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Sarah Sundin | 5 World War II Facts from THE SEA BEFORE US



England fascinates us and D-day is one of the most pivotal days in modern history, so I enjoyed exploring both for THE SEA BEFORE US, book 1 in the Sunrise at Normandy series. Here are some interesting facts I learned while researching this story.

  • In March 1942, the BBC held a photography contest, asking people to send in their favorite pictures of the French coast. Thirty thousand "snaps" were sent the next day, and soon a million snapshots, postcards, and tourist maps were collected. The BBC was secretly working with the Royal Navy, and those souvenir pictures were combined with reconnaissance photos and intelligence from the French resistance and from Allied commando raids to produce maps of Normandy for D-day! Clever, huh? In THE SEA BEFORE US, my heroine, "Wren" Second Officer Dorothy Fairfax helps sort and analyze this material. Since her family took holidays at Vierville-sur-Mer—on what will become Omaha Beach—she has a personal interest in her duties.
  • The "Little Blitz" in early 1944 has been overshadowed in history by the Blitz (1940-41) and the V-1 and V-2 attacks on London that started in late 1944. From January 21 to April 18, 1944, the Luftwaffe sent its bombers back to London in retaliation for heavy Allied bombing of German cities. About 1,500 Londoners were killed, a rude jolt to a war-weary nation. But the Luftwaffe lost two-thirds of the bombers available on the Western Front, crippling the force on the eve of D-day. Since Dorothy and her father suffered heavily in the Blitz, the Little Blitz rattles them deeply.
  • A little-known manor house in Hampshire played a gigantic role on D-day. Southwick House
    Southwick House in Hampshire served as Allied Naval Expeditionary Force Headquarters for the invasion, and both Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and Gen. Sir Bernard Montgomery set up headquarters in trailers (caravans to the British) on the grounds. In the library of Southwick House, Eisenhower heard a slightly favorable weather report by RAF Meteorologist Group Captain James Stagg—conflicting with the storm howling outside—and made the critical decision to launch the invasion on June 6, 1944. I was honored to visit Southwick House, where my heroine Dorothy is stationed, and to eat lunch at The Golden Lion in Southwick, where Ike and Monty once dined!
  • When most of us think of D-day, we think of GIs and Tommies storming the beaches—with good reason! But did you know more sailors participated on D-day than soldiers? Warships, minesweepers, transport ships, landing craft, and cargo ships—and many other types of ships—were vital to the invasion. In THE SEA BEFORE US, the hero, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton helps make naval bombardment plans for D-day—and then serves at sea on that fateful day.
  • THE SEA BEFORE US was inspired by the story of the American destroyers off Omaha Beach. Most of the American tanks were lost in the first landings, leaving the GIs without artillery support. The soldiers were supposed to call in gunfire from the warships, but most of the radios—and the radio operators—were also lost. The captains of US Destroyer Squadron 18 observed the dire situation on Omaha and went into action. Heedless of the dangers of mines and artillery and grounding, these ships charged within eight hundred yards of the beach and knocked out gun batteries and strongpoints. Of course, I had to place Wyatt on board one of these gutsy ships!

Which of these facts are familiar to you, and which are new?

THE SEA BEFORE US by Sarah Sundin

Sunrise at Normandy #1

The Sea
Before Us

As D-Day approaches, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton is teamed up with Dorothy Fairfax, a British officer. Once they piece together family and reconnaissance photos to map Normandy, will Wyatt's bombardment plans destroy what Dorothy loves most?

In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a "Wren" in the Women's Royal Naval Service, who pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France—including those of her family's summer home—in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt turns into naval bombardment plans for D-day.

As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn into something more. But both of them have too much to lose to give in to love . . .

Inspirational Romance | Romance Suspense | Romance Historical [Revell, On Sale: February 6, 2018, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780800727970 / eISBN: 9781493412587]

About Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin enjoys writing about the adventure and romance of the World War II era. She is the author of ten historical novels, including THE SEA BEFORE US. Her novels When Tides Turn and Through Waters Deep were named to Booklist's "101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years," and Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Award and won the INSPY Award. A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school. She also enjoys speaking for church, community, and writers' groups.

Waves of Freedom | Sunrise at Normandy | Wings of the Nightingale


Win a copy of Sarah's first book in the Sunrise at Normandy series, THE SEA BEFORE US just by telling us what you discovered new about the Normandy battles in WWII.




28 comments posted.

