Bailout over Normandy: A Flyboy's Adventures with the French Resistance and Other Escapades in Occupied France.
In Bailout over Normandy, Mustang pilot Lieutenant Ted Fahrenwald tells his story of being brought down by ground explosion over Normandy and his subsequent "odyssey through German-occupied France." This is a true "there I was" veteran's story told in the first person.
As a young 22-year-old pilot, Farenwald was assigned to the 352d Fighter Group, the "Bluenosers," stationed in Bodney, Norfolk, England. On June 8, 1944 (two days after D-Day), Fahrenwald's P-51 was mortally wounded when a truck in a convoy he was strafing exploded. Shortly after he realized he wouldn't be able to make it back to England, the Mustang's engine froze. Fahrenwald quickly hit the silk and parachuted into German-occupied Normandy.
Shortly after parachuting, Fahrenwald was met by Maquis French resistance movement members. What followed was time on the run from the Nazis while waiting for Allied forces to liberate their hiding location. When the Maquis are nationalized into the Free French Army, Farenwald was "drafted" into the Maquis. This would be short lived as he set out with a fellow aviator in search of Allied forces and return to service in England.
On the run and trying to pass themselves off as displaced Frenchmen, Fahrenwald and his fellow airman were captured by German Forces. Once interred in a temporary prison camp in France waiting further relocation to Germany, Fahrenwald immediately began planning his escape. While on a work release party, he was able to escape and begin an extremely tense journey through heavily fortified German-held territory. After staying with a French couple, he was finally liberated by American Forces. But his expectations of a quick trip back to England were thwarted by Allied attempts to detain him to make sure he wasn't a spy. Finally, after evading the German military for months, he did return to England.
Bailout over Normandy is an absolute page turner. The story is constantly filled with suspense as Fahrenwald struggles to return to England and to flying. Death and the risk of capture by the Germans literally lurk behind every hedgerow, every stand of trees, and every checkpoint. Fahrenwald is an absolutely superb story teller. The book flows at an amazingly quick pace and includes a map to help readers orient themselves to his location.
Fahrenwald wrote his memoir sometime after he returned from the war. While he kept in contact with various Maquis and French people who helped him avoid capture, he never returned to Europe. After writing this humble, yet amazing, memoir, Fahrenwald locked it away and went on with his life. Readers owe a great deal of thanks to his daughter, Madelaine. After her father's death in 2004, she worked to get the manuscript published. Her editing was light so as to keep her father's intent and style. What results is a well written story. Certainly, other veterans' "there I was" manuscripts are either sitting on a shelf or waiting to be told by our ever-dwindling group of veterans. All of their stories need to be preserved and shared; they are a legacy of the Greatest Generation.
Having reviewed multiple World War II memoirs, I believe Fahrenwald's Bailout over Normandy is certainly one of the absolute best. Aviation fans looking for stories of flying will quickly discover that the title tells the focus of this work: BAILOUT. That is where this story truly begins. Fans of escape and evasion stories will certainly enjoy the book. It is an absolute winner and now occupies an honored location on my bookshelf. We can thank the Fahrenwalds for sharing the story with the world.
Lt Col Daniel J. Simonsen, USAF (Ret), Bossier City, La.
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|Author:||Simonsen, Daniel J.|
|Publication:||Air Power History|
|Date:||Dec 20, 2017|
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