© Ville de Bavay
This extraordinary postcard shows a scene I described entirely from research and imagination: the great bells of Bavay crashing to the ground.
Roland Lees-Warner existed and the account of his escape is provided both by Gaston and by Tom. Tom really was at Rugby School with his brother Philip. All the other names are real people.
Lees-Warner never married and died in Brighton in the 1960s.
Fact and Fiction
I studied mediaeval French at Edinburgh University and so the Chanson de Roland suggested itself. When it came to this scene I had to devise a way of 'springing' him from his cell as history has not related precisely how it came to happen for real.
I learned to sing 'Dedans la Cour du Roy', a mediaeval French song, while au pairing in Lillebonne in Normandie in the 1970s and using it as a clever way to pass information without the enemy noticing seemed to me a good idea.