Patrick Larsimont is the author of The Maple and the Blue, the third instalment of Jox McNabb Aviation Thrillers series: action-packed historical adventures following a young RAF pilot during the Second World War.

The Maple and the Blue sees Jox McNabb and his comrades of No. 111 Squadron, the Treble Ones, prepare and train for Operation Jubilee, the raid on the French seaside town of Dieppe in Normandy. It would be the first major Allied assault on the European continent, spearheaded by Canadian ground forces, but it also promised to be the largest air battle since the Battle of Britain.

When writing Jox’s adventures, I like to include some of the real characters, locations and events that I uncover during the course of my research into the period. I hope by doing so I provide a convincing evocation of the time, but also share the stories of people, locations and events on the very edge of living memory.

Here are three examples from my next book:

During the training phase before Operation Jubilee, Jox and his commanding officer are invited to a party near Biggin Hill at a large villa called The Red House. This was the home of Moira and Sheila Macneal, six-foot twin sisters known as the Belles of Biggin Hill. Wealthy socialites whose father was known as the Black Knight, they hosted celebrated parties for ‘The Few’ during the Battle of Britain and afterwards.  Suffice to say, Jox attracts the interest of one of them and he finds her to be as formidable an adversary as any he’s met up in the skies.

During this time, Jox also drops in for a drink at the celebrated Battle of Britain pub, the White Hart in Brasted. On the wall in the bar is the famous blackboard covered with the signatures of many legendary aces including Sailor Malan, Al Deere, Colin Gray, Johnny Kent and Johnnie Johnson.

Image courtesy of Dougal Fisken

Later on in the story, Jox and his Norwegian comrade (spoiler alert), Axel Fisken, find themselves stranded on the ground near the Dieppe Pourville Golf Club, one of the oldest golf courses in France. Somehow, they manage to find an escape vehicle, which turns out to be a beautiful 1929 Bentley Speed Six tourer, like the one which won the Le Mans twenty-four hours in 1930. As it happens, my own good friend, Dougal Fisken’s family own this one pictured, and so provide the inspiration for the tale.

This and many other personalities, factoids and anecdotes litter my stories, and I hope you enjoy discovering them as much as I enjoy finding a place for them in Jox McNabb’s tale. Jox’s war is just getting started, so I hope you’ll join me for his forthcoming adventures.

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