Spies and Subterfuge: Ben Macintyre’s OPERATION MINCEMEAT

spy guy craig whitehead
Image courtesy of Craig Whitehead, Unsplash.com

I’ve always believed in the importance of being honest with my husband. However, when it came to James Bond movies, honesty got me more than I bargained for.

My husband and I usually enjoy the same types of books and movies, so my dislike of the tuxedo-clad super spy took him by surprise.

“Well, which Bond movies have you seen?” he asked. I listed them, and he nodded, looking relieved. “Ooooh, you’ve seen the worst ones.”

His solution?

We watched ALL 25 OF THEM. (This count includes the “unofficial” Bond movie starring Sean Connery, Never Say Never Again.) 

There were a few bumps in the road. For instance ‘someone’ kept falling asleep at the end of Moonraker, so we had to repeat that final space fight over and over…and over. But, while I didn’t run out to buy any action figures when we finished, I had to admit that the franchise includes some entertaining movies. The hubby might even get me to watch most of them (not Moonraker!) again with minimal coercion.

do still have a hard time taking the stories seriously when they include things like inflatable gondolas, invisible cars, and Mary Goodnight serving in ‘Intelligence’ – it’s all just a bit far-fetched.

Then again, true spy stories of the past are nearly as improbable.


Ben Macintyre’s Operation Mincemeat details a bit of World War 2 espionage worthy of a Bond film. (Fitting, as one of the plan’s originators was Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming.)

In 1943 the Allies had defeated Rommel’s Afrika Korps in North Africa, but the Axis still controlled Europe. The Allies already had plans for the “D-Day” invasions of France, but they needed more troops, time and materiel. They would not be ready for another year.

In the meantime, British and American leaders decided to target the island of Sicily. Taking Sicily would give the Allies free run of the Mediterranean and a stepping-stone into Italy.

Unfortunately, Sicily was an obvious target.

It fell to British Intellegence to convince the Axis that the Allied troops massed opposite Sicily weren’t actually going to invade the island, but were heading for Greece and Sardinia instead.

If they could manage this, the Germans would reinforce the wrong places, leaving Sicily vulnerable. If they failed, Sicily could be built up into a stronghold that would shatter the British and American invaders.

No pressure.

The job fell to RAF flight lieutenant Charles Christopher Cholmondeley (pronounced Chumly) who worked for MI5, and acting Lt. Cmd. Ewen Montagu, a former barrister working in Special Intelligence.

They planned to deliver sensitive documents “accidentally” via the drowned body of Major William Martin, floated ashore near the Spanish home of a well-known German spy.

The trick was, Major William Martin didn’t exist, nor did the sensitive documents.

Cholmondeley and Montagu needed to acquire a suitable body, create a history for him, generate documents for him to carry, and then find a way to transport him to the Spanish coast without the Axis powers discovering the plan…all while keeping him ‘fresh’ enough to be convincing as a recent crash victim.

This plan, Operation Mincemeat, required an eclectic team of medical men, drivers, scientists, spies and submariners. Macintyre’s sketches of the real-life characters are fascinating.

Of course, even the most elaborate deception might not make it past the suspicious eyes of the German Abwehr officers. Macintyre introduces the major players on the German side, and how greed and eagerness to produce results may have colored their acceptance of “Major Martin’s” intelligence. One name that caught my eye was Lt. Col. Alexis Baron von Roenne. Von Roenne was Hitler’s top Intelligence analyst. He was also a Christian and anti-Nazi conspirator. Von Roenne passed along the Mincemeat papers, vouching for their authenticity, though he likely realized that they were fakes.*

As I don’t want to give away the entire story to those who might be interested in the book, I’ll close by saying that Macintyre’s research and detail are excellent, and his prose generally easy to read. If you enjoy a good spy story (even one with no inflating gondolas) Operation Mincemeat is an interesting look at the ins and outs of espionage, and a unique slice of history. **

Many thanks for visiting!

