The AFEES website welcomes suggestions for additions to this list of books about escape and evasion. Please send them to the webmaster and he will add them to the list. In addition to the author and title, it would be helpful to include the publisher and date and place of publication, if possible.
See also at the bottom of the page the links to other websites for their lists of escape and evasion-related books which may include books not on this list. A good source for used books is AbeBooks.com. A source for new escape and evasion books is the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force gift shop. Some older books may be very expensive to buy, in which case it is worth consulting the World Catalogue at https://www.worldcat.org/. It will list every library where you can find a particular book. You may then be able to borrow a copy through your own library.
Links to sources for books do not constitute an endorsement of those sources. In addition, there may be several additional sources not given, which a search on the Internet will identify.
For each book a description of it is shown in quotes and has been drawn from the book jacket or a website offering it for sale.
Air Forces Escape and Evasion Society. This book was published in 1992 by AFEES about the organization with many stories of the escape and evasion of its members. For more about the book and its index to evaders featured in the book, click here.
AFEES, with the Friends of the Air Force Academy Library, jointly produced the dvd EVADE!, Evasion Experiences of American Aircrews in World War II, in 2004. It is copyrighted by AFEES. For further information, click here.
Ankeny, Susan Tate, The Girl and the Bombardier: A True Story of Resistance and Rescue in Nazi-Occupied France, Diversion Books, 2020. A downed B-17 bombardier’s unfinished World War II memoir and a box of letters from the French girl who saved him sets a veteran’s daughter on a journey, sixty-five years later, to craft their intersecting stories―a true WWII tale of danger, courage, love, and escape. Susan Tate Ankeny was sorting through the belongings of her late father―a World War II bombardier who had bailed from a burning B-17 over Nazi-occupied France in 1944―when she found two boxes. One contained her dad’s Air Force uniform, and the other an unfinished memoir, stacks of envelopes, black-and-white photographs, mission reports, dog tags, and the fake identity cards he used in his escape. Ankeny spent more than a decade from that moment tracking down letter writers, their loved ones, and anyone who had played a role in her father’s story, culminating in a trip to France where she retraced his path with the same people who had guided him more than sixty years ago. A remarkable hero emerged―Godelieve Van Laere―just a teenaged girl when she saved the fallen Lieutenant Dean Tate, risking her life and forging a friendship that would last into a new century. The result is an amazing, multifaceted World War II tale―perhaps one of the last of its kind to be enriched by an author’s interviews with participants. It traces the transformation of a small-town American boy into a bombardier, the thrill and chaos of an air war, and the horror of bailing from a flaming aircraft over enemy territory. It distinguishes the actions of a little-known French resistance network for Allied airmen known as Shelburne. And it shines a light on the courage and cunning of a young woman who put her life on the line to save another’s. Available from Amazon and Barnes&Noble.
Armstrong, James E., Escape! (No publisher listed.) 2000. AFEES member Jim Armstrong’s evasion story. One reviewer wrote, “Lt. Col Jim Armstrong and I have been friends since first grade. He and I were both pilots in the Army Air Corps during World War II, and while he saw much action,I remained in the States as a flight instructor. He recorded his adventures after much urging from many people, including my wife and myself. The impact must have been enormous. A strange country, a strange language, the constant danger of discovery by the Germans….and finding the underground, getting their help, and actually being secretly returned to duty in England…what an adventure. The book is well written, the bailout and survival are presented in detail, with illustrations carefully saved by the author. A valuable record, truthful, and very interesting to both the old timers and the current generation.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.com.
Ash, William, Under the Wire, The World War II Adventures of a Legendary Escape Artist and ‘Cooler King’, New York: Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press, 2005. “Bill Ash was one of a rare breed–an American prepared to sacrifice his citizenship and risk his life to fight the Nazis at a time when the United States was still neutral. At the outbreak of war, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and before long found himself flying Spitfires in combat. Then in March 1942, Bill was shot down over France. He survived the crash landing and, thanks to the bravery of local civilians, evaded capture for months. He made his way to Paris only to be betrayed to the Gestapo. Tortured and sentenced to death as a spy, he was saved from the firing squad by the intervention of the Luftwaffe, who sent him to the ‘Great Escape’ POW camp, Stalag Luft III. It was from there that Bill began his extraordinary “tour” of Occupied Europe, breaking out of one camp, being dispatched to the next–in Poland, Germany, and Lithuania. Bill became one of only a handful of serial escape artists to attempt more than a dozen breakouts–over the wire, under it in tunnels, through it with cutters, or simply strolling out of the camp gates in disguise.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.com.
Ayotte, Julien, Code Name Lily, November 2018. “World War II certainly had its share of deserving heroes and heroines, many of whom have received their due recognition. But how many civilian women can say they saved the lives of at least 250 downed airmen in just over two years? “Code Name Lily” takes you on an unforgettable journey from Belgium, into France, and over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain. An extremely clever and persuasive young Belgian nurse outsmarts the Nazis time and again, risking her life if she is caught, but protecting every airman she successfully aids to evade the Germans. “Code Name Lily” is based on the true story of Micheline “Michou” Dumon-Ugeux, a legend in the Comet Line escape network from 1940-1944 who went only by the name of Lily. You, too, will fall in love with Lily.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.com.
Bascomb, Neal, The Escape Artists, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018. “In the winter trenches and flak-filled skies of World War I, soldiers and pilots alike might avoid death, only to find themselves imprisoned in Germany’s archipelago of POW camps, often in abominable conditions. The most infamous was Holzminden, a land-locked Alcatraz of sorts that housed the most troublesome, escape-prone prisoners. Its commandant was a boorish, hate-filled tyrant named Karl Niemeyer who swore that none should ever leave. Desperate to break out of “Hellminden” and return to the fight, a group of Allied prisoners led by ace pilot (and former Army sapper) David Gray hatch an elaborate escape plan. Their plot demands a risky feat of engineering as well as a bevy of disguises, forged documents, fake walls, and steely resolve. Once beyond the watch towers and round-the-clock patrols, Gray and almost a dozen of his half-starved fellow prisoners must then make a heroic 150 mile dash through enemy-occupied territory towards free Holland.” For more, click here. Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Baybutt, Ron, Colditz: The Great Escapes, Little Brown & Co., 1983. Colditz escape stories with German photographs of the men and their escapes. “Depicts the efforts of prisoners to escape from the German high security prisoner-of-war camp at Colditz Castle during World War II.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.com.
Bennett, Col. (USAF Ret.) George Floyd, Shot Down! Escape and Evasion, Morgantown, W.Va.: Media Works, 1991. “The true World War II story of a Young Airman, aided by the French Underground, moving south through occupied France and across the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain.” See “Foreign Aircraft Landings in Ireland — WW2″.
Bilton, Rachel, Great escapes of the First World War. “Just how far would you go to escape? Would you bury yourself under the floor? Would you board a boat with a rotten bottom? Would you tunnel underground?
“Contained within this book are the daring true stories of fifteen soldiers and their escapes from prison camps during the Great War. What makes these tales special is that they are first-hand accounts, written at the time when the experiences were still fresh in the soldiers’ minds. Shocking, moving, exhilarating, humorous, dark. There is not an emotion left unexplored in this selection of accounts, where a group of brave individuals risked all they had to escape and get back to their own country. The adventures span everything from unexpected alliances and remarkable kindness to exceptional ingenuity and considerable danger to foolhardy audacity and, quite frankly, jammy luck.
“Included in the text are rarely seen images, maps and plans of the escapes, along with biographical information on each soldier about their time during the war.
“This book pays tribute to the men who, although captured and incarcerated during World War One, still somehow found it in themselves to break out of prison and make their way back to fight again. Their story is a remarkable account of determination, tenacity and will to keep going; a perfect illustration of the extraordinary courage that can overcome us when we are desperate to return home to our loved ones.” Available from Amazon, Casemate, BarnesandNoble,
Binot, Jean-Marc and Bernard Boyer, Nom de Code: BRUTUS, Histoire d’ un réseau de la France libre, Paris: Éditions France Loisirs, 2007. Translated by Google from the French: “More than sixty years after the end of World War II, it was time to pay this tribute to the men and women who fought for the honor of their country until the sacrifice of their lives, and to revive their epic from exceptional testimonies and archives never exploited.” Available from Amazon.
Bishop, Patrick, The Man Who Was Saturday — The Extraordinary Life of Airey Neave, William Collins, 2019. “SOLDIER, ESCAPER, SPYMASTER, POLITICIAN – Airey Neave was assassinated in the House of Commons car park in 1979. Forty years after his death, Patrick Bishop’s lively, action-packed biography examines the life, heroic war and death of one of Britain’s most remarkable 20th century figures.
“Airey Neave was one of the most extraordinary figures of his generation. Taken prisoner during WW2, he was the first British officer to escape from Colditz and using the code name ‘Saturday’ became a key figure in the IS9 escape and evasion organisation which spirited hundreds of Allied airmen and soldiers out of Occupied Europe. A lawyer by training, he served the indictments on the Nazi leaders at the Nuremburg war trials. An ardent Cold War warrior, he was mixed up in several of the great spy scandals of the period.
“Most people might consider these achievements enough for a single career, but he went on to become the man who made Margaret Thatcher, mounting a brilliantly manipulative campaign in the 1975 Tory leadership to bring her to power.
“And yet his death is as fascinating as his remarkable life. On Friday, 30 March 1979, a bomb planted beneath his car exploded while he was driving up the ramp of the House of Commons underground car park, killing him instantly. The murder was claimed by the breakaway Irish Republican group, the INLA. His killers have never been identified.
“Patrick Bishop’s new book, published to mark the 40th anniversary of his death, is a lively and concise biography of this remarkable man. It answers the question of who killed him and why their identities have been hidden for so long and is written with the support of the Neave family.” Available from Amazon and BookDepository.
Bles, Mark, Child at War, The True Story of Hortense Daman, 1990. “At the age of fifteen Hortense Daman embarked on a secret career. In her German-occupied hometown of Louvain, Belgium, she joined the resistance, first as a courier, then as a fighter. She ran terrifying risks, smuggling explosives in her bicycle pannier past German soldiers and helping Allied airmen to safety. It couldn’t last; and it didn’t. She was later betrayed, imprisoned, tortured and condemned to death. Separated from her family, she – and later her mother – was sent to the women’s inferno – Ravensbruck concentration camp. Subjected to horrific medical experiments, she endured starvation, illness, freezing temperatures, and she watched helplessly as thousands died around her. Yet, against unimaginable odds, she survived. Child at War is the true, extraordinary and often shocking account of the years that saw Hortense change from an innocent schoolgirl to a freedom fighter and ultimately to a survivor of the most atrocious regime the world has ever seen.” Available at Amazon.
Bodson, Herman, Downed Allied Airmen and Evasion of Capture: The Role of Local Resistance Networks in World War II. Jefferson, No. Carolina: Carolinal & London: McFarland & Co., Inc., 2005. The rise of the Resistance groups in helping Allied airmen. Available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Bond, Barbara, The Great Escapes — The Story of MI9’s WW2 Escape and Evasion Maps, Times Books, 2015. “The creation of MI9 in December 1939, the rationale for the new military intelligence branch and the context of the history of military mapping on silk is outlined in this history. The map production program is described, together with its progress and the challenges faced. The various groups of maps are identified and described, together with the source maps on which they were based. The ingenious methods of smuggling the maps into the camps, with other escape aids, in apparently innocuous leisure items are described. The maps were then copied and reproduced to support the escapes. Coded correspondence with the camps is discussed, and a successful deciphering of some of that correspondence is provided.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Bowman, Martin W., Flying Into the Flames of Hell, Dramatic first hand accounts of British and Commonwealth airmen in RAF Bomber Command in WW2, Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen and Sword Aviation, 2006. “This book contains twenty-three stirring accounts pieced together from interviews of what life flying as air-crew in World War Two night-bombing operations was really like. The storytellers are an eclectic mix of pilots, navigators, bomb aimers, wireless operators and gunners who flew on operations in heavy bombers. It conveys the terror of being coned by German searchlights over the target, attacks by Luftwaffe night-fighters, often catastrophic damage to aircraft and the ensuing struggle to keep the machine airborne on the return trip to base. It tells of the comradeship between the crew and often the humour between them which was often bred from fear. The gentle and unassuming narratives convey the sense of purpose that these men felt in doing one of the most dangerous jobs in the war.” Available from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
Bowman, Martin W., Voices in Flight: RAF Escapers and Evaders in WWII, Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Aviation, 2014. During WWII, 156 RAF men successfully escaped from German POW camps in Western Europe. A further 1,975 men evaded capture after having been shot down over this same territory. The author draws together tales of a handful of these men, illustrating the bravery and resourcefulness that characterized their experiences. Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.com.
Bretholz, Leo, Leap Into Darkness, Seven Years on the Run in Wartime Europe, New York: Anchor Books, 1999. Leap Into Darkness is the gripping, action-packed account of a young boy’s series of audacious escapes from the Nazis’ Final Solution. Leo Bretholz survived the Holocaust by escaping from the Nazis (and others) not once, but seven times during his almost seven-year ordeal criss-crossing war-torn Europe. He leaped from trains, outran police, and hid in attics, cellars, anywhere that offered a few more seconds of safety. First he swam the River Sauer at the German-Belgian border. Later he climbed the Alps on feet so battered they froze to his socks–only to be turned back at the Swiss border. He crawled out from under the barbed wire of a French holding camp, and hid in a village in the Pyrenees while gendarmes searched it. And in the dark hours of one November morning, he escaped from a train bound for Auschwitz. Leap Into Darkness is the sweeping memoir of one Jewish boy’s survival, and of the family and the world he left behind.” Available from AbeBooks and Amazon.
Brome, Vincent, The Way Back, The Story of Lieut. Commander Pat O’Leary. London: The Companion Book Club, 1958 (also published as The Spy, New York: Pyramid Books, 1961). The story of the Pat O’Leary Escape Line. “When the Nazi hordes swept over Europe, Dr. Albert Guérisse was a medical officer in the Belgian Army. Escaping to England, he was given special training and as ‘Pat O’Leary’ he returned to the south of France where he became one of the most daring and outstanding agents. His great achievement was the brilliant ‘Organization Pat’, an amazing, complex network of escape channels along which numerous Allied prisoners were spirited out of France. The dark shadow of arrest, followed by diabolical torture and captivity, continually hung over the heads of his small, gallant band of helpers. Sabotage, desperate ruses and hazardous journeys were a normal part of their daily lives in an increasingly dangerous job. Betrayed by one of his own agents, Pat O’Leary fell into the hands of the Gestapo. Viciously beaten up, tortured to an almost unbearable degree, he somehow survived, while retaining sufficient self-control to keep the Gestapo guessing. Through several concentration camps in turn, he finally reached that hell on earth–Dachau, where as a doctor he saved many lives with the aid of only two hypodermic syringes and aspirin.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Brickhill, Paul, Escape or Die, Authentic Stories of the RAF Escaping Society, New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1952. “The fact that so many R.A.F. prisoners of war managed to escape in World War II and that so many shot-down airmen successfully evaded the enemy was due partly to escape training and partly to the efforts of thousands of civilian men, women and even children. Many of these civilians, living in their own countries under a regime of terror, helped our men with a most remarkable cold-blooded courage. Often they risked much more than the escaping or evading airman. If the airman were caught he would become a prisoner of war, but the civilians who helped him faced sudden death and torture.” Available from AbeBooks and Amazon.
Burgess, A., The Longest Tunnel, published by Pocket. The true story of the WWII’s Great Escape from Stalag Luft II, from its planning to bringing the Gestapo killers to justice. “A carefully researched account of how 76 British and American officers escaped from Stalag Luft III. Known as the Great Escape, this is one of the best-known escape stories of World War II. Only three escapees reached freedom and over 50 were executed on Hitler’s orders.” Available from Amazon and thriftbooks.
Bushong, Col. (ret.) Richard B., My Wars: B-17s to F-4s, WWII to Vietnam, published by the author, 2008. “Experiences from WWII through and including Viet Nam as pilot, test pilot and other military experiences. Aircraft include B-17, RC-121, F-4 and many others. Interesting stories of experiences in the Army Air Force and the US Air Force.” Available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Butterwick, John T., Power of Survival, Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1997. During WWII, the author, then Maj. Butterwick, received a Bronze Star. In the citation, it said that he”set a high standard for the indoctrination of combat crew members in escape and evasion. After interviewing many evaders who returned to the United Kingdom, he devised an instructional booklet ‘Lessons in Escape‘ containing the personal stories of evaders which best illustrated the basic lessons in evasion and escape.” Part I of the book contains 13 detailed escape stories. Part II reproduces the author’s ‘Lessons in Escape’ with practical advice on everything someone should know, with quotes and pictures of the airmen who provided the advice. The book is available from Amazon.
Caine, Philip, Aircraft Down: Evading Capture in WWII Europe. Washington, D.C.: Brassey’s, 1997. “Aircraft Down! recounts six extraordinary evasion adventures that took place in Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Albania, and Greece during World War II. In 1944 alone, nearly 30,000 American airmen survived bailing out of or crash landing their aircraft in Europe. The great majority were captured immediately. A few lucky ones beat tremendous odds and managed to evade their Fascist pursuers.” Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Calnan, T.D., Free as a Running Fox, Dial Press (Doubleday), 1970. The story of Calnan’s escape attempts as well as his successful escape. “Autobiography of Wing Commander T. D. Calnan, who survived imprisonment by the Germans after his Spitfire was shot down.” The Kirkus Review said “A running mole or running raccoon would be a more appropriate title for Spitfire pilot Calnan, for wherever incarcerated in Nazi prisons in World War II the British Major energetically tunnelled and lockpicked only to be re-netted and caged. From December, 1941 when he was forced to parachute into waiting German hands, Major Calnan spent a good deal of time in a series of German prisons. Recounting his experiences with high spirits at a thirty-year remove, the Major reconstructs those compounds where there was a rigid pecking order by rank and nationality (to which he doesn’t particularly object), an organized British security corps which coordinated escapes, and quite a number of agreeable Germans. In fact Calnan at the beginning seems to have been treated fairly well. Only later were 50 British prisoners shot in a reprisal for an escape try, and after liberation, the Russians proved to be the most trigger-happy group. Calnan and a buddy finally reached American lines leaving behind, apparently, a network of underground passageways. A jaunty light-hearted account from the days when all British officers seemed to look like David Niven and cut quite a dash. He does.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Carah, John M., Achtung! Achtung! Die Flugfestungen Kommen! =: Attention! Attention! the Flying Fortresses Are Coming!: Memoirs of WWII. WW-II memoirs of 2nd Lt. John M. Carah, a B-17 bomber pilot based in England. The book describes Lt. Carah’s career from enlistment in the Army Air Corps in 1942 to the destruction of his aircraft over France in 1943, to his successful evasion to Spain over the Pyrenees Mountains in early 1944. After being shot down in Normandy, Lt. Carah made his way to Switzerland where he was appointed Military Attache for Air in the Bern Legation. He was responsible for finding lodging for American internees who had landed or parachuted into Switzerland during their bombing missions. He also was one of several coding officers who worked for OSS European Chief Allen Dulles who maintained an office across the street from the Military Attache’s office in Bern. After six months of serving as a military attache, Lt. Carah requested permission to return home. He and seven other American, British and Canadian airmen and seamen then made their way back into occupied France for the trip to Spain and eventually Gibraltar. The trip was dangerous and soon turned into an ordeal as the evaders spent weeks evading German and Vichy agents determined to find them. Available from Barnes&Noble, Amazon, Lulu.com. Note that the names of evaders and their helpers have been added to the following indexes on this website: Index to Evaders, A-L; Index to Evaders, M-Z; and Index to Helpers.
