Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Review of "Escape Through the Pyrenees," by John Dunbar

 Review of

Escape Through the Pyrenees, by John Dunbar

Five out of five stars

Great adventure story because it is true

 The duty of all soldiers in wartime is to do damage to the enemy. If captured or separated from their unit, their duty is to escape and rejoin their unit. The author was a member of an aircrew where they were forced to bail out over an island of occupied France in World War II. He was the only member of the crew that was not immediately captured and imprisoned by the Germans.

 This is Dunbar’s story, where with the help of some friendly French citizens, he was able to reach the mainland and then journey south to the border between France and Spain. Nearly all of his travels were on foot, and he hiked over the Pyrenees mountains on the border between France and Spain. Once in Spain, he was imprisoned by the guards of the Fascist Franco regime until he was finally taken to British Gibraltar, where he was flown back to England. Once there, he learned that very few of his aerial comrades had survived.

 The story is told in a very matter-of-fact manner, there are no dramatic scenes of wild flight from or fight with German soldiers. Most of the time when he encountered German soldiers, they ignored him. This was due to his very slovenly appearance, he kept himself dirty and unkept so the Germans would not notice that he was a young and fairly fit man. The fact that he hiked over the mountains while alone is a strong statement of his determination to survive and get back in the fight.

 Most of the members of the bomber crews on the Allied side did not survive the war, at one point the achievement of enough points to be sent home was a statistical impossibility. Dunbar’s story is one of survival against those odds, largely due to his extreme determination to return to England and then home to America. His story was so significant that Dunbar started lecturing air crews on how to survive after bailing out.

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