spies David Sinclare
Image courtesy of David Sinclair, Unsplash.com

*I did a little extra research into Alexis von Roenne. He not only (likely) helped conceal Operation Mincemeat, but consistently changed numbers of Allied troops in his reports. His false reports helped Allied Intelligence as they prepared for the Normandy landings, bolstering Hitler’s belief that the landings would be at Pas de Calais. In the end, von Roenne was arrested, tried and killed, not for his actual subterfuge, but for being friends with the conspirators who attempted to assassinate Hitler. When given a chance to defend himself at his sham of a trial, he “simply declared that Nazi race policies were inconsistent with Christian values.” (Macintyre pg. 235)

**Ewen Montagu also published his account of this story, The Man Who Never Was, in 1953. It was made into a film in 1956, in which Montagu played an air vice marshal, with another actor playing him. 






“Pull In Your Ears!” U.S. Troops in Great Britain, 1942

Off Duty picture Locals and United States troops meet at the Dove Inn, Burton Bradstock, Dorset, 1944.
“Off Duty: Locals and United States troops meet at the Dove Inn, Burton Bradstock, Dorset, 1944.” Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum: https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205193597

December 7th, 1941 changed everything for the American people.

The Japanese surprise attacks on targets including Pearl Harbor ended the United States’ neutrality.

Isolationist voices stilled. Military enlistment skyrocketed. The people of the United States clamored for action.

The leaders of the US were ready to comply, but with the Second World War raging on many fronts, where should they begin?

President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met to discuss the order of the war. They concluded that winning the war against Germany would leave Japan overextended, while defeating Japan would not necessarily weaken Germany.

They also believed that holding off on full-scale war in the Pacific could work to the Allies’ advantage.

Churchill noted “The Japanese have naval superiority…The Allies will not have for some time the power to fight a general fleet engagement.” (Churchill 652)

Given time, the Allied fleets would grow stronger while Japan would “be compelled to nourish all his conquests and kept extended, and kept burning up his resources.” (Churchill 652)

Churchill had high hopes for North African gains under General Auchinleck while masses of Hitler’s armies were occupied, facing the Eastern winter and the stubborn Russian resistance.

The decision was made.

American, British and Free French troops would retake North Africa in 1942. A large-scale Allied invasion of Europe would take place in 1943. (Well, that was the initial plan. Reality intervened…but we’ll get to that another time.)

The first US troops came to Great Britain in January of 1942.

They came, armed for war, but also armed with information.ww2 guide bookWhile Britain and the US theoretically share the same language and some of the same roots, the military felt it expedient to produce a handy guidebook for its troops. (After all, there was no way for them to sneakily Google what a Briton meant when he said he was “chuffed” to see them. Not that I’ve ever had to do that. As far as you know.)

Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain 1942 is an interesting snapshot of the time. They’ve reprinted it, so you can get your own copy on Amazon. Brian from Hardscrabble Farm was kind enough to let me share a few quotes from the copy he has on his site.

The US troops were reminded, first and foremost, that they were Britain’s guests, and ought to behave as such.

“If somebody looks in your direction and says, “he’s chucking his weight about,” you can be pretty sure you’re off base.  That’s the time to pull in your ears.”

(Speaking of communication difficulties, how about that 1940s US slang? Consider my ears pulled in.)

” You can rub a Britisher the wrong way by telling him “we came over and won the last one.” “


“…remember that crossing the ocean doesn’t automatically make you a hero. There are housewives in aprons and youngsters in knee pants in Britain who have lived through more high explosives in air raids than many soldiers saw in first class barrages in the last war.”

The book also noted some important differences in culture and in attitudes.

“Be careful not to criticize the King… Today’s King and Queen stuck with the people through the blitzes and had their home bombed just like anyone else, and the people are proud of them.”

“If British civilians look dowdy and badly dressed, it is not because they do not like good clothes or know how to wear them. All clothing is rationed and the British know that they help war production by wearing an old suit or dress until it cannot be patched any longer.  Old clothes are “good form.” “

And of course, in any travel there is the question of food and drink- will it be like home?

