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Just finished Moonless Night by B.A. "Jimmy" James

by Ziks511 / January 22, 2013 12:30 AM PST

certainly the most extraordinary WW2 memoir I have ever read. James was an RAF pilot shot down in 1940 and captured, who escaped 12 times, penultimately in The Great Escape, was recaptured and sent to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp from which he and 4 others tunneled their way out. He was recaptured and shuffled though Sachsenhausen, Flossenburg, Dachau, and Reichenau Concentration Camps in the custody of the SS who had orders to shoot them before the war ended, in company with an extraordinary collection of people including a couple of Generals implicated in the von Stauffenberg bomb plot and lower ranking Germans, Pastor Martin Neimoller the famous Nazi-resisting Lutheran minister, the Bishop of Clermont-Ferrand, Kurt von Schuschnigg the Austrian Prime Minister at the time of the Anschluss, and various families with children including the Thyssens, and Hjalmar Schacht former Nazi Finance Minister also implicated in the July 1944 bomb plot.

They were strafed several times by Allied aircraft, on this peculiar and nightmarish journey, and enede up in a beautiful Austrian valley where they were put up in a luxurious hotel under the predatory eye of the SS, who intended to shoot them the next day. A small detachment of Wehrmacht sent from Italy saved them from the SS, and possibly from the Italian partisans who were in the woods surrounding the village and hotels. The fact that General Garibaldi was one of them might have saved them from the partisans, however.

There is American content since American airmen were intitially prisoners with the British at Stalag Luft III until they their own compound there could be constructed. John Dodge of the car family and a cousin of Churchill's through their mothers was there, as were two soldiers named Churchill only one of whom was related to the Prime Minister. The Germans kept both, just in case.

This is certainly the best story of prisoners of war I've ever read, and heaven knows I read as many as I could lay my hands on during my High School years.

Easily available through Amazon, since it has recently been reissued.


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Check out...
by Willy / January 22, 2013 2:03 AM PST

I read historical accounts of war events, etc. too. I find it interesting in all eras of war that some are very lucky and others get by with little. Stories like Valley Forge, WWII prisoners, WWI trench misery, Persian Gulf and the Afgan history, etc..

I'm glad to be here since my escape from my Dad's eye gleam to be born. That as USMC veteran himself was lucky to survive the WWII Pacific campaign. Also, to know some older vets and find recent vets that are willing to talk at the VA clinic.

One book I truly felt hit me was "Chicken Soup for Veterans Souls". The chicken soup series of books is also interesting of many accounts. The recounts though of the veterans one was really stirring, too stirring for me at times.


----Willy Happy

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"My War" by Andy Rooney is pretty good too
by Josh K / January 22, 2013 2:56 AM PST
In reply to: Check out...

I was less impressed with Tom Brokaw's book than I was expecting to be. I'll have to check out "Moonless Night" though.

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Good one
by Willy / January 22, 2013 5:50 AM PST

I read that one too and he got lucky to become a newsperson or sorts. I liked the story of changing the arty charges so that the officer that screwed him failed. read the one, I believed tiled, "Little America" the pre-war history of the Agfan conflict which in turn explains the failure of current intervention isn't going to work unless the basics are meant. Not the war part but the rebuilding and/or providing help so the locals don't take up arms. -----Willy Happy

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I want to read My War by Andy Rooney.
by Ziks511 / January 25, 2013 8:12 AM PST

He seems a good source for stories from Stars and Stripes and lively reminiscences from the scramble across Europe..

Stars and Stripes geve us The New Yorker, and a number of other classic magazines coming out of WW1, but the same doesn't seem to have happened to the same extent after WW2.


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Another good book is The Colditz Story and The Latter Days
by Ziks511 / January 25, 2013 8:08 AM PST

at Colditz Castle which can be found as all in one paperbacks. Americans don't enter the story until 1943-44 when they begin to assume a greater role, but it is an interesting view of Poles, and Dutch POW's in a respectful light. Both nationalities were very clever, active and helpful in the escape process. Pat Reid, the author of the two volumes was the first head of the Escape committee there, and Colditz reputation in World War 1 was as escape proof. It does go into greater detail about the anti-German activities engagede inside the camps.

In part 2, a French tunnel is started at the top of a Clock Tower, and the British decide to build a two man glider (which has since been replicated and tested , and which performed very well).

Colditz too was a location for Prominente prisoners, mostly of Allied origin, and the ultimate denouement takes place in Hitler's Alpen Redoubt with Prominente shipped in from Colditz and from all over Germany. Hostages at Colditz written by Giles Romilly, who was Churchill's nephew, and Jessica Mitford's husband, had fought on the Republican side in Spain before WW2. The other author is Micheal Alexander.

There are maps and drawings in Reid's The Colditz Story. Canadians play a prominent part as they did in Stalag Luft III and in POW camps all over Germany. They were a notably inventive and daring group as were the Americans who made it to Colditz.


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