Last Hope Island
Britain, occupied Europe, and the brotherhood that helped turn the tide of war.
By Lynne Olson
Published by Scribe
RRP $49.99 in hardcover • ISBN 9781925322088
When the German war machine rolled through continental Europe in the early days of the Second World War the leaders of many of these countries fled to London and the city became their refuge and seat of government in exile.
Kings, Queens, Presidents and government officials of Belgium, Holland, Norway, Poland, Luxembourg and Czechoslovakia all retreated to England and in due course, many of their servicemen and women also gravitated to Britain. By 1940, over 100,000 European exiles were residing in London.
The Poles and the Czechs in particular, played a vital role in the air war over Britain, despite an initial resistance from the RAF hierarchy. Additionally, more than 1200 merchant ships (and their crews) from Norway were rescued from the clutches of the Germans, leased to Britain and along with some 600 Dutch ships, helped keep the crucial Atlantic lifeline with America open.
Lynne Olson writes fondly of Holland’s feisty Queen Wilhelmina and her often outspoken broadcasts to her enslaved people.
France’s General Charles de Gaulle however, is not viewed in such a favourable light, being seen as aloof and having “the character of a stubborn pig”.
Olson has produced a lively account of life in war-torn London.