Carper, Janet Holmes, The Weidners in Wartime: Letters of Daily Suvival and Heroism Under Nazi Rule, Weidner Collection: 2020. The Weidners in Wartime is the intimate story, told in their own words, of a family separated by war. Despite the dangers of writing under the inspection of censors, their letters paint a vivid portrait of decent human beings fighting valiantly to maintain their courage, their humor, and their faith during one of history’s darkest hours. It so happens that one member of the family is also a leader of the resistance, whose heroic actions to save fleeing refugees will make him a hunted man and one of the greatest rescuers of World War II.
In 1942, Jean Henri Weidner founded the “Dutch-Paris Line” to guide Jews, downed Allied pilots, and other persecuted people out of Nazi-occupied Europe to freedom in Switzerland and Spain. The Line spanned four countries and hid or escorted to safety an estimated 3,000 people, many faced with certain death. After the war, Jean was awarded the French Legion of Honor and the United States Medal of Freedom. He is honored as one of the Righteous Among the Nations at Israel’s Holocaust Memorial, Yad Vashem. Yet Jean’s actions to save the lives of strangers comes at a terrible cost to those he holds most dear.
Through these never-before-published documents-expertly selected, translated, and introduced by Janet Holmes Carper-readers will encounter the daily lives of an “ordinary” but remarkable family bound together by their deep love for each other and by their prolific correspondence across great distances. The frequently unvarnished words of the Weidners (including Jean; his spirited younger sisters, Gabrielle and Annette; his stalwart parents, “Papa” and “Mama” Weidner; and his fiancé and soon-to-be bride, Elisabeth Cartier) provide a unique window into historical events that continue to resonate in the present. Jean’s secret resistance work is barely alluded to in the family’s letters. What emerges instead are the distinctive personalities, voices, and moral characters of the Weidners as they face the harsh realities of the war with as much bravery and good cheer as they can muster.
The Weidners in Wartime builds to a devastating climax, raising profound questions about humanity and inhumanity, loyalty and betrayal, duty, and sacrifice, that do not admit easy answers and that linger after the book is set down. These letters, written more than 75 years ago, might inspire in new generations a commitment to selfless and courageous action in the spirit of Jean, Gabrielle, Annette, and the other members of the Dutch-Paris escape line. Available from Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and Waterstones.
Carroll, Tim, The Dodger, The Extraordinary Story of Churchill’s American Cousin, Two World Wars, and the Great Escape, Guildford, Conn.: Lyons Press, 2013. “The Dodger is the long-awaited story of Johnny Dodge, a wartime hero and a pivotal figure in the escapade immortalised in the legendary Hollywood film The Great Escape. Of all the Allied prisoners who broke out of Hermann Goring’s ‘escape proof’ camp in the famous episode of March 1944, Johnny Dodge was the most intriguing. American-born Dodge was a cousin by marriage of Winston Churchill. When the Second World War broke out, he volunteered for the Army but was quickly captured after the debacle of Dunkirk. He became a prisoner of war and an inveterate escapologist and troublemaker – eventually becoming one of the ringleaders of the ‘Great Escape’. Surviving the murderous Gestapo, he was thrown into a VIP compound of Sachsenhausen concentration camp on the orders of Heinrich Himmler – but escaped once more. After recapture, Johnny was spirited away by the SS to a meeting in Berlin with Hitler’s interpreter, who sent him on a clandestine mission to his cousin in Downing Street. His odyssey through the dying embers of the Third Reich to Switzerland and freedom in the company of a louche Nazi apparatchik is the last curious escapade in the story of Johnny’s adventurous life. The Dodger draws upon Dodge’s voluminous private papers, including photographs taken inside prison camps and letters home, casting revealing new light on the myth of the Great Escape.” Available from Amazon and Roman & Littlefield.
Cartron, Jean-Luc, So Close to Freedom, A World War II Story of Peril and Betrayal in the Pyrenees, Potomac Books, Inc., April 2019. “During World War II many escape-line organizations contributed to the Allied cause by funneling hundreds of servicemen trapped behind enemy lines out of occupied Europe. As the Germans tightened their noose around the escape lines and infiltrated them, the risk of discovery only grew for the servicemen who, in ever-increasing numbers, needed safe passage across the Pyrenees. In early 1944 two important escape-line organizations operated in Toulouse in southwestern France, handing over many fugitives to French passeur Jean-Louis Bazerque (“Charbonnier”). Along with several of his successful missions, Charbonnier’s only failure as a passeur is recounted in gripping detail in So Close to Freedom.
This riveting story recounts how Charbonnier tried to guide a large group of fugitives—most of them downed Allied airmen, along with a French priest, two doctors, a Belgian Olympic skater, and others—to freedom across the Pyrenees. Tragically, they were discovered by German mountain troopers just shy of the Spanish border. Jean-Luc E. Cartron offers the first detailed account of what happened, showing how Charbonnier operated, his ties with “the Françoise” (previously “Pat O’Leary”) escape-line organization, and how the group was betrayed and by whom. So Close to Freedom sheds light not only on the complex and precarious work of escape lines but also on the concrete, nerve-racking experiences of the airmen and those helping them. It shows the desperation of all those seeking passage to Spain, the myriad dangers they faced, and the lengths they would go to in order to survive.” To order, contact Potomac Books. See also Amazon. For information on the audio version, click here.
Carver, Tom, Where the Hell Have You Been?: One Mans’s Incredible Escape. “In November 1942, two nights after the Battle of El Alamein, a young British army officer was captured. As the Nazis deliberated about what to do with him, Richard Carver had particular reason to be afraid: unknown to anyone, he was the stepson of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, the Allied Commander who had just inflicted the first serious defeat on the Third Reich…This gripping story tells of Richard’s internment in a POW camp in northern Italy – the same camp made famous by Eric Newby – and of his subsequent escape. Having decided to risk making his way back to Allied HQ in the south, he embarked on a gruelling 500-mile journey through German-occupied territory, evading capture again and again and ultimately being saved by a family of brave Italian peasants who jeopardised not just their own lives but those of an entire village to hide him. In the winter of 1943, a year after he disappeared, he staggered back into Army HQ, to be greeted by his now famous stepfather with the words, ‘Where the hell have you been?’ This is a great adventure story – a reminder of a lost age when, in the face of terrifying challenges, a generation rose to extraordinary feats of valour in the service of a cause greater than themselves.” Available from Amazon.
Caspers, Elsa, To Save a Life, Memoirs of a Dutch Resistance Courier, Lodon: A Deirdre McDonald Book, 1995. Elsa Caspers was a member of a Dutch Resistance group in the Utrecht area who hid Jewish families and passed Allied airmen and soldiers down the line. She was personally involved in helping Brigadier Hackett to escape after Arnhem. Available from Amazon.
Causer, H. Phillip, M.I.A. (Missing in Action), Phillips Publishing Co., Norwell, MA, 1977. “This is the story of escape and evasion, of how the author, after being shot down by ground fire while strafing an enemy aerodrome, evaded capture, fought side by side with the Maquis (Free French), and finally after one unsuccessful attempt, made good his escape back to England and his fighter squadron.” “On the day he was shot down, the Maquis (F.F.I., French Forces of the Interior), who had been fighting an underground war since the fall of France, received orders from General DeGaulle that they had been impatiently waiting for, to rise up with arms against their German conquerors.” Available from Amazon and ABEBooks.
Chancellor, Henry, Colditz: The Untold Story of World War II’s Great Escapes, Harper Perennial, 2003. Stories of the 300 who attempted various escapes from Colditz. “Colditz high security camp contained every presistent escaper, trouble maker and valuable hostage captured by the Germans in World War II. It was considered escape proof but the very opposite proved to be true. The prisoners pooled their collected talents to create the greatest escape academy of the war. Now, for the first time in Colditz, Henry Chancellor tells the prisoners’ own story. Many have never spoken before but using over fifty original interviews, the English, French, Dutch and Polish officers, and their guards describe their experiences in the notorious castle, and their escape across Nazi Germany. This book grew out of the television series, Escape From Colditz, which was twelve years in the making, won sweeping critical praise and has been shown around the world. It is a story of breathtaking ingenuity and daring, a game of wit between captives and captors.”
Chandler, Matt, Behind Enemy Lines: The Escape of Robert Grimes with the Comet Line, Capstone Press, Graphic Library, 2017. “Experience the thrilling and true story of Lt. Robert Grimes as he runs for his life to evade being captured by Nazi soldiers. Readers will follow Grimes as he escapes danger with help from the Comet Line, a resistance group that rescued Allied soldiers during WWII.” For further information and to purchase a copy, click here. For a reading level of grades 3 and 4.
Childers, Thomas, In the Shadows of War: An American Pilot’s Odyssey Through Occupied France and the Camps of Nazi Germany, Henry Holt & Co., 2003. Roy Allen’s odyssey through Occupied France and the camps of Nazi Germany. “In a small village in France during the fateful summer of 1944, three disparate lives converged in an unlikely secret alliance. Just after D-Day, Colette Florin hid downed American bomber pilot Roy Allen in her rooms above the tiny girls’ school where she taught. While concealing him, she was drawn deeper into the clandestine world of the regional underground. There she met the local leader of the Resistance: Pierre Mulsant, a young Frenchman trained by the British secret service who had parachuted into France in the spring of 1944.
Drawn from extensive interviews, letters, and archival documents in Britain, France, Germany, and the United States, In the Shadows of War follows the fateful twists and turns of Allen’s journey from rural France to Paris, capture by the Gestapo, imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp and then a POW camp, and eventual liberation. It is an unforgettable, profoundly moving human drama of love and courage and sacrifice.” Available from Amazon and Macmillan.
Clutton-Brock, Oliver, RAF Evaders, The Comprehensive Story of Thousands of Escapers and Their Escape Lines, Western Europe, 1940-1945, London: Grubb Street, 2009. “Packed with information, key figure biogs and listings–2,198 evaders identified–this is valuable testimony to the courage of all those involved.” “During the five years from May 1940 to May 1945 several thousand Allied airmen, forced to abandon their aircraft behind enemy lines, evaded capture and reached freedom, by land, sea and air.
The territory held by the Germans was immense – from Norway and Denmark in the north, through Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg to the south of France – and initially there was no organization to help the men on the run. The first one to assist the evaders and escapers (“E & E” as the Americans called them) was the PAT line, along the Mediterranean coast to Perpignan and down the Spanish border; named after a naval officer Pat O’ Leary, from 1942 it became the PAO line.
Next was the Comet line, from Brussels to the Pyrenees. Thousands of brave people were to be involved for whom, if caught, the penalty was death. Theirs is a stirring and awe-inspiring story. Respected historian Oliver Clutton-Brock has researched in depth this secret world of evasion, uncovering some treachery and many hitherto unpublished details, operations and photos.
It is a tremendous reference work, written in his own colorful style with numerous anecdotes, which fills a gap of knowledge formerly unavailable to historians, professional or amateur. Packed with information, key figure biographies and listings – 2,094 evaders identified – this is a valuable testimony to the courage of all those involved.” Available from Amazon.
Consolmagno, Joe (ed.), Through the Eye of the Needle, 68 First Person Accounts of Combat, Evasion, and Capture by World War II Airmen, Kerrville, TX: Stalag Luft III Former Prisoners of War (publisher), 1992. Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Cooper, Alan, Free to Fight Again, RAF Escapes & Evasions 1940-1945, Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Aviation: 2009. “To survive baling out from a doomed aircraft or a crash-landing in enemy occupied territory certainly required a large element of luck. To then manage to return to Allied shores inevitably needed considerably more good fortune and often the assistance of local patriots and resistance workers.
This book contains the amazing stories of over seventy such escapes, many first-hand accounts. It includes aircrew who found their way to freedom from Europe and places as far away as the Bay of Bengal. There are stories of hi-jacked aircraft, crossing crocodile infested swamps, evasion by camel and coffin, survival in the jungle and brushes with the Gestapo.Seventy stories of baling out or crash-landing in enemy occupied territory and escaping or evading capture.” Below is what appears to be a new edition of the book. Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Cooper, Alan W., Free to Fight Again, RAF Escapes and Evasions 1940-45, Wellingborough, Northhamptonshire: William Kimber & Co., 1988. This appears to be the same as the 2009 edition shown above.
Crawley, Aidan, Escape from Germany, Dorset Press, 1987. The complete account of escape attempts from every German POW camp. “Escape from Germany was originally issued by the Air Historical Branch of the Air Ministry and was not available to the public. This edition contains the original text and photographs, together with a new introduction.”
“Out of the ten thousand British Air Force prisoners who were in permanent camps in Germany in the Second World War, less than thirty ever reached Britain or neutral territory, despite the most energetic and highly-organised attempts. Even so, for many prisoners of war, the arguments in favour of trying to escape were overwhelming.
This book contains the true and often incredible stories of the heroic efforts of the members of the RAF and the Army who tried to escape from prisoner of war camps in Germany. This authoritative account of their many exploits, drawn from the narratives of the men themselves, makes compelling reading.
It includes such remarkable stories as ‘The Wooden Horse’ — a hollow vaulting horse that was used to disguise a tunnel entrance, enabling three men to escape and finally reach England, and of the persistent and ingenious attempts to escape made at Colditz, known as ‘The Escapers’ Camp’. Although the castle was built of stone on a foundation of rock, more than thirty tunnels were begun here.
‘Escape from Germany’, subtitled ‘The methods of escape used by RAF airmen during the Second World War’, was originally issued by the Air Historical Branch of the Air Ministry and was not available to the public. This reissue contains an introduction, written by Air Commodore H A Probert, Head of the Air Historical Branch (RAF).” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Cupp, William, A Wartime Journey: Bail-Out over Belgium, World War II. Manhattan, Kansas: Sunflower University Press, 2002. AFEES member Bill Cupp’s evasion story. “Dr. William Lee Cupp, ball turret gunner on the B-24 bomber Won Long Hop, parachuted from the crippled aircraft on June 14, 1944, as it went down over Belgium. He spent the next ten months first evading the enemy, then being sheltered by the brave men and women of the Belgian and French Resistance, and finally as a prisoner of war of the Third Reich.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Cury, Ed C., Time Out for War, An American Airman’s True Firsthand Account of Survival in Nazi-Occupied Territory, Moore Haven, FL: Rainbow Books, 1988. “A swarm of Me 109s cut short Ed Cury’s thirtieth mission in his B-17–and sent him plummeting headlong into one of the great dramas of WWII. Parachuting into occupied France, Cury’s flight from his German pursuers was made on foot, clinging for hours to the rudder of a barge, on a railroad handcar . . . and by motorbike in the company of French Resistance fighters… and ( ended with) a perilous flight to Allies skies in a captured German Heinkel.”
Daley-Brusselmans, Yvonne, Anne Brusselmans, Mission Accomplished: My Mother, privately issued, 1998.
Daley-Brusselmans, Yvonne, Belgium Rendez-Vous 127 Revisite, Manhattan, Kansas: Sunflower University Press, 2001. A personal account by Yvonne Daley-Brusselmans of how she and her family aided downed Allied airmen and transmitted intelligence to the Allies while living in German-occupied Belgium during WWII. Mrs. Daley-Brusselmans has been a long-time active member of AFEES.
Darling, Donald, Secret Sunday, London: William Kimber, 1975. Photos courtesy of Paul Nottingham. (See the dedication to Andrée de Jongh, founder and head of the Comet Line.) Operating within the Secret Service with the code name of ‘Sunday’ the author was responsible for setting up and maintaining a network of agents and escape routes through France and Spain by means of which a total of 3,000 British service men of World War II successfully escaped to safety despite the vigilant eyes of the Germans and their collaborators.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Darling, Donald, Sunday at Large, Assignments of a Secret Agent, London: William Kimber, 1977. “For purposes of safe communication and even more so for convenience and brevity, my name in Lisbon in 1940 became ‘Sunday’ and with that chaste pseudonym I communicated by letter and by radio with other personified days of the week. (Airey Neave in London who was ‘Saturday’ and at Madrid Michael Creswell, ‘Monday’.) They , with me, were concerned with the evasion from European countries occupied by the Germans, of RAF and Allied Air Forces’ personnel.” Available from AbeBooks and Amazon.
David, Clayton C., They Helped Me Escape: From Amsterdam to Gibraltar in 1944. There were two editions, the first published as follows: Manhattan, Kansas: Sunflower University Press, 1988. The second, revised, edition was published in 2010. Both editions’ front covers are reproduced below. Clayton C. David was a pilot during WWII. He had the distinction of evading capture and escaping from enemy lines when h bailed out of his battle-damaged B-17 Flying Fortress over Holland. After four years on active duty he returned to his work in agribusiness, but remained active in the Air Force Reserves, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. Available from Amazon.
Davies-Scourfield, Gris, In Presence of my Foes, A Memoir of Calais, Colditz and Wartime Escape Adventures, Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Military, 2004. “As a young platoon commander in May 1940, Gris Davies-Scourfield found himself in the thick of the desperate action at Calais. His Battalion, the 60th Rifles, was part of 30 Infantry Brigade put in to relieve pressure on the BEF’s withdrawal through Dunkirk. Winston Churchill, the newly appointed Prime Minister, gave specific orders that they were not to surrender. As a result there were very heavy losses and Davies-Scourfield was seriously wounded and captured. Before long he recovered sufficiently to make his first escape under a pile of rubbish. He was on the run living with gallant members of the Polish Underground for nine months. Recaptured, interrogation by the Gestapo failed to break him; his greatest fear was that he would betray his friends. Sent to Colditz Castle, the ‘escape-proof’ prison for troublesome POWs, he again managed to break out only to be recaptured, due to a minor mistake on this documents. Returned to the Castle, he witnessed its liberation by the US Army.’ Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Dear, Ian, Escape and Evasion, Prisoner of War Breakouts and the Routes to Safety in World War II, London: Arms and Armour Press, 1997. “Avoiding the best-known stories of the period, Ian Dear concentrates here on the groups that worked to assist escapes and to keep open the routes to safety. There are accounts of German and Japanese prisoners as well as those from British, Commonwealth and American units, and the complexity of the operations is graphically portrayed.” Available from Amazon.
De Graaf, Bob, Stepping Stones to Freedom, Help to Allied Airmen in The Netherlands During World War II, Amsterdam: Geert van der Meulen, 2003. Originally published in Dutch as Schakels naar de vrijheid by SDU Publishers, The Hague, 1995. A definitive work on the aid to Allied airmen by Dutch Resistance groups. Originally published in Dutch, it was translated through the efforts of “The Escape”, a Dutch helper commemorative group, and distributed to AFEES members by AFEES. The complete text of the book can be viewed here. The front cover appears below. It may be available from Amazon.
DeMallie, H.R., Behind Enemy Lines: A Young Pilot’s Story. Publisher is Sterling. AFEES member Howard Demaillie is helped by the Dutch underground and imprisoned in a German POW camp. “An unforgettable autobiographical tale of survival during World War II. DeMaillie, pilot of a B-17, describes in riveting detail his successful bombing run from England to the industrial center of Germany. But things go very wrong on the return flight when his plane is struck by enemy fire and the crew is forced to parachute into Holland. Although a group of heroic Dutch resistance fighters try to hide him, the Nazis eventually capture DeMaillie and send him to a prisoner of war camp. There, he endures hunger, cold, and brutality until the Allies finally free him. Years later, he returns to Holland in search of his brave Dutch rescuers.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
De Ridder Files, Yvonne, The Quest for Freedom, Belgian Resistance in World War II, Santa Barbara, CA: Fithian Press, 1991. “The author was extensively involved in both sabotage and espionage, and later in the sheltering and movement of allied airmen. She was betrayed, tortured, and when she refused to divulge any information she was sentenced to be hanged; but she was saved by the liberation of Antwerp on 4 September 1944.” Available from Amazon and Books-a-Million.
