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Shot down in 1942, young Australian fighter pilot John Williams DFC became a POW in the notorious Stalag Luft III camp in Germany. John had joined the air force shortly before the outbreak of war and, in the larrikin tradition, led his squadron into air combat over the deserts of Libya and Egypt dressed in sandals and shorts.
John and his best mate Rusty Kierath were among the 76 POWs who tunnelled their way out of the supposedly escape-proof camp under the noses of their German guards in what later became the Hollywood blockbuster, The Great Escape. Their families never learned what really happened once the pair made it out into the forest.
John’s niece Louise Williams has pieced together his life, from his upbringing in a tight-knit family hit hard by the Depression, to his exploits in the air, and the many missing details of the tragic escape. It is a powerful and intimate story of one of the most dramatic episodes of World War II.
’A riveting tale, superbly told’ – Peter FitzSimons, author and journalist
’A brilliant achievement. Louise Williams reminds us that the story of the Great Escape should not be owned by Hollywood, but rather by the families of those who made the greatest sacrifice.’ – Guy Walters, author of The Real Great Escape
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