from 13.30 until 17.00Talks and short films in the theatre
Arrivals for Registration and security-clearance
Please note that for security reasons all attendees MUST have pre-booked and at Registration (from 10am) on the day Photo I.D. will also be required for entry (No large bags will be allowed)
Grand reveal ceremony
This will be a formal presentation to honour the four Brighton-born SOE agents with the first official viewing of the four blue plaques
followed by Group photographs and then lunch interval
The Hangar Café and The Secret WW2 Bookshop (aka City Books of Hove)
(at the opposite end of the Corn Exchange behind the theatre section) will be open from 12.30 and throughout the afternoon for refreshments and books sales. There will be book signings by the many of the authors who will be there, and also opportunities to chat to them informally.
Welcome and introduction
by Martyn Cox
Co-founder & Chief Executive of The Secret WW2 Learning Network
Timings of talks and films TBC
Brian Lett - the authorised biographer of Major General Sir Colin Gubbins
For those with even a passing interest in the Second World War, the name Colin Gubbins is synonymous with the Special Operations Executive (SOE). This is not surprising as from its creation in late 1940 at Prime Minister Winston Churchill's command 'to set Europe ablaze', Gubbins was the driving force behind SOE.
Over the next four years as, first, Operations and Training Director (codename M) and, from 1943, its Commander (CD) he masterminded every aspect of its worldwide covert operations. Remarkably this is the first full biography of the man whose contribution to victory ranks in the premier league.
Brian Lett's research and access to family archives revealed the experiences in The Great War and later in Russia, Ireland, Poland and as Head of British Resistance that made Gubbins such a pivotal and influential wartime figure. The result is a fascinating biography that reveals as much about SOE's extraordinary activities as it does about the man who inspired and commanded them.
EVASION FROM FRANCE, ESCAPE FROM ITALY
The Twisted Florin by Stella Marsh
The just published biography of the late Sqn Ldr John Mott MBE, written by niece Stella Marsh, will be presented and discussed by John Mott's daughter Suzannah and her husband Brigadier Richard Dennis OBE.
John Mott has been described as an unsung hero with no sense of his own achievements, and just an innate sense of duty in a time of crisis – one of only a handful who came back twice.
Stella Marsh experienced a journey of challenges, frustrations and joys as she researched the varied and equally remarkable wartime adventures of one of the Second World War’s truly forgotten heroes; making this a very personal and evocative tale of one man’s journey to war, and his work - first as a bomber pilot completing nineteen missions before being shot down, and then evading capture across the Pyrenees.
John Mott returned to duty flying Lysanders with the Special Duties squadron out of RAF Tangmere, including missions for the Special Operations Executive (SOE). In 1942 his Lysander got bogged down and John was captured, but following the Italian armistice he managed to escape into the Alps through Yugoslavia to rejoin service, this time with No. 1 Special Force due to his unique knowledge of a specific partisan group.
The title of this biography - THE TWISTED FLORIN - will also become clear because, in itself, it gives no clue that it details such incredible wartime bravery, amazing ingenuity and coincidences along with the with daring and courage long associated with WW2 escape and evasion. John Mott's story also offers fresh perspectives on the devastating personal effect of the war on servicemen and civilians, on both the home front and in occupied Europe.
CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET?
Growing Up Under Occupation, a Child's Tale of Courage, Risk and Resistance
Tim will talk about the innovative children's novel written by his late wife Anne de Cintra, and explain why and how she became so inspired to share her passionate interest in the wartime experiences of civilians during France's occupation, and also of those who resisted, by writing a children's novel.
He'll also share some of his own journey while taking "Can You Keep A Secret?" from manuscript stage to the printed book ready for this special week in Brighton & Hove. This has included the discovery, virtually on his own doorstep, of the talents of the Brighton-based children's illustrator Louise Prentice which soon led to her visual contributions featuring throughout the finished book.
THE SECRET HUNTERS
Gordon Stevens is a television documentary maker and author, and he'll be introducing a compelling section from his documentary "The Secret Hunters," which revealed two amazing and connected hunts for war criminals.
The first was an SAS team who, although the wartime SAS had been disbanded in 1945, maintained their hunt for Nazi war criminals until 1948. The second was the story of SOE's Vera Atkins and her search for the truth behind her missing F Section agents. Gordon Stevens and Vera Atkins would become personal friends, and when her ashes were laid to rest it was Stevens who carried them to the churchyard.
Gordon's connection with clandestine operations dates back to the 70s, when (in Peru) he interviewed a Bolivian guerrilla leader who was on the run and who had just been tortured by Klaus Barbie. He made the first documentaries with SOE's Brian Stonehouse and Vera Atkins and was the only writer allowed to interview the founder of the SAS, David Stirling, and the founding members of the SAS.
A version of his documentary "The Originals", featuring interviews with Stirling and The Originals, is held by the SAS at their own private museum. Gordon Stevens has published eight novels and one factual book. He also worked on THE SAS WAR DIARY, profits from which went to the SAS Regimental Association welfare fund.