Re: Sarah Sundin | 5 World War II Facts from THE SEA BEFORE US

No matter how much I study WWII, there are ALWAYS new facts I learn. I did not know about the photography contest you mentioned. WOW. I LOVE learning about WWII - especially in historical fiction books. Yours are always GREAT.
(Nancy Reynolds 9:53am February 2)

As a fan of historical fiction I look forward to enjoying
this book.
(Mildred Mayo 10:59am February 2)

I love this as histoical fiction is just so good. This is
one that I look forward to reading and reviewing! Peggy
(Peggy Clayton 12:54pm February 2)

I don’t know why but I’ve always been fascinated by anything in the WWII
era. I think that’s why I’m just as enamored by Sarah Sundin’s books. I
knew the fact about D-Day, and even watched Dunkirk to get a better idea
of what it was like. I can’t wait to read ‘The Sea Before Us!’
(Sara Johns 12:55pm February 2)

I liked learning about the photo contest :) clever! Looking
forward to this book!
(Jennifer Harding 1:07pm February 2)

We're living in a time when the world is so aware of what other nations
are doing, yet gathering intelligence in WWII had to require innovative
approaches ...I never considered how they were able to accomplish this,
'a photo contest'!, clever indeed.
(Abbie Peterson 1:12pm February 2)

Thanks for this info, Sarah! I didn't know about the daring
work of US Destroyer Squadron 18. Nor the photo contest ~
LOVE that. The Sea Before Us is beckoning me to read it.
Can't get my hands on it too soon!
(Mary Kay Moody 2:28pm February 2)

So fascinating. I didn't know about the photographs; that
was a very cool piece of information!
(Tisha Martin 3:21pm February 2)

I'm really not sure which parts I had heard before, or just
heard as I was reading about the book! This book looks
(Colleen Hudson 5:37pm February 2)

I've never heard of Southwick house before. We visited the Churchhill War Rooms in London in October. That is one fascinating place.
(Arletta Boulton 8:51pm February 2)

I love learning when I read Sarah’s books. I did know about D-Day...but not
the rest.
(Tami le Roux 9:04pm February 2)

I love history and learning about WWII. There is always something new. I love your stories and how you use history.
(Melinda Marks 12:36pm February 3)

i didn't know about the photography contest or the little
(Judy Grogan 9:54am February 3)

Actually ALL of the facts are new to me! I was wowed by the
picture contest fact! I'm actually more interested in
history now than when I was in school LOL Thank you!
(Angel Moore 10:04am February 3)

This is fascinating and interests me greatly since historicals
which are written about WW11 are profound and meaningful. Your
novels give me great enjoyment and are memorable.
(Sharon Berger 12:49pm February 3)

I have red a great deal about London during the war. But I had never heard about the BBC's photo contest, amazing and so clever.
(Lorena Keech 3:29pm February 3)

I just love reading Sarah's books and any type of
historical fiction I love history and reading these facts
about WWII Thank you for such a wonderful article and the
chance to win
(Patti Bond 3:59pm February 3)

I have read quite a bit about WWII, but these facts are new to
me. I love Sarah's books.
(Amanda T. 6:48pm February 3)

I have learned more about WWII from reading than in school.
(Marilyn Collins 7:18pm February 3)

I visited Normandy and saw all the big craters and what was
left. It was amazing.
(Debra Guyette 7:02am February 4)

I didn't realize more sailors than soldiers were involved in the Normandy invasion. Also, I never heard about the photo contest. That was a marvelous method of gaining useful information for the future.
(Anna Speed 12:37pm February 4)

I have learned more about WWII from reading.
(Mary Smith 4:56pm February 4)

WW11 is constantly revealing more and more as time goes by.
This article fascinating, learning more Navy then Army on D
Day. No wonder they are called "The Greatest Generation". We
are embarrassingly shallow.
(Kathleen Bylsma 7:03pm February 4)

(Marlene Rosenberg 10:32pm February 4)

I know very little of D-day. However, my father was a POW in
Germany but he really didn't talk about it.
(Nancy Luebke 9:56pm February 5)

i knew only the basics - fascinating how they were able to
use 'social media' to map out the area before anyone had
even heard of that term!
(Sandy Haber 10:41am February 6)

I enjoy learning about WWII and it always has new information.
(Melinda Marks 8:09pm March 6)

I would love to win a copy of this book. I have always enjoyed
reading about the Wars the United States had fought in, and
WWII has always been one War I enjoyed reading of. The "
Greatest Generation" It is called and with all the respect due
to it, for all the sacrifices that these young men and women
did for their Country.
(Wilma Salas 8:23am March 14)

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