Sky

& Bullets

Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.

 

With reviews of books that cover these topics

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This 186 page hardback examines the life of Prisoners of War, focussing less on their escape attempts – the drama of which has been examined in many other tomes.  Instead it focusses on the less well covered aspect of their gritty existence. Reading of their poor diet and of the monotony one is struck by how the British male of 1939 was much better equipped to deal with the grim situation he faced than would a modern Briton.

 

One of the recurrent themes of the book is the huge role played by the Red Cross in sustaining the health and morale of these prisoners – understandably, after war’s end they typically retained a strong affection for the organisation. Yet a nation that shares a not dissimilar emblem – Switzerland – comes out less well. The book describes the conditions of those Allied unfortunates (largely aircrew) who found themselves interned in the cantons. Conditions were frequently much worse than in the German PoW camps. One of the Swiss camps was run by a Swiss Nazi, and he did not hold back…. I had no idea that Switzerland, which somehow now  has one of the rosier reputations in Europe, has so many skeletons in its closet.

 

A lot of personal reminiscences are given, but the over-liberal use of quotation marks makes it sometimes difficult to discern if the prose is still part of a long excerpt from another book. Chuck Yeager, the man later credited with breaking the sound barrier for the first time in Bell X1 Glamorous Glennie, describes a particularly colourful time evading the Germans.... contd...

Behind the Wire

Allied Prisoners of War in Hitler’s Germany

 

Philip Kaplan and Jack Currie

Pen & Sword, 2012 ISBN 9781781590447

yeager in flight suit