Airmen's Incredible Escapes: Accounts of Survival in the Second World War - Bryn Evans

Airmen's Incredible Escapes: Accounts of Survival in the Second World War - Bryn Evans

Before I got the chance to read this book, the cat took a serious interest in it. There must be something in the manufacturing process that attracted her as she wouldn’t leave it alone.

On first skim through this reminded me of Paul Brickhill’s ‘Escape or Die’ which I read over 50 years ago at school. I thought that if it turns out to be half as good I’ll be a happy reader. Interestingly, the author refers to Brickhill and his works in the foreword to the book.

The first few pages contained some useful maps, something I always think to be a good idea, as no matter how good your geography skills are, a brief refresher is always handy.

The photographs used throughout are pertinent and, in the main, of pretty decent quality: I’d not seen most of them before.

I also liked the references section. It’s not often that you find one in a book like this, but it shows the lengths that the author has gone to in order to verify the tales that he has been told.

Each story has its own brief chapter, 37 in all. This is something I particularly like as it makes for convenient reading. A ready cut-off point for when I’m ready to turn the light off and catch some sleep, or between rail stations if you are commuting to or from work.

I guess because the stories are now so old, the detail to them is rather brief. First-hand tales are going to be non-existent so we’re relying on second-hand memories and scant official records to verify things. However, what I do like is that the author sticks to the facts and doesn’t try to embellish things by adding his interpretation of events and speculating what might, or might not, have been said or done.

I found many of the stories incredibly touching and a lot of them brought out the human side of war. I felt that the author didn’t try to portray goodies and baddies but treated all as people.

Most of the stories in this volume were new to me and truthfully kept me engaged throughout the book. It’s by no means a difficult read but it is incredibly enjoyable; though I must say I still think Brickhill’s book is marginally better, it has (IMO) more of the personal touch.

I’d like to quote a couple of lines from the front of the book as I felt this set the tone:-

When do the dead die?

… when we forget them.

When do they continue living?

… when we continue remembering them.

A perfect Christmas present for anyone interested in the more personal history stories of the RAF, and a little beyond, from the WW2 era.

The author says he has plenty more stories, so let’s hope at some point he puts together another volume.

I’m going to push the boat out on this one and run to 41/2 anchors; your £25 won’t be wasted. Incidentally, I notice that it’s currently out of stock on Amazon.

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