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Stories from the Stalags (ePub)

Allied Airmen Behind the Wire in WW2

Aviation > WWII WWII

By Martin W Bowman
Imprint: Air World
File Size: 6.0 MB (.epub)
Pages: 184
ISBN: 9781399073318
Published: 2nd May 2024

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From 1942 until the end of the war in Europe, the aircraft of the RAF’s Bomber Command and the United States 8th and 15th Air Forces provided twenty-four-hour ‘round-the-clock’ bombing of the Third Reich. Aircraft and crew casualties were heavy as bomber after bomber succumbed to flak and fighter defences.

For those not killed outright by the Luftwaffe’s onslaught, only baling out over hostile enemy territory could offer any hope of survival. But this generally meant solitary confinement, interrogation, indignities and even extreme hardship for the men who became known as ‘Kriegies’, a word derived from the German Kriegsgefangenen meaning ‘prisoners of war’.

Many months of incarceration, sometimes in appalling conditions, would become commonplace for those held in camps throughout Germany, Poland and the Greater Reich. Here, at first hand, are stories of some of those Allied bomber crewmen faced with sudden leaps into that dangerous unknown. For most, and particularly the injured, capture was immediate – imprisonment inevitable. For some evasion was possible, but rarely for long. For others taken prisoner, staying alive was uppermost in the minds of most and in many cases only the comradeship of fellow prisoners and, for some, thoughts of escape became a constant preoccupation.

Never to be forgotten too are the conditions and suffering endured by many PoWs when, in the face of the relentless Soviet Army advance into Germany, the camps were hastily emptied and the prisoners forced to march westward as the Germans staged their last gasp, futile attempts to prevent the ‘Kriegies’ falling into Russian hands. For these men, many of whom had been behind the wire for years, this was the final injustice.

Martin Bowman’s revealing narrative describes in adrenalin-pumping detail the furious air battles that led to the predicament of many shot-down airmen, as well as the personal campaigns they fought to regain their freedom. Fascinating for its gripping and factual recreation of the bombers’ encounters with enemy fighters and flak, as well as the confrontations in captivity between PoWs and guards, Stories from the Stalags provides a real insight into the war as some of those who ‘fell from formation’ saw it.

Fascinating for its recreation of the bombers' encounters with enemy fighters and flak, as well as the confrontations in captivity between prisoners of war and guards, 'Stories from the Stalags' provides a real insight into the war as experienced by those who 'fell from formation'.

AirMail - Royal Airforces Association - Spring 2024

About Martin W Bowman

With well over 100 published books, MARTIN W. BOWMAN is one of Britain’s best-known aviation historians and authors. Specialising in Second World War history and post-war aviation, Martin’s interest in these subjects was driven by the prolific number of RAF and USAAF air bases that were established in his native East Anglia. His previous books have included works such as Legend of the LancasterConfounding the ReichDuxford and the Big Wings, as well as numerous titles in the exhaustive Air War series, which, between them, provide extensive coverage of operations carried out on D-Day and during the Market Garden offensive at Arnhem.

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