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October 11 , 2008

Betrayal in Burgundy


It was still dark. Lancaster Z-Zebra lost height as it crossed the Channel and headed back to England. James Chalmers pushed the control column forward and eased himself into a more comfortable position, relaxing for the first time since taking off from Wynton Thorpe. The throb of the four Merlins was reassuring. While other pilots saw it as a matter of pride to be among the first to land, Chalmers believed in nursing his engines and had throttled back. The crew had not spoken since leaving the French coast. After the hazards of the Ruhr the worst was over. This is the story of a Lancaster bomber pilot during the Second World War when, night after night, aircrew risked their lives over Germany and more than fifty-five thousand young men were killed, many dying without experiencing the love of a woman. Set in backdrops ranging from a bleak RAF bomber aerodrome in rural Lincolnshire to the beautiful Yonne valley in France, Betrayal in Burgundy shows the developing romance of a young pilot as well as the stresses faced by aircrew whose lives are formed of extraordinary contrast, one moment drinking with a girl in the sanctuary of an English country pub, the next struggling for survival amidst flak and German night fighters over the Third Reich. When the story moves to Burgundy, it covers the varied reactions of the population to the German occupation as well as meeting the secret world of the French Resistance and the help it received from the Special Operation Executive in London, the organisation instructed by Winston Churchill to ‘set Europe ablaze.’ Betrayal in Burgundy perfectly captures the conflicts and choices brought about by war.
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