Escaping from the Kaiser, The Dramatic Experiences of a Tommy PoW

B2168

One of the most enjoyable aspects of anniversary publishing is that it brings to print stories that somehow have been missed by authors and historians, or were printed at that long past time and then faded from the book shelves. A great deal has been written about WWII POWs. Much of this coverage has been by British publishers and concentrated on British POWs, mentioning the exploits of other nationalities almost in passing. Very little has been written about WWI POWs although they were at least as active and ingenious as their WWII equivalents. This autobiographical book as all the more welcome because it addresses this deficiency. It is also a cracking read that could be taken for a thriller novel. This is a book not to miss.

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NAME: Escaping from the Kaiser, The Dramatic Experiences of a Tommy POW
DATE: 180315
FILE: R2168
AUTHOR: H W Tustin
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword,
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 184
PRICE: £19.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Mons, Ypres, 1914, BEF, WWI, The Great War, 1914-1918, The Old Contemptibles, The Contemptable Little Army, trench warfare, machine guns, cavalry, field guns, POW, war at sea, war in the air, escape, evasion, detention, prison camp
ISBN: 1-47382-194-0
IMAGE: B2168.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/nullkpa
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: One of the most enjoyable aspects of anniversary publishing is that it brings to print stories that somehow have been missed by authors and historians, or were printed at that long past time and then faded from the book shelves. A great deal has been written about WWII POWs. Much of this coverage has been by British publishers and concentrated on British POWs, mentioning the exploits of other nationalities almost in passing. Very little has been written about WWI POWs although they were at least as active and ingenious as their WWII equivalents. This autobiographical book as all the more welcome because it addresses this deficiency. It is also a cracking read that could be taken for a thriller novel. This is a book not to miss.

Tustin left England in April 1915 as a Private in the Durham Light Infantry. As with many others, he enlisted rather than waiting for consideration for a Commission. He arrived in France in time for the Second Battle of Ypres and was taken prisoner. He describes the horrors of trench warfare and his treatment on being taken prisoner. The story then continues through 16 months as a prisoner in the notorious Rennenbahn POW camp.

As a POW, he suffered the hardships of hunger, brutality, prison work, activities and recreations, friendships and humour. During WWI, POWs on both sides were expected to work and in Britain, the timber trussed hangers built at Duxford were constructed by German POWs. Food was in short supply in Germany as a result of the British blockade and the POWs were not necessarily fed worse than most of the population.

In late summer 1916, the author joined with a Canadian POW to escape. They escaped over the wire and took 10 days to reach neutral Holland, travelling at night. They avoided recapture and survived on little food, sleeping rough and having little sleep. On the Dutch coast they found a boat to carry them across the North Sea, through the dangers of German patrols, mine fields and submarines.

This is an amazing story and there are some excellent photographs to support the text. On return to Britain, Tustin was commissioned and posted to South Africa.

Leaving the Army in 1919, he married, having two sons and a daughter, becoming a teacher. Sadly, he died in 1939 at the age of 46, from cancer.

This is an absorbing story that is told well and with humour, filling a gap that had previously been left in adequately recording the POWs of WWI.

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