To celebrate the release of The Sea Before Us, I’m conducting a photo tour of locations from the novel that I saw on my research trip to England and Normandy in September.
London! A beautiful city brimming with millennia of history. When my hero, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton, arrives in London to help with planning for D-day, he’s overwhelmed by the privilege of living in the historic city. On his first day, he and his buddies tour the Westminster area, seeing Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey.
And my heroine, Women’s Royal Naval Service Second Officer Dorothy Fairfax, was born and raised in London. She lives in Kensington and enjoys taking her dog for walks in Kensington Gardens, while her father enjoys feeding the ducks on the Serpentine, the long lake that winds through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. The Peter Pan statue plays a role in the story!
Dorothy serves with Allied Naval Expeditionary Force Headquarters (there’s a mouthful!) at Norfolk House on St. James’s Square in London. Meanwhile, Wyatt serves with the Western Naval Task Force, the American component of the naval force for D-day, at 19 Grosvenor Square in London. Grosvenor Square was called “Little America” during World War II due to the number of American headquarters located there, including Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force, and even the American Red Cross. Today the US embassy is located there.
In early 1944, the Luftwaffe resumed air raids on London in what was called the “Little Blitz.” Wyatt experiences his first air raid, and he takes refuge in an Anderson Shelter in the garden of the Fairfax home. This Anderson Shelter is at the Imperial War Museum Duxford. And since Dorothy serves as a “Wren” in the Women’s Royal Naval Service, I had to include a picture of the Women of World War II monument, which shows outfits and uniforms from the many roles British women played during the war.
Hope to see you tomorrow for my photo tour of historic Southwick House near Portsmouth, where General Dwight Eisenhower made his famous final decision to launch D-day.