“The British don’t know how to make a good cup of coffee. You don’t know how to make a good cup of tea. It’s an even swap.”

If you have about 40 minutes, Burgess Meredith (who I will always remember as “The Penguin” from the old Adam West Batman program- POW! WHACK!) was featured giving similar advice in How to Behave in Britain. (See the link below.)

How to Behave in Britain expands on the themes from the original booklet, using humor and some really good examples of really bad behavior. (If you end up watching it, all I can say is, I hope no one actually behaved like Meredith pretended to over dinner!)

The film also addresses the fact that, while the United States was still deep in the grip of racial segregation, Britain was not. How were troops of different races to regard each other? The film’s brief interview with a US general had some positive things to say, as far as it went. “We’re all here as soldiers. Everything we do, we do as American soldiers. It’s not a bad time to learn to respect each other.”  No, it’s never a bad time to learn that lesson, and it’s a lesson still worth remembering today.

The shared closing lines of book and film sum up nicely.

“It is always impolite to criticize your hosts;

It is militarily stupid to criticize your allies”

Many thanks to Mike at “A Bit about Britain” (http://bitaboutbritain.com/) for suggesting this topic! His site is an excellent resource to learn about Great Britain through its landmarks and history, and his humor makes the lessons anything but dull!

Thanks for visiting!


Note: All Winston Churchill quotes and background information on his and FDR’s planning comes from The Grand Alliance, the third volume of Churchill’s memoirs of the Second World War, copyright 1950 by Houghton Mifflin Co.



Better Beta Readings

Photo courtesy of Alejandro Escamilla, unsplash.com. No, that’s not my desk. I WISH my workspace was that neat. And that it had coffee… Sorry! Focusing on the blog…

It never fails to surprise me when, in spite of my best efforts, typos slip into my writing.

I proofread my blog posts until my eyes won’t focus. I’ve proofread my longer pieces until I can’t stand to look at them any more.

Perfection still eludes me.

And that is where a good beta reader becomes invaluable.

A beta reader is a second set of eyes- someone who will look over my work and assist in the editing process.

Before I knew what a ‘beta reader’ was, I beta read for a friend’s self-published book. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I had no idea what I was doing.

The teacher in me knew how to correct a student’s paper.

Critiquing the work of an adult peer, especially without the benefit of a hard copy and my trusty red pen, was a different matter.

Since then I’ve worked with several beta readers on my novel and shorter pieces, and served as beta reader for several friends.

The following are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

Cookies Work for Adults, Too. 

The “Oreo Cookie” method of peer critiquing is a trick I gleaned from some-where-or-other and used with elementary school students. (No, it doesn’t involve bribing beta readers with cookies, though that’s really not a bad idea.)

This method gave students a simple framework for their Creative Writing peer critiques.

  1. Tell something that you liked about the piece.
  2. Give a suggestion for improvements. (The cream filling :))
  3. Tell something different that you liked about the piece.

Of course I wouldn’t follow this exact pattern when beta reading for an adult, but I feel that it is important to remember to offer encouragement along with constructive criticism.

The best critiques I’ve received highlighted both the things I did well and the things I needed to work on.

Wait, Which Paragraph on Which Page?

As I mentioned above, my first run as a beta reader was likely not very helpful.

My friend’s book had some punctuation and grammatical errors. I responded with a loooooong email listing page and paragraph numbers.

I can’t imagine how tedious it would have been for her to use that list, if she even did!

My methods have improved. When I receive a document for beta reading, I do all of my editing in the document.  I just use the highlight function to draw the writer’s eye to errors or questions, and make any notes in red.  My friends who read for me do the same.

Everything is clear, everything is easy to find, and corrections are just a few clicks away.

Why make the writing process more complicated?

You Hate It, Don’t You?!

Writing is personal. It is hard not to take criticism, even the very kindest constructive criticism, as a personal slight.

However, if a beta reader doesn’t give any constructive criticism, they also can’t give any help.

I’ve learned to want my beta readers to find something to improve. When I’m the reader, I’ve become bolder in offering suggestions.

