Under Cover: Stories Behind the Story — Linda Matchett
Today I’m happy to welcome author Linda Matchett as she shares about her latest release and the story behind it.
Do you consider yourself brave? When I was a younger woman, I would have say yes. Now, not so much. Among other things, I’m claustrophobic and acrophobic, although I take exception with the definition of the latter (“irrational fear of heights”). One can get hurt or killed in a fall from a high place. Just saying.
But I digress.
Research for my historic novels has unearthed countless stories about ordinary people performing extraordinary deeds. A large percentage of those folks have gone unnoticed, and most don’t want any attention. Because of my background as a Human Resources professional, I’m fascinated with the history of women in the workplace, especially holding jobs previously only available to men. An area of particular intrigue for me is, well, intrigue. The world of cloak-and-dagger, codes, disguises, and fake identifications.
In the United States, more than 4,000 women worked for the Office of Strategic Services, precursor to the CIA created in June 1942. These ladies came from all walks of life: high society, Hollywood, middle class housewives, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and prison.
A high percentage of the women were secretaries and file clerks. Still others were math sharks or cartographers. A few were seamstresses tasked with creating clothing that would look “of the country” where the outfits would be worn. A tiny number of the gals went into occupied territory to perform reconnaissance, collect intelligence, and wreak havoc on communication and rail lines.
Virginia Hall is perhaps one of the most well-known spies. Called the Limping Lady by the Germans, Virginia wore a prosthetic leg as a result of an injury she sustained as a young adult. In 1940, she became an ambulance driver in France until the country fell to the Germans. She escaped to Spain where she met a British intelligence officer who was impressed with her enough to give her the telephone number of a “friend” in England who could get her a job. Her new “job” sent her back to France where she created agent cells until her cover was blown. Early in 1944, she transferred to Britain’s SOE and slipped back into France disguised as an elderly peasant. Over six months, she recruited, trained, and armed three units of more than 300 agents who performed sabotage against the Germans.
Czechoslovakian Maria Gulovich stumbled into the underground when her sister brought home a Jewish woman and her five-year-old son who were fleeing from the Nazis. Maria hid them in her apartment until they could be moved. It wasn’t long before she quit her teaching job and joined the Slovak national uprising. As things fell apart in the country, Maria was recruited by OSS agent James Green to help him evacuated downed airmen. Captured, she maintained her OSS cover through twelve hours of interrogation. During her transfer to a prison camp, she escaped, making it out of the country safely and performing several assignments in Austria before the end of the war.
Two brave women whose routes to service as spies were as unique as they were. I repeat…do you consider yourself brave?
About the book:
Under Cover: In the year since arriving in London, journalist Ruth Brown has put a face on the war for her readers at home in the U.S. Thus far, juggling her career and her relationship with Detective Inspector Trevor Gelson hasn’t proven too challenging. The war gets personal for Ruth when her friend Amelia is murdered, and Trevor is assigned to the case.
Life gets even more unsettling when clues indicate her best friend, Varis, is passing secrets to the enemy. Convinced Varis is innocent, Ruth must find the real traitor as the clock ticks down toward Operation Husky-the Allied invasion of Sicily. Circumstantial evidence leads Trevor to suspect her of having a part in Amelia’s death, and Ruth must choose between her heart and her duty.
Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/31ju3I6
Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum, Linda is also a trustee for her local public library. She is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and has lived in historic places all her life. Now located in central New Hampshire, her favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors.
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A scream pierced the air. Ruth Brown’s head jerked up at the sound, halting her rush through London’s lunchtime crowds on Old Street.
There was a motion from above. A body hurtled to the ground from the brick building across the street. Her eyes widened, and a wave of nausea swept over her.
She turned toward her best friend, Varis Gladstone, whose blue eyes bulged in her whitened face. Murmurs rose from the throng who pointed to the open window in the building, one of many manufacturing plants that had been converted to war-material production two years ago after Hitler declared war on England. A canvas shade flapped in the breeze.
From amidst the mob, a shout rang out. “Is anyone a doctor? We need a doctor!”
Ruth tugged at Varis’s arm. “Come on. They need our help.”
Varis pulled away. “No they don’t. We’re not medical professionals.”
“Surely we can do something of value. I’m going over.”
Ruth threaded her way through the mass of people. A lanky, dark-haired man bullied his way toward her. His shoulder slammed into hers, and he scowled when she stumbled. She glared at his retreating back then broke through the circle that had formed around the lifeless figure lying on the concrete walkway. Ruth froze at the sight of the familiar face and flowing red hair of her friend Amelia Harrell. A sob sounded from behind her, and Ruth turned. Varis stood with her arms wrapped around her middle, tears streaming down her cheeks.