WWII MEMORIES

Information for Veterans and their families


Books

Below are books that have been written by a variety of sources but primarily concentrating on those written by PoWs or their families, detailing life before, during and after captivity.

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Cover Image / Title
Author
About the book
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Les Spence
Les Spence risked his life to keep a remarkable daily record of hardship, courage and endurance in prison camps run by the Japanese. For nearly four years he and his fellow prisoners faced starvation, disease and cruelty. They kept up their spirits by playing sport, listening to an illicit radio and by trying to create their own civilised society behind barbed wire. Throughout the suffering in Java, a perilous journey in the hold of an infamous hellship and the horrors of a forced labour camp in Japan, Les Spence kept writing.
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Don Edy

Chronicling the historic WWII experiences of a young RCAF Pilot Officer. Don lived an adventure many young men had hoped for, piloting his beloved Hawker Hurricane with RAF No. 33 Fighter Squadron in the Western Desert. In this book he chronicles not only their missions, including Operation Crusader, but a spirit of life, camaraderie and loss, at North Africa Landing Grounds. When the author himself is shot down and crash lands, he witnesses the starkly brave act of a true friend, L.C. Wade, putting his own life on the line for his. The ensuing years in captivity, coupled with skill and good fortune, provide a unique view of life in the hands of the Axis powers. He shares his good nature and humour, allowing a glimpse into 'what it was' that got these men through it all. His final years as a prisoner of war were spent in the infamous Stalag Luft III in Sagan, Germany.

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Steve Woolcock
This is the true story of my father who enlisted in England and went to war in 1939. He was captured in France, early on and was marched to Poland where he experienced the truth of this clairvoyant’s reading and much more ... This story will make you cry and laugh as my father makes the most of life at Stalag XXA.
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Gerhart Friedlander and Keith Turner
A German Jewish SAS Soldiers story. This is a true story, supported by official documents and photographs. Rudi Friedlander's story of bravery (winning the DCM and MID) ends with him being executed by the SS following his capture in 1944.
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W. E. (Bill) Goodman

Bill’s life, from joining the RAF in 1941 at the age of 18 to his demob in 1948, was fraught with adventure. He describes his service with 7 Squadron at Oakington; he then highlights the terrifying events of the night their Stirling was shot down over Holland, his subsequent incarceration at Stalag Luft 3, periods in other camps and, finally, the long debilitating march back home.

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Frank Pleszak At the onset of the Second World War, Frank Pleszak's father MikoAaj, aged nineteen, was forcibly removed from his family in Poland by the Russian secret police and exiled to the harshest of the Siberian labour camps, the dreaded Soviet gulags of Kolyma. MikoAaj spoke very little about it. Only very occasionally would his painful memories allow him to tell Frank and his siblings a little snippet of information. After his father's death, Frank became intrigued and began researching MikoAaj's early life. As he discovered more and more, he became amazed and shocked at the ordeals his father had endured. When Germany invaded Russia, MikoAaj was freed from Kolyma but still had many trials yet to face. MikoAaj survived gulags, torture, and the war, but was never allowed to return home. Frank has followed his father's footsteps on a journey of 40,000 kilometres, through places most of us have never heard of, a journey through despair, fear, hope and disappointment, and in these pages he recounts everything he discovered along the way.
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New York Times Articles Hundreds of the most riveting articles from the archives of The Times--including first-hand accounts of major events and little-known anecdotes--have been selected for inclusion in The New York Times Complete World War II. The book covers the biggest battles of the war from the Battle of the Bulge to the Battle of Iwo Jima, as well as moving stories from the home front and profiles of noted leaders and heroes such as Winston Churchill and George Patton. Editor Richard Overy guides readers through the articles putting the events originally reported on into historical context. The DVD givers readers access to more day-by-day coverage of World War II in The New York Times--from the invasion of Poland to the VJ day. Beautifully designed and illustrated with hundreds of maps and historical photographs. How To Order
Fred Ellison (Irene Chisnall) In January 1940 Fred Ellison joined the RAF and was sent to serve in the Far East on 1st June 1941. On 8th March 1942 Fred was captured as a Prisoner of War and was released on 15th September 1945. During this time family members wrote weekly despite not knowing whether Fred was alive from March 1942 until 30 December 1943 when his wife Alice received a postcard notifying her that he was a POW. The letters transcribed are the surviving letters that Fred did not tell anyone about until he showed one to his niece Irene in the 1980s. This is a book that Fred wished to have made for future generations to gain an insight into what the family went through during this time. How To Order
Norman Bussel Norman Bussel had been a nineteen year old on a B-17 over Germany in 1944, when his plane was shot down. He was a POW for about 13 months. The memoir is about his wartime experiences and his subsequent decades-long battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). How To Order
Gillian Mawson On the outbreak of the Second World War, during the first week of September 1939 over three million people were evacuated. Operation Pied Piper was the largest ever transportation of people across Britain, and most of those moved to safety in the countryside were schoolchildren. Social historian Gillian Mawson has spent years collecting the stories of former evacuees and this book includes the personal memories of over 100, in their own words. Their accounts reveal what it was like to settle into a new home with strangers, often staying for years. While many enjoyed life in the countryside, some escaping inner-city poverty, others endured ill-treatment and homesickness. A fascinating insight into the realities of wartime life, and a valuable oral history of a unique moment in British history. How To Order
Ben van Drogenbroek

Through years of reseach around Stalag Luft III, Ben has produced a set of books called "The Camera Became My Passport Home" featuring the camp, The Great Escape, The Forced March and the Liberation at Moosburg.

The book is currently a 3-volume book of 526 pages but is currently being revised.

