Tomorrow to be Brave

Susan Travers


“Wherever you go, I will go too.” These were the words Susan Travers spoke to General Koenig, the commander of the Free French and the Foreign Legion in North Africa during the Second World War, and the man with whom she was in love.


Her words were about to be tested to the limit. It was early spring 1942, and under the pitiless desert sky, the great siege of Bir Hakeim in Libya was about to begin. Surrounded for fifteen days and nights by Rommel’s Afrika Korps, outnumbered ten to one, pounded by wave after wave of Stuka and Heinkel bombers, Susan, the general and 2,000 men seemed doomed. Then, one moonless night, the French made an audacious bid for freedom. Speeding across the minefields of No-Man’s-Land towards Rommel’s deadly Panzer tanks, her foot hard on the accelerator, Susan led the convoy of men and vehicles away from Bir Hakeim. Hailed as the heroine of the night, in later life she was awarded the Military Medal and the Legion d’honneur.


Soon to be a film


Tomorrow to be Brave, which was translated into eight languages, became an international bestseller and is to be made into a film, is the story of Susan Travers’ extraordinary life, from her childhood in England, her girlhood in inter-war Europe, her decision to join the Free French in search of adventure, her part in the North African campaign and, most remarkable of all, her time after the war in the Foreign Legion as a regular serving officer – the only woman ever to have achieved this. It is a tale of exceptional courage, against overwhelming odds, and a passionate love story played out against the epic landscape of the desert, as Susan prepared to risk everything for the country and for the man she loved.


Read an extract from this book

What the critics say

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Read an Extract


The Stukas were the worst. I could hear them several miles away, like a vast swarm of bees droning in the distance, heading directly for us across the endless desert sky. At first sight they looked like a plague of silver locusts hovering above us, with nothing to prevent them from swooping down and picking at our bleached bones. My heart would begin to pound in my chest as the humming got nearer. My legs would quiver as the fear rose from the pit of my stomach, clutched at my throat and squeezed tighter and tighter.


A key weapon in Adolf Hitler’s massive military machine in the North African campaign, the dreaded Stukas, or dive-bombers, were specially equipped with wind-activated sirens to make a screaming sound as they plummeted to earth at high speed. Flying in formation, in waves of up to a hundred planes at a time, without warning they would break away independently to hurtle headlong towards us, shrieking, spinning and whistling. At the exact moment when their bomb doors opened, the screaming would stop and they would soar silently, almost gracefully, back up into the sky, freed from the burden of their load. For their near-defenceless targets on the ground, the echoing quiet which followed was almost as unnerving; an interminable five seconds while the bombs they’d dropped spiraled silently down.


I would count the seconds in my mind, one, two, three, four, five…like a frightened child trying to calculate the next clap of thunder in a storm. And then it would come, that horrible crump and the blinding flash of white light, making me jump every time even though I’d fully anticipated it. The earth would shudder and debris filled the air as the armour-piercing shells exploded on impact, maiming and scorching and disfiguring all around me. And still more planes were on the way, sweeping leisurely over the horizon before slowly circling round, their flanks adorned with black swastikas. The humming they made drew closer and closer until it seemed to be inside my head.


What the Critics Say


“An enthralling and epic story of bravery and romance that reads like a Hollywood film script.” The Daily Mail


“Magnifique! I enjoyed this book tremendously…it captures the essence of war…and is passionate and touching.” Washington Times


“A highly successful book published in nine different countries. Travers is hot property.” The Guardian


“A riveting book, from both a human and historical perspective.” The Washington Post


“A Legionnaire, she was never timid in amour or war.” The New York Times


“A fascinating autobiography with an unsparing perspective on her own psychological motives. A striking account of an extraordinary life.” The Times


“Decked out like a history, a striking, romantic, personal narrative.” Kirkus


“An action-packed romance, featuring a pre-feminist figure inspiring to modern ears.” Publishers Weekly


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