A hearty meal and a cup of coffee prior to take-off and a few hours later you find yourself stranded in enemy territory. For some an experience as shocking as this brings to light extraordinary inventiveness and perseverance in finding their way back home, as demonstrated in this book’s “travelogues”.
Although the title of this book might indicate only English ‘escapees’ are covered, the story of German fighter pilot Graf von Werra has also been included. Von Werra was shot down over England and made a prisoner of war by the British, but he ultimately managed to find his way back to ‘Die Heilmat.’ It is quite sporting of the British author to include the story of the German pilot who eluded the British and later the Canadians in such detail. Von Werra would later drown at sea, North of Vlissingen, when he took off from Katwijk for a practise flight in his Messerschmidt Bf 109, but ended up with engine trouble. An inglorious end for such an unique man.
This book is also about the people on the ground. In occupied territory there were resistance fighters who specialized in aiding stranded allied pilots. Among those were a surprising number of women, likely because they would have drawn less attention from the occupying forces, but also because they possessed the fortitude and skill to perform this potentially deadly task. Having been born into a life of peace it is impossible to imagine the perseverance and heroism required for this kind of work.
For those interested in war stories – particularly those that glorify not the battles but the people, both military and civilian – and who wish to focus on their involvement and extraordinary efforts, this book is highly recommended. The book contains many photographs of people whose stories deserve to endure in our collective consciousness.
This amply illustrated book was one of the most gripping and exceptional I have read in a long time. Thanks to publishers such as Pen and Sword Books beautifully written and unique stories will continue to be produced.