Choosing the right wording to offer suggestions can be nerve-wracking. Some of the tips from my Interpersonal Communication class come in handy, for instance using specific “I” statements when I give my thoughts.

Example: I really feel that your protagonist turning out to be an alien disguised as a dog is a bit confusing.”

Versus: “The end of your story makes no sense.”

It’s also worth remembering that a beta reader’s opinion is just that- an opinion. While it can be uncomfortable to have someone’s opinion contradict my own, it allows me to examine the work I’ve done with fresh eyes, and to determine if I want to stand by it, or not.

I Don’t Want to Bother You Again…But I Will.

I don’t like to tell my beta readers too much about my work before having them read. I’d rather they come in with an unbiased eye.

However, there are always things I wonder about. Did this portion make sense? Was that character likeable? What about this word choice?

If my beta reader doesn’t comment on one of my ‘wonders,’ I’ve gotten brave enough to ask specific questions after their initial assessment. After all, it’s difficult to catch everything when sorting through tens of thousands of words!

Mercifully, my readers have been patient with my questions, and I try not to do too many “What do you think about this?!” e-mails.

I’m Thankful for my Beta Readers!

After all, a person who is willing to take time out of his or her busy life to read through thousands of words of a rough draft, to offer critiques and encouragements, and to help me stay a little more sane, is truly worth her weight in gold- or at least cookies, or chocolate, or something nice!


Writers, I hope that these suggestions are helpful, but perhaps you thought of them long before I did! Do you have any other thoughts to share on making beta readings as valuable as possible?

Many thanks for visiting!



April 1st and Easter

Easter April Fool 2

Wishing you and yours a beautiful and blessed Good Friday and Easter!

I’m currently buried under a large pile of choral and organ music. I look forward to rejoining all of you when I dig my way out. 🙂

Many thanks for visiting


The Joys of Being a Parent AND a Writer


Writing while parenting small children is hard.

Honestly? Simpler tasks that require no creativity, like showering, are hard.

Sometimes I catch myself focusing on the negatives of the journey- the sleepless nights, my disaster area of a living room, another diaper going through the wash, the day’s plans out the window because someone’s sick again.

The joy gets buried in the details.

Not today.

Today, I’d like to share some of the joys I’ve found in the balancing act of being a writing parent.

1. Treasuring Time

“I’m so busy!” I thought, back when I was single and childless.

Oh, if only I’d known the truth….

Granted, during those days when I ran on actual sleep vs. coffee, I bounced endlessly between teaching, music, volunteering and everything else.  My schedule was full to overflowing.

This is the difference between then and now: I had control over my level of busyness.

When I didn’t get something done, (barring emergencies) it was because I chose to make something else a priority.

Once there was a baby on the scene, that semblance of control evaporated.

Oh, she was cute, a joy and a blessing that we treasured.

I just wasn’t mentally prepared for the fact that newborns eat every two hours.


And between feedings are the diapers… and the housework…and maybe we should try to sleep…

I won’t go through the whole ‘learning to parent without going insane’ journey, but a journey it was, and it taught me a valuable lesson.

I learned to use my time.

Time with my baby was precious, and I wouldn’t give up those hours for anything.

However, when a spare minute materialized- she’s asleep! And I’m not holding her!- I learned to seize it and make it count. (Of course, then we went and had two more babies…worth it. 🙂 )

Those spare minutes gave me the title for my blog. I rekindled my passion for the written word during those stolen moments- moments that might have slipped by me if caring for my children hadn’t reminded me just how important and valuable they are.

2. Ideas, Ideas, Ideas!

On dull, gray, uncreative days, all I have to do is listen to my children play.

Elaborate plots and adventures full of twists and turns fill our living room, and I’m reminded of the excitement of story.

I’ve written before about the stories the kids and I create each year for Father’s Day. While I am the one who keeps some semblance of a plot,  they’re the ones that keep the storytelling fun.

