The Bombs for Bosmelet
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                  The Origins of the Project

While Sarah and I were on our way to a holiday in the Loire in August 2010 we broke the journey in Normandy at the château de Bosmelet, mainly to view its walled garden. We happened to meet the owner, Robert de Bosmelet, and learned about the V-1 launch site that the Germans built on the property during the war, and about the bizarre war-time experiences of his parents. His

mother, Diana Mathias, came from a wealthy London family and had married Pierre de Bosmelet in 1936. Pierre was an international lawyer and a reserve officer who fought the Germans until the armistice in June 1940, then managed to take his wife and two small children to safety

in America before he himself rallied to General de Gaulle in London. After serving in French Africa, Pierre then took part in the liberation of France. Meanwhile Diana struggled to be with Pierre and had various adventures in California, Africa and England before re-uniting with Pierre in 1945.

    I found the story of Robert’s parents fascinating, and Robert was interested in publicizing the additional story of the V-1 and especially of the adventures of a French resistant, Michel Hollard, who informed the British about launch sites that the Germans began constructing in 1943. I had just published Lincoln & Darwin and was ready for a new project: and this one would bring me into the 20th century, with people alive who remembered the events, an excuse for repeated visits to France, and something Sarah could help me with since she could speak French while I could only read it. So, over the next eighteen months I worked with Robert while Sarah and I made six more visits to Bosmelet, and though Robert continued to find people for me to interview and more and more family diaries, memoirs, and letters for me to read, I felt that to make a book out of the story I would need to discuss also the background to the deployment of the V-1 and the British efforts to counter this unprecedented weapon. Then in March 2012 Robert de Bosmelet tragically died of spinal cancer. Members of his family wanted me to carry on with my work, which I did. A first draft was completed in 2014, when I found that I had written far too much, a problem exacerbated in 2015 by the discovery of a further memoir written by Robert’s father that Robert had never shown me.

    After many more months spent incorporating this new material while trying, with little success, to boil down the entire text, I decided only a radical overhaul would work. And yet, before I undertook that task (and accepting the precariousness of future plans for someone of my age) I decided that I should include the numerous illustrations that I had acquired (and which I imagined any publisher would force me to reduce drastically in number) and I desired to make the entire work available to some interested parties while including an index (so they could find the parts they had helped me with) and also an acknowledgment of sources and credits for the illustrations.

    So now the entire draft has been loaded onto this website, and I can tinker with the typos and other errors until, after a breather, I carry out my plan to chisel away at this too solid mass of research and words until find the book that is hidden within. I’ll let you know if that effort succeeds. And if you manage to read any parts of the present draft, you might let me know any suggestions for improvement.

James Lander