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Voices in Flight: Escaping Soldiers and Airmen of World War I (Hardback)

Aviation Military > Prisoners of War WWI > Prisoners of War

By Martin W Bowman
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781473863224
Published: 2nd August 2017



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This thrilling new volume from Martin Bowman focusses on British, Canadian, Australian and German soldiers and airmen who were captured during the First World War. Determined that they wouldn’t spend the rest of the conflict incarcerated uselessly behind bars, they endeavoured to escape. These are their stories.

All aspects of prison life are covered here, and the author examines the various escape tactics that were employed by British soldiers and airmen held in PoW camps all over Germany and Turkey. In order to provide a balanced account, the author has also uncovered stories of German navy and army escapees who attempted to flee from England.

Each chapter is preceded by an account which explains the types of camps used in Britain and Germany, the numbers involved, the food, the camp money system for worker prisoners and a general appreciation of the conditions and chronology. First-hand accounts from the prisoners themselves are then woven into the picture, creating an authentic sense of the PoW experience.

The emphasis of this unique book is placed on the human story of the main characters, the unparalleled action on the Western Front and the interaction and camaraderie experienced between soldiers and airmen held in prison camps in England, Germany and Turkey during the First World War.

First-class work. 10/10

The Great War magazine, November 2017 – reviewed by Mark Marsay

The whole book is incredibly detailed and absolutely packed full of interesting tidbits of information, alongside the necessary facts and figures. Still, this never detracts from the ultimately human stories at the centre of the book – there are so many layers to unpick. By focusing on the men themselves and yet still retaining an astonishing level of detail, the book manages to really bring things to life, being atmospheric and at times almost exciting. It’s so easy to become swept up in the descriptions of flight, the camaraderie between men and the daring escapes (complete with tunnels, trapdoors and all manner of deceptions). Their daring can be encapsulated by a remark made by Hermann Tholens – “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Bowman’s book also captures glimpses of life within the camps; how they operated and also how prisoners spent their time. He describes one Welsh camp for German prisoners wherein they were allowed to play cricket, and by some accounts they were also given cooked breakfasts, wine and cigars (though not all at once I expect!) understandably the locals were rather peeved at this idea!

I heartily recommend this book for an extremely detailed, nuanced look at the prisoner of war experience, for both British and German captives and too, for some extraordinary tales of ingenuity and cunning!

Read the complete review here.

The Haunting Flares, Laura Varley

Such stories are endlessly developed in this engrossing book. The stunning coloured photograph on the front of the book brings to the fore soldiers and visually reminds the reader of the numbers who were in captivity. The book is comprehensively indexed, which is very useful if you are searching for a particular aspect of a story.

Jon Sandison, Freelance

I think this book would be enjoyed by a relatively wide audience, although convincing the wider audience of that would be a challenge. If you're not interested in military history then nothing on the cover suggests that a person that only reads biographies would also enjoy it. The book's focus is on individuals and their personal stories in which they are, to me at least, doing amazing things. It's not a historic retelling of the tactics or strategies of WWI but focuses right down at the lowest, human level. In our time, these gentlemen would be celebrities in their own right and lauded for their courage, tenacity and skill. The reader is free to draw their own conclusions to how the majority of today's 'stars' stack up in comparison.

Read the complete review here.

A Wargamers Needful things

The author is well-known for his aviation histories and this book is an interesting departure from his main work, albeit not far from it. As usual, this is a well-researched study of a subject that has received far less than its deserved attention. The two photo-plate sections are well selected – Most Highly Recommended.

Read the complete review here.


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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