“At precisely one o’clock on the morning of Saturday 6 November 1943, Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer of the SS and Chief of State Police, received a simple message… The Eagle Has Landed.”
For the 7th CSB podcast, we’re in North Norfolk looking for the tiny village of Studley Constable, as described in Jack Higgins’s classic WW2 thriller about the attempted kidnap of Winston Churchill by a small band of German paratroopers.
On the marshes of Stiffkey, amongst the remains of gun emplacements, pillboxes, tank traps and POW camp huts, we find a perfect place for Germans to sneak in and sneak out of the country. We visit a lot of villages – with mills, churches, bridges, and pubs – none of which quite match Studley Constable.
But at Weybourne Camp, we do find enough evidence of a visit by Churchill in 1943 to believe that Higgins was not entirely making this whole thing up.
“At least fifty percent of it is documented historical fact.”
Each month we road-test a work of fiction that appears to be curiously specific about dates and locations. We go to the places mentioned and see if descriptions are accurate, journey-times credible, dates and days all in order.
Sources & credits
Air Raid Sirens followed by the All Clear: https://youtu.be/erMO3m0oLvs
Come Along a Me – The Singing Postman: https://youtu.be/Zz2CuTu6_Zs
Hev Yew Gotta Loight Boy – The Singing Postman: https://youtu.be/8W10ILSTzjA
Der Adler ist gelandet (1976) – Musik: Lalo Schifrin: https://youtu.be/xMzaVU-O-g4
Dad’s Army Theme: https://youtu.be/wmQcMVlx-sM
Dad’s Army Theme (Arthur Lowe Version): https://youtu.be/gzG1uXzxRGs
Michael Caine Speaking German: https://youtu.be/Q6MD8B0UhHA
The Eagle Has Landed (1976) – Michael Caine Interview: https://youtu.be/zWWwKY2F7Ks
Broadsword Calling Danny Boy’ by Geoff Dyer: https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/308/308319/-broadsword-calling-danny-boy-/9780141987620.html
A life in writing: Jack Higgins: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2010/jul/31/jack-higgins-life-harry-patterson
Churchill’s WarTime Engagement Diaries: https://gwtoday.gwu.edu/winston-churchill%E2%80%99s-daily-calendar-provides-different-look-world-war-ii
My father drove the train Churchill used on visit to Norfolk: https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/my-father-drove-the-train-churchill-used-on-visit-to-norfolk-1-4113881
Hitler’s secret airstrips that were built by spies in Norfolk: https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/554096/Adolf-Hitler-Norfolk-second-world-war
Weybourne Camp: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weybourne,_Norfolk#Weybourne_Camp
Blakeney Hotel: https://www.blakeney-hotel.co.uk/