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Escape Artist (Hardback)

The Incredible Second World War of Johnny Peck

Military > Prisoners of War WWII

By Peter Monteath
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 288
Illustrations: 32
ISBN: 9781526727534
Published: 3rd July 2018



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The never-before-told story of World War II escape artist extraordinaire, Johnny Peck.

In August 1941, an eighteen-year-old Australian soldier made his first prison break – an audacious night-time escape from a German prisoner-of-war camp in Crete. Astoundingly, this was only the first of many escapes.

An infantryman in the 2/7 Battalion, Johnny Peck was first thrown into battle against Italian forces in the Western Desert. Campaigns against Hitler’s Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe in Greece and Crete followed. When Crete fell to the Germans at the end of May 1941, Peck was trapped on the island with hundreds of other men. On the run, they depended on their wits, the kindness of strangers, and sheer good luck.

When Peck’s luck ran out, he was taken captive by the Germans, then the Italians. Later, after his release from a Piedmontese jail following the Italian Armistice of 1943, and at immense risk to his own life, Peck devoted himself to helping POWs cross the Alps to safety. Captured once more, Peck was sentenced to death and detained in Milan’s notorious, Gestapo-run San Vittore prison – until escaping again, this time into Switzerland.

Historian Peter Monteath reveals the action-packed tale of one young Australian soldier and his remarkable war.

The book is reminder of firstly the bravery of many of the local communities in Southern Europe, and secondly the dreadful revenge that the Germans exacted on communities when there were events of sabotage and resistance.

Read the full review here

Sky & Bullets, Paul Smiddy

As featured by

Antiques Diary, November/December 2018

About Peter Monteath

Peter Monteath is a lecturer in Modern European History at Flinders University of South Australia. His research interests include modern European and Australian history, and he has a particular interest in prisoners of war, internment, and the German presence in Australia, having written extensively on these subjects

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