b-blog

The Sky Above Us – Tour of the Queen Mary

To celebrate the release of The Sky Above Us, author Sarah Sundin is showing photos from her research trips. Today--the Queen Mary, sister ship of the Queen ElizabethTo celebrate the release of The Sky Above Us, I’m conducting a photo tour of locations from the novel that I saw on my research trip to England and Normandy.

London!

D-day in the Air

Duxford Air Museum

Today—the Queen Mary (sister ship of the Queen Elizabeth)

Don’t forget to enter The Sky Above Us Release Day Giveaway, which includes lots of items I picked up on the trip! Giveaway runs Feb. 5-12, 2019.

In The Sky Above Us, American Red Cross worker Violet Lindstrom and US fighter pilot Adler Paxton meet while waiting to board the troopship HMT Queen Elizabeth, and they get to know each other—a bit!—on board.

The Queen Elizabeth is no longer with us—the ship caught fire in 1972 and was scrapped, but the Queen Mary is a popular tourist spot in Long Beach, CA. I toured the Queen Mary while researching this book. In addition to the self-guided tour, we took the “Glory Days” docent-guided tour focused on the history of the ship, which was exceptional! Today I’ll share some history of the “Queens” as well as photos from my tour of the Queen Mary.

The RMS Queen Mary took her maiden voyage on May 27, 1936 with Cunard Lines. Passengers were able to cross the Atlantic in luxury in a matter of days—the record was in 3 days & 20 hours, a record that stood until 1952! Her sister ship the RMS Queen Elizabeth was launched on Sept. 27, 1938. She was eleven feet longer, and with one fewer funnel, accommodated more passengers.

RMS Queen Elizabeth in New York City after World War II (public domain via State Library of Queensland)

RMS Queen Elizabeth in New York City after World War II (public domain via State Library of Queensland)

When World War II broke out on Sept. 1, 1939, the Queen Mary was en route from England to New York—passengers included movie star Bob Hope. On September 2, the ship’s portholes were painted black for blackout conditions, and the ocean liner arrived safely in New York City on Sept. 4.

The fitting-out process of the Queen Elizabeth was halted, and she didn’t receive her luxurious trappings until after the war. On March 21, 1940, she sailed to New York in great secrecy—including a ruse that she was en route to Southampton. The German Luftwaffe bombed Southampton that evening, believing the deception.

"Queen Elizabeth Comes Up The Clyde," US Army painting by Byron Thomas, depicting troopship HMT Queen Elizabeth bringing US troops to England during WWII (US Army Center of Military History)

“Queen Elizabeth Comes Up The Clyde,” US Army painting by Byron Thomas, depicting troopship HMT Queen Elizabeth bringing US troops to England during WWII (US Army Center of Military History)

For several months, the two Queens, as well as French ocean liner Normandie, sat idle in New York. Britain requisitioned the two Queens and sent them to Australia and Singapore for refitting as troopships, and within a year, both were carrying large quantities of troops in decidedly un-luxurious settings. HMT (His Majesty’s Troopship) Queen Mary and HMT Queen Elizabeth each transported over 750,000 troops overseas during the war. With their high speeds (up to 30 knots), they were able to travel without warship escorts, because enemy submarines weren’t able to catch them. After the war, both transported servicemen—and war brides—back to the US and Canada.

British troopship HMT Queen Mary returning US troops from Europe, New York, NY, 20 June 1945 (US National Archives)

British troopship HMT Queen Mary returning US troops from Europe, New York, NY, 20 June 1945 (US National Archives)

Shall we visit? When arriving at the dock in Long Beach, one is first impressed with the sheer size and beauty of the Queen Mary. Today she is stunning in her red-and-black paint, but during the war, she was painted in gray for camouflage—nicknamed “The Gray Ghost.”

Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

The bow of the Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

The bow of the Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Queen Mary – and three of the men in my life – my oldest son, my father, and my husband, Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Shall we board? As we board the ship, we can see the set-up of the decks. On the bow, the size of the anchor chain reminds us how very big this ship is. The ship also retains a 40-mm Bofors gun, which could be used to drive away enemy aircraft.

Boarding the Queen Mary - the sun deck (under the lifeboats), the promenade deck (rectangular windows), and main deck (round portholes).

Boarding the Queen Mary – the sun deck (under the lifeboats), the promenade deck (rectangular windows), and main deck (round portholes).

