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Behind enemy lines.


Mary Thomas has produced a nail-biter in telling the story of her brother's six months as an evader in enemy territory. Jim Moffat's initiation into what became the 3600-member Escape and Evasion Society came on the night of the big chop when Bomber Harris pressed ahead with a plan to bomb Nuremberg -- although weather, route and common sense dictated a postponement.

On 30 March 1944, although Harris sent 782 bombers out, only 52 turned back for various reasons. Most of the others were in trouble from the time they crossed the coast.

Moffat was a rear-gunner with #427 Squadron. They made it to the target, but were blown away from the bomber stream on the return. Suddenly, pilot Squadron Leader George "Turkey" Laird yelled, "What in hell was that?" A Lancaster sliced into their fuselage, missing Jim Moffat by inches. Moffat jumped through a gash in the fuselage and was the only man in the two crews to survive.

This is the introduction to Moffat's life as an evader. He lands hard, hides and is eventually picked up by strangers. SS raids on village homes intensify as Moffat and a British evader occupy a crawl space in the attic. The warning shriek of Madame Paul sends Moffat plunging out a window with the SS and police dogs only yards behind.

What follows is high adventure, and is one of the best portrayals of the human side of the war on record. The "helpers" who sheltered downed airmen are fondly remembered by Canadian evaders, and their heroism and sacrifices are a matter of record but Thomas adds a very personal dimension to the thousands wino risked their own lives in mending broken wings.
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Publication:Esprit de Corps
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2002
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