They keep me generating ideas and telling stories in another way too. I’ve found that one of the easiest means to stop sibling spats starts with the words, “Once upon a time…”


Scan_20171031 (2)
Part of the story my eldest and I made up to help her learn her Kindergarten sight words.

3. Reduced Risk of Over-Exposure to the Computer

There are all sorts of health risks associated with spending too much time on the computer.

Go ahead and take a moment to look them up on your favorite search engine if you don’t believe me.  I’ll wait.


Ok, now that you’ve done my research FOR me (clever, huh?) I can tell you that being a writer who’s also a mom, my risk of all of those maladies is seriously reduced.

After all, the littles only let me stay online so long, and I’m a firm believer in the need for children to get outside and to make a mess somewhere that’s not in my house.

I’m forced to leave the screen behind, to play or move or find a new park for us to explore and get some exercise.

Parenting ALSO gives me the added bonus that I have a three year old chaperone to ‘force’ me to try out the swings and slides at the playground.

Breaking away from the screen for adventures rests, refreshes, and sometimes provides needed inspiration!

4. The Built-In Fan Club

My kids haven’t read any of the novel I’m querying, or any stories that I’ve written except for the Creative Writing pieces my class ‘published’ in 7th grade. (My grammar, at least, has improved a bit since then.)

Still, my eldest doesn’t miss much, and she was very aware of when I entered my novel in a contest in the fall of 2016. She watched me checking my e-mails, and occasionally, out of the blue, she’d tell me, “I hope you win!”

When I didn’t, and she found out, she was upset, even angry, for my sake.

It was a great teaching moment

We talked about how yes, I lost, but it was ok. I’d gotten feedback, and would make my story better. Someone else had just done a better job and won. (Modelling gracious loosing for my little girl was good for me too- it kept me from the temptation to wallow!)

She’s seen me keep at it, and, unknowingly, gave me some of the best encouragement the other day.

“Mommy, I’ve finally decided what I want to be when I grow up.”

“Really?” I quelled the temptation to tell her that, at 7, she’s not really running behind on this decision. “What are you going to be?”

“A teacher, AND an author.”

“Wow. Those sound like great choices.”


Yes, writing while parenting small children is hard some days, but then, most good things are.

There are many other joys, but I’ve rambled enough! Do you have any to add? 

Many thanks for visiting!




Cary Grant and WW2 on the Silver Screen

Going to the movie theater is a rare event in my household.

My husband and I have to get awfully excited about a film to go to the trouble of finding babysitting and paying for an evening out.  Most of the time we decide it’s not worth it. Consequently, the last ‘recent’ movie I saw was My Little Pony: The Movie. (Rented for the kids. Really.)

While I may be slow to give new films a try, when I get a chance to view a classic film it’s a different story.

There’s just something about movies that employ stunt people instead of CGI, and that have to rely on their actors’ abilities rather than prettily digitized backdrops. I’m amazed at how a silent film like The Big Parade can portray the raw fear and anger and unbearable tensions of war without the luxury of dialog.

Of course, not all old all war films are serious.

Take, for instance, the World War 2 stories portrayed by Cary Grant.

Cary Grant was born in 1904 as Archie Leach of Bristol. He came to the U.S. at sixteen as part of a travelling comedy troupe. He remained in the States, broke into Hollywood with the help of contemporaries like Mae West, and eventually became a citizen.

Grant did not serve as a soldier in World War 2,*  but he did act the part in several films. In fact, his Operation Petticoat made the highest box-office earnings in his career.

In Operation Petticoat, Grant plays Lt. Cmdr. Matt T Sherman. His brand new submarine, the USS Sea Tiger is, unfortunately, docked in the Philippines on Dec 10, 1941. She is sunk before she can ever sail.

Unwilling to allow his boat to be scrapped, Sherman and his ingeniously corrupt supply officer (Curtis) make enough repairs to get the Sea Tiger underway. They hope to make it to a safe shipyard in Australia to complete repairs.

