This book by former Royal Marines Commando officer Monty Halls was originally published last autumn to coincide with the broadcast of his Channel 4 documentary WWII’s Great Escapes: The Freedom Trails.
Released in paperback format on 5th April, this 300+ page book is broken into four distinct parts of four or five chapters apiece covering different escape lines, routes and trails used by Allied PoWs and downed airmen attempting to escape the Nazis in occupied Europe and return to Britain during the Second World War.
The first part covers the main French routes, mostly south to the Pyrénées or the Mediterranean with neutral Spain being the main initial destination, but the Shelbourne Line towards Britanny and the English Channel is also discussed. The second and third parts focus on escape attempts from PoW camps in Italy through first the Gustav Line and then the Gothic Line following Italy’s surrender and Germany’s annexation. The fourth part moves to Slovenia, parts of which had been annexed by Germany, Hungary, Italy and Croatia where a group of over 100 prisoners were led 250km to safety by partisans.
If you watched the television series, recently repeated, you will appreciate that not only is the ex-soldier turned marine biologist and expedition leader author a superb documentarist – he has fronted eight other diverse documentary series over the last 12 years – but he also gets totally immersed (no pun intended) in his subjects. The same goes for his writing, which makes him immensely readable and very hard to put down.
A perfect companion to the TV documentary, Escaping Hitler is now widely available in paperback for a very reasonable £8.99 plus an ebook version is also available. The publisher is Pan and the ISBN is 978-1509866014