In the Spring of 1944, Ned Handy's B-24 bomber was shot down on a mission into Germany. Handy and his fellow survivors were sent to Stalag 17, a crowded, disease-ridden POW camp that held thousands of Allied soldiers and operated by its own cruel rules.
From the beginning, Handy set out to escape, relentlessly digging a tunnel underneath a barracks. As he dug, Handy forged friendships and uneasy alliances, survived Gestapo searches and a vicious beating, helped save the lives of wanted men and befriended a German guard. When the moment came for Handy to escape, fate would intervene as he and his fellow prisoners began a brutal march West--towards freedom or death....
This is a powerful, moving memoir of an ordeal that brought out the best and the worst in men. A must-read for World II buffs and anyone interested in the true nature of war, The Flame Keepers is a story of suffering, camaraderie, horror and survival--and one young man's awakening to the power of humanity itself.
Another book of survival, this time in a POW camp (Stalag 17) during WWII. What I appreciate is the author's reflection on seemingly unrelated memories as he experiences bailing out over enemy territory and his capture and internment that show his struggle to integrate chaos into his known experiences. It's also interesting how much this story correlates with the characters in the movie of Stalag 17. Handy chose to analyze himself and the way fellow captives responded to imprisonment rather than dwell on the lurid details of horrible living conditions. One finishes reading with deep respect for the author and other admirable prisoners, esp. for the resolutions he made for the rest of his life as a result of his camp experiences.
Imagine my surprise when earlier this year, I read the obituary for an old summertime friend of my mother's to discover this gentle Cape Cod sailing family man was also a WWII German POW survivor. I doubt my mother ever knew about this as I'm sure the subject never came up at the cocktail parties she went to on the Cape. Given also the author himself didn't reach out to his military past until about eight years ago, it also seems unlikely. Like many men his generation, he finally opened up about a very hard chapter in his life late in it, and I am certainly glad that he did. It's a brilliant first hand account.
Naturally, I needed to find a copy of the book. I read an original hardcover edition. And am I ever glad he wrote it and that I read it. What a gripping first hand look at what it was like to be a POW in a camp where food was a struggle everyday and where only one man ever successfully escaped.
Absolutely recommend. Have wrapped it up and passed it along to my brother for Christmas.
For WWII history buffs, this is a must read. A non-fiction account of an US airman shot down over Germany and his experiences as a German POW. Written is the style of that generation, the book does a terrific job describing conditions within Stalag 17, their attempts to escape, the hierarchy among the prisoners, interaction with their guards and perhaps most importantly, their will to survive.
The hit movie _Stalag 17_ fictionalized the experiences of American enlisted airmen incarcerated in a German POW camp in Austria. Ned Handy was actually there, and his account surprisingly confirms the factual roots of many of the film's events. Handy is at his best in describing the moral and character lessons he learned as the impromptu leader of a tunneling team, while learning to function as part of his barracks crew, and on the long march to the West where he went from prisoner to captor, once the formation of POWs and German guards approached American lines. The memoir, written long after his wartime experience, gets a couple of technical details incorrect, but these never affect the credibility of the narrative. Well worth reading.
Ned Handy tells the story of being shot down over Germany and his time in Stalag 17. Reads like a novel, complete with dialog. No index, notes, or bibliography. I enjoyed this story of overcoming adversity. I have a generally poor memory and am always amazed when folks can recount tales of decades ago with such clarity. I don't doubt anything he relates, but couldn't help but notice he got one thing wrong - he says they got news of the Remagen Rhine crossing in autumn of 1944 but this didn't happen until April 1945 - a fairly major error I'm surprised a copy editor didn't flag.