Sarah Sundin on the Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Sarah Sundin on the bow of the Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Anchor chain of the Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Anchor chain of the Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Looking down on the bow of the Queen Mary and the WWII-era 40-mm Bofors antiaircraft gun. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Looking down on the bow of the Queen Mary and the WWII-era 40-mm Bofors antiaircraft gun. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Let’s tour the decks, from the top down! The sundeck was open to the fresh air—which was very bracing in the North Atlantic. Next down was the promenade deck, which was covered. Both of these decks are amidships, which was “officers’ country” during the war. When enlisted men wanted fresh air, they were restricted to the main deck fore and aft. On boarding, each person received a colored card stating which section of the ship they were assigned to—and which shift for eating at the mess.

Sun deck and lifeboats, Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Sun deck and lifeboats, Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Sun deck of the Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Sun deck of the Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Promenade deck of the Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Promenade deck of the Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Promenade deck of the Queen Mary, stairs up to the sun deck. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Promenade deck of the Queen Mary, stairs up to the sun deck – and my mother and oldest son. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Looking down on the main deck at the stern of the Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Looking down on the main deck at the stern of the Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

The main deck at the stern of the Queen Mary and the stairs to the promenade deck. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

The main deck at the stern of the Queen Mary and the stairs to the promenade deck. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Shall we go inside out of the icy air? Brr. Currently the Queen Mary is fitted out in her postwar ocean liner finery. The opulence of the Royal Salon, the Observation Bar, the stairways, and the passageways by the staterooms give us a taste of what travel was like during the golden age of travel.

Royal Salon in the Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Royal Salon in the Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Observation Bar in the Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Observation Bar in the Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Staircase in the Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Staircase in the Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Passageway and staterooms, main deck, Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Passageway and staterooms, main deck, Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Staterooms, main deck, Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Staterooms, main deck, Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

However, during the war, conditions were far less swanky. The Queens routinely carried 15,000 passengers and crew, with a historical record of 16,683 passengers in July 1943 on the Queen Mary. The fancy salons—and even the emptied swimming pool—were filled with cots in tiers three to seven cots high. Stories of the troopship crossings describe rough seas, unpleasant British cooking, and crowded conditions. The presence of signs as shown below reminded the troops that, despite the high speed, dangers remained. With lifeboat space for only 8000 passengers, these reminders were sobering.

World War II berthing on display at the Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

World War II berthing on display at the Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

World War II era signals sign on the Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

World War II era signals sign on the Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

World War II warning sign on the Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

World War II warning sign on the Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA, June 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

During World War II, the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth served the Allies as faithfully as any warship, carrying US and Canadian servicemen to England for D-day and beyond. I hope you have the opportunity to visit the Queen Mary and imagine what life was like, both for the first-class passengers and for the crowded troops.

Thank you for joining me! I hope you’ve enjoyed the photographs, the history behind them, and the connection to The Sky Above Us. If you missed the photo tour for The Sea Before Us (2018), come see pictures of London, Southwick House, “D-Day at Sea,” and Omaha Beach. When The Land Beneath Us releases in early 2020, I’ll share the photos from England, Normandy, and Tennessee related to that story.

Today in World War II History—Feb. 9, 1944

Ruins of Aprilia, Italy, WWII (US National Archives)

Ruins of Aprilia, Italy, WWII (US National Archives)

75 Years Ago—Feb. 9, 1944: In counterattack at Anzio, Italy, Germans retake Aprilia (“the Factory”).

The Sky Above Us – Tour of Duxford Air Museum

To celebrate the release of The Sky Above Us, author Sarah Sundin is showing photos from her research trip to England and Normandy. Today - Imperial War Museum, Duxford

To celebrate the release of The Sky Above Us, author Sarah Sundin is showing photos from her research trip to England and Normandy. Today – Imperial War Museum, Duxford

To celebrate the release of The Sky Above Us, I’m conducting a photo tour of locations from the novel that I saw on my research trip to England and Normandy.

London!

D-day in the Air

Today—Duxford Air Museum

The Queen Mary (sister ship of the Queen Elizabeth)

Don’t forget to enter The Sky Above Us Release Day Giveaway, which includes lots of items I picked up on the trip! Giveaway runs Feb. 5-12, 2019.

In The Sky Above Us, Adler Paxton flies his P-51 Mustang with the 357th Fighter Group based at Leiston Army Airfield in Leiston, England. Today we’re visiting the air museum at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, England. Built in 1917, Duxford Airfield served as a sector station for RAF Number 12 Group of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, and in April 1943 it was passed to the 78th Fighter Group of the US Eighth Air Force, which flew P-47 Thunderbolts and later P-51 Mustangs.