Devereaux, Brian, Escape to Pagan: The True Story of One Family’s Fight to Survive in World War II Occupied Asia, 2016. “A gripping true story of survival set in Hong Kong and Burma, as one family struggles against overwhelming odds in World War Two. Divided by war, in order to see each other again they must overcome terrible danger. The beautiful landscape of Burma and the tragedy of war are evocatively portrayed in this haunting and moving book.” Available from AbeBooks and Amazon.
Dolph, Harry A., The Evader, An American Airman’s Eight Months With the Dutch Underground, Austin, TX: Eakin Press, 1991. “Just remember that there never was such an air war before, never since and likely never again. When you read of the events recounted by Harry, just remember that his experience was unique, shared by only a very few Americans.” Good reading. – John H. Woolnough Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Doyle, Robert, A Prisoner’s Duty: Great Escapes from the American Revolution to the Middle East. Published by Bantam (1999) and Naval Institute Press. “Throughout our nation’s history American servicemen and civilians have resisted captivity in every form, drawing on special powers of ingenuity, determination, and patriotism to escape– sometimes repeatedly. Robert Doyle’s penetrating look at some extraordinary escapes by Americans breaks new ground in escape psychology, shedding light on the types of people who try to breakout and those who do not. This engrossing study probes the personal and social impacts of escape, the many motivations that spur such acts, and the concept of the escaper as the ideal prisoner and the ultimate patriot.” Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Dumon, Andrée, Je ne vous ai pas oubliés: Liberté, 1945. (I did not forget you. Freedom. 1945). Published June 2018. The description from Amazon.fr , followed by an English translation, reads:
Il est frappant de voir avec quelle simplicité, comme si c était une évidence, [Nadine] raconte ce qu elle n acceptera jamais elle- même de qualifier d héroïsme. Et pourtant, c était bien de l héroïsme que de prendre consciemment le risque d être arrêtée et exécutée pour refuser la défaite et l occupa- tion, pour agir face à l inacceptable, pour venir en aide à des hommes pourchassés, pour contribuer à la Libération, pour résister, en somme. » Nadine Dumon est née à Uccle le 5 septembre 1922 et y demeure toujours. Durant l Occupation allemande, elle est un agent du réseau de renseignement Luc-Marc, puis du réseau d évasion Comète qui exfiltre des militaires et des pilotes alliés vers la Grande-Bretagne. Elle n a pas encore vingt ans lorsqu elle est arrêtée par la police allemande. Elle est ensuite déportée, mais survivra à l enfer concentrationnaire nazi. Mariée à Gustave Antoine, mère de deux enfants, elle perpétue le souvenir en tissant au fil des années et de ses voyages en Angleterre, en Australie, aux États-Unis, en Nouvelle-Zélande d indéfectibles liens avec les hommes qu elle a contribué à sauver, mais aussi avec d autres helpers. Elle conti- nue tant que ses forces le lui permettront à témoigner dans les écoles ou pour la télévision (américaine, basque, japonaise…) et à recevoir historiens, journalistes et admirateurs.”
A Google translation into English is as follows:
Dunbar, John, Escape Through the Pyrenees, New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1955. “American and British newspapers of July 5, 1943, carried stories about routine bombing missions conducted on the previous day by aircraft of the United States Eighth Air Force against enemy installations on the coast of France. Nothing spectacular happened; only thirteen planes were lost. But as long as I live, I shall never forget the Fourth of July, 1943. I was a member of the crew of one of those thirteen planes.” Available from Amazon.
Durand, Arthur A., Stalag Luft III, The Secret Story, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988. “Stalag Luft III is the camp most associated with the Allied prisoners of war experience in World War II Germany. Housing mainly British and American flyers, it was the historical setting for the movie The Great Escape. As with most Hollywood treatments, the film blurred the line between fact and fiction. In Stalag Luft III: The Secret Story, Arthur A. Durand offers the first comprehensive historical examination of what camp life was like, from the mundane drudgery of the prisoners’ daily lives to their harrowing struggle for survival against an enemy responsible for the deaths of millions. Relying on coded records kept by appointed camp historians, as well as personal interviews, letters, logs, diaries, and recently declassified government documents, Durand expertly combines impressive scholarship with dramatic narrative.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Eisner, Peter, The Freedom Line, The Brave Men and Women Who Rescued Allied Airmen from the Nazis During World War II, New York: William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2004. The Freedom Line traces the thrilling and true story of Robert Grimes, a twenty-year-old American B-17 pilot whose plane was shot down over Belgium on October 20, 1943. Wounded, disoriented and scared, he was rescued by operatives of the Comet Line, a group of tenacious young women and men from Belgium, France and Spain who joined forces to recover Allied aircrews and take them to safety. Brought back to health with their help, Grimes was pursued by bloodhounds, the Luftwaffe security police and the Gestapo. And on Christmas Eve 1943, he and a group of fellow American faced unexpected danger and tragedy on the border between France and Spain.” Available from Amazon and HarperCollins.
English, Ian, MC – Home by Christmas, 1997, “To commemorate the 74th anniversary in September 2017 of the Italian Armistice, the book Home by Christmas?, one of the most important PoW texts and always much in demand, has been reprinted. First published in 1997 by Ian English, himself a PoW, and revised by his children Christine, John and Diana 20 years on, the book recounts the remarkable adventures experienced by some of the 600 prisoners of war who marched out of camp PG49 at Fontanellato after the Armistice on September 8th 1943. It is an invaluable resource and several of those who told their stories were early supporters of MSMT. The book also tells of the extraordinary bravery and sacrifices of the Italian people without whose assistance the ex-PoWs would have been forced to give themselves up. As with the first edition, MSMT will receive proceeds from sales of the book which is priced at £12.95. Contact Christine English at email@example.com for further details.” For the Monte San Martino Trust website, see here.
Evans, Alfred John, The Escaping Club, UK: Foothill Media Ltd., 2012. On July 16, 1916, Reconnaissance pilot officer with 3 Squadron RFC crash-landed over enemy territory. Captured, he escaped twice, the second time resulting in his reaching freedom in Switzerland. Sent to Palestine, his plane came down with engine failure and we was taken prisoner by the Turks. He made another escape but was recaptured. Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Evans, Bryn, Airmen’s Incredible Escapes: Accounts of Survival in the Second World War, Yorkshire, England and Havertown, PA: Pen and Sword Books, 2020. “Allied air power made a major, arguably decisive, contribution to victory in The Second World War both in the European and Pacific theaters. The cost in men and machines was horrific with Bomber Command suffering 50% air crew casualties. While many perished, others shot down over enemy territory or water survived only after overcoming extraordinary danger and hardship. Their experiences often remained untold not just for the duration of the War but for many years. The author has gathered together a wealth of unpublished stories from airmen of many nationalities, be they British, Commonwealth or American. Some involve avoiding or escaping from capture, others surviving against all the odds, braving extreme elements and defying death from wounds, drowning or starvation. Importantly the accounts of those who survived the battle in the skies cheating the enemy and the grim reaper give the reader a chilling insight into the fate of the many thousands of brave young men who were not so fortunate. The result is an inspiring and gripping read which bears testimony to human courage and resilience.” Available from Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Casemate, and Pen&Sword Books.
Fahrenwald, Ted, Bailout Over Normandy, A Flyboy’s Adventures with the French Resistance and Other Escapades in Occupied France, Philadelphia: Casemate Publishers, 2017. “A daredevil pilot in the famed 352nd Fighter Squadron, the author of this remarkable memoir bailed out of his burning Mustang on D-Day+2 and was launched on a thrilling adventure on the ground in Occupied France. After months living and fighting with the French Resistance, Ted was captured by the Wehrmacht, interrogated as a spy, and interned in a POW camp – and made a daring escape just before his deportation to Germany. Nothing diminished this pilot’s talent for spotting the ironic humor in even the most aggravating or dangerous situations, nor his penchant for extracting his own improvised and sometimes hilarious version of justice. A suspenseful WWII page-turner and an outrageously witty tale of daring and friendship, this book brings to vivid life the daily bravery, mischief, and intrigues of fighter pilots, Resistance fighters, and other Allies in the air and on the ground. The author recorded his swashbuckling adventures at age 24, after his discharge and return to the States. Afterward he went into business and never again put pen to paper. But his immediate reminiscence of his wartime experience—recently found—reveal a literary talent that is rare.” Available from Amazon, Casemate Publishers, and Barnes&Noble.
Failmezger, Victor, Rome, City in Terror: The Nazi Occupation of 1943-1944, Osprey Publishing, 2020. rom the street fighting that heralded the German occupation to the Gestapo repression that followed, this is the gripping story of the German occupation of Rome from the Italian armistice in September 1943 until the Allied liberation of the city on June 5, 1944.
In September 1943, following wave upon wave of Allied bombing, Italy announced an armistice with the Allies. Shortly afterwards, the German Army disarmed Italian forces and, despite military and partisan resistance, quickly overran Rome. Rome – City in Terror is a comprehensive history of the nine-month-long German occupation of the city that followed.
The Gestapo wasted no time enforcing an iron grip on the city once the occupation was in place. They swiftly eliminated the Carabinieri, the Italian paramilitary force, rounded up thousands of Italians to build extensive defensive lines across Italy, and, at 5am one morning, arrested more than 1,000 Roman Jews and sent them to Auschwitz. Resistance, however, remained strong. To aid the thousands of Allied POWs who escaped after the dissolution of the Italian army, priests, diplomats, and escaped ex-POWs operating out of the Vatican formed a nationwide organization called the “Escape Line.” More than 4,000 Allied POWs scattered all over Italy were sheltered, clothed, and fed by these courageous Italians, whose lives were forfeit if their activities were discovered. Meanwhile, as food became scarce and the Gestapo began to raid on homes and institutions, Italian partisan fighters launched attack after attack on German military units in the city, with the threat of execution never far away.
This is the compelling story of an Eternal City brought low, of the terror and hardship of occupation, and of the disparate army of partisan fighters, displaced aristocrats, Vatican priests, Allied POWs, and ordinary citizens who battled for the liberation of Rome. Available from Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and Bookshop.
Felton, Mark, Castle of the Eagles, Escape from Mussolini’s Colditz, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017. “The astonishing story of twenty-four British prisoners who used tunnels to break out of a highly fortified Italian castle-turned-prison during World War II. In March 1943, at Vincigliata Castle, a menacing medieval fortress set in the beautiful Tuscan hills of Italy, an extraordinary assemblage of middle-aged British POWs were finally ready to execute an escape. The castle, which became a special prisoner of war camp on Benito Mussolini’s personal order, housed some of the most senior officers of the Allied army during World War II and was guarded by almost two hundred Italian soldiers and a vicious fascist commando who answered directly to Il Duce, Mussolini himself….” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Felton, Mark, Zero Night, The Untold Story of World War Two’s Most Daring Escape, Icon Books, 2015. “On August 30, 1942 – ‘Zero Night’ – 40 Allied officers staged the most audacious mass escape of World War II. Months of meticulous planning and secret training hung in the balance during three minutes of mayhem as the officers boldly stormed the huge double fences at Oflag Prison. Employing wooden ladders and bridges previously disguised as bookshelves, the highly coordinated effort succeeded and set 36 men free into the German countryside. Later known as the ‘Warburg Wire Job’, fellow prisoner and fighter ace Douglas Bader once described the attempt as ‘the most brilliant escape conception of this war’. The first author to tackle this remarkable story in detail, historian Mark Felton brilliantly evokes the suspense of the escape and the adventures of those escapees who managed to elude the Germans, as well as the courage of the civilians who risked their lives to help them in enemy territory. Fantastically intimate and told with a novelist’s eye for drama and detail, this rip-roaring adventure is all the more thrilling because it really happened.” Available on Amazon, ABEBooks, and Allen&Unwin.
Fisher, Charles A., Mission Number Three: Missing in Action. Latrobe, PA: Saint Vincent College Center for Northern Appalachian Studies. General Editors: David Wilmes and Richard David Wissolik. “There have been countless books written about war and men in war. The actions of generals, presidents, and kings are well documented, while the stories of average soldiers, their feelings, hopes and simple courage, are overlooked and forgotten. Charles Fisher is one of these men. Mission Number Three: Missing in Action by Charles Fisher is a first-person account of the author’s experiences as an American airman reported missing in action in enemy-occupied France during World War II. The story starts 6 September 1943, when Fisher and his crew embark on a routine bombing mission. Their target is an aircraft-electrical factory in Stuttgart, Germany. Enemy fighters attack their squadron. Fisher’s B-17 escapes serious damage and delivers its bombs, but on its return journey, and some fifty-miles north of Paris, the plane runs out of fuel. Deciding not to abandon the Flying Fortress, Fisher and his crew stick together for a crash landing. They survive. After destroying as much as they can of the plane’s equipment, they scatter through the countryside, hoping to escape the enemy. Fisher decides to set out with his buddy Jim. What follows for them is a series of adventures through the French Undergound to freedom.” Available from AbeBooks and Amazon.
Fishman, Jack, And the Walls Came Tumbling Down, The Secret World War II Allied Operation That Saved D-Day and Unleashed the Greatest Mass Prison Escape in History, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1982. “Who or what in Amiens prison, in northern France, on February 18, 1944, was vital enough to merit the Allies’ blasting down the walls in a treetop height attack that freed more than 700 men and women? The stakes were clear: a possibly disastrous postponement of the D-Day invasion, the loss of countless more lives, and even the outcome of the war itself.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Fleming, Brian, Heroes in the Shadows, Humanitarian Action And Courage in the Second World War, Amberley, 2019. This book focuses on World War II and extraordinary examples of heroism at the risk to one’s own life and family. It specifically considers the actions of individuals in five escape lines set up to help those on the run from the Nazis, French, and Italian Fascists. The author’s research provides a more complete picture than before of how secret escape routes operated. And he shows the qualities of the people involved, whose courage held out in all kinds of adversity. They include diplomats who assisted those “on-the-run,” often in defiance of the authorities at home; a rescue organization in Marseille helping fugitives through Vichy France to the port city and freedom; a group in Belgium transporting downed airmen through occupied France, over the Pyrenees, through Spain and back to Gibraltar; the community in Assisi that housed and hid fleeing Jews; and a Capuchin priest in Marseille and Nice who worked with people from many backgrounds to save Jewish fugitives, then continued his work in Rome. These stories will appeal to anyone who likes to read of heroic acts where good overcomes evil, and will fascinate anyone interested in the Holocaust and World War II generally. This book illustrates the consequences of man-made horrors, but also the best of humanity in dark times. Available from Waterstones, Barnes&Noble, and Amazon.
Floyd, Maita, Stolen Years: In My Little Corner of the World. Eskualdon Publishers Ltd., 1996. An inspiring tale of a young girl’s life in Occupied France. The author can be reached at mfloyd at royaloakslife.net. Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Foot, M.R.D and Langley, J.M., MI9 Escape and Evasion 1939-1945 Boston: Little Brown, 1980. “A classic espionage book about the British secret service that arranged the daring escapes of allied prisoners during World War II. Michael Foot, CBE, was decorated for service with the French Resistance in Brittany. J.M. Langley organized the escape from German prisoner-of-war camps of around three thousand people. MI9, this small, dedicated and endlessly inventive team furnished money, maps, clothes, compasses, hacksaws, etc. to airmen and POWs.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Ford, Herbert, Flee the Captor, Nashville, Tenn.: Southern Publishing Assn., 1966. The story of the Dutch-Paris Underground and its leader, John Weidner. “The story of John Henry Weidner, a hero of history’s greatest holocaust, who saved the lives of 800 Jews, more than 100 Allied aviators, and many others who fled Nazism.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Foster, Steven with Alan Clark, The Soldier Who Came Back: The True Account of a Heart-Stopping Journey and a Heart-Breaking Decision, London: Mirror Books, 2018. “Northern Poland, 1940: at the Nazi war camp Stalag XX-A, two men struck up an unlikely friendship which led to one of the most remarkable wartime escape stories ever told. Antony Coulthard was the privately educated son of wealthy parents with a degree in modern languages from Oxford. Fred Foster, the son of a bricklayer, had left school at 14. This mismatched young pair hatched a plan to disguise themselves and simply walk out of the camp, board a train, and head straight into the heart of Nazi Germany. This audacious plan involved 18 months of undercover work, including Antony spending 3 hours each evening teaching Fred German. They set off for the Swiss border via Germany, but when they reached the border town of Lake Constance, with Switzerland within their reach, Antony crossed over into freedom, while Fred’s luck ran out. What happened to them both next is both heartbreaking and inspiring.” Available from Amazon, AbeBooks, and Independent Publishers Group.
Freeman, Godfrey, Escape from Arnhem, A Glider Pilot’s Story, Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Aviation, 2010. “This is the remarkable true story of a young army glider pilot’s experience of the last days in the defence of the Arnhem Bridge, his eventual capture and then escape to be adopted by the Resistance, the hair-raising journey through occupied Europe and his eventual return to the UK.” It includes his hospitalization claiming shell-shock, his escaping by jumping out of an upstairs window, eventually making contact with the Dutch underground.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Freeman, Gregory A., The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II, “The astonishing, never-before-told story of the greatest rescue mission of World War II-when the OSS set out to recover more than 500 airmen trapped behind enemy lines…. During a bombing campaign, hundreds of American airmen were shot down in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia. Local Serbian villagers risked their own lives to give refuge to the soldiers, and for months the airmen lived in hiding, waiting for rescue. In 1944, Operation Halyard was born. The risks were incredible. The starving Americans in Yugoslavia had to construct a landing strip-without tools, without alerting the Germans, and without endangering the villagers. And the rescue planes had to make it through enemy airspace and back-without getting shot down themselves. Classified for over half a century for political reasons, the full account of this unforgettable story of loyalty, self-sacrifice, and bravery is now being told for the first time. The Forgotten 500 is the breathtaking, behind-the-scenes look at the greatest escape of World War II.” Available from AbeBooks, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
Froom, Phil, Evasion & Escape Devices Produced by MI9, MIS-X, and SOE in World War II, Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2015. This is a remarkable book in terms of the sheer amount of information and the high quality illustrations. “This book describes the design, manufacture, covert shipment and use of the many ingenious evasion and escape devices provided to Allied troops during WWII. Following the fall of mainland Europe, hostile Allied actions against land-based Axis forces were generally limited to air attacks. However, as the numbers of those attacks increased, the number of aircraft and crews failing to return grew alarmingly: something needed to be done to provide these air crews with aids to enable them to evade to safe territory or escape captivity, or losses of irreplaceable crews would become critical. Britain’s MI-9 and U.S. MIS-X organizations were formed solely to support evaders and prisoners of war in occupied territories. They developed a wide variety of evasion and escape devices that were given to Allied Forces prior to operations in hostile territory or delivered clandestinely to POWs. It worked: the aids facilitated the return of thousands of men to their units.” Available from Amazon.
Fry, Helen, MI9, A History of the Secret Service for Escape and Evasion in World War Two, Yale University Press, 2020. A thrilling history of MI9—the WWII organization that engineered the escape of Allied forces from behind enemy lines. When Allied fighters were trapped behind enemy lines, one branch of military intelligence helped them escape: MI9. The organization set up clandestine routes that zig-zagged across Nazi-occupied Europe, enabling soldiers and airmen to make their way home. Secret agents and resistance fighters risked their lives and those of their families to hide the men.
