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Escape from Stalag Luft III (Hardback)

The True Story Of My Successful Great Escape

Military > Greenhill Books > Greenhill: 20th Century Military > Greenhill Books > Greenhill: WWII Military > Memoirs Military > Prisoners of War WWII > Great Escape

By Bram Vanderstok MBE, Foreword by Simon Pearson, Preface by Robert Vanderstok
Greenhill Books
Pages: 264
Illustrations: 20
ISBN: 9781784384340
Published: 4th February 2019



As featured in...

As featured in the Daily Express, March 2019: 'The Great Escape – The truth behind the iconic World War 2 film.'

As featured in The Bookseller, December 2018.

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'A born raconteur, his escapes, his operations as a Spitfire pilot, his experiences as a prisoner-of-war, and his incredible escape crossing the Pyrenees – all are described in a breathtaking manner which made me read his book through in one sitting.' Prof Dr L de Jong, Founder/Director of the Dutch Institute for War Documentation

'Such a modest man, such a dramatic story – you’ll be pulled into this absorbing account.' Jonathan Vance, The True Story of the Great Escape

"Quickly, I climbed up to the surface and immediately found the rope . . . I felt no signal, so it was not safe yet. Then I felt three distinct tugs and slowly popped my head up. The nearest 'Goonbox' was at least 200 feet away; but, indeed, I was twenty feet from the edge of the woods." Bram Vanderstok

On the night of 24 March 1944, Bram (Bob) Vanderstok was number 18 of 76 men who crawled beyond the barbed wire fence of Stalag Luft III in Zagan, Poland. The 1963 film The Great Escape, made this breakout the most famous of the Second World War: this is the true story of one of only three successful escapees.

Vanderstok's memoir sets down his wartime adventures before being incarcerated in Stalag Luft III and then in extraordinary detail describes various escape attempts, which culminated with the famous March breakout. After escaping, Vanderstok roamed Europe for weeks, passing through Leipzig, Utrecht, Brussels, Paris, Dijon and Madrid, before making it back to England. He reported to the Air Ministry and three and a half months after escaping, on 30 May 1944, he returned to the British no.91 Squadron. In the following months he flew almost every day to France escorting bombers and knocking down V1 rockets.

In August 1944 he finally returned to his home. He learned that his two brothers had been killed in concentration camps after being arrested for resistance work. His father had been tortured and blinded by the Gestapo during interrogation. He had never betrayed his son.

This book I can not stop reading, until the end, until the last pages. It is the story of an extraordinary man who performs an extraordinary act, indeed several extraordinary acts, in a tragic and dark period. Greenhill has the great merit of bringing to light his and other stories about who made it and who, like those 50 murdered officers, failed to fulfill the dream of returning to their homeland to fight.

Read the full Italian review here

Old Barbed Wire Blog

This memoir proves the energy of the walk for freedom, as well to the males’s overwhelming sense of accountability. They had been certain to get away so that they’d well even set on fighting the Nazi disagreeable.

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As featured on Reading with Alison

Reading with Alison

The book is a riveting read from start to finish. The lengths the prisoners went to, from unsuccessful escapes, to planning and resourcing via any means necessary, are just amazing. The escape was a fantastic achievement and a great climax to the book, although obviously tainted with great sadness as many of the escapees were captured and killed.

If you love the movie you will love the book, so I suggest you buy a copy! If you haven’t watched the classic The Great Escape you need to sort that out too quicksmart!

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Colonel Mustard Blog

This story proves the power of the urge for freedom, as well as the lads’s overwhelming sense of obligation. They have been decided to escape so that they might keep on preventing the Nazi evil.

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Mamy News

As a personal account, it is moving, fascinating and evocative all in one sentence. There are some excellent maps included, and some photographs in the middle of the book. I have noted other reviewers who suggest that this book is written from memory, and contains errors, which I accept, but I feel it does not distract from the value of this book.

There is not much more to say about the book other than to suggest you read it. Not only does it provide a testimony to the activity at Stalag Luft III, but is also serves as a reminder to readers who are not Dutch about the privations and reality of living under German occupation during the Second World War. Highly recommended.

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Amazon Customer, Rob Palmer

As featured on WW2 Today

WW2 Today

The pleasure of reading any memoir about the Great Escape of March 24, 1944 - that heroic, improvised, meticulously planned, madcap enterprise - is inevitably dented by the appalling statistics.

Daily Mail 18/4/19

Editor's Choice

A very fine read.

The Armourer, May 2019

As featured in

The Mirror 24/3/19

This is a wonderful, first-hand account of Bob van der Stok, bringing alive his stories and the reality of life as a Spitfire pilot, and as a prisoner of war. He was not, however, just an ordinary pilot, but had such a unique, exciting and dangerous experience of the War, and that makes this even better to read. It brings the Great Escape story alive once again, but with a more authentic, real air to it, and I really enjoyed that about this. A story we love but from a different perspective. He tells it all in such wonderful detail and you cannot help but thoroughly enjoy it. I would definitely recommend this book.

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Amazon Customer

Vanderstok's book is essential reading for anyone interested in the most important breakout of World War II.

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Amazon Customer

As featured in

Daily Express 21/3/19

As featured by

The Armourer, April 2019

The author paints graphic pictures of his successful escape from Stalag Luft III. This is the story of a Dutch Air Force pilot who escaped to Britain, flew Spitfires for the RAF, was shot down and escaped from POW camp to fly again. - Most Strongly Recommended

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As featured in

The Bookseller Buyers Guide

About Bram Vanderstok MBE

Bram Vanderstok, MBE, was born on 13 October 1915 in Sumatra in the Dutch East Indies. He was a Second World War fighter pilot and still holds the record as the most decorated aviator in Dutch history. After the war, he studied and practiced medicine as well as working with the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, participating in 162 rescues. He died in February 1993. Simon Pearson is The Times newspaper obituaries editor and author of The Great Escaper: The Life and Death of Roger Bushell (Hodder).

Perfect Partner

Stalag Luft III The German POW Camp that Inspired The Great Escape (Paperback)

In early 1942 the Third Reich opened a maximum security Prisoner Of War camp in Lower Silesia for captured Allied airmen. Called Stalag Luft III, the camp soon came to contain some of the most inventive escapers ever known. The escapers were led by Squadron Leader Roger Bushell, code-named 'Big X'. In March 1944, Bushell masterminded an attempt to smuggle hundreds of POWs down a tunnel build right under the noses of their guards. In fact, only 79 Allied airmen clambered into the tunnel and only three made successful escapes. This remarkable escape would be immortalised in the famous Hollywood…

By Charles Messenger

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