“Of Windmills and War” by Diane Moody is the story of the men of the 390th Bomb Group, Third division of the Eighth Air Force, a part of the Greatest Generation and a rescue mission called Operation Chowhound.
The story begins 1938 in Chicago, Illinois with Danny McClain instructed by his teacher to acquire a pen pal from a different country, write to him and report on any response received. Danny draws the name Hans Versteeg from the Netherlands. The two boys keep up a correspondence over quite a few years until Danny learns from Hans’ sister, Anya that he had drowned in a skating accident. Danny and Anya keep writing and learning about each other until the Germans overrun Holland and the Netherlands.
Danny’s family is very dysfunctional in that his father is a very violent opinionated man who tolerated no discussion or dissention. Mostly everyone stayed out of his way. He had made a decision that his sons would follow in his footsteps and take over his business. Of course, both Joey and Danny have other plans. Joey joins the Navy and Danny eventually joins the Air Force.
Anya, family is quite different. Her father is a minister and her mother, devastated by the death of her son, is no longer a strong woman. After the Germans invade and their Jewish friends are systematically taken away, the family hides Jewish refugees and Anya joins the Resistance movement.
The story of Danny as a co-pilot of the bog bombers and the missions they fly are as harrowing to read about as I’m sure they actually were. Anya’s life in the Resistance makes her a very strong individual with pent up emotions that she is afraid to show. When Danny is shot down over the Netherlands close to the German border, he makes contact with Anya through the Underground. The clandestine operations of the Resistance are extremely dangerous and deadly. Reading about this chapter in history is both enlightening and frightening. The story is well conceived and well written. It is one of my favorite books.
I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from NetGalley.com