Enroute they are forced to take a group of five stranded U.S. Army nurses on board. With the women crammed into the close quarters of the sub things go…about how you’d expect. However, the film is from 1959, and in spite of some romantic entanglements and awkward situations, things stay fairly tame. 🙂

If you’re looking for strict historical accuracy Operation Petticoat isn’t your best bet, but if you are willing to overlook a few small anachronisms, you may find that a bad paint job, an embarrassing tattoo, a torpedoed truck and creative uses for feminine garments all come together to make an entertaining, if very silly, film.

While Operation Petticoat was Cary Grant’s most monetarily successful film, I personally prefer one of his other visits to the Pacific Theater.


World-weary alcoholic Walter Eckland (Grant) wants nothing more than to sail away alone on his private boat. However, when he runs into a British officer of his acquaintance, he is ‘persuaded’ (as in, ‘forced by the deliberate sinking of his ship’) to stay on a small island, radioing reports on Japanese planes .

In an attempt to get someone to take his place and regain his freedom, Eckland inadvertently ends up rescuing a teacher (Leslie Caron) and the seven little girls in her charge.

While the romance that develops between Grant and Caron is a little odd, they work well together and the interactions with the child actors and the humor in this movie make it another silly, but enjoyable, piece of almost-sort-of-kinda-historical entertainment.

As an interesting side note, both films share more than a leading man. According to imdb.com they also share the same stock footage of a submarine. Ah well, waste not…

So, readers, do you have any favorites that could fall into the ‘classic film’ category? Whether they involve Cary Grant, World War 2, or neither, I’m always interested in recommendations 🙂

Thanks for visiting!


*While Cary Grant did not serve in the military, according to imdb.com he gave all of his fee from his 1940 film The Philadelphia Story to the British War effort, and his salary from 1944’s Arsenic and Old Lace to the U.S. War Relief Fund.


December 1941: The United States Enters the Second World War

Welcome to another installment of World War 2 history!

Last time I wrote about Hitler’s surprise attack on the USSR, and how it drew Stalin into the war on the Allied side.

The United States was still technically neutral as 1941 drew to a close. After all, they had their President’s promise.

“I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”

Franklin Delono Roosevelt’s Campaign address in Boston, Mass, October 30, 1940

See the source image
C’mon folks, is this a face that would lie?

In December of 1941, the United States still clung to FDR’s promise, to the hope that somehow they could stay out of the ’emergency’ over in Europe.

The people of the US were still recovering from the Great Depression. Memories of the horrors of the First World War lingered. Buffered by distance and the sheltering arms of two oceans, it seemed only sensible to let the rest of the world sort out its own problems.

Of course, there were those who disagreed.

Individuals, such as Bill Ash joined the conflict on their own. Various groups sent supplies to aid Great Britain and the USSR. The U.S. government wasn’t exactly neutral either.

The Lend-Lease Act, passed in March of 1941, allowed supplies and military aid such as weapons and vehicles to be sent overseas (without compensation) to nations deemed “vital to the defense of the United States.” Beneficiaries included Great Britain, the USSR, China and Turkey.

Side note: FDR justified the plan by comparing it to lending a neighbor a ladder if his house was on fire- after all, you wouldn’t charge him! Senator Robert Taft noted that the act would also “give the President power to carry on a kind of undeclared war all over the world, in which America would do everything except actually put soldiers in the front-line trenches where the fighting is.” https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/lend-lease-act

Still, the American people, by and large, felt that their homeland was safe. Their news sources boasted that their Navy was the strongest in the world, and didn’t shy away from printing lists of all of the transfers of military personnel, and glowing, detailed descriptions of new military advancements.

See the source image
Read all about it! The handy guide to the new US dive-bombers and where you can find them!

Most of the news reports of the day focused on the Atlantic and the struggles in Europe. Japan seemed far distant- certainly not a dire threat to US security!

