A reluctant prisoner...

Boldness Be My Friend was first published in 1953, one of a number of true stories about the Second World War, which reportedly sold 2.5 million copies.

Three of them have been republished. Courage Is Freedom, was written by Richard Pape, a former Yorkshire Post journalist, who died in Australia in 1995.

Thirty years earlier, Pape had returned his military medals to the Queen in protest at the award of the MBE to each of the four Beatles.

He signed up as an Auxiliary Airman in the Royal Air Force before the start of the war. After 1939 he served as a navigator in Bomber Command, chalking up a number of successful missions over enemy territory until a cloudy night in September, 1941, when his squadron of Stirling bombers joined a 300-bomber raid on Berlin.

His particular aircraft was chosen to hit a villa in a wood to the north of the German capital, thought to be the headquarters of Field Marshal Goering, commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe and much else.

During the course of the flight his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and partly crippled.

The pilot managed to crash-land in Holland, just across the German border. Pape describes his escape through Holland to Poland, capture, torture by the Gestapo and the years he spent as a prisoner of war.

He also writes of trying to escape with legless fighter pilot Douglas Bader.

“We were in the same prison camp together (Dulug Luft, near Frankfurt), a Luftwaffe interrogation centre. We had a tunnel going there and I was told I had to carry Douglas Bader up the mountainside when we broke free outside the wire. I was always a good, strong Yorkshire rugger back.

“It didn’t come about, however, for a big German decided to stamp just above the tunnel to warm his feet and the big b*****d came straight through the topsoil and into the tunnel. Fortunately, he broke a leg. That was that!

“Bader was despatched to the Baltic and I was taken to the Polish border, Stalag Luft VIIIB, and one hell of a place. I met up with Bader again in Breslau two years later, after I changed my identity.

“He was a bit of a nuisance to the Germans, to say the least, and was sent to finish his term in Colditz…”

Boldness Be My Friend: Courage Is Freedom, by Richard Pape, is published by Headline Review at £7.99.

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