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Escaping with His Life (ePub)

From Dunkirk to D-Day & Beyond

Military > Prisoners of War WWII > Battles & Campaigns > D-Day & Normandy WWII > Battles & Campaigns > Dunkirk WWII > Battles & Campaigns > Italian Front WWII > Battles & Campaigns > North Africa WWII > Battles & Campaigns > Norway in WWII

By Sir Nicholas Young
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 7.2 MB (.epub)
ISBN: 9781526746641
Published: 28th May 2019


£4.99 Print price £25.00

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Author Q&A

As mentioned in the Daily Mirror, July 2019; 'WWII major's story told in secret diary.'

Former British Red Cross CEO Sir Nick Young discusses his new book, 'Escaping With His Life'. Watch the video via YouTube.

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Very few British soldiers could lay claim to such a full war as Leslie Young. Having survived the retreat to and evacuation from Dunkirk, he volunteered for the newly formed Commandos and took part in their first major operation, the raid on the Lofoten Islands. He fought and was captured in Tunisia. He escaped in Italy before his PoW camp at Fontanellato was taken over by the Nazis after the September 1943 Italian armistice. He then spent six months on the run in the Apennine mountains aided by many brave and selfless Italians, who were risking their lives in so doing. He eventually reached Allied lines but not before two of his helpers were tragically killed by German and American fire respectively.

On returning to England he immediately signed up for the invasion of North West Europe and, despite being wounded, fought his way through to Germany. He was twice mentioned in despatches.

Thanks to his son’s research, Major Young’s inspiring and thrilling story can now be told.

Article: 'Nicholas Young reveals his father’s truly astonishing story of adventure, courage, dedication, endurance, and good fortune as featured by

The Jerusalem Post, 6th April 2020 - words by Neville Teller

Click here to listen to Nicholas Young speak with broadcaster Noah Tetzner

Stories of the Second World War podcast

Not that many of the first British commandos managed to fight all the way to Germany. Fewer still managed to experience danger in so many different places as did Leslie Young. His son, Sir Nicholas Young, has researched his wartime odyssey not least by going to Norway´s Lofoten Islands.

Read the full review here

Lars Gyllenhall, Blogger

Listed in 'The best of this month's Hertfordshire-linked books and book news'

Hertfordshire Life, October 2019

This book is a labour of love from a son to his father, keeping his story alive for future generations of not just his family, but others. A unique story telling the reader of courage, fear and determination to serve his country no matter the cost. The passage I found the most poignant was that when Leslie’s son and grandson went to visit Fontanellato which is now a clinic, they ended up in the attic which still contained soil from the prisoners escape tunnel - amazing considering that this visit was in 2003.

Read the full review here


'For Your Bookshelf'

Antiques Diary, September/October 2019

As featured by

Bredfield Parish Council, 9th July 2019

A fitting tribute from a son to his father, who had a long and inspiring war service. The story of Leslie Young is exceptional in covering the duration of WWII as a soldier, commando, POW, escaper, and on through D-Day to Victory – Highly Recommended.

Read the full review here


This wonderful account of the military life of Leslie Young (presumably written by a relative) is pure Boys' Own Paper stuff, a tale of heroism and daring, of courage and fortitude. An amazing story, brilliantly told.

Books Monthly

As featured on WW2 Today

WW2 Today

Article: 'Sir Nicholas Young tells of his father's fight for survival during the war' as featured by

Enjoy Woodbridge More, 2nd July 2019 – words by Gemma Jarvis

Author interviewed by

Radio Jackie, 24th June 2019

Author interview with presenter Richard Horseman about Sir Nicholas Young's attendance at this year's Bradford Lit Fest

BCB -Bradford Radio, 21st June 2019

Exciting and humbling journey.

Amazon Customer, Paul Cloves

A huge amount of research has clearly gone into making this such an excellent written account of Leslie Young’s wartime experiences. The story is nothing short of inspirational and I cannot recommend this enough as an absolute must-read!

Amazon Customer

This book is remarkable in that Nick's father, Leslie, never spoke about his experiences in the war and "Escaping with his life" is the result of painstaking research after his death. The story is very well written and quite remarkable in revealing some of the awesome challenges of the second world war, and the great courage and tenacity of those like Leslie who fought in it. My own father was with Leslie at Dunkirk and fought with him in North Africa and this book helps me to understand why he also spoke so little about his time in the war. I thoroughly recommend this book which helps us to understand something of the debt we owe to that generation.

Amazon Customer, La Fontaine

So much has been written about the Second World War, but stories of the people who lived through it never cease to be astounding. Leslie Young fought through the dramatic retreat from mainland Europe in 1940 to the beaches of Dunkirk, he participated in commando raids in Norway, fought in North Africa, was held captive in Italy, escaped across the mountains and followed the Normandy landings to advance with the Allies to liberate western Europe. His son, Nicholas Young, lovingly and meticulously pieces together his father’s story, travelling to all the places his father fought in and all the places he hid in while on the run. Using diaries, letters and stories from survivors, Nicholas Young brings back to life those incredible years. A gripping read.

Amazon Customer, Alexander Matheou

Instagram review via @Chiznoids


A Soldier's incredible wartime exploits have been revealed following the discovery of a secret diary after his death.

Mirror 17/7/19

"My father hardly ever spoke about his experiences in the war”. How often this phrase occurs in the comments section of World War II Today, associated with so many relatives whose experiences of the war that have now passed away irretrievably. When Nicholas Young opens his 2019 book Escaping with His Life: From Dunkirk to D-Day & Beyond with the phrase ” My father, Leslie Young , hardly ever spoke about his experiences in the war” he is in good company.

But Young has sought to address the fact that “a mind that must have teemed with memories and stories” has now gone. In an extraordinary work of research he has pieced together the whole story of his father’s wartime career, not just a collection of dates and facts but a realistic representation of what experiences would have been like. It is a remarkable story, encompassing as it does the whole war, from the BEF in France in 1939 through to Dunkirk, with the Commandos at Lofoten, with the Desert rats in Tunisia, life as a POW and escaping from Italy, rejoining the regular Army in November 1943 and on to Normandy and beyond. In many ways these were the experiences of many regular soldiers in the war.

WW2 Today

‘A Boys Own Adventure’ doesn’t even come close to describing Leslie Young’s war. Nicely retold by his son, Nicholas, this memoir ticks all the boxes. On reading it I’m firmly of the opinion that there's probably not many who had as full a war as Leslie?... An incredible story of one man’s war. It’s excellent.

Read the full review here

WW2 Talk

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About Sir Nicholas Young

SIR NICK YOUNG’s distinguished career began as a corporate lawyer with one of the ‘Magic Circle’ law firms. After moving to East Anglia, he discovered his vocation as a charity worker, first with Sue Ryder and Leonard Cheshire, before becoming Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, and then Chief Executive of the British Red Cross, stepping down in 2014 after thirteen years.
He was knighted for services to cancer care in 2000, and received The Queen’s Badge of Honour in 2013. He was presented with the charity sector’s award for Outstanding Leadership in 2011, the Star of Italy in 2015, and an Honorary Doctorate at Birmingham University (2022). In retirement, he remains a charity trustee, adviser and consultant.
He is the author of Escaping With His Life (Pen & Sword, 2019), the story of his Father’s remarkable wartime experiences
Nick and his wife, Helen, live in Suffolk and have three sons.

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