From Battle of Britain Airman to PoW Escapee: The Story of Ian Walker RAF

From Battle of Britain Airman to PoW Escapee: The Story of Ian Walker RAF

by Angela Walker


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This is the Second World War story of a champion cyclist turned airman who lived to tell the tale against almost impossible odds. A New Zealander in the RAF, Ian Walker took part in the Battle of Britain before transferring to Bomber Command and surviving three plane crashes in his Wellington bomber. The last of these saw him crash land in enemy territory, where he was eventually captured and taken prisoner. Confined within the claustrophobic walls of a POW camp, he hatched a plot with a fellow inmate to escape. This they achieved, almost miraculously, in broad daylight. Living on basic rations, they navigated the enemy wilds until they were captured, yet again, and taken back to prison.

After languishing in POW camps and hospitals for more than two years, Ian had the good fortune of being placed on a list of injured men to be exchanged, man for man, with German prisoners. The little-known story of the history-making exchange that took place in Barcelona in October 1943 is detailed here, describing how thousands of allied and axis prisoners were safely returned to their homelands in the midst of war.

Ian’s daughter, Angela Walker, has endeavored to preserve the details of her father’s extraordinary odyssey in full. Her tale circumnavigates the globe, weaving snippets taken from letters and extensive journals kept by her father in order to create a compelling, warm hearted and thrilling account of his war. Having once inspired her to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, her father now continues to inform and inspire her through the stories she’s recovered from his past. Her book commemorates the efforts of all New Zealand’s wartime airmen who, like her father, made significant contributions in the fight for allied victory.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781473890725
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 03/03/2017
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Angela Walker is a first-time author from New Zealand. She is also a former Olympic gymnast and Commonwealth gold medalist, inspired in her own sporting endeavors by her father, a champion cyclist who narrowly missed Commonwealth Games selection himself, cycling on a leg that had been injured during the war. The publication of this book represents the culmination of a real labor of love on her part, commemorating the life and career of her late father and celebrating him as an icon of endurance and survival

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The girl with the poppy 1

Chapter 2 'The boy from Koru' 8

Chapter 3 'The OE' 18

Chapter 4 'Fate, it seems, had taken a hand' 33

Chapter 5 'All hell let loose' 44

Chapter 6 'One of the finest chaps that ever lived' 54

Chapter 7 'Farewell to 1940 and all its troubles' 64

Chapter 8 'Hell, this is it' 80

Chapter 9 'Another ruddy shaky do' 96

Chapter 10 'Rabbits' 110

Chapter 11 'Darkness always gives way to light' 126

Chapter 12 'Close the shutters' 134

Chapter 13 'The true story of Kriegsgefangener number 39620' 151

Chapter 14 'Forgotten what a banana tasted like' 169

Chapter 15 'Land of the long white cloud' 186

Chapter 16 'The higher the fewer' 195

Chapter 17 'A dream that war had denied' 204

Chapter 18 'A giant wheel of destiny' 216

Chapter 19 'Slept like tops1 223

Acknowledgements 227

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