiculous that my endnotes are longer than the stories themselves, but I can't help it, I'm a history nerd and I really feel that all these facets of the history of France around the time of the Normandy landings are fascinating.

    I agree, and that's part of the fascination for me. The landing of the Allied forces is actually a small part of what happened on 6 June 1944; there was this coordinated plan with the Resistance across France that took months and months to set up in the greatest secrecy, and a colossal misinformation campaign to convince the Nazis that the landings were a diversion. I have a list of fic ideas jotted down that I'm hoping to write in the framework of this challenge; so far the prompts helped and I'm hoping things will remain that way...

    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Thank you! I was happy that this prompt gave me a pretext to use more sentences than those included in the movie The Longest Day, because the movie uses only the "serious" sentences. A lot of the BBC messages were actually quite humorous, especially when read in isolation, and "Aunt Amelia rides a bicycle in shorts" is definitely one of my favourites. I'm planning to include a few more of the funniest ones in my long vignette if I don't use them up before then!

    Thanks again to all readers, reviewers and lurkers! Next story coming right up.