Drawing on declassified files and eye-witness testimonies from across Europe and the United States, Helen Fry provides a significant reassessment of MI9’s wartime role. Central to its success were figures such as Airey Neave, Jimmy Langley, Sam Derry, and Mary Lindell—one of only a few women parachuted into enemy territory for MI9. This astonishing account combines escape and evasion tales with the previously untold stories behind the establishment of MI9—and reveals how the organization saved thousands of lives. Helen Fry is a specialist in the history of British Intelligence. She is the author of The Walls Have Ears, The London Cage, and over twenty books focusing on intelligence and POWs in World War II. She lives in London. Available from Yale University Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
Fry, Varian, Surrender on Demand, Boulder: Johnson Books, 1997. “Varian Fry, a young editor from New York, traveled to Marseille after Germany defeated France in the summer of 1940. As the representative of the Emergency Rescue Committee, a private American relief organization, he offered aid and advice to refugees who found themselves threatened with extradition to Nazi Germany under Article 19 of the Franco-German armistice–the ‘Surrender on Demand’ clause. Working day and night in opposition to French and even American authorities, Fry assembled an unlikely band of associates and built an elaborate rescue network. By the time Fry left France after 13 months, he and his colleagues had manage to spirit more the 1,500 people from France, among them some of Europe’s most prominent politicians, artists, writers, scientists, and musicians. Their arrival in the United States significantly expanded the intellectual exodus from Europe that began when Hitler came to power, and permanently changed the face of American culture.” Available from AbeBooks and Amazon.
Gallagher, Mike, With Recce at Arnhem, The Recollections of Trooper Des Evans, A 1st Airborne Division Veteran, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, U.K.: Pen & Sword Military, 2015. “Determined to ‘do his bit’, Des Evans absconded from a reserved occupation in 1939 and joined the newly formed Reconnaissance Corps. He saw action in North Africa and Italy before being evacuated back to England with pneumonia in early 1944. Once fully recovered, he volunteered as a wireless operator with 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron. After parachute training, he joined C Troop in time to play his role in Operation MARKET GARDEN, the ill-fated but glorious attempt to seize the Rhine Bridge at Arnhem….Des was abushed twice and badly wounded. Fortunate to survive, he became a POW. After eight long months’ captivity moving between camps, Des escaped to American lines.” Available at Amazon and AbeBooks.
Gay, Timothy M., Savage Will, The Daring Escape of Americans Trapped Behind Enemy Lines, NAL Caliber: New York, 2013. The book “recounts a tale of survival, daring and evasion behind enemy lines: that of American medics and nurses who endured two months in Nazi-occupied Albania–and the fearless citizens and Allied intelligence officers who risked all to save them.” Available from Amazon and PenguinRandomHouse.
Gibbs, Patrick, It’s Further Via Gibraltar, London: Faber and Faber, 1961. The story of a Spitfire pilot shot down over France. No further details.
Goodall, Scott, The Freedom Trail: Following one of the hardest wartime escape routes across the Pyrenees into Northern Spain, Banbury, Oxfordshire: Inchmere Design, Ltd., 2005. “The Pyrenees Mountain Chain forms the border between France and Spain and stretches for 270 miles from the Mediterranean Sea in the east, to the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean in the west. During the Second World War, between the years 1940-44, more than 33,000 civilians and 6,000 Allied servicemen were forced to tackle these peaks in an effort to escape from Nazi-occupied Europe and regain their liberty via neutral Spain. Scott Goodall’s guidebook describes in detail one of the hardest high-level escape routes of all, Le Chemin de la Liberté or Freedom Trail across the Central Pyrenees between the town of Saint-Girons in the French département of Ariège, to Esterri d’Aneu in Spain.” Available from AbeBooks and Amazon.
Govers, Wim and Dries Majewski, Vleigtuigcrashes in Mol tijdens WOII, published by Verbroedering Vaderlandlevende Groeperingen (VVG), 2017. The price is €15 or $17.76. Envelope and shipping cost to the USA: €9,30 or $11. Total costs: $28,76. If you are interested, please transfer $28,76 on Account: BE82 9795 2738 5668, BIC: ARSPBE22XXX. Name: VVG Mol. Adress: Feynend 79, 2400 Mol. Note: name, full address and ‘book aircraft crashes’. Also notify Wim Govers at wim.govers at gmail.com, so he can tell their quaestor that an order has been placed. For further information, click here.
Grashio, Samuel C. and Norling, Bernard, Return to Freedom: The War Memoirs of Colonel Samuel C. Grashio USAAF, Military Collectors Pr News, 1982. The escape story of Grashio, the only mass escape from a Japanese POW camp. Available from Amazon and AbeBooks. For further information, see Wikipedia article on Grashio.
Hackett, John W., I Was A Stranger, New York: Berkley Books, 1990. First published in 1977 by Chatto & Windus, Ltd. General Hackett’s remarkable true story. “Arnhem, 1944: A death trap for Allied troops overwhelmed by German forces. Severely wounded, Hackett is left behind when his decimated brigade retreats. With the help of the Dutch Resistance, Hackett breaks out of a Nazi prison hospital and goes underground in occupied Holland–in the shadow of German military police headquarters. One wrong move could mean death…or worse. As the enemy dragnet tightens, he fights off Nazi manhunters and their treacherous collaborators. But to win his freedom, he must take the ultimate dare: the dangerous escape route by canoe across the stormy, well-guarded River Waal.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Hall, Chris, The Nurse Who Became a Spy. Madge Addy’s War Against Fascism. “The life story of Madge Addy, a working-class Manchester woman who volunteered to fight Fascism and Nazism in two major wars, is a truly remarkable one. Madge left her job and her husband to serve in the Spanish Civil War as a nurse with the Republican medical services. In Spain she was wounded in a bombing raid, fell in love with another foreign volunteer who became her second husband, was made a Prisoner of War and was the last British nurse to leave Spain, witnessing the horrors of Franco’s Fascist regime before she left. She was caught up in the ‘Fall of France’ and lived in Marseille with her Norwegian husband. From 1940 to 1944 Madge was first an amateur resister and later a full-time secret agent, working with the likes of Ian Garrow, Pat O’Leary and Guido Zembsch-Schreve. She also acted as a courier, flying to Lisbon to deliver and receive secret messages from British intelligence. She also became romantically involved with a Danish secret agent and married him after the war. Madge’s wartime achievements were recognised by the British with the award of an OBE and by the French with the award of the Croix de Guerre.
“Chris Hall brings Madge’s story to life using archive material and photographs from Britain, France, Spain and Norway. Madge’s Spanish Civil War experiences are vividly described in a mass of letters she wrote requesting medical aid and describing the harrowing conditions at her wartime hospital. Her activities in the Second World War show a woman with ‘nerves of steel’ and a bravery at times bordering on recklessness. As she herself said, ‘I believe in taking the war into the enemy camp’.” Available from Amazon, Pen&Sword, Casemate, and Barnes&Noble.
Halls, Monty, Escaping Hitler, Stories of Courage and Endurance on the Freedom Trails, Pan Macmillan. “A companion to the brilliant Channel 4 series of the same name, The Freedom Trails: Escaping Hitler tells the incredible story of some of the brave individuals who managed to escape Nazi Germany. Over 5,000 British, Commonwealth and American servicemen made the journey over the Pyrenees, the Slovenian mountains and the Italian alps and many died en route. However, the brave men and women of the resistance still managed to defy the odds and keep the routes open. Among those you’ll read about are Blondie Haslar, the leader of the Cockleshell Heroes, US airman Chuck Yaeger (whose story was retold in The Right Stuff) and Andree de Jongh, a young woman who risked her life to smuggle men through occupied France and survived being sent to two concentration camps. Based on in-depth research and interviews with survivors as well as his own experiences walking the trails, broadcaster and former Royal Marine Monty Halls book is dramatic and gripping from first page to last.” Available from TheBookPeople, AbeBooks, and Amazon.
Hannah, Kristin, The Nightingale. St. Martin’s Press, 2015. Historical novel set in WWII. “France, 1939 – In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France … but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can … completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.
With courage, grace, and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of World War II and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France―a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Harding, Stephen, Escape from Paris, A True Story of Love and Resistance in Wartime France. DaCapo Press, Hachette Book Group, 2019. Available from Amazon, Little Brown, and Hachette Book Group. “Escape from Paris is the true story of a small group of U.S. aviators whose four B-17 Flying Fortresses were shot down over German-occupied France on a single, fateful day: July 14, 1943, Bastille Day. They were rescued by brave French civilians and taken to Paris for eventual escape out of France. In the French capital, where German troops walked on every street and Gestapo agents hid around every corner, the flyers met a brave Parisian resistance family living and working in the Hôtel des Invalides, a complex of buildings and military memorials, where Nazi officials had set up offices. Hidden in the complex the Americans, along with dozens of other downed Allied pilots and resistance operatives, hatched daring escape plots. The danger of discovery by the Nazis grew every day, as did an unlikely romance when one of the American airmen begins a star-crossed wartime romance with the twenty-two-year old daughter of the family sheltering him–a noir tale of war, courage and desperation in the shadows of the City of Light.
Based on official American, French, and German documents, histories, personal memoirs, and the author’s interviews with several of the story’s key participants, Escape from Pariscrosses the traditional lines of World War II history with tense drama of air combat over Europe, the intrigue of occupied Paris, and courageous American and Allied pilots and French resistance fighters pitted against Nazi thugs. All of this set in one of the world’s most beautiful and captivating cities.”
Heaps, Leo, The Evaders, The story of the most amazing mass escape of World War II, Annapolis: Bluejacket Books, Naval Institute Press, 1976. “In the tradition of the great escape classics, this World War II adventure story offers a thrilling first-person account of the escape of Allied soldiers from behind German lines following the debacle at Arnhem, a September 1944 battle in Holland that resulted in eight thousand Allied casualties out of a force of ten thousand. Hidden by the Dutch Resistance in an area occupied by several divisions of German combat troops, some 250 men, singly and in groups, made their daring escapes, among the most remarkable of the war. This saga of human ingenuity and courage is told by one of the evaders himself, Leo Heaps. A Canadian paratrooper taken prisoner during the battle, Heaps managed to jump from a moving train on its way to Germany and escape. He subsequently returned to Holland and organized the successful rescues of other Arnhem survivors, earning a Military Cross for his actions. In this book he interweaves the stories of the men who escaped with those of the brave Dutch people who helped them. It is a moving portrayal of heroism and compassion told with a literary vigor that keeps readers enthralled. ” Available from AbeBooks and Amazon.
Horning, Art, In the Footsteps of a Flying Boot, New York: Carlton Press, Inc., 1994. AFEES member Art Horning’s evasion story. It contains a lot of material on the Brussels-based Belgian escape line known as Service EVA. “In the grandest traditions of the truly courageous U.S. 8th Air Force who fought in World War II, author Art Horning recounts his own personal memoir of the war, his bailing out of a burning plane, and of this four-month journey by boot to once again stand on allied soil. This is also the story of and a tribute to those many European citizens who literally placed their own lives in danger while helping airmen like Mr. Horning return safely.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Hornsey, Dennis, The Pilot Walked Home, London: Collins Clear-Type Press, 1946. Available from Amazon. No image available.
Howarth, David. We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance. “We Die Alone recounts one of the most exciting escape stories to emerge from the challenges and miseries of World War II. In March 1943, a team of expatriate Norwegian commandos sailed from northern England for Nazi-occupied arctic Norway to organize and supply the Norwegian resistance. But they were betrayed and the Nazis ambushed them. Only one man survived–Jan Baalsrud. This is the incredible and gripping story of his escape.
“Frostbitten and snowblind, pursued by the Nazis, he dragged himself on until he reached a small arctic village. He was near death, delirious, and a virtual cripple. But the villagers, at mortal risk to themselves, were determined to save him, and–through impossible feats–they did.
“We Die Alone is an astonishing true story of heroism and endurance. Like Slavomir Rawicz’s The Long Walk, it is also an unforgettable portrait of the determination of the human spirit.” Available from Amazon, Barnes&Noble. For a link to the movie version, click here.
Hutton, Clayton, Official Secret, The Remarkable Story of Escape Aids, London: Max Parrish, 1960. Concerns their invention, production, and use. “Major Clayton Hutton was the audacious and resourceful brain behind the invention, design, and production of escape aids for British armed forces. It was he who designed fret-saws that could be hidden in lead pencils; silk maps of Europe so thin they could be concealed in a playing card; and cigarette holders that were really high-powered telescopes. This book tells the remarkable story of these escape aids and of their eccentric inventor.” Available from Amazon.
Inks, Maj. James M., Eight Bailed Out, New York: Popular Library ( originally published by W.W. Norton & Co. in 1954), 1963. “One of the great escape stories of World War II. Dash, romance, and plenty of excitement.” “On July 28, 1944, eight members of a B-24 Liberator bomber bailed out over German-occupied Yugoslavia after the plane sustained damage during a bombing mission. The American crew landed behind enemy lines in German-occupied Montenegro where they were rescued by Serbian Chetnik guerrillas, who hid the downed airmen from German troops and attempted to return the rescued fliers to their base in Italy. James M. Inks, the navigator, kept a diary of the ten and a half months spent in the ‘protective custody’ of the Chetnik guerrillas as they sought to escape from German troops.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Jackson, Daniel, Fallen Tigers: The Fate of America’s Missing Airmen in China during World War II (Aviation and Air Power). “Mere months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent a volunteer group of American airmen to the Far East, convinced that supporting Chinese resistance against the continuing Japanese invasion would be crucial to an eventual Allied victory in World War II. Within two weeks of that fateful Sunday in December 1941, the American Volunteer Group―soon to become known as the legendary “Flying Tigers”―went into action. Audaciously led by master tactician Claire Lee Chennault, daring airmen such as David Lee “Tex” Hill and George B. “Mac” McMillan fought enemy air forces and armies in dangerous aerial duels despite being outnumbered and outgunned. Aviators who fell in combat and survived the crash or bailout faced the terrifying reality of being lost and injured in unfamiliar territory.
“In Fallen Tigers: The Fate of America’s Missing Airmen in China during World War II, historian Daniel Jackson, himself a combat-tested pilot, sheds light on the stories of downed aviators who attempted to evade capture by the Japanese in their bid to return to Allied territory. In gripping detail, he reveals that the heroism of these airmen was equaled, and often exceeded, by the Chinese soldiers and civilians who risked their lives to return them safely to American custody. His comprehensive research shows the drive to aid these airmen transcended ideology, as both Chinese Communists and Nationalists realized the commonality of their struggle against a despised enemy.
“Fallen Tigers is an incredible story of survival that insightfully illuminates the relationship between missing aircrew and their Chinese allies who were willing to save their lives at any cost. Based on thorough archival research and filled with compelling personal narratives from memoirs, wartime diaries, and dozens of interviews with veterans, this vital work offers an important new perspective on the Flying Tigers and the history of World War II in China.” Available from: University Press of Kentucky; Amazon; BarnesandNoble.
Jackson, Robert, Baling Out, Amazing Dramas of Military Flying, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, Pen & Sword Military, 2006. “To bale out of a stricken aeroplane is a pilot’s or air crew’s final chance to escape death. It is traumatic and hazardous exercise that is only practiced in extremes and is in itself full of danger with no guarantee of survival. Many struggled free of a flaming and spinning aircraft only to see their parachute alight above them, some were machine gunned to death by their opponents as they drifted to earth, some landed in mine-fields and were blown apart and many landed in forests and died suspended from the tree tops. Yet many survived, some to fight again and some to become prisoners of war. This book relates the experiences of many airmen who survived to tell the tale, some quite remarkable because of pure good luck, some because of ingenuity and some through pure determination to survive at all costs.” Available from Amazon.
Janes, Keith, Express Delivery, 2019. This is the story of 119 Allied servicemen brought back from occupied France in 1944 by the Shelburn escape line. Some of the evaders had spent many months in enemy-occupied territory but once in the hands of Shelburn, the men (generally referred to as parcels) were returned to England within days–Express Delivery. Shelburn differed from other escape lines in France in that rather than taking the men across the Pyreness to Spain, it sent them directly to England from the north Brittany coast by Royal Navy Gun Boats. For further information on ordering a copy of the book, click here. For the Publisher’s Advance Information, click here.
Janes, Keith, They Came from Burgundy, A study of the Bourgogne escape line, Troubador, 2017. For information from the author, click here. The author writes, “After more than four years work, the book ‘They came from Burgundy’ is as finished as I can make it. The title comes from a request made to many of the evaders as they left Paris to pass on to the British authorities the name of the organisation that had helped them. Although based around military escape and evasion reports, the main aim of the book is to introduce the reader to as many of the escape line helpers as possible because it is they who are the heroes and heroines of this particular story.”
Janes, Peter Scott, Conscript Heroes, Great Britain: Paul Mould Publishers, 2004. “Pte Peter Scott Janes had been in the army less than five months when he was sent to France. Within weeks he was taken prisoner at St Valery. Twelve days later he was rescued by two young French girls and for the next sixteen months he lived a clandestine life among the ordinary people of the Pas de Calais. Finally, in September 1941, he joined a party being taken sough to Marseilles by ‘the Organisation’. One of his guides was an Englishman named Harold Cole.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Jimenez de Aberasturi, Juan Carlos, Camino a la Libertad, La red de evasion Comete y la frontera vasca durante la II Guerra Mundial, Donostia, Spain: Txertoa, 2019. For the complete table of contents and a description by the publisher, click here. The following is a Google translation of a description of the book:
“Juan Carlos Jiménez de Aberásturi reconstructs in ‘Camino a la libertad’ the structure that aided allied aviators in World War II. The San Sebastian historian Juan Carlos Jiménez de Aberásturi presented his new book, ‘Camino a la libertad’, in the Donostia-San Sebastián bookshop, where he painstakingly reconstructs the history of the Basque Country of Comète, the Belgian clandestine network specialized in rescuing and putting except for the Allied aviators who were shot down, during their incursions against Germany, on the Europe occupied by the Nazis (France, Belgium and Holland, fundamentally). Supported by the services of the British Embassy in Madrid, the network was responsible for evacuating them to Gibraltar after crossing the Navarre Basque border. Juan Carlos Jiménez de Aberásturi, with his new book. ‘Path to freedom’ is an accumulation of many other earlier writings by Jiménez de Aberásturi. But it has an “important contribution: the historian has to resort to the primary, secondary sources, we are not novelists, we can not invent”. In this sense, he thanked that, in the last decade, “the American services have opened all the files, as well as Great Britain. In France, much of the secret files on Comète, too ». However, the San Sebastian historian criticized that “the worst thing remains, as always, the archives here, those of the Civil Guard and those of the Army secret services, which we can not access”. “If we had all the documentation of the barracks, we could know everything that happened in the Bidasoa during the occupation,” he claimed. Jiménez de Aberásturi traveled until 1943, a hard year for the history of Comète, to remember that in December of that year, the Belgian leader Jacques Cartier and the American aviator Jim Burch died drowned in that step. «I am sure that there is a file of the Civil Guard in this event but it can not be accessed. It would be interesting to know what they declared, “he said.
A total of 540 pages. 180 black and white images – many of them unpublished and others very little known. Even a drop down with the main routes used by Comète to cross the border, Bidasoa and Baztán. ‘Path to freedom’ is the story of hundreds of men and women who, over ideologies, played their lives in this dangerous adventure. The network counted in all its route with some thousand recognized collaborators. From Belgium they had to go to Paris and, from here, to the muga. «The only way to do it was to cross the border and reach the Francoist Spain, which, although collaborating with the Nazis, had to remain neutral and for this to be fulfilled, it was watched by the Allied embassies of the United States and Great Britain and by their secret services. », The historian recalled.
“There had to be a reception structure but, above all, specialists in the passage of the border. They were native people, smugglers on both sides of the muga, many exiles who had come to the Basque area and who could not find work, “Jiménez de Aberásturi explained. The trip to the Basque Country was “difficult and complicated”, because of the border that must be crossed and because of the vigilance that the Nazi police exercised in trains and stations. The aviators were always accompanied by members of the network -the companions-, usually women. If the route took place without incidents, you could reach San Juan de Luz or Bayona, the pick-up points to cross the road.
“In ‘Camino a la libertad’, it is recorded that the aviators put to safety were 288, «a large part by Florentino Goicoechea», who started as an assistant to Manuel Iturrioz, a native of Orexa (Gipuzkoa) and one of the first ‘mugalaris’ of Eat. Iturrioz did not want to do only the steps of the border of aviators and he remembered a friend of Hernani, Tomás Anabitarte; and Goicoechea himself, who became the main guide of Comète. Of him there is a writing that says: «He is a true Basque, honest, loyal, of a fidelity to all test. Of total confidence ».
