The next few weeks are going to be incredibly busy for me as I prepare for my big birthday bash this coming weekend. Yes, “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy, born on the Fourth of July. I’m a real like nephew of my Uncle Sam….”
Oh dear, sometimes I get carried away, but do check out the above link to hear the old Jimmy Durante version of the great song. Hearing his rendition always stirs my patriotic genes. Then if you really want to see something neat, check out this dance by Bob Hope and James Cagney.
My kids always come out to Grandma’s Ranch to help me celebrate, so there are lots of things to do to get ready. Then on July 6th my two-week summer drama camp at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts begins. Here is the poster for this year’s show. We are going to have fun writing and producing this musical.
Because of all that is going on, I will necessarily be on my regular schedule, but then I like to mix it up sometimes when I am not so busy. Maybe I should just throw the schedule out and surprise everyone. (smile)
Today’s Strong Woman is Pearl Witherington, one of the little known female heroes from World War II. As a 29-year-old renowned British Special Operations Executive agent, she was the best shot the service had ever seen, and in 1943 she parachuted into occupied France. There she led a network of French Maquis resistance fighters as they fought the Nazis and even presided over the surrender of 18,000 German troops at the end of the war.
Her command of the resistance network, which grew to include over 3,500 French Resistance fighters at its peak, was so effective that the Nazis put a one million franc bounty on her head. At one point, in an effort to break the network, the Germans ordered thousands of troops with artillery to attack Witherington’s force. She reported that the battle raged for 14 hours and the Germans lost 86 men while the Maquis lost 24 “including civilians who were shot and the injured who were finished off.” After the battle, she quickly regrouped and her network launched large scale guerrilla attacks which wreaked havoc on the German columns marching to the front. Among other successes, her force disrupted a key railroad line between the south of France and Normandy over 800 times, all the while suffering only a few casualties.
After the war, Witherington was recommended for Britain’s Military Cross, but was deemed ineligible because she was a woman. Instead, she was offered the civil division of the award of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE), which she declined, stating “there was nothing remotely ‘civil’ about what I did. I didn’t sit behind a desk all day.” She later received a military MBE as well as France’s Legion d’honneur. But what she considered her greatest honor came decades later in 2006: her parachute wings.
Witherington died in 2008 at the age of 93, still living in France. For Witherington fighting the Nazis to protect her adopted homeland had never been in question: “I just thought, This is impossible. Imagine that someone comes into your home – someone you don’t like – he settles down, gives orders: ‘Here we are, we’re at home now; you must obey.’ To me that was unbearable.”
This story and pictures came from A Mighty Girl – wonderful site that also celebrates strong women and strong girls. For an excellent memoir by Witherington about her experiences during WWII, they recommend “Code Name Pauline: Memoirs of a World War II Special Agent,” for teen and adult readers alike at http://www.amightygirl.com/code-name-pauline
That’s all for me today. Hope your week starts off on a good note. Have big plans for the Fourth? Do share in the comments. And don’t forget about the audio book giveaway I have going. Snag a code HERE to get a free audio copy of Open Season.