Monday, November 14, 2022

Warbird by Mark Batey - Book Tour

 Warbird by Mark Batey


Britain's secret weapon in the Battle of Britain is hidden in plain sight... 

It is a vast radar network, designed to detect hostile aircraft and enable RAF pilots to intercept them before they reach their targets. 

By summer 1940, the Nazis are aware of the new masts along the English coast but misread their significance. 

Germany's secret service sends former Olympic competitor, Klara Falke, to Britain. Her mission: to gather local intelligence to enrich the Nazis' invasion plans. 

Klara joins a group of Nazi sympathisers in northern England. Soon, MI5 is in pursuit, but she is not the only German agent plotting in Britain. 

When the Nazis discover that the RAF is using radar as an early warning device, they vow to destroy the masts. For Klara, knowing who to trust is a matter of life and death. 

Rooted in historical fact, Warbird is an intriguing adventure that twists and turns through the pivotal first twelve months of the Second World War.

Information about the Book

Title: Warbird
Author: Mark Batey
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Release Date: 10th November 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction

Excerpt Like a gigantic silver torpedo, the LZ130 Graf Zeppelin pierced the veil of cloud and emerged into a gleaming blue firmament on a north-westerly trajectory.

Early morning, Thursday 3 August. Precisely a month, as it transpired, before the declaration of war in Europe.

Klara Falke took her time dressing in her cabin. One of twenty berths on board, it was compact yet more comfortable than she and Curt had anticipated. Nonetheless, the carpet felt slightly damp and she donned her black Fogal stockings gladly. While she dressed, Klara reflected on the lift-off yesterday evening, executed so smoothly that she’d hardly even felt they were aloft.

But she had seen and heard everything. She’d asked the permission of the captain, Albert Sammt, to join him on the bridge while he piloted their take-off, and to her delight he’d agreed.

Built by the Zeppelin Company, the rigid, metal-framed LZ130 was 803 feet long, a mere seventy-nine feet shorter than the RMS Titanic, the largest ship ever built. When Klara boarded, the extent of it, close up, snatched her breath away. It was such a colossus that she could not even see the far end, which faded into the dusky horizon.

Astonishingly, the lift-off procedure was slick and quick. As soon as the ground crew released the mooring ropes, Captain Sammt ordered the venting of ballast and the throttling of all four engines – sixteen-cylinder Daimler-Benz diesels, adapted from those in high-speed motorboats. Each engine powered a three-bladed propellor, two mounted on either flank. He gave instructions to the helmsman at the wheel controlling the ship’s heading; and to the elevation man, managing her pitch via a smaller wheel, his eyes glued to an overhead panel of quivering dials and flashing lights.

Immediately buoyant in the surrounding air, the zeppelin rose. On Captain Sammt’s orders, the crewmen turned their wheels this way and that, guiding her deftly, nose first, into the evening sky.

“It feels more like floating than flying.”

As if to acknowledge Klara’s compliment, Sammt nudged the peak of his black cap. He stood on the starboard side of the bridge by a shelf with a telegraph machine and a Bakelite rotary-dial telephone. Below the shelf was a bicycle on a stand. Its pedals were connected to a small generator which, in the event of a power failure, would pump energy into an emergency radio set.

Sammt made space for his senior watch officer, Tobias Lehmann, who entered the bridge for his shift having completed a stern-to-bow inspection. He blew on his hands which tingled with cold. A qualified captain in his own right, Lehmann confirmed that the water ballast was evenly distributed along the keel. Klara watched Sammt discussing finer points of detail with him.

Kindly and paternal, Sammt was in his fifties. One side of his face was a wine-red patchwork of skin grafts. She realised that the scar across his forehead ran around his scalp and behind an ear. Under his cap, his thick hair was swept back, cloaking much of the scar tissue, while the bushy black eyebrows accentuated his authority.

As Lehmann took his position, Sammt turned, hands thrust deep in his pockets, to Klara. His wide eyes prompted her to follow him off the bridge.

The control car, welded to the underside near the bow, comprised three sections. The bridge, with large windows, occupied the forward portion. Next, a navigation room, where officers pored over tables of charts. There were also altimeters, gyro compasses and a telephone exchange with a dozen lines covering all zones of the ship. Two men and a woman, standing straight, rubbed the small of their backs after leaning over the charts for too long. Thirdly, in the aft space, an observation room – a small lounge.

“You may be interested,” Sammt began, showing Klara to a seat in the lounge, “that directly above this control car is a dedicated radio room. Quite a large one, concealed inside the hull, adjacent to the crew quarters.”

Klara looked up, inclined her head.

“I mean,” he elaborated, “given that the purpose of this flight is espionage, you’ll no doubt be spending time up there. A lot of extra equipment was installed last week.”

Author Information

Mark Batey was born and raised in Newcastle upon Tyne.

As a student at Pembroke College, Cambridge, he chaired the college film society, and after five years in advertising he forged a career in the film industry.

This included three years at the BFI and two decades running the trade association for UK film distributors – the pivotal companies that acquire, promote and release films to audiences. He wrote stories from childhood. Throughout his career, he scripted articles, speeches and reports, and is thrilled to have turned latterly to longer-form narratives.

His first book, Grace, a life story of Northumberland’s sea rescue heroine, Grace Darling, was published in January 2022. It was reviewed in The Ambler (in Northumberland) as ‘well researched, informative, exciting and complete’, and attracted further five-star write-ups. Warbird, an historical adventure set in 1939–40, a hundred years after Grace, is his second book. He splits his time between London and Northumberland.

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