Churchill’s Secret Messenger

Written by Alan Hlad
Review by Bryan Dumas

Rose Teasdale is a typist in Room 60 deep beneath the Treasury building in London. When her supervisor comes to the room with a last-minute request, Rose volunteers. Her job: translating for the French delegation in a meeting between Churchill and De Gaulle and Commandant Martel. When she is summoned to a clandestine interview for Churchill’s SOE, Rose is certain that her future is in occupied France fighting for the memories of her family—her parents dead from German bombing, and her brother lost over the Channel as an RAF pilot.

Lazare Aron, a Frenchman of Polish-Jewish ancestry, is busy posting anti-Nazi posters throughout Paris. Because of an accident as a child which took his thumb and forefinger, Lazare could only watch as his friends went off to war. As he steps up his subterfuge from posters to bombs, Lazare attracts the attention of Claudius, a leader in the French Resistance.

Rose’s covert team—Conjurer—parachutes into France and is met by Lazare and the resistance. Rose is assigned as a courier, and Lazare shows her all the dead drops. But before the team can do any work in France, the network is exposed, and all but Rose and a few resistance fighters are captured. What follows is the remarkable story of how Rose eludes capture, plans the rescue of her team from prison, and her eventual capture and imprisonment in Ravensbrück Concentration Camp.

In a field crowded with SOE stories, Hlad dives deep into the history and pulls together several remarkable stories and fashions them into Rose and her role in Operation Jericho. This makes for an exciting, tense story with life-or-death drama unfolding on each page. Hope and love resonating between the characters and Hlad’s evocative writing make this a don’t-miss book.