This Day in Ann Dvorak History: Homeward Bound

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 239


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On August 27, 1943, Ann Dvorak and Leslie Fenton boarded the S.S. Mauretania in Liverpool and headed back to the Unites States. Fenton, a British citizen by birth, had enlisted in the Royal Navy and returned to his homeland in September 1940. His wife followed him in December.

By August of 1943, each had endured their fair share of war-time misery and were ready to come home. With Fenton having recovered from injuries sustained during the Battle of St. Nazaire resulting in an honorable discharge, the time seemed right.

When the couple went aboard the Mauretania, Fenton identified himself as film director, his occupation both before and during the war. Ann on the other hand, listed herself as a journalist. Even though she had made movies while in England, Ann had also served as a war corespondent, which is the post she clearly felt was more important. She had harbored a desire to be a writer from a young age and despite the horrors of the war years, the experience had enabled her to fulfill a lifelong dream.

One Comment

  1. Scott August 27, 2013

    Ann’s service as a war correspondent is certainly another aspect of the book that I will greatly anticipate reading about.

    Seeing the reference to St. Nazaire jogged my memory of, some years back, picking up a book about British Commandos in WW2. And one of the prominent stories in it dealt with the raid on St. Nazaire in early 1942.

    Apologies if this is going to be dealt with in the book, but the St. Nazaire raid (or ‘Operation Chariot’) was a combined action of the British Commandos and the Royal Navy. The object was to take out the large dry dock facility at St. Nazaire, on the French Atlantic coast, to deny it to German warships as a haven for repairs. The Germans had a force of about 5000 troops guarding it.

    The combined forces managed to ram an old destroyer, the HMS Campbeltown, into the dock area and then detonated explosive charges aboard it. The result was to end up taking the dry dock facility out of commission for the remainder of the war. But at a heavy price — of the more than 600 Commando and Royal Navy forces who took part in the operation, only a little over 200 managed to make it back to England; the others being killed or captured. Five Victoria Crosses were awarded for the operation; two posthumously.

    So a somewhat belated, but sincere, salute to Leslie Fenton for his service might be in order here on day 239.

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