A True Story
This inspirational film celebrates the magnificent achievement of the Free French Brigade of 3700 men – and one Englishwoman, Susan Travers, the garrison commander’s driver affectionately known as ‘La Miss’, who, along with the comrades who came to respect her, won glory for her unflinching bravery against all the odds – outnumbered ten to one as they were by Axis forces led by Erwin Rommel and his Afrika Korps of ‘unstoppable’ tanks at the isolated outpost of Bir Hakeim in the Libyan Desert in May-June 1942.
Dismissed as ‘a huddle of vermin’ by Nazi high command, who expected this ‘nest of rodents’ to be swept contemptuously aside in fifteen minutes, the Free French held their ground for fifteen days, exasperating Rommel and infuriating Hitler as the outstanding tenacity and valour of these combatants, who came to be called ‘devils, not men’ by the enemy and ‘the Fighting French’ by the Allies, again and again repelled continual attacks from all sides by vastly superior numbers, and, because of the incredible duration of their stand, ultimately had the effect of turning the course of the war permanently in the Allies’ favour.
Described by Winston Churchill as ‘One of the finest feats of arms in this war’, the action of the defenders of Bir Hakeim earned General de Gaulle’s wonderfully maverick army of valiant volunteers and troops from the French colonies plus two battalions of diehard Foreign Legionnaires – whose vow is never to surrender – the admiration of the other Allies and caused the Free French to be regarded thereafter as equal participants in the war effort. And Susan Travers’s story is an integral part of it all, as a woman whose real-life impossible love for a particular man was part of the force that drove her.
The action is based on actual events and the people who took part, assembled entirely from documentation in the public domain. No copyrights have been infringed.
- The writer has recently formed a triumvirate with a media lawyer and film producer to get this tremendous story to the screen. Watch this space.
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