Greatest Escapes of World War II

Greatest Escapes of World War II

by Robert Barr Col. Smith, Laurence J. Yadon


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Throughout WWII, thousands of Allied prisoners dreamed of outwitting their captors and returning to war against the Axis. Their ingenuity knew no bounds: they went over the barbed wire surrounding them and under it as well; they built tunnels of enormous length and complexity, often working with only their bare hands. They concealed themselves in their captors' vehicles and hitched rides to freedom. They became world-class forgers and tailors; they stole anything that might be useful to their escapes that wasn't actually red-hot or nailed down.

Some of them made it to freedom; some did not. Many of those who failed simply tried again and again until they succeeded. Some of the escapers who were caught were murdered by the Japanese or the German Gestapo. That did not stop others from risking torture or death to gain their freedom. Many men whose break was initially successful would not have survived save for the dangerous, selfless help of civilians, especially in occupied Europe and the Philippine Islands.

The stories in The Greatest Escapes of WWII highlight the courage, endurance, and ingenuity of Allied prisoners, chronicling their ceaseless efforts and the alarm that spread far and wide when one or more escaped. These escapes tied up thousands of Axis soldiers who might otherwise have prolonged the war for many more bloody months. The troops committed to guard the Allied prisoners and recapture escapers numbered in the hundreds of thousands.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781493025022
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 10/01/2016
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 594,065
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Robert Barr Smith entered the United States Army as a private in 1958. He served in Vietnam with 4th Infantry Division, more than seven years in Germany, and with troop units and on posts throughout the United States, retiring as a Colonel. He is a Senior Parachutist, and holds the Legion of Merit (two awards), the Bronze Star, and other decorations.

He holds two degrees from Stanford University and is a Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Oklahoma, where he also served six years as Associate Dean for Academics and Associate Director of the Law Center. He lives in the Ozark Hills of southern Missouri, and is the author or co-author of sixteen books and more than a hundred magazine articles, primarily in military and western history.

Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Chapter 1 Tom, Dick, and Harry-Tunneling out of top-security Stalag Luft III 1

Chapter 2 Before Their Very Eyes-No place to start digging a tunnel? Why, dig it in the open prison yard, the entrance hidden by a vaulting horse over which other prisoners carried on vaulting 19

Chapter 3 The Ruth-Lee-Three thousand miles to freedom in Australia … in an open boat 33

Chapter 4 After Midnight-The Danish underground's spectacular rescue of most of Denmark's Jewish population 45

Chapter 5 Wish Me Luck as You Wave Me Good-bye-A young Australian's multiple escapes 63

Chapter 6 The Wizards of MI9-The highly effective British escape organization and the men who ran it 71

Chapter 7 The Man Who Wouldn't Quit-Douglas Bader, the RAF wing commander who gave his German captors fits … even though he had two aluminum legs 85

Chapter 8 Deliverance from Evil-American Rangers free more than five hundred POWs threatened with death in the Philippines 93

Chapter 9 Dedee's Way-Young Countess Andree de Jongh, mastermind of the Comete Escape Line, which helped Allied forces personnel escape from occupied Europe 103

Chapter 10 Night Crossing-The Black Watch officer who escaped the Germans by sheer persistence, daring, and small boat handling 117

Chapter 11 Twelve Iron Men-Ten very tough Americans and two Filipino murderers escape the Japanese on the Philippine island of Davao 127

Chapter 12 Come What May-American nurses are snatched from the site of a New Guinea plane crash by glider 143

Chapter 13 Operation Jericho-The RAF bombed the Amiens prison at zero feet, smashing holes in the stone walls and freeing hundreds of prisoners, some condemned to death 161

Chapter 14 Ming, the Dog Who Knew-The pet of the Jericho leader knew when her master was flying, and this time knew he wasn't coming back 177

Chapter 15 Fighting Man-The saga of Jack Churchill, who went to war with a sword and bow 179

Chapter 16 Operation Halyard-The do-it-yourself air strip 197

Chapter 17 Schloss Colditz and Other Delights-Breaching the walls of a thousand-year-old fortress 207

Chapter 18 If at First You Don't Succeed-Walter Granecki, who found help from unexpected places in the heart of Fascist Italy 219

Chapter 19 The Magicians-Christopher Clayton Hutton, who developed remarkable tools for remarkable escapes 227

Afterword 231

Bibliography 233

Index 235

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