A remarkable collection of accounts of intrepid American aircrew shot down over enemy lines during World War II and how they got away.
To be an airman in the Eighth Air Force flying over the war-torn skies of Europe required skill, tenacity, and luck. Those who were shot down and evaded capture needed all of that and more if they were to make it back to friendly lines. These are their stories. Each is compiled from the original intelligence debrief written by the pilots or aircrew themselves.
Bill Yenne details how a spider web of escape routes sprang up, created by the local Résistance. Downed airmen were clothed, given false papers, and hidden so they could be smuggled back to England. These efforts were then supplemented by Allied intelligence agents. But the risks remained the same. Capture could mean death.
Their accounts are sometimes funny, often heart-breaking. P-47 pilot Joel McPherson feigned appendicitis and was able to escape from the local German military hospital – after he had his appendix removed. He spent weeks operating as a getaway driver for a Maquis bank robber gang before making it into neutral Spain. Bomber crewmen Fred Hartung and Norman Therrien found refuge at a French château, but later nearly froze to death crossing the icy Pyrenees with the Gestapo on their trail. The accounts of these men and others from the Mighty Eighth make this a story of defiance, foolhardiness, and bravery against the odds.