“The history of Comète is not understood without the role rather than the protagonist of women. “They were not mere collaborators, but many were heads,” explained the San Sebastian historian. This is the case of the founder of Comète, Dedée De Jongh. They were young people who were around 20 years old with “a rigid ultra-Catholic education” and who lacked “autonomy and independence”. The fact of getting involved in this network or other “helped them to enter a world that was forbidden to them”. The book ends with a list of 150 Comète agents and collaborators in the Basque Country. Well, 50 are women: the “exceptional figure” of Kattalin Aguirre, “who deserves a movie”, Antonia Sarasola, Maria Luisa Garayar, Maritxu Anatol, Lucienne Dassie, Claudia Escudero or Magda Houget, among others.
“One of the novelties that Jiménez de Aberásturi provides in this book is the chapter of ‘Snitches, infiltrators, traitors, double agents …’, which he doubts is “politically correct”. In it he collects “the numerous enemy infiltrations produced by false aviators or by agents who worked directly for the Nazis with the aim of trying to dismantle Comète”.
“Many are Belgians, but also some Basque is sneaking as Donato Errasti, a native of Zestoa, who is said, that although at first “relatively well fulfilled his mission”, collaborated in the passage of fugitives-ended up betraying and denouncing to Dédée De Jongh and several aviators, which caused them to be arrested. According to the testimony of Dédée, it is known that Errasti “received 50,000 francs for each person denounced”.
Katsaros, John, Code Burgundy, The Long Escape, Norwalk, CT: Oakford Media LLC, 2008. “Rescued by the French Underground after being gravely wounded when shot down over Frankfurt, Germany in March 1944, a young American patriot literally crawls and climbs his way across the European battlefields, risking his life to send strategic target information to Britain. Heroism and survival instincts work together to show how the stark horror of World War II as experienced by 20 year old U.S. Army Air Force Sergeant can be ennobled by the unconditional charity and bravery of men and women fighting to be free in occupied France.” (The book is also available on this website in three parts. Click here to access it.)(John Katsaros is the president of AFEES. Contact him at jkatsaros3 at comcast.net.
Kellow, Bob, Paths to Freedom, Winnipeg, Canada: Western Canada Aviation Museum, 1992. “Bob Kellow, a member of the famous RAF 617 (Dambusters) Squadron, had to parachute out over Northern Holland on September 16, 1943, and escaped through Holland, Belgium, France and over the Pyrenees Mountains to Spain and Gibraltar. He was back in England within twelve weeks from when he landed in Holland. Paths to Freedom is the detailed and intriguing story of the many people in the Underground Movement and other citizens who bravely assisted Bob Kellow and other members of the Allied Forces in World War II to escape.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Kenney, Paul E., Adjutants Call, memoirs of Lt. Paul E. Kenney, published in 1999. To view the book as posted on this website, click here.
Kirk, Kendrick, Messages in Handlebars, The Youngest Resistance Fighter, Brand: Kendrick Kirk, 2011. “During World War II, the French Resistance played a vital role in the Allied victory. Supported by Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) in London, Resistance networks were formed, led and equipped by SOE agents. The Auduc family provided essential support to the network formed around Le Mans, France, by an American OSS agent and a French SOE agent. The Auduc’s oldest son, Jean-Jacques, became the youngest Resistance fighter to be awarded the Croix de Guerre. He was also awarded the U. S. Medal of Freedom and the French Legion of Honor for heroism as a 12 year old. Several other members of this heroic family were similarly recognized. The downing of two B-17’s on July 4, 1943, brought the Auduc’s face to face with the five surviving U. S. airmen and changed each other’s lives forever as the airmen were first sheltered and then repatriated to England. The graves of those airmen who perished were resolutely guarded by French citizens. The Auduc family and their fellow resistants teach us how much people will sacrifice to gain freedom from an oppressor. American, British, Canadian and French worked in cloaked secrecy and harmony to rid the world of the greatest evil in recorded history. U. S. airman Sgt. David Butcher stayed with the Resistance for eight months, training its members in the use of the weapons parachuted to them. Other of these downed airmen were assisted by underground networks to escape to Spain and eventual repatriation to England. American Army Captain and OSS member Fred Floege twice parachuted into France on missions for the SOE. During his second mission, he organized and led a large group of resistants in the east of France who stymied German movements before and during the Normandy invasion. This is a true, previously untold story of undaunted resistance to the Nazis. Jean-Jacques father, Alfred Auduc, awes with his reckless determination to thwart the Nazis even while imprisoned in concentration camps along with his brother and other resistants from his region. Alfred’s mother at age 66 harbors a radio transmitter and its operator while receiving munitions drops on her farm. The end of the War is not the end of the Auduc’s story. Through them we learn how the Marshall plan helped to restart European’s lives. But we also learn how the deep scars of their incarcerations pain them throughout their lives. For many years, Jean-Jacques Auduc has been a senior member of a French association whose mission is to commemorate Allied sacrifices in liberating their country. Jean-Jacques relates his story to French school children; he proudly carries the American flag at commemorative events; and, he restores and maintains Allied monuments. Jean-Jacques chooses to use his meager funds in this way rather than on a TV set or a computer or the internet or other comforts. Perhaps the proceeds from this book may allow him some comforts in his eighties. My wife, Claire, who translated the several bios which are included in this book, Jean-Jacques, who so much wished to have his family’s and friends’ stories preserved, and I thank you for your interest. Kendrick Kirk This book has been endorsed by Sir Peter F. Ricketts, the British Ambassador to France and by General Robert Mansfield, USAF (ret).” Available from Amazon and ABEBooks.
Koreman, Megan, The Escape Line: How the Ordinary Heroes of Dutch-Paris Resisted the Nazi Occupation of Western Europe , New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. “In early summer 1942 a Dutch textile merchant living in Nazi-occupied France received a letter from a Jewish couple seeking his help in getting safe passage to Switzerland. John Henry (‘Jean’) Weidner barely knew the couple and had no experience in clandestine activities or direct connection to any underground organizations. Yet he and his wife, Elisabeth Cartier, decided to help, risking their lives to transport the couple from the French prison in which they were being held across the border to Switzerland. So began what became known as the Dutch-Paris escape line. Over the next three years it grew from a two-person border operation into one of the most extensive resistance organizations of World War II, running from the Netherlands through Belgium and France into both Switzerland and Spain, numbering 330 members and rescuing around 3000 persons…. Dutch-Paris largely improvised its operations–scrounging for food on the black market, forging documents, raising cash. In addition to Jews, it helped resistance fighters, saved Allied airmen (at least 120) who had bailed out of their planes or crash-landed, and spirited out young men looking to get to London to enlist. Dutch-Paris also acted as a messenger system for the Dutch government-in-exile, smuggling microfilm with news and information about the home front. Hunted relentlessly by the Gestapo, many members were captured and sent to labor camps. Yet Dutch-Paris continued to function until the war’s end.”
LaGrandeur, Philip, We Flew, We Fell, We Lived, Stories from RCAF Prisoners of War and Evaders 1939-1945, St. Catharines, Ontario: Vanwell Publishing Ltd., 2006. “Torture, survival and escape. These three elements encompass We Flew, We Fell, We Lived, which recounts the experiences of Royal Canadian Air Force ex-prisoners of war and evaders from the Second World War. Forty Canadian officers and men from Bomber Command offer their personal accounts of the German treatment of allied air force personnel and the organization of PoW camps.”
“The first of four sections has each PoW’s story arranged by the camp in which he was held. The notorious Great Escape is covered in detail, based on the testimony of several of the Canadians involved. The evader section includes Canadians shot down behind enemy lines who escaped through Sweden, the Comet Line to Spain, and through Italy. One man gives a riveting description of his torture in the infamous Fresnes prison in Paris and his survival of the Buchenwald concentration camp. The last section covers the forced marches of air force PoWs in the last months of the war.”
“Together, all the stories create a complex expose of PoW culture illustrated by two hundred photographs, maps, and artwork from various Stalag lufts (many previously unpublished). Never have there been so many comprehensive personal accounts of PoWs in one book.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Langley, J.M., Fight Another Day, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, Pen & Sword Military, 1974, 2013. “As a young subaltern in the Coldstream Guards, Jimmy Langley lost his arm at Dunkirk and was captured by eventually escaped via Lille, Paris, Marseilles, Spain and Gibraltar. On return to London, Langley was recruited into the Secret Service where he ran MI9, organising the safe return of allied soldiers, sailors and airmen who had succeeded in either escaping form or evading the Germans.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Below is an earlier edition of Langley’s book published by Collins, St James Place, London, 1974.
Langrehr, Henry and Jim DeFelice, Whatever It Took: An American Paratrooper’s Extraordinary Memoir of Escape, Survival and Heroism in the Last Days of World War II, New York: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2021. Published to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, an unforgettable never-before-told first-person account of World War II: the true story of an American paratrooper who survived D-Day, was captured and imprisoned in a Nazi work camp, and made a daring escape to freedom. Now at 95, one of the few living members of the Greatest Generation shares his experiences at last in one of the most remarkable World War II stories ever told. As the Allied Invasion of Normandy launched in the pre-dawn hours of June 6, 1944, Henry Langrehr, an American paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne, was among the thousands of Allies who parachuted into occupied France. Surviving heavy anti-aircraft fire, he crashed through the glass roof of a greenhouse in Sainte-Mère-Église. While many of the soldiers in his unit died, Henry and other surviving troops valiantly battled enemy tanks to a standstill. Then, on June 29th, Henry was captured by the Nazis. The next phase of his incredible journey was beginning. Kept for a week in the outer ring of a death camp, Henry witnessed the Nazis’ unspeakable brutality—the so-called Final Solution, with people marched to their deaths, their bodies discarded like cords of wood. Transported to a work camp, he endured horrors of his own when he was forced to live in unbelievable squalor and labor in a coal mine with other POWs. Knowing they would be worked to death, he and a friend made a desperate escape. When a German soldier cornered them in a barn, the friend was fatally shot; Henry struggled with the soldier, killing him and taking his gun. Perilously traveling westward toward Allied controlled land on foot, Henry faced the great ethical and moral dilemmas of war firsthand, needing to do whatever it took to survive. Finally, after two weeks behind enemy lines, he found an American unit and was rescued. Awaiting him at home was Arlene, who, like millions of other American women, went to work in factories and offices to build the armaments Henry and the Allies needed for victory. Whatever It Took is her story, too, bringing to life the hopes and fears of those on the homefront awaiting their loved ones to return. A tale of heroism, hope, and survival featuring 30 photographs, Whatever It Took is a timely reminder of the human cost of freedom and a tribute to unbreakable human courage and spirit in the darkest of times. Available from HarperCollins, Barnes&Noble, and Amazon.
Lavender, Emerson and Norman Sheffe, The Evaders, True Stories of Downed Canadian Airmen and Their Helpers in World War II, Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1992. “Canadian Aircrew forced down over enemy territory faced capture and a hopeless future in prisoner-of-war camps. Circumstances, blind luck, the ‘Divine Helping Hand’ and a fierce determination to remain free resulted in dangerous and thrilling escapades for evaders who were tested to the limits of their physical endurance and resourcefulness.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Lay, Beirne, Jr., Presumed Dead, The Surival of a Bomb Group Commander, New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1945. “What was it like to have your Liberator bomber shot down over Europe in World War II, to miss death by seconds as the aircraft falls to earth, and then to spend weeks eluding German soldiers while searching desperately for the Underground in Nazi-occupied France? Here is the true, firsthand story of Colonel Beirne Lay, Jr., co-author of the famous novel, Twelve O’Clock High! Officially listed as missing in action and presumed dead, he lived to tell this exciting tale of adventure and escape!” Available from Amazon.
Le Febvre, Marie, Risking and Resisting: Discovering the Untold Story of My Family’s Flight for Freedom in World War II. “It all began with a letter from a stranger. A single message from across the Atlantic launched a journey of discovery to an unknown chapter of Marie Le Febvre’s family’s past-a chapter filled with extraordinary courage and unexpected connections.” “Marie’s journey uncovered a heritage of risking and resisting during World War II, and forged in her a new understanding of freedom.” Available from Amazon. and AbeBooks. For a collection of original documents relating to the book, go to http://www.riskingandresisting.com/.
Lett, Q.C., Comm. Brian Gordon, Italy’s Outstanding Courage – The Story of a Secret Civilian Army in World War Two, 2018. “This book tells the story of the heroism of the many thousands of Italians in World War Two who helped Allied escaped prisoners of war and evaders, on the run in German and Fascist occupied Italy. More than four hundred Italians were listed to receive awards from the British for their courage – variously described by senior Allied officers as outstanding, magnificent, superb and indomitable courage. The author tells the story of this courage, and includes details of all those who won medals. These varied from the George Medal to the King’s Medal which had been specially created for acts of heroism by foreigners. However, eventually, at the end of 1947/early 1948, a government decision was taken that no medals should be awarded by the British to Italian nationals, and none of these courageous Italians received the medals that they had won. The author examines the reasons why that decision was taken. In most cases, the medal winners and their families did not even know that their courage had been recognised. This is a hitherto untold story of the secret civilian army who help Allied escapers. After the war, it was proved to the satisfaction of the Allies that a minimum of 62,000 Italian families helped to save the lives of escapers. Hundreds of Italians were executed by the Germans and Fascists because of the help that they had given. Many more were tortured, and condemned to German concentration camps such as Mauthausen.” Available from Amazon.
Le Vernoy, Alec, No Drums, No Trumpets, Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books Ltd., 1988. “After the Fall of France, and escaping from a German field hospital, Alec Le Vernoy set sail for Africa from where he hoped to join de Gaulle and the Free French in London. His failure to do so signalled the start of a series of adventures as Alec, seeking now to join the British forces in the Mediterranean, became involved in clandestine operations of espionage and sabotage, constantly risking his life harrying German units and supply lines. Twice imprisoned by the Vichy regime, he managed to escape both times, using his wit and grim determination to survive. But Alec’s luck eventually ran out and, under sentence of death, he was deported to Germany and the notorious concentration camp–Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen. But even Sachsenhausen could not hold Alec forever. Escaping with his life, he made his way through wartorn Germany to freedom and a chance to fight with the Resistance against the invaders of his country.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Levy, Harry, The Dark Side of the Sky, The Story of a Young Jewish Airman in Nazi Germany, London: Leo Cooper, 1996. “Protected by that strange sense of invulnerability that seems in many cases the hallmark of youth, the hero of the book seizes the chance of escape from a prosaic life by joining the Royal Air Force, but parachuting from his burning plane he is plunged into a frightening reality. The first part of his book deals with his evasion with the help of Belgian patriots and his capture in Brussels. Arrested in civilian clothing, he is placed in solitary confinement. The danger of his situation is intensified by the fact that the young man is Jewish. For ten long weeks the lonely minutes pass as he suffers the anguish and fear that he might be shot as a spy or sent to a concentration camp. Thanks to the intervention of a German Luftwaffe officer and the Commandant of the prison he is sent to his great relief to a prisoner of war camp.” Available from Amazon and BookDepository.
Lineberry, Cate, The Secret Rescue: An Untold Story of American Nurses and Medics Behind Nazi Lines, Little, Brown and Company, 2013. “THE SECRET RESCUE combines all of the elements that draw us to WWII stories: the daring of The Guns of Navarone, the suspense of The Great Escape, and the bravery reminiscent of Ill Met by Moonlight. It’s the inclusion of so many women, though, that makes this story unique.” — Daily Beast. “This mesmerizing account of the courage and bravery of ordinary women and men reveals for the first time an astonishing true story of heroic struggle and endurance. When twenty-six Army Air Force flight nurses and medics boarded a military transport plane in November 1943 on a mission to evacuate wounded and sick troops, they didn’t anticipate a crash landing in Nazi territory. Emerging from their battered aircraft, the Americans found themselves in Albania, a country rife with chaos and danger. With hunger and sickness as their constant companions, they hid at night with courageous villagers who shared what little food they had, risking death at Nazi hands by doing so. For months, they prayed desperately to be rescued while doing everything they could to survive.” Available from AbeBooks and Amazon.
Logan, Edward F., Jr., Jump, Damn It, Jump: Memoir of a Downed B-17 Pilot in World War II, Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., 2006. “Soon after the United States entered World War II, American ground and air forces were on their way to the European theater of operations. Among that offensive buildup was the 15th Air Force, consisting of four-engine heavy bombers, the B-17 and B-24, as well as twin-engine medium bombers and several types of fighter aircraft. The 15th was first stationed in North Africa and then in southern Italy, where pilots could strike at any military target within a 700 mile radius. After ferrying a B-17 to England with the 8th Air Force, Lt. Edward Logan was transferred to the 15th Air Force, Fifth Wing, 483rd Bomb Group, 817th Bomb Squadron in Italy. Logan and members of his unit were assigned to use American air power to destroy the German military’s manufacturing and petroleum complexes as well as its intricate transportation system. This gripping memoir gives a detailed account of Logan’s experiences throughout his Army Air Corps career. It outlines the progression of a determined would-be pilot through two years of training, his 1944 journey to the war’s theater and advent into actual combat. While other missions are summarized, the work’s main focus is the author’s thirty-fourth combat mission, which took place in March 1945. During this operation, his B-17 bomber sustained damage so severe that he and nine crewmen were forced to bail out over enemy territory. Aided by Slovenian partisans, Logan and his crew evaded the German troops who were searching for them and returned safely to their base. This firsthand account includes insider details, technical specifications of the B-17 bomber and previously classified information. An epilogue provides additional information on the partisans and the composition of the 15th Air Force.” Available from Amazon.
MacKenzie, S.P., The Colditz Myth: British and Commonwealth Prisoners of War in Nazi Germany, Oxford University Press, 2004.. A vivid portrait of POW life inside the Third Reich, it explores the triumphs and tribulations of being a “Kriegie”. Oxford University Press: “Though only one among hundreds of prison camps in which British servicemen were held between 1939 and 1945, Colditz enjoys unparalleled name recognition both in Britain and in other parts of the English-speaking world. Colditz remains a potent symbol of key virtues–including ingenuity and perseverance against apparently overwhelming odds–that form part of the popular mythology surrounding the British war effort in World War II. Colditz has played a major role in shaping perceptions of the POW experience in Nazi Germany, an experience in which escaping is assumed to be paramount and “Outwitting the Hun” a universal sport.
The story of Colditz has been told in a variety of forms but in this book MacKenzie chronicles the development of the Colditz myth and puts what happened inside the castle in the context of British and Commonwealth POW life in Germany as a whole. Being a captive of the Third Reich–from the moment of surrender down to the day of liberation and repatriation –was more complicated and a good deal tougher than the popular myth would suggest. The physical and mental demands of survival far outweighed escaping activity in order of importance in most camps almost all of the time, and even in Colditz the reality was in some respects very different from the almost Boy’s Own caricature that developed during the post-war decades. In The Colditz Myth MacKenzie seeks,for the first time,to place Colditz–both the camp and the legend– in a wider historical context.” Available from Amazon.
Makos, Adam (with Larry Alexander), A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II, Dutton Caliber, 2014. “A beautiful story of a brotherhood between enemies emerges from the horrors of World War II in this New York Times and international bestseller. December, 1943: A badly damaged American bomber struggles to fly over wartime Germany. At the controls is twenty-one-year-old Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown. Half his crew lay wounded or dead on this, their first mission. Suddenly, a Messerschmitt fighter pulls up on the bomber’s tail. The pilot is German ace Franz Stigler—and he can destroy the young American crew with the squeeze of a trigger… What happened next would defy imagination and later be called ‘the most incredible encounter between enemies in World War II.’ The U.S. 8th Air Force would later classify what happened between them as ‘top secret.’ It was an act that Franz could never mention for fear of facing a firing squad. It was the encounter that would haunt both Charlie and Franz for forty years until, as old men, they would search the world for each other, a last mission that could change their lives forever.” Available from AbeBooks, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. For a video on YouTube about the Franz and Charlie, click here.
