A Quiet Woman’s War
This is the story of Elsie Bell, a gifted, artistic young teacher from Norfolk who married Georges, a Belgian soldier she met during a First World War air-raid and who, twenty years later, found herself caught up in the Nazi occupation of Brussels. She and her family chose the dangerous course of unarmed resistance, joining the clandestine ‘Comet’ network which secured the escape of more than 700 RAF and Allied aircrew. But they paid a heavy price – Georges with his life. Betrayed, brutally interrogated by the SS and sentenced to death, Elsie and her daughter survived the nightmare of a succession of German prisons and concentration camps, before their dramatic release from Mauthausen in the final days of the war.
Told largely through Elsie’s own restrained, personal account, and vividly supplemented by her daughter and son, the special quality of this story derives from the character of Elsie. She saw her war as a simple act of duty, but as no more than an episode that could be gratefully put behind her as she and her children began to re-weave the undramatic tapestry of their quiet lives.