Many new information about The Great Escape is found in the book including:
- tunnel construction (inclusive self-made sectional drawing) of tunnel Harry
- the air pump
- sand disposal
- methods of connecting the bedboards to frames
- paper forging (Dean & Dawson department)
- escape clothing department
- prisoners of war involved in preparing the mass escape (many mentioned for the first time)
- PoW ingenuity: the ability to make everything out of nothing

Over 400 ex-PoWs are mentioned in my book
Over 500 images (photographs, maps, drawings, cartoons, ground plans)
Each set numbered and signed
Each set with glued-in card with the original signature of the main person Charles Boyd Woehrle (now 98) and a certificate

Ben van Drogenbroek
Stadhouderslaan 32
3417 TW Montfoort
The Netherlands

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Susie Kearley This book is a collection of interviews with people who remember the Second World War. None of them were on the front line, but some were serving their country as Naval Wrens, one was a Royal Air Force Bomber Command Cartographer, and one was posted at Bletchley Park, involved in the code breaking activities there. Among the other interviewees are a nurse who cared for the people injured in the blasts during the London bombings. She did the best she could, with rationed supplies, working in temporary prefabricated wards. Another contributor, Maureen, who just a little girl at the time, will never forget a US pilot, nicknamed 'Sparky', who sacrificed his life to save her small English town. His B-17 Bomber plane hit trouble in a storm, and he guided the stricken plane away from the buildings before ditching it into a field where all the bombs on board exploded, ending his life. Many of those interviewed were children in the 1940s They remember the excitement of war, the intrigue of the ruins, which they used as playgrounds, the horrid smells of the gas masks, and the sounds of the air raid sirens.

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(also on Kindle)

Stephen Simpson Grandad's War is a true story about a 17 year old boy, he lied about his age so he could go fight for his country at the beginning of WWII.
In his interview Stephen Simpson of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England gives a warm and truthful account of the time he served on the front line.
As he fought his way across Europe, he saved and collected even the smallest of artefacts, marking his life changing and life threatening experience. It is this collection that makes soldier 2664217 more than a number, they mattered to him, everything was important to his journey and that is what makes this book so special.
From his original letter to enlist and notice offering to join the army, to his release papers and all things in between; postcards, postal dockets, photographs, letters to his future wife, even a menu signed by his comrades on Boxing Day 1945 all give us a glimpse through the window of history and into his teenage life.
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Walter Edney This book provides both a personal story and a deep insight into life in the Royal Navy during the mid 20th Century. It contains fascinating details of daily life aboard ship as well as exciting accounts of wartime action in North Atlantic convoy duty - including the infamous sinking of two U-boat aces "Otto Kretschmer in U-99" and "Joachim Schepke in U-100" in a single night.
Walter Edney joined the Royal Navy in 1934 at the lowest rank: a boy seaman. Over the next 25 years, he rose through the ranks, eventually becoming a Commissioned Officer and the commander of HMS Fenton. To do this he had to cross a huge class divide between "lower ranks" and "higher ranks" and his promotion was exceptional.
This book is taken directly from his personal memoirs written based on the detailed dairies that he kept through his life. As a result it provides a first-hand account of Naval life as well as a warm personal story.
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Carole McEntee-Taylor Ted Taylor, 1st Battalion, The Rifle Brigade, was sent to France in May 1940 as part of Calais Force. Initially sent to open up supply lines to the rapidly retreating BEF, they soon found themselves defending Calais against the might of the 10th Panzer Division. Outnumbered by at least three to one they held out for 4 days until they ran out of ammunition and were forced to surrender. For the next five years Ted found himself part of the huge slave labour force in Poland under the administration of Stalag XXA and Stalag XXB. Life in the POW camps bore little resemblance to the cheerful films of the 1950s with casual brutality never far from the surface. As 1945 began and the war entered its final bloody phase, the POWs dared to believe that at last they might be going home. But fate had one more cruel trick to play. As the Russians approached rapidly from the east, the terrified Germans evacuated the camps and, in temperatures below -25c, began marching the malnourished, poorly-clothed POWs back across Europe. The infamous 'death marches' to freedom across the frozen, chaotic, war ravaged landscape of Eastern Europe had begun. How to Order
Peggy Fisher This book was written containing many segments by Corporal Earl E. Loughner 'written in his own words' shortly after he returned from enduring some of the worst atrocities our soldiers experienced in the Philippines and Japan. You will not only ‘feel’ HIS struggles but you will get a glimpse into what his family was going through during the time he was MIA, knowing he was a PoW and after he arrived home. Let’s ‘walk his walk’ as we honor his memory and recognize the date August 15, 1945 (70 years ago) when Corporal Earl E. Loughner was released from captivity after surviving the Bataan Death March and 3 ½ years as a PoW. You will learn what he and his family experienced during and after WWII. How to Order
Gerald L. Guy "SARA: A Hero's Story" chronicles the Pacific War, as it was waged by the crew of the U.S.S. Saratoga CV-3, one of three American aircraft carriers that was not destroyed in the bombing of Pearl Harbor. While the events are historical in content, the exploits were gleaned from the memoirs of several dozen Saratoga veterans, including the author's father, Ralph G. Guy. The novel is a tribute to the sacrifices of those men, who fought valiantly against insurmountable odds to turn back the Japanese aggressors. While the men prevailed, in the end it was the ship that was the true hero, even after being ravaged by five Kamikazes and countless bombs off the shores of Iwo Jima in 1945. Her ability to stay afloat due to the heroic efforts of the crew should live in infamy. This novel, in part, is a tribute to their sacrifice. How to Order


If you would like to add your story or that of your relative, please get in touch either via our Twitter page or directly using the Contact page. All we need is a link to the book.

 

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