Marnham, Patrick, War in the Shadows – Resistance, Deception, Betrayal in Occupied France, Simon&Schuster. In 1962 the young Patrick Marnham set off by car for a small village in central France. There he was taught French by an imperious countess, who he later discovered had fought in the Resistance until, betrayed, she was sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp. On the very same day that his hostess’s network was broken, Jean Moulin, de Gaulle’s delegate as head of the combined Resistance forces, was arrested in Lyons, where he was tortured by Klaus Barbie before dying in Gestapo custody. Was this coincidence, or were these events connected? The anonymous letter writer suggested a key to the mystery. Using a knowledge of France gained from 12 years as the Independent’s Paris correspondent, and subsequent research in archives in England and France, Marnham set out to discover the truth about the betrayal of the old lady who had become his tutor and friend. Following a trail leading from London through Occupied Europe to the rank and file Resistance in lost corners of France, he has unravelled the story of a complex wartime deception, involving British, American and French intelligence services. The War in the Shadows shines a light on the brutality and cynicism of the Secret War and reveals how it was actually fought. The result is a story of ruthless double-dealing worthy of John le Carré, but with this difference: it is not a fiction. Available from Simon&Schuster, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and Bookshop.Org.
Marsh, Stella Clare, The Twisted Florin: Evasion from France, Escape from Italy by Squadron Leader John Mott, MBE, University of Chicago Press, 2017. “The Twisted Florin is a compelling wartime adventure story that follows one of World War II’s forgotten heroes—Squadron Leader Arnold John Mott. As told by his niece, Stella Clare Marsh, his story offers a very personal and evocative tale of one man’s extraordinary wartime experiences. Mott was a bomber pilot who completed nineteen missions before being shot down and captured, but following the Italian armistice he escaped into the Alps through Yugoslavia to rejoin service, this time with the No. 1 Special Force. The Twisted Florin details Mott’s incredible wartime bravery and offers fresh perspectives on the devastating personal effect of the war on servicemen and civilians.” Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and University of Chicago Press.
Mayer, Allan, Gaston’s War, A True Story of a Hero of the Resistance in World War II, Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1988. “Tells the story of Gaston Vandermeerssche, a young Belgian who organized the Dutch underground network known as WIM.” Photos courtesy of Paul Nottingham. See the dedication to Andrée de Jongh, founder and head of the Comet Line. Available from Amazon.
Medina, Francis X. and Dorothy B. Marra, Ciao, Francesco, 1995. “April 28, 1945. Eight months after he was shot down over Nazi-Fascist controlled Northern Italy during World War II, Corporal Francis Medina walked back into his squadron headquarters. Most WWII MIAs returned within a few weeks or not at all. Successfully evading the enemy for eight months was a rare accomplishment, yet this is what he did. Ciao, Francesco is the exciting and heartwarming story of the 20 year old tail gunner’s life with two families of the Italian Resistance. Living with the Masieros and the Zangirolamis, Francis Medina became Francesco. He donned Italian clothing, learned to speak the language, adopted the mores of his new community and even espoused the political cause of his benefactors. He soon became a Partisan of the Italian Resistance.” Available from Amazon and ABEBooks. To view his obituary, click here.
Mellor, Gordon, ETA – A Bomber Command Navigator Shot Down and on the Run, Fighting High Ltd., 2016. “Gordon Mellor served as a navigator with RAF Bomber Command during the Second World War, and ETA is the firsthand account of a conflict that tests not only his initiative and resilience, but also the ability to survive amidst the extreme dangers of a Nazi occupied Europe.
“Despite persistent attempts to join the RAF Volunteer Reserve in 1938, it is not until 1940 that Gordon is called up, and having crossed the treacherous waters of the North Atlantic to Canada Gordon describes the rigours of his aircrew training. On his return to the UK he is posted to RAF Lichfield, where disaster strikes as his Wellington bomber comes down just short of the runway, killing the rear gunner. Gordon’s operational duties begin at RAF Elsham Wolds, Lincolnshire, and No. 103 Squadron, which includes taking part in the ‘Thousand Bomber’ raids. On a raid to Aachen, in October 1942, all seems to be fine until a German nightfighter tails them and opens fire. With both wings ablaze the order to bale out is given, and Gordon manages to leave the stricken Halifax with only seconds to spare. His descent is brief, landing unceremoniously in a tree. What follows is an epic tale of intense risk and good fortune. A decision to knock on a farmhouse door is pivotal and Gordon soon finds himself part of the famous Comète escape line, set up by the Resistance to help Allied servicemen evade capture. An amazing ‘cloak and dagger’ journey follows with danger ever present, and betrayal a constant threat.
“ETA is a compelling story of bravery and strength of character, as Gordon Mellor, with a subtle hint of humor, describes the trials of bombing operations, the extraordinary circumstances of being shot down, and his remarkable evasion.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Meurs, John, Not Home for Christmas — A Day in the Life of the Mighty Eighth, Brandon, Mississippi: Quail Ridge Press, n.d. “When author John Meurs was a nine-year-old schoolboy living in Nazi-occupied Holland, an American B-17 bomber crashed behind his house near the village of Apeldoorn. The date was Sunday, November 26, 1944. Meurs always wanted to know more about what happened in the air on that Thanksgiving Sunday. So, more than sixty years later he started researching the B-17. He quickly found that the bomber was part of the 8th Air Force Air Combat Command. Meurs’ findings intrigued him and after discovering many interesting facts, Meurs focused his research on the 34 heavy bombers of the Mighty Eighth that were lost that day. He collected the personal stories of veterans who lived through it, families of veterans lost, and witnesses of the crashes. These first-hand recollections, captured in this book, provide a compelling and terrifying account of the reality of war. Thanks to the noble men of the Mighty Eighth who would not be home for Christmas in 1944 and their comrades in arms, many people the world over now live in peace and freedom.” “One of those crews jumped on that day above Haulerwijk from their badly damaged B-17 bomber with the name ‘Seattle Sleeper’. Three of them were captured immediately but the six others were picked up by members of the underground and were hidden until their liberation in April 1945. Two of them, the Bombardier Don Barker and the dome-shooter Quilla Reed, in the final weeks of their stay in occupied Netherlands, even participated in the active resistance in the border area of Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe. Chapter 7, the largest part of the book … describes the fate of these six young Americans.” Available from Amazon.
Meyerowitz, Seth, The Lost Airman, A True Story of Escape from Nazi-Occupied France, New York: Berkley Caliber, 2016. “The remarkable, untold story of World War II American Air Force turret-gunner Staff Sergeant Arthur Meyerowitz, who was shot down over Nazi-occupied France and evaded Gestapo pursuers for more than six months before escaping to freedom. Bronx-born top turret-gunner Arthur Meyerowitz was one of only two crewmen who escaped death or immediate capture on the ground, when their plane was shot down near Cognac, France, in 1943. After fleeing the wreck, Arthur knocked on the door of an isolated farmhouse, whose owners hastily took him in. Fortunately, his hosts had a tight connection to the French resistance group Morhange and its founder, Marcel Taillandier, who arranged for Arthur’s transfers among safe houses in southern France, shielding him from the Gestapo. Based on recently declassified material, exclusive personal interviews, and extensive research into the French Resistance, The Lost Airman tells the tense and riveting story of Arthur’s hair-raising journey to freedom—a true story of endurance, perseverance, and escape during World War II.” Available from AbeBooks and Amazon.
Millar, George, Horned Pigeon, published by William Heinemann, 1946. “George Millar’s classic World War II prisoner-of-war escape story brilliantly conveys the terrifying experience of life on the run in wartime Europe, one step ahead of the Gestapo. Captured in the Libyan desert by the German Afrika Korps and held in various prison camps in Italy, Millar was transferred to Germany after several unsuccessful escape attempts. Escaping once more, this time from his train, Millar set out to reach London and freedom. Speaking fluent French (he had been the DAILY EXPRESS Paris correspondent at the beginning of the war) he was able to pass himself off as a French labourer on his hazardous journey. But when he returned to London, decorated for his bravery, it was to discover that his wife was in love with someone else and wanted a divorce. He joined the Special Forces there and then, and began training for operations behind enemy lines in France – but that is the subject of his second book, MAQUIS, also to be published as a Cassell Military Paperback (July 2003).” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Minardi, Marco, Bugle Call to Freedom, Monte San Martino Trust, 2020. It was midday on September 9 1943, the day following the announcement of Italy’s surrender to the Allies. At PG 49, a prison camp at Fontanellato, in the Po valley, a bugle sounded three short blasts, the signal for the biggest mass escape by Allied PoWs in Italy during the Second World War. In camps elsewhere in the country there was confusion. Many prisoners of war, obeying orders from London, stayed put, only to be swept up by the occupying German army and sent to Germany, long before Allied forces could reach them. At PG 49, however, the Senior British Officer and the sympathetic Italian commandant came to an agreement. The wire was cut and 600 PoWs marched out of the camp into the countryside, in the nick of time before the Germans arrived. The prisoners were free but facing an uncertain future. Should they go north to neutral Switzerland or walk hundreds of miles south to Allied lines? Either way, they would rely on the bravery of peasants in the plains and mountains to hide them from the Germans and Italian Fascists. Drawing on both PoW memoirs and civilian eyewitness accounts, Italian historian Marco Minardi tells the compelling story of the escape and its aftermath. In this translation, published by the Monte San Martino Trust, the huge and, in some cases, tragic repercussions for the local community it become abundantly clear. The Monte San Martino Trust is a charity founded by former Allied PoWs in Italy to repay the kindness of the contadini. It arranges scholarships for young Italians to study English in the U.K. Available from Amazon and Barnes&Noble. To view a discussion of the book on YouTube, click here.
Mitchell, Stewart, St. Valery and Its Aftermath, “During the German May 1940 offensive, the 51st (Highland) Division, including the 1st and 5th Battalions Gordon Highlanders, became separated from the British Expeditionary Force. After a heroic stand at St Valery-en-Caux the Division surrendered when fog thwarted efforts to evacuate them. Within days, scores of Gordons had escaped and were on the run through Nazi-occupied France. Many reached Britain after feats of great courage and tenacity, including recapture and imprisonment often in atrocious conditions in France, Spain or North Africa. Those imprisoned in Eastern Europe were forced to work in coal and salt mines, quarries, factories and farms. Some died through unsafe conditions or the brutality of their captors. Others escaped, on occasion fighting with distinction alongside Resistance forces. Many had to endure the brutal 1945 winter march away from the advancing Allies before their eventual liberation. This superbly researched book contains many inspiring stories that deserve and merit reading.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Murland, Jerry, Retreat and Rearguard – Dunkirk 1940: The Evacuation of the BEF to the Channel Ports, 2016. “This book, the third title in the Author’s Retreat and Rearguard series, covers the actions of the BEF during the retreat from the Dyle Line to the evacuation points of Dunkirk, Boulogne, Calais, St Valery-en-Caux and finally the Cherbourg Peninsula.
Some of the engagements are relatively well known (Cassell, the Arras counter-attack and the notorious Le Paradis SS massacre) but the author has unearthed many less known engagements from the long and painful withdrawal. While the main Dunkirk evacuation from the port and beaches was over by early June, elements of the BEF fought on until 21 June. In relating those, often heroic, actions the author catches the atmosphere of desperate defiance that typified this never-to-be-forgotten period.” Available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble.
Neal, John, The Lucky Pigeon, the True Adventures of a Young Canadian Airman During World War II, Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing, 1997. Neal’s story of his evasion and the people who helped him on the Chauny Line. Available from Amazon and Booktopia.
Neave, Airey, Little Cyclone, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1954. “Among the prisoners who emerged from the concentration camps of Germany at the liberation of France in 1945 was Andrée de Jongh, the Belgian girl who had created an escape route for Allied servicemen from Brussels to Bilbao. Known as the Comet Line, it was the greatest escape route in the Resistance Movement and in its three years of life saved over 800 Allied airmen and soldiers from captivity and returned them to England. ‘Little Cyclone’ was a suitable pseudonym for the girl whose enterprise and energy inspired all who met her, for though she had many brave and forceful personalities to help her, she was always the leader. After her arrest she suffered dreadfully in Ravensbruck and Mauthausen concentration camps, but her example inspired her successors in the line. In 1945 she was freed, and in 1946 she came to England to receive the George Medal from the King.” Available from Amazon and Barnes&Noble.
Neave Airey, Saturday at M.I.9, A history of underground escape lines in North-West Europe in 1940-5 by a leading organiser at M.I.9, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1969. The classic account of the World War Two Allied escape organization. “The book covers the whole range of escape operations by land, sea and air. It shows how the leaders in occupied territory established routes over the Spanish frontier after Dunkirk and how they were reinforced and extended despite the Gestapo. Over 500 people were executed or died in concentration camps for this work. Some lines were broken and mended many times after mass arrests but still continued in operation. Altogether 3,000 Allied airmen shot down in occupied territory, of whom half were Americans, reached safety before the Allied invasion of Normandy. This astonishing result had an enormous impact on the morale of the Air Forces and restored trained airmen to the battle.” (See the dedication by Airey Neave to Andrée de Jongh, founder and head of the Comet Line, image provided thanks to Paul Nottingham.) Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Neave, Airey, The Escape Room, New York: Doubleday & Co., 1970. (Republished by Zebra, 1982.) “Here, for the first time, is one of the most unbelievable stories of World War II–the story of Room 900, London. This secret organization maintained a network of escape routes across occupied Europe for Allied prison camp escapees and downed airmen. The characters from this book, from all walks of life, were united in a great human cause. Theirs is chronicle of heroes and traitors; of hairbreadth escapes, betrayal, torture, death–and the indomitable courage that saved over 2000 British and over 3000 American soldiers and airmen.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Neave, Airey, They Have Their Exits, Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Leo Cooper, 2002. Originally published in 1953. “Wounded and captured at Calais in May 1940, Second Lieutenant Neave wasted little time before attempting to escape. Always a thorn in his captors’ sides, he earned his place in the ‘escape-proof’ Colditz Castle. Undeterred he had the distinction of being the first British officer to make a home-run, via Switzerland, Vichy France and Spain. Soon back in France working with the French Resistance as a member of MI9, rescuing Allied airmen, he found himself playing a leading role saving stranded survivors of 1st Airborne Division at Arnhem.” He later served at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials. Available at Amazon and AbeBooks.
Newman, Philip, Over the Wire, A POW’s Escape Story from the Second World War, Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Books, Ltd. 1983. “Philip Newman, an army surgeon, left behind after the evacuation from Dunkirk, spent his time as a prisoner of war in France, then Germany, treating the wounded and sick–and planning to escape. After several failed attempts, he got out over the wire and journeyed for weeks as a fugitive from northern France to Marseilles, then across the Pyrenees to Spain and Gibraltar and freedom.” Available at Amazon and BookDepository.
Nichol, John and Tony Rennell, Home Run, Escape from Nazi Europe, London: Penguin Books, 2007. “Everything you expect in a tale of wartime escape and evasion is here: midnight scrambles across rooftops from the Gestapo, Resistance betrayals, burning Lancasters, evil SS officers, doomed love affairs, heroic self-sacrifice, despair and jubilation. If this were fiction, it would defy credibility, yet every word is true.” For a review of the book on pg. 5 of the June 2008 issue of the AFEES newsletter Communications , click here and scroll down to the pdf file for that issue. Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Nichol, John and Tony Rennell, The Last Escape, The Untold Story of Allied Prisoners of War in Europe 1944-1945, New York: Penguin Group, 2002. “The Last Escape is a superb and moving account of the Allied POWs and their ordeal of captivity in Nazi Germany. A tale of heroism and sacrifice, told through the stories of those who lived it, The Last Escape is both a scrupulously honest and thorough work of scholarship and a lasting tribute to those who endured imprisonment during World War II.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Oliphint, John H., The Mad Rebel, A Youth at War, Oliphint Publishing, 1998. AFEES member Olphint’s escape story and his time helping the French Resistance. “A detailed, first person account of the author’s experiences as a pilot during World War II, in which he flew 67 missions before being shot down two days after D-Day. He recounts his capture and torture, as well as subsequent escape and actions with the French Resistance.” The author was a member of AFEES. Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Ostrum, Meg, The Surgeon and the Shepherd: Two Resistance Heroes in Vichy France, University of Nebraska. “Of the thousands of people who escaped through the Pyrenees during World War II, at least one hundred owe their lives to a daring scheme that Belgian Charles Schepens masterminded in Mendive, a remote Basque village near the French-Spanish border. The story of this near-miraculous resistance effort, an epic undertaking carried out in plain view of the Nazis, is recounted in full for the first time in The Surgeon and the Shepherd, an incredible, true tale of wartime heroism. In 1942, in coordination with the Belgian resistance, Schepens stage-managed a highly secret information and evacuation service through the counterfeit operation of a back-country lumbering enterprise. This book traces Schepens’s gradual transformation from an apolitical young ophthalmologist into double agent “Jacques Pérot,” and his emergence in the postwar period as a modern folk hero to the residents of Mendive. Woven into the account are the stories of a remarkable international cast of characters, most notably the Basque shepherd Jean Sarochar, regarded as a local misfit, with whom Schepens formed his most unlikely partnership and an enduring friendship. Part biography, part spy tale, part cultural study, The Surgeon and the Shepherd is based on more than ten years of oral history research. The saga of a Belgian “first resister” who, by posing as a collaborator, successfully duped both the Germans and the local French Basque population, it offers a powerful and illuminating picture of moral and physical courage.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Ottis, Sherri Greene, Silent Heroes: Downed Airmen and the French Underground., Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2001. “The most complete, best documented, and most satisfactory account to date of the complex enterprises that enabled so many fliers to be rescued. Every page reveals Ottis’ devotion to her subject, for as she herself has trudged along some of the escape trails, in conditions comparable to those of the war, she not only understands, but feels what it was like to be an evader.” –Arthur Layton Funk, author of Hidden Ally. “The emphasis of the stories evolves around the helpers, the courageous men and women who risked their all to come to the aid of shot down Allied airmen. Readers will be fascinated by this little known aspect of the underground war and veterans of WWII will find these cloak and dagger stories intriguing.” –Ralph K. Patton, Chairman, Air Forces Escape and Evasion Society. Copies can be ordered from University Press of Kentucky. Also available from Amazon and Barnes&Noble.
Pearson, Simon, The Great Escaper, The Life and Death of Roger Bushell, Love, Betrayal, Bix X and the Great Escape, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2013. “Squadron Leader Roger Bushell mastermined the ‘Great Escape’ from Stalag Luft III. Shot down in 1940, Bushell escaped three times. He came within sight of the Swiss border in 1941. Four months later he reached Prague where the Gestapo suspected him of involvement in the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the architect of the Holocaust. After his third escape, Hitler demanded his execution.” Available at Amazon and BarnesandNoble.
Persson, Sune, Escape from the Third Reich, The Harrowing True Story of the Largest Rescue Effort Inside Nazi Germany, Simon & Schuster, 2010 “The Swedish Red Cross expedition to the German concentration camps from March to April 1945 was the largest rescue effort inside Germany during WWII. Led by Count Bernadotte of Wisborg, the mission became known for its distinctive buses: Each bus was purposefully painted entirely white except for the Red Cross emblem on the side so that they would not be mistaken for military targets. According to conservative figures in May 1945, at least 17,000 prisoners were transported to Sweden by these white buses. In this first book to detail this remarkable and hazardous operation, and with never-before-published photographs of the bus journeys, the details of Bernadotte’s harrowing expedition to Ravensbruck concentration camp and his secret negotiations with Heinrich Himmler are revealed.” Available from Simon & Schuster, Amazon, ABEBooks, and Barnes and Noble.