Today Duxford is the home of a complex of excellent museums—from general aviation to the Battle of Britain to the American Air Museum. You can watch restoration in process, and when weather permits, the historic aircraft take to the air.

The Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

The Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Interior of the Airspace Museum, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Interior of the Airspace Museum, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Many of the airfield’s original structures remain or have been restored. Here are pictures of the control tower, the operations room (which is set up as it was during the Battle of Britain in 1940-41), and the corrugated tin Nissen huts. Since Duxford was a permanent airfield, the airmen were housed in heated brick barracks, far more luxurious than the coal-stove-heated temporary Nissen huts used at other US Eighth and Ninth Air Force air bases.

Control Tower at Duxford Airfield, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Control Tower at Duxford Airfield, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Operations room at Duxford Airfield, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Operations room at Duxford Airfield, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Nissen huts at Duxford Airfield, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Nissen huts at Duxford Airfield, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

The Battle of Britain museum houses the RAF Hurricanes and Spitfires that won that pivotal battle, a German Messerschmitt Me 109, as well as an antiaircraft gun and searchlight that were so crucial in defending the British airfields from the Luftwaffe.

Hurricane fighter, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Hurricane fighter, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

RAF Spitfire, Imperial War Musuem, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

RAF Spitfire, Imperial War Musuem, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

German Messerschmitt Me 109 fighter, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

German Messerschmitt Me 109 fighter, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

RAF antiaircraft gun, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

RAF antiaircraft gun, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

RAF searchlight, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

RAF searchlight, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Duxford also commemorates the Yanks who invaded the island, with an excellent exhibit in the American Air Museum and loving restorations of B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B and several P-51 Mustangs. Of course, I was thrilled to see two P-51s with the red-and-yellow checked markings of the 357th Fighter Group. They also have on display a “paper” drop tank (actually a paper-plastic composition). These extraordinarily lightweight tanks carried 108 gallons under the Mustang’s wings, could be easily dropped if the fighter needed to engage the enemy, and they extended the range of the P-51 to reach any location in Germany. One of the many reasons the P-51 is—arguably—the best fighter aircraft of World War II.

B-17 Flying Fortress “Sally B” (also painted as the “Memphis Belle” on one side), Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

B-17 Flying Fortress “Sally B” (also painted as the “Memphis Belle” on one side), Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

US P-51 Mustang, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

US P-51 Mustang, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

P-51 Mustangs "Frenesi" and "Berlin Express" in markings of US 357th Fighter Group, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

P-51 Mustangs “Frenesi” and “Berlin Express” in markings of US 357th Fighter Group, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Just for fun…here are some short video clips I took of B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B and an RAF Spitfire in flight! What a treat it was to see this beautiful planes flying in England!

Please join me tomorrow for a tour of the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, the sister ship of the Queen Elizabeth, which transported both Adler and Violet from New York to England.

Today in World War II History—Feb. 8, 1944

Soviet artillerymen firing at German fortifications, Nikopol, Jan 1944 (Photo: mil.ru Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation)

Soviet artillerymen firing at German fortifications, Nikopol, Jan 1944 (Photo: mil.ru Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation)

75 Years Ago—Feb. 8, 1944: In counterattack at Anzio, Italy, Germans retake Carroceto and secure Buonriposo Ridge.

Soviets take important manganese center of Nikopol in Ukraine.

The Sky Above Us – Tour: D-Day in the Air

Celebrating the release of The Sky Above Us! Today I’m featuring historical photos plus photos from my research trip to England and Normandy that relate to the aerial aspect of D-day.To celebrate the release of The Sky Above Us, I’m conducting a photo tour of locations from the novel that I saw on my research trip to England and Normandy.

London!

Today—D-day in the Air

Duxford Air Museum

The Queen Mary (sister ship of the Queen Elizabeth)

Don’t forget to enter The Sky Above Us Release Day Giveaway, which includes lots of items I picked up on the trip! Giveaway runs Feb. 5-12, 2019.

