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Yesterday's Flight Path.

After being liberated in Rheims, Salisbury was debriefed in Paris in September, 1944, by an elderly MI9 Intelligence officer whose parting words were to the effect that he should not write about his wartime experiences for 30 or 40 years when the passage of time would enable him to reflect more accurately on the trauma of those days. He took that advice. It resulted in a splendid reconstruction of his idyllic boyhood deep in rural England, his enlistment in the RAF, to the turmoil of Bomber Command which ended with a terrifying parachutage from his blazing plane. With considerable initiative and resource he then joined a Maquis in the forests near Rheims.

There are few books which capture so vividly what life was like in occupied France and fewer still which pay such a glowing tribute to the courage and sacrifice of ordinary French men and women who risked their lives in sheltering escaped RAF personnel. His Maquis consisted entirely of local people who had a tenuous link with SOE who organised supplies of arms, explosives and some home comforts which enabled him and them to carry out many successful acts of sabotage, and thus tie down German troops who were badly needed elsewhere at the time of the Normandy landings.

Salisbury has woven into his narrative much post war information as background to his story so that the book covers a far wider spectrum than his own local Maquis. But the real strength of the book lies in his personal philosophy about war, the Germans - in particular the SS and Gestapo - and the treachery of collaborators and informers.

It is a book which the young of today should read as well as those who denigrate the Resistance in France.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Contemporary Review Company Ltd.
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Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Lee, Peter
Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Feb 1, 1996
Words:290
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