However, on December 5, 1941 the US and Japan were embroiled in neverending negotioations. Both sides said that they wished to stay at peace, though The US had been at odds with Japan since their invasion of China, had put embargoes in place, and was deeply concerned over troops massing in the area of Indochina.  The Japanese spokesmen insisted that they “desired no precipitate action”  and one, Nomura, insisted, “(A)s far as we are concerned, we are always willing to talk- after all, we are a friendly nation.” (Shirley 96)

In spite of these reassuring words, Japanese nationals were rapidly leaving the US and surrounding countries, and sailing back home.

FDR attempted to contact Emperor Hirohito directly on Saturday December 6th.

“I address myself to Your Majesty at this moment in the fervent hope that Your Majesty may, as I am doing, give thought in this definite emergency to ways of dispelling the dark clouds. I am confident that both of us, for the sake of the peoples not only of our own great countries but for the sake of humanity in neighboring territories, have a sacred duty to restore traditional amity and prevent further death and destruction in the world.” (Shirley 132)

It is uncertain whether the Emperor ever saw the telegram. In any case, it was too late.

[Pearl Harbor naval base and U.S.S. Shaw ablaze after the Japanese attack]
Image courtesy of the US Library of Congress
Sunday, December 7th, at 7:55 am, the Japanese launched their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, without a declaration of war.

More than 2300 Americans were killed.

12 ships were sunk or beached, including the U.S.S. Arizona (destroyed) and the U.S.S. Oklahoma (capsized.) Nine other ships were damaged.

160 aircraft were destroyed, 150 damaged.

The damage wasn’t limited to the States. Japanese forces also attacked Guam, the Phillipines, Wake Island and Midway Island.

The citizens of the United States were shocked. Outraged. Unified. Galvanized.

On that morning, everything changed.

If you have eight minutes, President Roosevelt’s request for a declaration of war- the famous ‘day that will live in infamy’ speech- is worth a listen.


Thank you for visiting!



There are many, MANY excellent sources on this topic, which include more detail than I’ve provided in my little article.

My primary reading was from Craig Shirley’s December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World. Mr. Shirley goes through the month of December day by day, giving information as compiled from magazines and newspapers of the day. While it made slightly repetitive reading, it would be an invaluable resource for anyone writing fiction in this era. Mr. Shirley covers everything from the war to Hollywood to fashions and politics.

December 1941: The Month That Changed America And Saved The World

If you are looking for information online, here are a couple of resources:

General info: https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/december-07/


USS Arizona memorial: https://www.nps.gov/valr/faqs.htm

History blogs: https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/?s=Pearl+Harbor



Also, if you are interested in my previous articles on World War 2, here are links to:

The Fall of France, The Battle of Britain, The Blitz,  North Africa and the Balkans, and North Africa Part 2






When World War 2 and Legos Meet

Greetings writers, readers, and history fans!

As I’m keeping occupied this week chasing after…ahem, I mean substitute teaching for…Kindergarteners, this entry will be brief.

I couldn’t resist sharing a little picture I call “Gifts You Receive When People Realize That You’re Interested in World War 2 History.”

WW2 legos

The Axis forces have the high ground, but never fear, Captain America and the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl are on the way!*

*This MAY not be entirely historically accurate.

Many thanks for visiting and I’ll see you next time for a bit of non-Lego history 🙂

Writing Microfiction: The Sometimes Stellar Storyteller Six Word Story Challenge

I won a writing contest today!Six word story, 6 word story, writing challenge, writing promptI had never attempted writing microfiction before this year, but when I started looking around for other writing blogs on WordPress, I found Nicola Auckland’s “Sometimes Stellar Storyteller Six Word Story Challenge.”

A one-word prompt is uploaded to the site every Saturday. The challenge is self-explanatory. Write a story, based on the prompt, using only six words.

Yep. Six words.

The challenge page includes a link on ‘How to write the best Six Word Stories,’ which gives the author’s rationale for the six word story, as well as some helpful tips.

Anyone can enter, and the contest is ‘just for fun,’ but the winner DOES get to post the fabulous picture above on their blog!

While I don’t imagine microfiction will ever be my go-to writing style, I’ve found the contest to be a fun exercise which forces me to be concise.