US poster featuring the North American P-51B Mustang, WWII

US poster featuring the North American P-51B Mustang, WWII

In The Sky Above Us, US fighter pilot Lt. Adler Paxton flies a P-51 Mustang in treacherous dogfights with the German Luftwaffe as the Allies battle for air superiority in the days leading up to D-day. Then on D-day, he flies over the landing beaches in Normandy. Today I’m featuring photos from my research trip to England and Normandy that relate to the aerial aspect of D-day.

D-day, Operation Overlord, is one of the most pivotal events of World War II and modern history. For four years, Hitler’s Nazi Germany had occupied most of Europe. During that time period, the Allies slowly regained strength and weaponry. On June 6, 1944, 156,000 British, Canadian, American, Free French, and other Allied troops invaded northern France in Normandy, supported by almost 200,000 Allied naval personnel, while 11,000 aircraft flew overhead.

Allied aerial operations on D-day were complicated, but largely successful, with notable exceptions. The transport planes dropped paratroopers. The bombers targeted German transportation, communications, and strongpoints. And the fighters covered the invasion area, strafed ground targets, and kept the Luftwaffe away from Allied troops.

Map of the Allied air plan for the landings in Normandy, 6 June 1944. (From Saunders, Hilary St. George. Royal Air Force 1939-1945, Volume III: The Fight Is Won. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1954. Public domain via Hyperwar website).

Map of the Allied air plan for the landings in Normandy, 6 June 1944. (From Saunders, Hilary St. George. Royal Air Force 1939-1945, Volume III: The Fight Is Won. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1954. Public domain via Hyperwar website).

Map of the US Eighth Air Force plan for 6 June 1944 (From Sunday Punch in Normandy: The Tactical Use of Heavy Bombardment in the Normandy Invasion. Washington, DC: Center for Air Force History, 1992 (new imprint). Public domain via Hyperwar website)

Map of the US Eighth Air Force plan for 6 June 1944 (From Sunday Punch in Normandy: The Tactical Use of Heavy Bombardment in the Normandy Invasion. Washington, DC: Center for Air Force History, 1992 (new imprint). Public domain via Hyperwar website)

Map of Allied aerial operations from March-August 1944, Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, Colleville-sur-Mer, France, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Map of Allied aerial operations from March-August 1944, Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, Colleville-sur-Mer, France, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

The first planes aloft were transport aircraft and gliders carrying the paratroopers of the British 6th Airborne Division and the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. Over 1400 US C-47s, C-53s, and gliders, and 364 RAF Dakotas, Albemarles, and gliders participated. The paratroopers secured crucial bridges and gun batteries and towns and generally confused the Germans before the landings. The landings in the British sector went extraordinarily well, but low clouds and heavy antiaircraft fire caused chaos in the American landings. Despite being scattered and mixed, the paratroopers showed incredible ingenuity and courage and fought where they landed.

US C-47 Skytrain and representations of Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and US paratroopers at the Airborne Museum, Sainte-Mère-Église, France, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

US C-47 Skytrain and representations of Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and US paratroopers at the Airborne Museum, Sainte-Mère-Église, France, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Waco glider (2 photos superimposed) at the Airborne Museum, Sainte-Mère-Église, France, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Waco glider (2 photos superimposed) at the Airborne Museum, Sainte-Mère-Église, France, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Church of Sainte-Mère-Église, France, where US paratroopers landed on D-day. (Photo: September 2017, Sarah Sundin)

Church of Sainte-Mère-Église, France, where US paratroopers landed on D-day. (Photo: September 2017, Sarah Sundin)

Close-up of church of Sainte-Mère-Église, France, showing memorial to paratrooper John Steele of the US 505th PIR, whose parachute caught on the steeple. He was taken prisoner by the Germans, but later escaped to fight again. (Photo: September 2017, Sarah Sundin)

Close-up of church of Sainte-Mère-Église, France, showing memorial to paratrooper John Steele of the US 505th PIR, whose parachute caught on the steeple. He was taken prisoner by the Germans, but later escaped to fight again. (Photo: September 2017, Sarah Sundin)

Memorial window for US paratroopers in church of Sainte-Mère-Église, France. (Photo: September 2017, David Sundin)

Memorial window for US paratroopers in church of Sainte-Mère-Église, France. (Photo: September 2017, David Sundin)

On the night of June 5-6, 1136 heavy bombers of the British Royal Air Force hit ten Nazi gun batteries on the coast of France. Later analysis showed the reinforced concrete gun casemates were not destroyed; however, damage to supplies and rattling of the crews did impede German activity during the landings.

