The Ones Who Got Away

Mighty Eighth Airmen on the Run in Occupied Europe

The Ones Who Got Away cover

The Ones Who Got Away

Mighty Eighth Airmen on the Run in Occupied Europe


A remarkable collection of accounts of intrepid American aircrew shot down over enemy lines during World War II and how they got away.

To be an airman in the Eighth Air Force flying over the war-torn skies of Europe required skill, tenacity, and luck. Those who were shot down and evaded capture needed all of that and more if they were to make it back to friendly lines. These are their stories. Each is compiled from the original intelligence debrief written by the pilots or aircrew themselves.

Bill Yenne details how a spider web of escape routes sprang up, created by the local Résistance. Downed airmen were clothed, given false papers, and hidden so they could be smuggled back to England. These efforts were then supplemented by Allied intelligence agents. But the risks remained the same. Capture could mean death.

Their accounts are sometimes funny, often heartbreaking. P-47 pilot Joel McPherson feigned appendicitis and was able to escape from the local German military hospital – after he had his appendix removed. He spent weeks operating as a getaway driver for a Maquis bank robber gang before making it into neutral Spain. Bomber crewmen Fred Hartung and Norman Therrien found refuge at a French château, but later nearly froze to death crossing the icy Pyrenees with the Gestapo on their trail. The accounts of these men and others from the Mighty Eighth make this a story of defiance, foolhardiness, and bravery against the odds.

Table of Contents

List of Plate Section Illustrations

Part One: Strangers in a Strange Land
1. The Lay of This Treacherous Land
2. Herding Wildcats
3. Many Paths to Freedom

Part Two: Riding the Tail of a Comet
4. Hounded Houndsmen
5. Christmas in Limbo
6. Undocumented Fools At Large
7. A Menacing New Year
8. Unexpected Detours
9. In Hostile Hands
10. Long and Winding Roads

Part Three: The Man on the Bicycle
11. May Day Over Saint-Nazaire
12. Lines on the Map
13. Bombard Our House With Chocolate
14. Perils of the Pyrenees
15. New Lives, Later Lives

Part Four: Black Tuesday Boys
16. Inside the Third Reich
17. Desperate Fugitives
18. Shipwrecked Brothers
19. Not an Easy Road
20. Riding the Comet
21. False Starts, and Meeting the Fox Hunter
22. Homeward Bound

Part Five: Long Roads from Regensburg
23. A Rough Start to a Long Day
24. Tales of a Shillelagh and a Double Agent
25. A Milk Run Turns Sour
26. To Brussels and Beyond
27. Unexpected Threats
28. The Belgian Waiting Game
29. This is Your Life

Part Six: Bandits of the Dordogne
30. A Journey Formidable
31. Hollywood Maquisards
32. We Thought He Was a Madman
33. Over the Wall
34. A Bandit's Life for Me
35. Danger All Around
36. Waiting for the Right Moment
37. D-Days
38. Unsettled Lives

Part Seven: Reflections of Silver Screens
39. Leading from the Front
40. Suspicious Characters
41. Moving in Circles
42. Hollywood on the Seine
43. Operation Overlord
44. Hollywood Calling

Part Eight: Lightning Struck Twice
45. Aces Among the Wolves
46. Aces Down
47. Back into Combat
48. Déjà Vu, Again and Again
49. A Haunted Life

Part Nine: Betrayal and Triumph
50. Dobie's Boys
51. A Valuable Asset
52. Jake and Marty
53. Running Through the Woods
54. Into a World of Intrigue
55. A Safe House Most Unsafe
56. A Dungeon Most Medieval
57. Sleight of Hand
58. Improbable Twists of Fate
59. Mornings After
60. Years After

About the Author

Product details

Published Jan 02 2024
Format Hardback
Edition 1st
Extent 320
ISBN 9781472858719
Imprint Osprey Publishing
Illustrations 8-page plate section in black and white
Dimensions 9 x 6 inches
Series General Aviation
Short code GNA
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

About the contributors


Bill Yenne

Bill Yenne is the author of ten novels and more th…


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