Can I walk across the Pyrenees in winter?
Bryn Evans is interviewed on his new book, Airmen’s Incredible Escapes, in which the question ‘Can I walk across the Pyrenees in winter?’ is in the mind of an airman shot down in occupied Europe in WWII.
The first edition of Men of the Battle of Britain by Kenneth G Wynn was published by Gliddon Books in 1989. It was quickly established as a standard work of reference, though, as a senior RAF officer stressed to me recently, it is considerably more than that. A supplementary volume followed in 1992 and a second edition appeared from CCB in 1999.
Airmen’s Incredible Escapes
Veterans’ accounts of survival in the Second World War
During the current pandemic front line health workers do their job day after day to save lives, and in doing so many have lost theirs. In the Second World War amidst all the destruction and killing, there were also people everywhere who risked their lives, often losing them to save others. Sometimes, when airmen were shot down and faced unimaginable danger, and hope of survival was near gone, someone stepped forward to help. Such helpers also placed themselves in similar peril or worse, and did so over and over again.
The Most Destructive Weapon
Seventy five years ago in 1945, on 2 May in Italy then two days later on 4 May in Germany, all Axis forces surrendered. In those campaigns the hard won air supremacy of the Allies made a crucial and decisive difference. A weapon first used in North Africa, and little recognised outside of battlefield tactics at that time, made a revolutionary impact in the defeat of the Axis armies.
‘So I wanna be a paperback writer’
When the Beatles released ‘Paperback Writer’ in May 1966, another No 1 chart hit for the ‘Fab Four’, teenager Bryn Evans wondered if he could become a writer. The Beatles’ hit song would stay with him, and over the years it symbolised a tantalising goal, to be a paperback writer.
Air Vice-Marshal James Edgar ‘Johnnie’ Johnson, a policeman’s son from Leicestershire, was the ultimate Boys’ Own Paper character: the RAF’s top-scoring fighter pilot and wing leader par excellence of the Second World War.
Mystery of Missing Flight F-BELV
The writing and completion of this book was a long time in the making, forty-three years to be exact.
My late mother first told me about the death of her half-brother, James Sylvester Byrne, in 1976, whilst he was serving as a Canadian soldier during the Vietnam war. I was 18 years of age at the time. I had found the story very compelling, even more so as I had seriously considered joining the Army at that time, so anything to do with the military, I found extremely interesting. The fact that in this case the person in question was related to me gave the story an extra edge.
COMPARING THE LIVES OF RAF AND EAST GERMAN PILOTS IN THE COLD WAR
My wife held up the barbed wire for me to crawl under and into the once highly secret Warsaw Pact airfield at Zerbst, in East Germany, which in the Cold War had thundered to the sound of Russian fighter-bombers, and so was a target of interest to me as a NATO fast-jet pilot. Now a sinister silence pervaded the deserted guard posts, crumbling runways and rusting hangars; it was 1998, and the Cold War was over.