Chiune Sugihara (public domain via Wikipedia)
80 Years Ago—July 31, 1940: In Lithuania, Japanese Consul Chiune Sugihara begins writing thousands of visas for Jews to flee through the USSR into Japanese-controlled China.
Japanese navy receives first Mitsubishi A6M Zeros.
75 Years Ago—July 31, 1945: Former head of Vichy French government, Pierre Laval, is sent from Spain to Austria under pressure from France; he is immediately arrested by the Americans and turned over to the French; he will be executed October 15 for collaborating with the Nazis.
Heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis off Tinian, days before she was sunk, circa 26 Jul 1945 (US Naval History & Heritage Command: NH 73655)
80 Years Ago—July 30, 1940: Act of Havana is signed by the US and twenty Latin American countries, agreeing to help any country threatened by the Axis in the Americas.
75 Years Ago—July 30, 1945: After having delivered the atomic bomb to Tinian, heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis is sunk by Japanese sub I-58 off Leyte, and is not missed for days; only 316 of 1199 men will survive the shark-infested waters.
Japanese make final stand in New Guinea, at Numbogua.
Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes
In modern times, Lucy Clairmont and Dash Greene grow up together in England, inseparable friends, united over a love of books and of Lucy’s father’s storytelling. But when they grow up, they grow apart, Dash pursuing a career in forensic astronomy in his native America and Lucy chasing after her late father’s most elusive tale, the story of a traitor and a lost sailing ship.
Two hundred years earlier, Frederick Hanford grows up with privilege but without love, drawn to the daughter of a shepherd – who blames him for her beloved father’s death. When both Frederick and the boy the shepherd’s daughter loves are impressed into the Royal Navy, a deep and unlikely friendship develops, laying the foundation for an act of great sacrifice and love.
Sigh. Some books come along and leave you…dreamy. Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes is such a book. The writing is ethereal, the story wondrous. There’s something magical about the book that pulls you in as stories did when you were little and anything was possible. But the message, the heartbreak, and the depth of the symbolism elevates this above a simple tale. I feel bereft of words and yet overflowing with words, all at the same time. All I can say – read this book.
Cabinet Room in the Churchill War Rooms, London (Photo: Sarah Sundin, 6 Sept 2017)
80 Years Ago—July 29, 1940: Germany annexes Belgian provinces of Eupen, Malmédy, and Moresnet, and bans speaking of French and Flemish in these provinces.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s cabinet meets in the underground Cabinet War Rooms for the first time (now called the Churchill War Rooms).
75 Years Ago—July 29, 1945: Final time a British battleship fires in combat, as HMS King George V bombards Hamamatsu, Honshu, along with other British and US ships.
Wreckage of the B-25 that crashed into the Empire State Building, 28 Jul 1945 (Acme Newspictures, public domain via Wikipedia)
80 Years Ago—July 28, 1940: Road and rail links between Vichy France and Nazi-occupied France are severed.
Stalin, Attlee, Truman, and others at the Potsdam Conference, Germany, 28 Jul 1945 (German Federal Archive, Bild 183-R67561)
75 Years Ago—July 28, 1945: Japanese “choose to ignore” Allied Potsdam Declaration requiring unconditional surrender.
Destroyer USS Callaghan becomes the last Allied ship to be sunk by a kamikaze.
US Senate ratifies United Nations Charter.
A B-25 Mitchell medium bomber crashes into the Empire State Building at the 79th floor in the fog; 19 are killed.
The White Rose by Amanda Barratt
When Anneliese Brandt comes to Munich in 1942, her only purpose is to have one year of relative freedom, studying at the university until she has to marry the man picked out for her by her father, an officer in the SS. Resistance was rare in Nazi Germany and ruthlessly put down, and although Anneliese chafes at the restraints put on her by the Nazi regime, she would never consider resisting.
Then she meets fellow student Sophie Scholl, Sophie’s brother Hans, and their friend Kirk Hoffmann. The circle of friends revolving around the Scholls is different. Kind. Free-thinking. Risk-taking. Kirk and Anneliese are drawn to each other, but Kirk is the son of a pastor in the illegal Confessing Church, and their romance seems doomed.
As Anneliese gets to know these friends, her interest in joining them in doing something against the regime increases. But can they trust her? And dare she take the risk?
The real-life story of the White Rose Resistance Group fascinates many, and with good reason. We all like to believe that we would be as brave and principled as these university students who risked their lives – and many gave their lives – for the sake of truth and freedom. Or would we? Would we choose to stay silent to save our lives, our homes, and the lives of those we love?
The White Rose Resists by Amanda Barratt brings this dilemma to life through the eyes of the real-life members of the White Rose and the fictional eyes of Anneliese and Kirk. Having researched Munich and the University of Munich for my upcoming novel, When Twilight Breaks, I was impressed by the depth and accuracy of the author’s research. However, the intriguing characters and the beautiful writing made an even deeper impression. This novel drew me in and made me ponder. This is not an easy book to read, nor should it be. But it is a good read, a necessary read. And a highly recommended read.
Bristol Beaufighter IF V8318 `F-Freddie’ of RAF No 252 Squadron, Magrun, Libya, April 1943 (Imperial War Museum: TR 903)
80 Years Ago—July 27, 1940: The RAF receives its first Bristol Beaufighter aircraft.
Bugs Bunny makes debut in A Wild Hare in an unnamed role; first uses “What’s up, Doc?”
75 Years Ago—July 27, 1945: Chinese retake Kweilin from Japanese in southeast China.
British Prime Minister Clement Attlee and King George VI of the United Kingdom, Buckingham Palace, London, England, 26 Jul 1945. (Imperial War Museum: HU 59486)
80 Years Ago—July 26, 1940: The League of Nations is disbanded.
Due to continuing Japanese pressure on French Indochina, President Roosevelt invokes the Export Control Act to ban export to Japan of aviation fuel and premium grade iron and steel scrap, and places an embargo on export of petroleum products.
Movie premiere of Pride and Prejudice, starring Lawrence Olivier and Greer Garson.
75 Years Ago—July 26, 1945: In the Potsdam Declaration, the Allies give Japan an ultimatum requiring unconditional surrender.
Heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis delivers “Little Boy” atomic bomb to Tinian.
British parliamentary election results are announced with a Labour Party victory; Prime Minister Winston Churchill resigns, replaced by Clement Attlee.
Civilians at the Gibraltar Evacuee Camp in Jamaica, WWII (United Kingdom government photo)
80 Years Ago—July 25, 1940: Women and children are evacuated from the British territory of Gibraltar.
Over next few days, British convoy CW-8 off Dover is the first to be attacked by the Germans from land, sea, and air.
75 Years Ago—July 25, 1945: US secures Sarangani Bay on Mindanao in the Philippines.
Japanese cruiser Tone under air attack near Kure, Japan, 24 Jul 1945; photo taken by USS Shangri-La aircraft. (US National Archives: 80-G-490147)
80 Years Ago—July 24, 1940: Off Brittany, German torpedo boat S-27 sinks French liner Meknes, which is repatriating French soldiers from Britain to Vichy France (416/1277 killed).
75 Years Ago—July 24, 1945: US Task Force 38 carrier aircraft hit Japanese fleet at Kure, sinking battleship-carrier Hyuga and heavy cruiser Tone.