As to my award-winning story 😉 , this week’s prompt was COMPLICATED.


My story entry was : No! Cut yellow wire, THEN red!


Just think, you can now say you read an entire story today, in about two seconds!

For more information, visit About the Six Word Story Challenge.

Writers- do you have other contests or sites that provide writing ideas that you’d recommend?

Many thanks for visiting!


Exploring the Naval Undersea Museum

A trip into Washington State’s Olympic peninsula offers opportunities for adventure. From temperate rainforests to snowy mountain peaks to ocean beaches, and from herds of elk to the occasional trespassing mountain goat, the nature-lover doesn’t lack for options.

Of course, most of these options aren’t particularly accessible to those who visit during Washington’s long, gray, chilly, rainy season. (The natives call the rain ‘liquid sunshine.’ I don’t buy it.)

It’s especially tricky for those of us with small children, SO, the Clare brood went looking for somewhere indoors to explore.

The kids kept looking for the rest of the sub over to the left. It took some repeating to convince them that we weren’t actually GOING underwater.

The Naval Undersea Museum is located just past the signs for Keyport, Washington.

It met our criteria for an adventure: indoors, kid-friendly, and free. (The last is essential. Nothing’s worse than an outing that has to last long enough to be ‘worth it.’ Inevitably, someone will melt down, vomit, and/or soak their clothes with something.)

On top of these basic requirements, the exhibits were fascinating.

The museum begins in the parking lot.


The Trieste II

The Trieste II may look good-sized, but do you see the bit of the sphere showing between the two ‘legs’ to the left? That sphere housed the entire crew of two.

Talk about close quarters- I hope they got along well!

Trieste II was the U.S. Navy’s first deep-submergence vehicle. Its deepest dive was 20,236 feet in 1977 in the Cayman Trough south of Cuba.

The deep submergence rescue vehicle (DSRV) Mystic was our next stop.

After all hands were lost in the 1963 sinking of the USS Thresher, the Navy took a long, hard look at their underwater rescue operations, and found them wanting.

Thresher and its counterpart Avalon were built to take on this complicated task. While they ran many successful test trials, mercifully, they never had to be used.

Naturally, once we made our way inside I had to check out the World War 2 exhibit.


The display memorialized all of the U.S. submarines that contributed to Allied victory, highlighting in red the 52 that didn’t make it home.

It also included a display of some of the sub-tech of the 40’s…


…and “battle flags” from the era.


Sorry that it’s a bit blurred. The kids didn’t find this section quite as interesting as I did. Moving on…

Wasn’t he in ‘Forbidden Planet’ ?

We all enjoyed learning about the Navy’s training of marine mammals. I found it particularly fascinating to see how dolphins have been trained to find and mark old, unexploded mines so that they can be disposed of safely. (I was also pleased to see how carefully the handlers provided for the safety of the animals.)

Of course, the kids love exhibits that they are allowed to touch. The museum’s rebuilt control room of the USS Greenling was their favorite part. (And yes, of course, I checked out the periscopes and all of the knobs and buttons too!)

Again, I was really the only one interested in the American Civil War era ‘frame torpedo’…

“C’mon guys…hold on so I can get the shot…ack!”


…but they could have spent all day with the interactive displays on water pressure and buoyancy.

There were other exhibits, but the littles were about done.

Our last stop was a sobering one.



They were quiet for a moment, looking at the artifacts from the sunken sub. Enough of their little friends have dads serving under the waves that the Thresher display, simple as it was, made an impression.


The little ones have found me, so in closing I’ll ask then what they liked best about our museum visit.

Child 1: “I liked the periscopes, and the little screens and the things where you can push buttons and the spinny things, and the periscoes.”

Child 2: “They’re called periscopes.”

Child 1: “No, periscoes…”

Child 2: “PeriSCOPES!”

The conversation is still going on, so I’ll sign off for today.

For those of you still in the inhospitable grip of winter cold or rain, I hope you find your own interesting indoor adventures!

Thanks, as always, for visiting.

For more information: www.navalunderseamuseum.org/