Petit, Maurice, Marathon en Ardenne, L’Audacieuse Mission de Protection d’Aciateurs Allies in 1944. Google translation follows:
“No doubt that, no more than me, you have never heard of this very daring “Marathon” mission which, during the summer of 1944 and thanks to the action of several dozen Belgian patriots, ensured the protection of more than a hundred Allied airmen who fell on our soil. Mr. Maurice Petit, loyal reader and contributor to the Petite Gazette and tireless passionate researcher of everything relating in particular to Intelligence and Action Agents, those Resistance fighters that we now know a little better thanks to his publications.
“This “Marathon” mission goes beyond our borders and while it is well known, and recognized, in France, it was until today almost completely unknown to us. Maurice Petit repairs this flagrant injustice by offering us this breathtaking study. The author poses very precisely the historical decoration which will see the development of these multiple channels of escape which, thanks to the total abnegation of many patriots, allowed the regrouping of these allied airmen and their safety in camps established in the forest. from the Ardennes until the Liberation.
“This book, very richly illustrated with photographs and various documents, takes you to meet these women and men who ensured the success of this reckless mission. It is indeed to them and to them that the author wishes to pay a legitimate tribute, to all these unarmed Resisters who, risking their lives, made this mission successful. Through numerous testimonies patiently extracted from the archives where they rested and treated with extreme scientific rigor, Maurice Petit plunges us directly into the action of the protagonists of this mission by making us follow various routes adopted by the extraction and mining sectors. ‘escape, by adding the stories of several aviators who benefited from the invaluable help of anonymous freedom-loving people who rescued them and by even making us live the daily life of these makeshift camps established in Beffe (Rendeux), Porcheresse (Daverdisse) , Villance (Libin), Acremont (Bertrix), Bohan (Vresse s / Semois) and La Cornette (Bouillon).
“This book is devoured with avidity, the text is very pleasantly supported by a neat layout and, of course, by the style of its author, both precise and alert, who generously supports the very adventurous side of this mission.
“You will let yourself be carried away by the fate of these women and men putting themselves at the service of these aviators, unknown to them but carrying so many freedoms to be rediscovered. Thank you to Mr. Maurice Petit for having lifted for us the dark veil of discretion which plunged into the depths of oblivion this incredible mission and these extraordinary actors from our region. Like me, I am sure you will be passionate about discovering this end-of-war episode.
“Marathon en Ardenne” has 200 pages, in four-color, in the format 230 x 270 mm. It is embellished with nearly a hundred photos, plans, diagrams and lists.
“The book is on sale from September 22, 2021 at a price of 20 €. It is available from the publisher, the Famenne & Art Museum, 17 Rue du Commerce 6900 Marche-en-Famenne. It can also be ordered by paying € 30 (including € 10 to cover packaging and BePack24hr shipping costs) to ARA LUXNAM account BE37 0004 5437 0228, rue Pré à la Fontaine 17, 5100 WEPION, without forgetting to mention precisely the sending address.”
Philpot, Oliver, Stolen Journey , E.P. Dutton, 1952. “Oliver Philpot was one of three prisoners of war to escape from Stalag Luft III, in an episode later celebrated by the film The Wooden Horse.” “He was called up for service in August 1939 and was posted to No. 42 Squadron which was a Coastal Command unit. On December 11th, 1941 he was shot down and the aircraft ditched in the North Sea where the crew spent two days in a dinghy before being picked up by a German naval vessel. After recuperating in a German hospital in Oslo, he was moved to a series of camps before being finally interned in Stalag Luft III and soon became interested in escaping. There he met Lieutenant Richard Michael Codner RA and Flight Lieutenant Eric Williams who invented the idea of The Wooden Horse which was a vaulting horse which stood on the outskirts of the camp, where from inside, diggers would dig a tunnel. In the mean time, the horse was used by gymnasts for excercises to cover up the digging. On October 29th, 1943, Codner, Williams and Philpot escaped and managed to reach neutral Sweden and went from there on to England. The three men were the only successful escapers from the East Compound at Stalag Luft III throughout the war.” Available at Amazon and AbeBooks.
Pinto, Oreste, Spy Catcher, New York: Harper & Bros.,1952. A thrilling account of Counter-Intelligence in action, by the man Eisenhower called “the greatest living authority on security” – and who was personally responsible for the execution of seven spies. This is the true story of his adventures during World War II – first in England, where he was given the job of screening the thousands of refugees that poured into that country after the fall of France, separating the well-meaning unfortunates from those who tried to sneak in as Nazi spies. Later on the Continent, he served as chief of the Dutch Counter-Intelligence organization, attached to SHAEF. Each tale reveals a different aspect of successful spy-catching. Available from Amazon, ABE Books.
Pitchfork, Air Commodor Graham, Shot Down and On the Run, The RAF and Commonwealth aircrews who got home from behind enemy lines 1940-1945, Kew, Richmond, Surrey: The National Archives, 2003. “This compelling book tells some of the epic stories of RAF and Commonwealth aircrews who got out from behind enemy lines, across all theatres of the Second World War. They include the Halifax pilot shot down in northern Germany who walked and cycled over 1,000 miles to arrive safely in Barcelona two months later; the Baltimore navigator brought down in Italy who had to hide in a bush for three days before escaping over mountains to reach friendly lines; the Wellington crew rescued after a 28-day 400-mile trek through the African desert; the Beaufighter crew who survived for a month behind Japanese lines; and others picked up by Royal Navy Motor Gunboats from under the noses of the enemy troops.” Available at Amazon and Barnes&Noble.
Porter, Bob, The Long Return, a self-published account of Porter’s experiences in the RCAF, his bombing missions, being shot down, hidden by the Dutch Resistance, captured, interrogated, held in concentrations camps, and finally in POW camps. Well-documented. The book has been scanned and appears in full on this website.
Rankin, Nicholas, Defending the Rock, How Gibraltar Defeated Hitler. Faber and Faber, 2017. Two months before he shot himself, Adolf Hitler saw where it had all gone wrong. By failing to seize Gibraltar in the summer of 1940, he lost the war. The Rock of Gibraltar, a pillar of British sea-power since 1704, looked formidable but was extraordinarily vulnerable. Though menaced on all sides by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Vichy France and Francoist Spain, every day Gibraltar had to let thousands of people cross its frontier to work. Among them came spies and saboteurs, eager to blow up its 25 miles of secret tunnels. In 1942, Gibraltar became US General Eisenhower’s HQ for the invasion of North Africa, the campaign that led to Allied victory in the Mediterranean.
Nicholas Rankin’s revelatory new book, whose cast of characters includes Haile Selassie, Anthony Burgess and General Sikorski, sets Gibraltar in the wider context of the struggle against fascism, from Abyssinia through the Spanish Civil War. It also chronicles the end of empire and the rise to independence of the Gibraltarian people. Available from Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Faber&Faber, and Kobo.
Reid, P.R., The Colditz Story, publisher: Coronet Books, 1989. A British POW, he was held captive at Colditz Castle. One of the “Laufen Six,” Reid arrived at Colditz in November 1940. He was one of the lucky few to escape successfully, although he did not return to England until after the war. This book was combined with his other story, Men of Colditz, and republished as Escape from Colditz, New York: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1952-1953. “Colditz prisoners were the elite, the ‘bad boys’ who had escaped from other camps and had been recaptured. The Germans considered Colditz Castle escape-proof. An imposing medieval fortress built on a cliff, the castle was moated and surrounded by palisades of barbed wire on the edge of vast precipices. And despite blackout restrictions, the castle’s stone walls were flooded with spotlights every night. The guard garrison outnumbered the prisoners at all times. Bold, imaginative men like P.R. Reid, English escape officer until his own ‘homerun’ in 1942, kept a steady stream of internees on the escape route. In four and a half years there were over three hundred escape attempts from Colditz and, while relatively few reached the safety of Allied territory, the miracle was that any succeeded.” Available at Biblio.
Robertson, Anne Jacobson, The Road Home. Published by James Carlson, 1996. This is the story of bombardier Charles V. Carlson’s eleven months behind enemy lines with the Belgian and French Underground during World War II. The entire book as well as its French translation are available elsewhere on this website.
Roosenburg, Henriette, The Walls Came Tumbling Down, A Memoir, London: Scribe, 2021. In this gripping memoir, originally published in 1957, the Dutch author, codename ‘Zip’, recounts her extraordinary journey. A young fighter for the resistance during World War II, Zip is captured and held prisoner as part of the ‘Night and Fog’ unit, political prisoners who wait out the war in a crowded, secret cell. During their long days and nights, each creates a secret embroidery telling the story of their war, including when they are moved from place to place, writing each other’s names in morse code out of contraband black thread. Upon liberation, Zip must find her way back to Holland with her three companions, scant belongings, and any food they can ‘liberate’ or are given by the goodwill of soldiers or villagers along the way. In cinematic, sweeping prose, Zip reveals all the details of the time, including the camaraderie of fellow political prisoners upon release: the Dutch prisoners of war who have kept their uniforms intact; the French p.o.w.s in threadbare yet debonair getups; the French women resistance fighters who break out in song (‘La Marseillaise’) to reunite a hungry mob; not to mention the Russian liberators, and the American soldiers. The world they enter has turned upside down. The jovial spirit and giddiness they share at being free is uplifting and unforgettable. An adroit, page-turning and heroic tale of humanity — after the darkness, there is so much light. The Walls Came Tumbling Down is a true World War II classic. Available from Scribe and Amazon. This is a new edition and contains an afterword by Sonja van ‘t Hof.
Ross, Michael, The British Partisan: Capture, Imprisonment and Escape in Wartime Italy, Pen & Sword Military, 2019. In this action-packed account, the author, a Welch Regiment officer, describes his remarkable Second World War experiences. These include his baptism by fire in the Western Desert against Rommel’s armor in 1942, the spontaneous help of nomad Arabs when on the run for ten days behind enemy lines, his capture and life as a POW in Italy. Ross and a fellow officer made the first escape from Fontanellato POW camp only to be recaptured on the Swiss border. During his second escape, Ross fought against the occupying German forces in north Italy alongside the Italian partisans, who nearly executed him initially. He avoided recapture for over a year before finally reaching Allied lines. The reader learns of the extraordinary courage and sacrifice of local Italians helping and hiding Allied soldiers. Ross’s story has a poignant conclusion as, while on the run, he fell in love with a prominent anti-fascist’s daughter whom he married after the war.
Originally published as From Liguria With Love, this superbly written and updated memoir is a powerful and inspiring tribute to all those who risked their lives to help him and his comrades. Available from Amazon and Blackwell’s.
Rougeyron, Andre., Agents for Escape: Inside the French Resistance, Chapel Hill, NC: Louisiana State University, 1995, . The story of Andre Rougeyron, who assisted Allied airmen before he was sent to Buchenwald. “‘The only merit of this book – and I insist on it – is that it is true, true from beginning to end. And this, you see, is definitely something!’ So writes Andre Rougeyron in the Preface of his memoir, displaying a hint of the passion that undoubtedly accounted for his heroism in France and Germany during World War II – and displaying too his own modest self-regard. His chronicle of the years spent rescuing downed Allied airmen in France and consequently enduring German labor camps remains focused throughout on others. A myriad of individuals – both named and unnamed – and their sufferings and triumphs small and large suffuse his story. His portrait of Normandy under occupation and his descriptions of life and death in the labor camps add important new information to current understanding of how French resisters and the camps operated. Equally significant and also fascinating is his evocation of people from diverse backgrounds brought together under unbearably trying circumstances.” Available from Amazon and Barnes&Noble.
Scharrer, Jos, The Dutch Resistance Revealed, The Inside Story of Courage and Betrayal, Pen&Sword, 2018. “The Dutch resistance movement during the Nazi occupation was bedevilled by treachery, betrayal and poor organization coupled with lack of support from London. Despite these serious problems, the brave men and women of the Dutch Resistance, who refused to accept domination by their brutal oppressors, made a significant contribution to the war effort albeit at a terrible cost. Their contribution, which included escape routes for Allied aircrew and acts of sabotage, has been largely over-looked.” Available from Amazon, BookDepository, and Barnes&Noble.
Sheeran, James J., No Surrender, A World War II Memoir, New York: Penguin Group, 2011. “The Nazis caught him, but they couldn’t hold him-a gripping WWII memoir from a D-Day paratrooper and American hero. “A paratrooper in the 101st Airborne, James Sheeran was just a kid when he floated into Normandy on D-Day-only to be captured soon afterward by the Germans. Escaping from a POW train bound for Germany, Sheeran traveled behind enemy lines in France, eventually fighting alongside the French Resistance. After hooking up with Patton’s advancing army, he fought admirably in Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge, and was ultimately awarded the Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, and the Chevalier of the Order of the Legion of Honor. Sheeran’s breathtaking chronicle of his capture, daring escape, fierce guerilla resistance, and valor under fire is an unforgettable testament to the spirit of the American soldier.” Available from Amazon, Penguin Random House, and Barnes&Noble.
Shiber, Etta, Paris Underground, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1943. “Hers us a true story of the War that makes the wildest imaginings of fiction writers look pale. (I)ts quiet, unassuming and tremendously thrilling chronicle of the author’s experiences in smuggling nearly 200 British soldiers out of occupied France under the very noses of the Nazis is hardly likely to be surpassed for spine-tingling adventure and inspiring bravery.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Shuff, Derek, Evader, The Epic Story of the First British Airman to be Rescued by the Comète Escape Line in World War II, Staplehurst, Kent: Spellmount, 2003. “The year is 1941 and World War II is in its relative infancy. But for air gunner Sergeant Jack Newton his involvement in the action he wants so badly, comes soon enough–on his first bombing raid over Germany. His Wellington is hit by flak and its skipper makes a miraculous emergency landing on a German-occupied Belgian airfield. It is the start of an extraordinary shadowy 1000 miles trek across Belgium and France barely one step ahead of the Nazis who are as determined to catch him, as he is to evade capture by them. But Newton tells how he owes his life to the brave 23-year old girl leader of the Comète Line, whose name is Andreé de Jongh. Code name – Dédée. This their story. How Dédée delivers her ‘packages’ as the Allied escapees are called, to the safety of the British Embassy in San Sebastian.” [The British Embassy was in Madrid and there was a British consulate in Bilbao.] Available from Amazon and BookDepository.
Simpson, Squadron Leader William, One of Our Pilots is Safe, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1943. “The day before war was declared, Flight Lieutenant William Simpson took off in his Battle Bomber for a secret base in France. Eight months later, the day the Germans invaded the Low Countries, he was shot down in flames. Horribly burned and more dead than alive, he was dragged from his blazing cockpit by his gunner and observer. Then followed a series of nightmare journeys, of evacuations from one hospital to another to escape the advancing Germans; months in which stretchers, hospital wards, refugees, bombs and shellfire were all mingled together in a delirium of pain and horror; more months in which he lay utterly helpless, unable to move a finger. At length, contrary to all the doctors’ prophecies, he began miraculously to get well. Two years after he’d left England as one of the Advanced Air Striking Force, he was repatriated, traveling home by way of Spain and Portugal and plane to Croydon.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Skidmore, Kenneth, Follow the Man with the Pitcher. “On 11th November 1943, a Halifax bomber took off from Yorkshire on a bombing mission over German occupied France. The plane did not return. One young man, the author of this book, would not see England again for some time. Three months of hair-raising adventure took him from the coast of Northern France, through German occupied territory to Southern France, over the Pyrenees into Spain, thence to Gibraltar and home. Available from Amazon, AbeBooks, Biblio, and alibris.
Slofstra, Jan and De Boer, Jaap, Crew-Members on the Run: The Crash of the Seattle Sleeper Near Haulerwijk on 26 November 1944. (Dutch title: Vliegers op de Vlucht.)
The book Crew-Members on the Run has just been published by the Noordboek / Bornmeer publishing house, subtitled The Crash of the Seattle Sleeper near Haulerwijk on 26 November 1944. The authors are Jan Slofstra and Jaap de Boer. The book, written in Dutch, has 287 pages and is richly illustrated with photos, diagrams and maps. The price is € 22.50.
The crash of the American bomber Seattle Sleeper on November 26, 1944 near Haulerwijk is deeply engraved in the local memory. There are still elderly people who can tell about this. Later generations have also, through traditions, formed a picture of the crash and the fate of the pilots involved. However, this image has faded over time.
This prompted Jan Slofstra and Jaap de Boer to re-study the history of the Seattle Sleeper by using new data from archives, new publications about the air war and numerous interviews. This led to the detailed reconstruction of the events presented in this voluminous book.
What makes the book particularly special is the placement of local events in the broad context of the air war and the war history of the Frisian-Groningen-Drenthe border area. It is not just about Haulerwijk and its immediate surroundings, but also about the last year of the war in the South Western Quarter, the Drenthe North field and the Frisian Southeast corner.
On the basis of the fortunes of the nine pilots of the Seattle Sleeper, topics such as pilot assistance, terror and resistance are discussed in detail. The last chapter of the book is called “forget and remember”. It ties in with the central themes of the commemoration of the liberation of the Nazi yoke, 75 years ago.
Vliegers op de vlucht (Crew-members on the run) are available. Because the corona could not continue with a regular presentation of the first book, we decided to send the first book to John Weisgarber, the only surviving crew member of the Seattle Sleeper.
An article about the book that appeared in the Dutch publication de Woudklank, published April 29, 2020, appears below the image of the jacket cover. Also, click here.
Smith, Larry, Trouble, New York: Page Publishing, 2018. The story of Sgt. Robert Sweatt [AFEES member], who was shot down but evaded thanks to the Shelburne Escape Line. It is based on interviews with Mr. Sweatt by the author, his son-in-law.
“A TRUE story about a miraculous journey filled with antics of young men in the USAAF as well as many deadly encounters and near misses. The B-24 Liberator nicknamed Trouble was one of five bombers that were shot down over NAZI-occupied France on January 7, 1944. Sergeant Robert Sweatt, a waist gunner, was wounded in several places, including a nick to his jugular vein, but survived the initial attack AND the plane’s explosion in midair, which knocked him unconscious. Bob regained his senses as he fell and was able to open his parachute. There are many more details of this story that are almost unbelievable. Read and enjoy.
“Sergeant Robert Sweatt explains his thoughts as he wakes while falling.
“No matter how much I try, I don’t believe that I will be able to accurately convey my feelings when I regained consciousness. In fact, at first I didn’t believe that I WAS conscious. My first thought was … so this is what it feels like to be dead. It was very peaceful and I don’t think I have ever been calmer in my life. I was comfortable, not too hot, not too cold, no pain, it was very quiet. I was slowly assessing myself. All in all, I was happy with most of my condition … except that I couldn’t see. I blinked my eyes … yes, they moved, I could feel them move but it was still dark.
“‘Wait a minute! MY EYELIDS MOVED? That isn’t supposed to happen if I’m dead.'”
Smith, Sydney, Mission Escape, New York: David McKay Co., Inc., 1969. The story of RAF commander Wings Daley, leader of the incredible POW mass escapes of WWII. “”In October, 1939, Wing Commander H. M. A. Day took off on his Squadron’s first reconnaissance flight over Germany. He was shot down behind the enemy lines and captured by the Germans. The war was over him, they said. Actually it was only beginning, for ‘Wings” Day was to become one of the cleverest and most resourceful ‘escape artists’ the Nazis were ever to hold captive. .Day organized a series of fantastic tunnellings out of camp after camp, which resulted in mass escapes that tied up thousands of German troops for weeks hunting down the fugitives. His efforts culminated finally in breaking out of the ‘super-elite’ Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, the pride of the SS. . This tale of indefatigable spirit pitted against the horrors of prison, torture, and death is told now for the first time. ” The author was , himself, shot down and spent some time with Commander Day in the same prison camps”. Available from Amazon and ShadySideBooks.
