Friday 27 April 2018

Fact vs Fiction in Family of Spies

I am currently creating a new website and will then have a separate tab for a Fact vs Fiction page for Family of Spies for easier access for readers. Until then, this is where you can find the details surrounding the background for my latest novel.


Family of Spies is loosely based on the mystery revolving around my Rhodes Scholar grandfather, Edward Hugh Martin Crawford. He was a pilot with the R.C.A.F. and was awarded an MBE based on his involvement in World War 2. Eighty years later, the details of his military career remain sealed. Our family lore of code-breaking, secret missions, and connections to Bletchley Park, fueled my imagination when writing this story.

Family of Spies blends truth with imagination. Here is a list of where fact and fiction met to create a story with verisimilitude.


Edward Hugh Martin Crawford - born 1894 died 1972

Edward Hugh Martin Crawford Circa 1944
Born at Benton, NL he attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar for Newfoundland and received a BA degree in Jurisprudence, Bachelor of Civil Law, and Master of Arts. He moved to Winnipeg and was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1921. He was made a King’s Counsel in 1939, and during the Second World War, he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a Wing Commander and received the Member of the British Empire (Military) Medal. His war records remain sealed.

His involvement with the Special Operations Executive (SOE) as a Spy Master.

General Carl -Heinrich von Stülpnagel - born 1886 died 1944

He held many posts in Nazi Germany and played a role in the “July Plot” – a conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler— on July 20, 1944. The chief aim of the plot was to take control away from the Nazi party and seek peace with the Allies. General Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel stayed in Paris from 1942-1944. The assassination attempt was discovered and he was ordered back to Berlin to face trial for treason. He was sentenced to death and executed on August 30, 1944.

His meeting with SOE Agent Morah a.k.a. “Scout.”

Sir William Stephenson – born 1896 died 1989

Master spy from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Code Name: Intrepid. Stephenson is believed to be one of the real-life inspirations for the fictitious master spy, James Bond. Stephenson was in charge of British Security Co-ordination in the Western Hemisphere, with headquarters in New York City. He set up an allied agent training centre near Oshawa Ontario called Camp X for infiltration into Nazi-occupied Europe.

Although our family if rife with rumour, his association with Edward Hugh Crawford, is a work of fiction.

Jean Moulin – born 1889 died 1943

He was the leader of Armée secrète (French Resistance) and was captured in June 1943 when Germans raided a meeting of several resistance leaders. Moulin was interrogated by the Gestapo in Lyon and Paris and died, as a result of torture, on a train taking him to Germany.

His association with any characters in this book is fiction.

Harry Crawford – born 1919 died 1990

Harry was Edward Hugh Crawford’s nephew and was a codebreaker in the (Royal Air Force) RAF at Bletchley Park during World War 2.

All Other Characters in the novel are fiction

The Special Operations Executive

The Special Operations Executive was ordered by Britain’s Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, to “set Europe ablaze” in efforts to undermine German-occupied countries. The SOE’s primary task was to work with resistance movements, chiefly the French Resistance.

The SOE agents in the book are works of fiction, but based on research on real agents and the missions they undertook.

Physician Network

This was a spy network organized by British SOE agent, Francis Alfred Suttill (Code Name: Prosper). The network was controlled by the SOE and was its largest network in France. The Physician Network was compromised and destroyed by the Germans in the summer of 1943.

Any connection to characters in the book.

Female Agents

Female operatives worked for the SOE and were trained to handle guns and explosives, memorize complex codes, organize munitions and supplies drops, endure harsh interrogation, and, in some cases, were in charge of thousands of men.


Hotel Du France

It does not exist; however, the German military did take possession of any building they desired to use as interrogation centres.

Hotel Raphael

High-ranking officers of the German command lived in this luxury hotel. During the attack on Adolf Hitler, General Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel and some of the other conspirators used Hotel Raphael as a headquarters.

It is not known if General Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel resided in this hotel during his time in Paris.

Madame Bellerose’s house

This is a completely fictional home on a fictional street.

The Rental Apartment

The location of the apartment where Ford, Ellie and Gavin stay while in Paris is close to an actual rental location. When writing apartment scenes, I referred to photos of that apartment to capture details.  

All other locations