Bailout Over Normandy...

...A Flyboy's Adventure with the French Resistance and Other Escapades in Northern France, from Casemate Books

Title:  Bailout Over Normandy

Author: Ted Fahrenwald

Publisher:  Casemate Books

ISBN:  978-1-61200-474-7

A new paperback edition from Casemate of a book they first published back in 2012, and a fascinating account overall.  The author was a young Mustang pilot, flying over the Normandy area just a couple of days after D-Day.  He attacked a German truck and it blew up just as he passed overhead and the damage it caused the aircraft was such that the engine seized before he could make the coast and he was forced to bail out while still over German occupied France.  Avoiding capture he made good use of his 'backwoodsman' youth in South Dakota to be happy to live off the land.  Meeting up with members of the Maquis, he spent the next month operating with them, though wishing he could get back to Allied lines near Caen in order to re-join his squadron.  He tells the story of what life was like for the next month or so while he worked with them, unable to get through German occupied territory while the British forces remained stalled around Caen.

Eventually he and another downed US airman left under their own steam, and tried to walk West to try and contact the allied front line.  Various escapades and managing to avoid German patrols and checkpoints, bluffing their way past many but eventually they had to turn South to try and find another route through.  Eventually their luck runs out and they were captured by German troops and became prisoners of war, though clearly lucky not to have been shot as spies.  After some time and experiences of being moved, they remained as prisoners though still looking for a chance to escape again.  In some of these accounts he and others were keen to engage in what in other stories would be termed as 'goon baiting', and lucky to have got away with it it seems.  Eventually he did escape, and after several days walking through the countryside he again made contact with some helpful French famers who gave him shelter and food.  His time near Alencon, witnessing the German forces caught up in the Falaise Pocket, he eventually was liberated by advancing US troops.  Despite some frustrating treatment by the US forces he was in touch with, he eventually made it back up to the coast where he was able to board a Dakota which took him home to the UK, and where he was able to get back to his unit during August 1944.

Apparently he wrote the book in 1946, after he left the Army Air Corps, and while the memories were still fresh.  The manuscript then remained on the shelf until after his death in 2005, when his daughter found it and got it published.  It is the story of a self-confident young man who provides an interesting picture of what it was like to be a downed airman in NW Europe after the invasion, and an insight into what things were like for French  civilians at the time as well.  All in all a fascinating story to read.

Robin