Sniders, Edward, Flying In Walking Out, Memories of War and Escape, Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Leo Cooper, 1999. “Edward Snider flew Mosquitos with the famous 139 (Jamaica) Squadron RAF until 27 July, 1943 when, on a mission to Duisburg, his aircraft was hit by flak and caught fire over Holland. Snider and his navigator both baled out successfully but became separated. He at once set out to reach the Spanish border but was betrayed whilst in the hands of the French Resistance and was lucky not to be shot. From the moment that he arrived in the famous Stalag Luft III POW camp, Edward Sniders was totally committed to escaping. His account of life as a prisoner is a moving one of courage, fortitude and comradeship. Flying In Walking Out is a tale of high adventure, bitter frustration, and resolute defiance told with honesty, simplicity and modesty.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Snyder, Steve, Shot Down, The True Story of Pilot Howard Snyder and the Crew of the B-17 “Susan Ruth,” 2014. “Winner of 20 national book awards, SHOT DOWN is set within the framework of World War II in Europe and recounts the dramatic experiences of each member of a ten man B-17 bomber crew after their plane, piloted by the author’s father, was knocked out of the sky by German fighters over the French/Belgian border on February 8,1944. Some men died. Some were captured and became prisoners of war. Some men evaded capture and were missing in action for months before making it back to England. Their individual stories and those of the courageous Belgian people who risked their lives to help them are all different and are all remarkable.
“Even before the dramatic battle in the air and the subsequent harrowing events on the ground, the story is informative, insightful, and captivating. Prior to the fateful event, the book covers the crew’s training, their journey to England, what life was like on base as well as in London and the English countryside, and the perils of flying combat missions over occupied Europe and Germany.
“Through personal letters, oral and written accounts, declassified military documents, and interviews – all from people who took part in the events that happened over 70 years ago (even the German Luftwaffe pilot who shot down the Susan Ruth) – the stories come alive. Adding to the feeling of “being there,” are more than 200 time period photographs interspersed throughout the book.
“To add background and context, many historical facts and anecdotes about and surrounding World War II are entwined throughout the book so that the reader has a feel for and understanding of what was occurring on a broader scale. SHOT DOWN is an account about brave individuals, featuring pilot Howard Snyder, set within the compelling events of the greatest conflict in world history.” Available from Amazon and Barnes&Noble.
Spicer, Tim, A Dangerous Enterprise: Secret war at sea. “Between 1942 and 1944 a very small, very secret, very successful clandestine unit of the Royal Navy, operated between Dartmouth in Devon, and the Brittany Coast in France. It was a crossing of about 100 miles, every yard of it dangerous. The unit was called the 15th Motor Gunboat Flotilla: crewed by 125 officers and men, it became the most highly decorated Royal Naval unit of the Second World War. The 15th MGBF was an extraordinary group of men thrown together in the most secret of adventures. Very few were regular Royal Naval officers: instead the unit was made up of mostly Royal Naval Volunteer Officers and ‘duration only’ sailors. Their home was a converted paddle steamer and luxury yacht, but their work could not have been more serious.
“Their mission was to ferry agents of SIS and SOE to pinpoint landing sites on the Brittany coast in Occupied France. Once they had landed their agents, together with stores for the Resistance, they picked up evaders, escaped POWs who had had the good fortune to be collected by escape lines run by M19, as well as returning SIS and SOE agents.
“It is a story that is inextricably entwined with that of the many agents they were responsible for – Pierre Hentic, Yves Le Tac, Virginia Hall, Albert Hué, Jeannie Rousseau, Suzanne Warengham, François Mitterrand and Mathilde Carré, as well as many others. Without the Flotilla, such intelligence gathering networks as Jade Fitzroy and Alliance would never have developed, and SOE’s VAR Line and MI9’s Shelburne Escape Line would never have been realised.
“Drawing on a huge amount of research on both sides of the Channel, including private archives of many of the families involved, A Dangerous Enterprise brings the story of this most clandestine of operations brilliantly to life.” Available from Penguin, Amazon.
Spiller, H.J., Ticket to Freedom, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire: William Kimber & Co., 1988. “From a crash in a Halifax over eastern France back to Britain courtesy of the French, Belgium and Spanish resistance.” “150 pages with b/w photos,in Halifax crash in France in 10/42, describes his escape, events and people via Paris, Brussels, and Pyrenees to UK, awarded DFM.” Includes information on Dédée, the Comet Line, and Elvire de Greef. Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Stourton, Edward, Cruel Crossing, Escaping Hitler Across the Pyrenees, London: Doubleday, 2013. “The mountain paths are as treacherous as they are steep — the more so in the dark and in winter. Even for the fit the journey is a formidable challenge. Hundreds of those who climbed through the Pyrenees during the Second World War were malnourished and exhausted after weeks on the run hiding in barns and attics. Many never even reached the Spanish border.
“Today their bravery and endurance is commemorated each July by a trek along the Chemin de la Liberté –– the toughest and most dangerous of wartime routes. From his fellow pilgrims Edward Stourton uncovers stories of midnight scrambles across rooftops and drops from speeding trains; burning Lancasters, doomed love affairs, horrific murder and astonishing heroism.
“The lives of the men, women and children who were drawn by the war to the Pyrenees often read as breathtakingly exciting adventure, but they were led against a background of intense fear, mounting persecution and appalling risk. Drawing on interviews with the few remaining survivors and the families of those who were there, Edward Stourton’’s vivid history of this little-known aspect of the Second World War is shocking, dramatic and intensely moving.” Available from Amazon and Penguin.
Sunderman, Lt. Col. James, Air Escapes and Evasion, New York: Franklin Watts, Inc., 1963. Escape and evasion stories from WWI to the Cold War. “ESCAPE means a breakout from captivity. EVASION means the technique applied in dodging enemy capture. Necessarily, escape is followed by evasion. This book deals with both of these exciting topics as they were lived by combat airmen of many nationalities from World War I to the ‘Cold War’ of the 1960s. Lt. Col. Sunderman has gathered together a significant collection of the most hair-raising incidents involving air escape and evasion. Several of the pieces were written by the escapees and evadees themselves.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Teare, Denys, Evader, The Compelling True Story of Escape and Evasion Behind Enemy Lines, Burford Books: 2003. Denys Teare’s compelling story of escape and evasion behind enemy lines. “More thrilling than any fiction, this book charts the true story of RAF crewman Denys Teare’s year in Occupied France, a year spent a half-step ahead of Gestapo troopers determined to hunt him down.” Available from Amazon.
Tellez Sola, Antonio, Le réseau d’évasion du groupe Ponzan – Anarchistes dans la guerre secrète contre le franquisme et le nazisme (1936-1944), (also available in a Spanish edition). Google translation from French: Antonio Téllez, after in-depth research, retraces here the story of Francisco Ponzan Vidal. He is a historical figure whose life embodied the activity of anarchists against Nazism during World War II. He deployed two major tasks, the intelligence service and the rescue of resistance fighters and persecuted and hunted people. Ponzan in the years of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) was part of the intelligence service of the Confederal Columns of the CNT on the Aragon front. More precisely, he was in the Special Peripheral Intelligence Service (SIEP). His mission was to cross enemy lines in order to spy on and exfiltrate the companions stranded in the nationalist zone. Once in exile, Ponzan and some of his companions put their experience at the service of the anti-fascist cause. They worked with other libertarian groups, and sometimes with the Allied secret services. They organized the most important escape network across the Pyrenees during WWII. The group known as the “Ponzan Group Escape Network” has not always sparked an understanding of the libertarian movement which has not always understood its characteristics and how it works. The importance of the group has, however, been recognized by Allied governments and by most historians of the Resistance. In this book, Antonio Téllez is the first to study the genesis and activities of the network. Its objective is to show the specifically libertarian aspect of the escape network of the Ponzan group. Available from Amazon and Decitre.
Tunstall, Peter, The Last Escaper, The Untold First-Hand Story of the Legendary World War II Bomber Pilot, “Cooler King” and Arch Escape Artist, London: Overlook Duckworth, 2015. “The product of a lifetime’s reflection, The Last Escaper is Peter Tunstall’s unforgettable memoir of his days in the British Royal Air Force and as one of the most celebrated British POWs of World War II. Tunstall was an infamous tormentor of this German captors. Dubbed the ‘cooler king’ on account of his long spells in solitary, he once dropped a water ‘bomb’ directly in the lap of a high-ranking German officer. He also devised an ingenious method for smuggling coded messages back to London. But above all he was a highly skilled pilot, loyal friend, and trusted colleague.” Available from Amazon and Barnes&Noble.
Van der Linden, Peter, Kampina Airborne, Airborne Evaders of the Kampina Forest, n.d. Kampina Airborne tells the true Market-Garden story of a group of more than 80 Allied glider-borne troops who were forced to make premature landings in the Dutch province of North-Brabant. Available from Amazon and OspreyPublishing.
Vanderstok, Bob, War Pilot of Orange, Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., 1987. During the first year of the German occupation of The Netherlands, Vanderstok tried to escape, but without success. The fourth attempt was successful, he joined the RAF but was shot down and imprisoned at Stalag Luft III. While there he was a member of the escape committee and was one of only three who escaped successfully out of 76 men who went out the tunnel. Available at Amazon and Barnes&Noble.
Van Remmerden, Henry, In the Shadow of the Swastika: The Double Life of a Resistance Leader in Occupied Holland, Boise, ID: Lithocraft, Inc., 1996. AFEES member “Little George” Van Remmerden’s resistance story. The book is reproduced on this website. Click here to view it. Also available on Amazon.
Watt, George, The Comet Connection: Escape from Hitler’s Europe, Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1990. A new edition was published in 2007 as Escape from Hitler’s Europe: An American Airman Behind Enemy Lines. This work is about AFEES member George Watt’s Comet Line escape story.
Weber, Ronald, The Lisbon Route, Entry and Escape in Nazi Europe, New York: Ivan R. Dee, 2011. “The Lisbon Route tells of the extraordinary World War II transformation of Portugal’s tranquil port city into the great escape hatch of Nazi Europe. Royalty, celebrities, diplomats, fleeing troops, and ordinary citizens desperately slogged their way across France and Spain to reach the neutral nation. Here the exiles found peace and plenty, though they often faced excruciating delays and uncertainties before they could book passage on ships or planes to their final destinations. As well as offering freedom from war, Lisbon provided spies, smugglers, relief workers, military figures, and adventurers with an avenue into the conflict and its opportunities. Ronald Weber traces the engaging stories of many of these colorful transients as they took pleasure in the city’s charm and benign climate, its ample food and drink, its gambling casino and Atlantic beaches. Yet an ever-present shadow behind the gaiety was the fragile nature of Portuguese neutrality, which at any moment the Axis or Allies might choose to end.” Available from Amazon and Barnes&Noble.
Whitcomb, Edgar D., Escape from Corregidor. Publisher: Paperback Library (Henry Regnery), 1967. “At a crucial moment, Ed Whitcomb, a B-17 navigator, made a split-second decision and thereby set off a hair-raising, spine-tingling sequence of narrow escapes, captures, unexpected breaks and bitter betrayals that culminated in his final extrication from enemy territory. Whitcomb reached Clark Field just before its demolition by the Japanese. He then evaded capture at the fall of Bataan by fleeing in a row boat to the bastion of Corregidor, where he was caught. Escaping under cover of darkness, he swam for eight hours to get to the mainland. After weeks of struggle in a snake-infested jungle, he sailed by moonlight down the heavily patrolled coast, only to fall, once again, into the clutches of the enemy. Facing captors, Ed Whitcomb took a desperate chance for freedom. Clenching his fists, he said: “My name is Robert Fred Johnson, mining employee”. This is the story of a man who vowed never to give up. He assumed the identity of a civilian and lived another man’s life for almost two years. Neither hunger, nor beatings, nor the long gray hopelessness of prison life could shake Ed Whitcomb’s determination to escape the enemy and return home to Indiana. Ed Whitcomb is the epitome of the American fighting man. He has the courage and fortitude needed to defy all odds in order to bring honor and respect to his state and country. Escape from Corregidor is the story, told with simplicity and fearlessness, of his dedication to the principles of devotion to his fellow man and his country.” Available from Amazon and Barnes&Noble.
Wilcox, Thomas C., One Man’s Destiny, Mogadore, Ohio: Telcraft Books, 1992. “Shot down behind Nazi lines in German-occupied Holland, Thomas Wilcox recounts this significant time in his life. Anti-aircraft flack struck his B-26 Marauder while flying deputy lead on his 67th bombing mission over Europe, the day before a replacement crew was scheduled to take over. It became his longest mission. Recognition and thanks is given to the courageous and resourceful men and women of Holland who risked their lives while serving in the Dutch Underground resistance against their Nazi occupants. The world war of the 1940’s is deep enough in history that names and places can be shared, for which grown children and their grandchildren can be proud of their brave heritage. Each life shares a destiny of its own, and here Thomas Wilcox tells his story.” Available from Amazon and ABEBooks.
Williams, Eric, The Wooden Horse, New York: Bantam Books (Harper), 1950. “Based on true events in which the author, calling himself Peter, was involved, this is the story of a successful escape from Stalag Luft III in German-occupied Poland, by British prisoners of war, during WWII. The title is well chose, for it was by means of a wooden vaulting-horse that Eric Williams and his two companions made their way out of the captivity of a German prison camp, into freedom. This vaulting-horse was four feet six inches high and its base covered an area of five feet by three feet. When it was carried into the courtyard the German guards thought it was simply a vaulting-horse, similar to that used in any gymnasium. It is true that the prisoners vaulted over it. But unknown to the German guards, two men were always concealed within the horse and while the prisoners vaulted, these two men were busy underground burrowing a tunnel. When’s the day’s work was over the hole was boarded up, earth placed over the boards, and the horse with the two men inside taken back into the camp. This work of tunnelling went on for several months, until the tunnel was over 120 feet long and extended beyond the barbed wire which bounded the camp.” Available from Amazon and Simon&Schuster.
Wojcik, Barbar, Bud’s Jacket: An American Flyer Evades Nazis in Occupied France, Stillwater, Minn.: 4 Square Books, 2020. 17 May 1943—Thick smoke and fumes poured into the B-17 nose cone as the bailout bell began to shriek. Choking on the acrid fumes, Bud already knew what to do: OUT OF THE PLANE NOW, BUD! He grabbed his chute, snapped it on the harness around his bomber jacket and turned to crouch down by the escape hatch just behind him. He kicked it open, exposing the rushing sea far below; this was Bud’s first jump. Bailing out over coastal France, Lt. James “Bud” Wilschke and his fellow airman S.Sgt. Robert Neil, found themselves on a harrowing, desperate odyssey of escape and evasion through Nazi-occupied Europe. Including extensive research and visits to the original sites, Bud’s Jacket is a true tale of adventure, courage and determination. On a broader level, the author pays tribute to the citizen “Helpers” at all levels of French society who risked life and liberty to harbor Allied flyers from what good people then and now reasonably consider the forces of evil. Dave Engel, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., City Historian, Publisher “River City Memoirs: Home Front” Author “Just Like Bob Zimmerman’s Blues: Dylan In Minnesota”. Available from bud’sjacket.com, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble.
Woodrum, Henry C., Walkout, New York: iUniverse, Inc., 1985, 2010. “Ten days before the D-day landings at Normandy, Lt. Henry Woodrum woke early to fly a combat mission that culminated in being shot down over the northern suburbs of Paris. Lt. Woodrum’s 35th combat mission was supposed to last just a few hours, but it ended up continuing three months as he struggled to survive in war-torn France.” Available from Amazon and Barnes&Noble.
Young, Sir Nicholas, Escaping With His Life, From Dunkirk to D-Day & Beyond, Pen and Sword. “Very few British soldiers could lay claim to such a full war as Leslie Young. Having survived the retreat to and evacuation from Dunkirk, he volunteered for the newly formed Commandos and took part in their first operation, the raid on the Lofoten Islands. He fought and was captured in Tunisia. He went on the run before his POW camp at Fontanellato was taken over by the Nazis after the September 1943 Italian armistice. He spent six months on the run in the Apennine mountains aided by brave and selfless Italians. Many of whom were actively fighting their occupiers. He eventually reached Allied lines but not before several of his companions were tragically killed by both German and American fire. On return to England he immediately signed up for the invasion of North West Europe and despite being wounded eventually fought through to Germany.
It is thanks to his son’s research that Major Young’s story can now be told. It is an inspiring and thrilling account which demands to be read.” Available from Amazon, Penn and Sword and ABEBooks.
- Zeeman, Pieter Rudolph, Luck Through Adversity: The Memoir of a Dutchman’s Flight to Freedom Through the Dutch-Paris Escape Line of World War II, John Henry Weidner Foundation, 2020. Luck Through Adversity is the memoir of a remarkable evader of the Nazis during the Second World War. Pieter “Rudy” Zeeman’s escape to freedom from Nazi-occupied Holland led him across four countries and thousands of miles by rail, car, foot, and sea. With the aid of the members of the Dutch-Paris Escape Line (founded and led by the intrepid John Weidner), as well as others, he reached safety after passing through a long and winding gauntlet of Nazi patrols and other dangers. Luck Through Adversity is not only the story of Zeeman’s flight to freedom during World War II. It is also the story of his subsequent experiences in the former Dutch East Indies as a member of the Free Dutch Forces, of his courtship and marriage to Marie Bernadette Mortimer, of his post-war life, and of his immigration to Australia as his adopted home. This book is a vital act of memory that will help to keep alive the story of the Dutch resisters and evaders of World War II, and their inspiring resilience, for future generations. It is filled with keen observations from a life well-lived. Available from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Luck-Through-Adversity-Dutchmans-Dutch-Paris/dp/1734699914).
“Zinck, Ray E., The Final Flight of Maggie’s Drawers, A Story of Survival, Escape and Evasion, Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Co., 1998. “The Final Flight of Maggie’s Drawers is the true story of Joe Maloney, a B-24 tail gunner during World War II. After training, Joe was attached to the 15th Air Force, 415 Squadron based in southern Italy. His story unfolds as he describes, in detail, life in the military, from living in a tent city to countless bombing runs over Nazi-held Europe. Joe partakes in countless missions until one fateful day in 1944 during a bombing run to Steyr, Austria. Riddled with flak and bullets, Maggie’s Drawers, his B-24, receives a fatal hit. Her crew is forced to bail out over Yugoslavia. The story unfolds as Joe’s crewmates are reunited on the ground, and are led by Allied Partizans to the free zone. The race to freedom is dangerous, as they encounter Nazi patrols, German-held towns and Axis sympathizers, until they are finally airlifted back to Italy. This is a gripping story of American boys trapped behind enemy lines, and a heroic group of locals who risked their lives to save them. Truly, this story should be told again and again.” Available from Amazon and AbeBooks.
Other websites containing lists of escape and evasion books:
1. www.belgiumww2.info website: http://home.clara.net/clinchy/neeball.htm. Go to the list of headings on the left of the page and scroll down to the Bibliography.
3. Netherlands Escape Lines website: http://wwii-netherlands-escape-lines.com/library/escape-and-evasion/
4. WW2 Escape Lines Memorial Society: http://www.ww2escapelines.co.uk/?page_id=913
5. Air Force Academy Library Holdings: https://airforceescape.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Air-Force-Academy-Library-holdings-MS54.pdf . Their collection of books related to WWII escape and evasion that are part of MS54 are to be found on pp. 3-6, 8, 10-12, 14-27, 34-35, and 44. Click on the above link to open it and scroll down to these pages of the pdf file to view the lists of books.
6. See also on this website the Index to Other Subjects and scroll down to the heading “Books, Movies, Videos, Plays, Museum Reviews, and Book References” for more listings.