During the day, the bombers of RAF Coastal Command guarded the English Channel to prevent German submarines and surface craft from reaching the fleet.

At first light on D-day, the B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators of the US Eighth Air Force targeted German strongpoints behind the beaches as well as the beaches themselves. Due to low clouds, they had to use blind radar bombing. To avoid short bombing, in which they might have hit the landing craft speeding toward shore, they delayed bomb release. As a result, German defenses on the beaches, particularly at Omaha, were undamaged, and the GIs didn’t have the craters they’d been promised for hiding. However, the bombs falling farther inland probably hindered German reinforcement.

B-17 Flying Fortress “Sally B” (also painted as the “Memphis Belle” on one side), Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

B-17 Flying Fortress “Sally B” (also painted as the “Memphis Belle” on one side), Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

The medium bombers of the US Ninth Air Force did phenomenal work on Utah Beach. In an incredibly dangerous low-level run, 293 B-26 Marauders blasted the beach, damaging fortifications and leaving plenty of protective craters.

More medium and light bombers and fighter-bombers of the US Ninth Air Force and the RAF 2nd Tactical Air Force hit vital German road, rail, and bridge targets, making communication and reinforcement impossible.

B-26 Marauder “Dinah Might,” Utah Beach D-Day Museum, Sainte Marie du Mont, France, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

B-26 Marauder “Dinah Might,” Utah Beach D-Day Museum, Sainte Marie du Mont, France, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Over 4000 fighters of the US Eighth and Ninth Air Forces, plus thousands of RAF fighters flew on that day. US P-38 Lightnings were chosen to cover the shipping lanes. Their unique twin-boomed silhouette was easily recognizable and less likely to be shot down by trigger-happy Allied sailors and soldiers. RAF Spitfires flew cover high above the landing beaches, and US P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs, both of which had longer range than the Spitfire, maintained a defensive perimeter in a broad semicircle around the invasion area. Later in the morning and throughout the day, US and RAF fighters strafed German road, rail, and bridge targets.

RAF Spitfire, Imperial War Musuem, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

RAF Spitfire, Imperial War Musuem, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

US P-51 Mustang, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

US P-51 Mustang, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

What didn’t happen on D-day is particularly notable. The German Air Force was essentially absent. This was due to months of the Allied pre-invasion campaign, which sought to destroy the Luftwaffe in the air, on the ground, and in the factory—and to bomb German airfields in the weeks prior to the landings. Indeed, the Luftwaffe only managed to fly 319 sorties in the entire Normandy region that day, with only a single strafing run over the landing beaches by two particularly brave Focke-Wulf Fw 190s. We can only imagine what might have happened if the Allies had not obtained air superiority.

Please join me tomorrow when we’ll tour the Imperial War Museum’s air museum at Duxford, England.

Today in World War II History—Feb. 7, 1944

US 56th Evacuation Hospital after an air raid, 1944 (US Army Medical Department)

US 56th Evacuation Hospital after a similar air raid, 1944 (US Army Medical Department)

75 Years Ago—Feb. 7, 1944: US secures Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

At Anzio, Italy, US 95th Evacuation Hospital is accidentally bombed when a German fighter pilot jettisons bombs under Allied fighter attack; 28 hospital personnel and patients are killed, including 3 nurses and the first female American Red Cross worker to be killed in action in WWII; the German pilot is shot down and treated in the same hospital.

John Hersey’s best-selling novel A Bell for Adano is published; it will win the Pulitzer Prize.

The Sky Above Us – Tour of London

To celebrate the release of The Sky Above Us, author Sarah Sundin is conducting a photo tour of locations from the novel from her research trip to England and Normandy. Today - London!To celebrate the release of The Sky Above Us, I’m conducting a photo tour of locations from the novel that I saw on my research trip to England and Normandy.

Today—London!

D-day in the Air

Duxford Air Museum

The Queen Mary (sister ship of the Queen Elizabeth)

Don’t forget to enter The Sky Above Us Release Day Giveaway, which includes items I picked up on the trip! Giveaway runs Feb. 5-12, 2019.

London! A beautiful city brimming with millennia of history. When my heroine, Violet Lindstrom, arrives in England in December 1943, she and her fellow American Red Cross workers see the sights! As a small-town girl, Violet is a bit overwhelmed by the big city, but she enjoys seeing Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben before they report to American Red Cross Headquarters at Grosvenor Square. To see photos of these famous London sights—as well as Grosvenor Square—please see my photo tour from The Sea Before Us.

