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

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.


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NAME: Voices in Flight: Escaping Soldiers and Airmen of World War I
FILE: R2571
AUTHOR: Martin W Bowman
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES:  256
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWI, World War I, World War1, First World War, The Great 
War, Europe, PoW, prison camps, PoW camps, escapees, tunnels, 
fences, home run

ISBN: 1-47386-322-8

IMAGE: B2571.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/yb6av4wy
LINKS:  
DESCRIPTION: 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.

Given the extensive coverage by historians and novelists of POWs in 
WWII, there has been very little coverage of the topic in WWI. This 
is strange because the stories were every bit as gripping and were 
the first time that so many prisoners had been held from so many 
places and seen so many attempting, and often succeeding, in 
escaping and taking a long and dangerous route home to fight again.

The British had established concentration camps in South Africa 
during the Boer Wars. These camps were usually constructed from 
scratch specifically for the purpose of holding war prisoners but 
not only were combatants held. Differentiating between Boer 
Kommando and Boer civilians could be difficult, but often whole 
families were swept up and imprisoned in conditions that could be 
harsh. Before the Boer Wars, wars had been fought, prisoners taken, 
and many paroled. Conditions could be very harsh but, in most cases, 
the prisoners were soldiers who had survived the rout that followed 
many a battle. In hot pursuit, many were simply cut down as they ran 
or tried to hide. Of those taken prisoners, it was often possible to 
offer parole and either return home, or live in the enemy civilian 
community until a peace was agreed.

WWI saw a new situation to match the new weapons and forms of 
conflict that were being pioneered to terrible effect. Much of the 
land warfare took place around the trenches. Those soldiers who 
survived the machine guns, but were cut off from their own lines, 
could surrender and were treated with some consideration. They soon 
became part of a large and growing prison population. To their 
numbers were added downed airmen and those who survived sinkings at 
sea. The scale of the PoW communities was so very much greater than 
in any previous war. The concept of parole had gone, but the 
prisoners saw it as their duty to attempt to escape.

The result was a host of stories from both sides. The author has 
achieved balance in reviewing the experiences of POWs from all the 
combatant nations. He has also reviewed the subject thoroughly, 
describing the types of camp, the conditions and the experiences 
of prisoners. An absorbing story.