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Escaping with His Life (ePub)

From Dunkirk to D-Day & Beyond

WWII D-Day & Normandy Prisoners Of War North Africa in WWII Norway in WWII Italian Front in WWII Dunkirk Military

By Sir Nicholas Young
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 6.9 MB (.epub)
ISBN: 9781526746641
eBook Released: 7th June 2019

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Author Q&A

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.

"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

About Sir Nicholas Young

Sir Nicholas 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. In retirement he remains a charity trustee, adviser and consultant as well as the chair of the Monte San Martino Trust, which was set up by former PoWs in Italy, and which will receive proceeds from the sale of this book. He was made a Cavaliere Ufficiale by the President of Italy in 2015.


He and his wife, Helen, live in Suffolk and have three sons, for whom this tribute to his Father was originally written.

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