Violet and her friends also see Buckingham Palace and famous Harrod’s Department Store!

Buckingham Palace, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Buckingham Palace, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Gate at Buckingham Palace, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Gate at Buckingham Palace, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Harrod's, London, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Harrod’s, London, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

US fighter pilot Lt. Adler Paxton visits London on Easter Sunday 1944. There he worships at Westminster Abbey and sees the same sights Violet saw, as well as Horse Guards, St. James’s Park, and the Tower Bridge.

Horse Guards, London, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Horse Guards, London, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Mounted trooper of the Household Cavalry, Horse Guards, London, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Mounted trooper of the Household Cavalry, Horse Guards, London, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Sarah Sundin and her children in St. James's Park, London, July 2009 (Photo: David Sundin)

Sarah Sundin and her children in St. James’s Park, London, July 2009 (Photo: David Sundin)

Tower Bridge, London, July 2009 (Photo: David Sundin)

Tower Bridge, London, July 2009 (Photo: David Sundin)

Adler and his buddies from his fighter squadron enjoy a stroll through Hyde Park that Easter Sunday. However, Adler isn’t prepared to see a face from his past…

Hyde Park, London, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Hyde Park, London, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Bandstand in Hyde Park, London, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Bandstand in Hyde Park, London, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Bandstand in Hyde Park, London, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Bandstand in Hyde Park, London, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Birds on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, London, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Birds on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, London, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Where paths intersect in Hyde Park...where lives intersect in The Sky Above Us (Photo: London, September 2017, Sarah Sundin)

Where paths intersect in Hyde Park…where lives intersect in The Sky Above Us (Photo: London, September 2017, Sarah Sundin)

Hope to see you tomorrow for “D-Day in the Air.” We’ll see sights pertaining to the aerial aspect of D-day.

Today in World War II History—Feb. 6, 1944

P-47 Thunderbolt piloted by Capt. Raymond Walsh of the US 406th Fighter Group is silhouetted against the exploding ammunition truck he just strafed, France, 23 Jun 1944 (US National Archives)

P-47 Thunderbolt piloted by Capt. Raymond Walsh of the US 406th Fighter Group is silhouetted against the exploding ammunition truck he just strafed, France, 23 Jun 1944 (US National Archives)

75 Years Ago—Feb. 6, 1944: Soviets make major breakthrough in Ukraine and reach the Dnieper River near Nikopol.

US Eighth Air Force sends out its first fighter aircraft ground strafing mission.

The Sky Above Us Release Day Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of The Sky Above Us, I’m giving away a prize pack of items I picked up in England and Normandy on my research trip! Come join me on Facebook Live Video on February 5, 2019 at 10 am PST/1 pm EST where I’ll describe the items and their significance to the story! The video will be available for viewing afterward as well.

Please join me here on my blog throughout this week for a photo tour from my research trip to England and Normandy!

To help you get “In the Mood” for the story, I’m giving away a package including:

  • Mini die-cast model of a P-51B Mustang!
  • Sand I collected from Omaha Beach, in a commemorative jar
  • Aviation-themed postcards from the Imperial War Museum
  • Tote bag from Imperial War Museum, Duxford
  • London souvenir tea towel
  • WWII poster playing cards
  • Commemorative D-day pen
  • “Yanks replica pack” from the Imperial War Museum, with replicas of Red Cross leaflets, “A Short Guide to Great Britain,” General Eisenhower’s D-day address, Yank Magazine, and even jitterbug instructions!
  • The Sky Above Us key chain

The giveaway is open February 5-12, 2019. US mailing addresses only please. The winner will be announced here on my blog on February 13, 2019 and will be notified by email.

Enter below with the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Today in World War II History—Feb. 5, 1944

Submarine USS U-3008 (former German sub U-3008) with snorkel raised. (US Navy photo)

Submarine USS U-3008 (former German sub U-3008) with snorkel raised. (US Navy photo)

75 Years Ago—Feb. 5, 1944: Germans deploy the first U-boat with a “Schnorchel” to increase time a submarine could stay submerged.

Colossus Computer at Bletchley Park in England is first used to decode German messages.

New songs in Top Ten: “Besame Mucho” and “Mairzy Doats.”

Movie premiere of first of 15-part Captain America serial, the first theatrical release featuring a Marvel character, starring Dick Purcell & Lorna Gray.