Brought up on a hill-farm in Merioneth, N. Wales, John Elwyn left the local grammar school at 15 and worked on various farms until he was 19 when he joined the Welsh Guards on 1st August, 1939 – just in time for the Second World War.
Taken Prisoner during what he calls “the debacle of Dunkirk” he spent the next 3 years and 10 months in and our of prisoner-of-was camps in Upper Silesa, the Sudetenland of Poland. This period of his life is the subject of this book.
After his final and successful escape, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, he was sent to an Officer Cadet Training Unit and eventually commissioned in the Green Howards. Being a fluent German speaker, he was attached to Intelligence and had the satisfaction of serving as a Field Security Officer in Germany rounding up former members of the SS and others whose past activities mertied further investigation.
After demobilization in 1946 he joined the Metropolitan Police, later transferring to the Caernarvonshire Constabulary, but in 1957 he rejoined the Army serving as an Intelligence Officer in Egypt, Germany and Cyprus. In 1951 he transferred to the Royal Air Force where he was again mostly employed on Intelligence duties in Germany. He finally retired from the R.A.F. in 1965 and after attending a year's course at Trinity College, Carmarthen, he became a teacher of modern languages – French, German and Russian. He also acquired a small farm here he bred pedigree Welsh Black cattle.
“At the Fifth Attempt” is not his first book – but his first book in English. He has published 17 books in Welsh – 2 original books and 15 translations from French, German and Polish. He was also translated a number of short stories from Russian.