After his famous escape from Colditz Airey Neave was recruited to M.I.9, the section of the British secret service that was dedicated to helping Allied servicemen escape from occupied Europe (the title comes from Neave's codename within M.I.9 - Saturday - chosen to fit in with other names already in use when he joined the tiny organisation). Most of the time this involved working to support networks of local people within France, Belgium and Holland, at first helping soldiers left behind after Dunkirk, but for most of the war helping Allied airmen shot down during raids over Europe.
Neave's account focuses on those local networks and the people who faced a daily battle with the Gestapo, the French pro-Vichy militia and treacherous double agents; with the penalty for failure often being death (although a pleasantly surprising number of the most important prisoners did survive). The first part of the book looks at perhaps the more familiar part of the story - the long lines along which downed airmen passed to reach Spain or Switzerland.
We then move on to look at the mass escapes by sea from Brittany, and the large camps set up deep within forests across France in the period just before D-Day, when Allied airpower made it was too dangerous to move across France or Belgium. Neave himself took part in the successful efforts to liberate this camps after the Allied broke out from the Normandy beachhead.
This is a compelling tale of true-life bravery, looking at the activities of large groups of volunteers scattered across occupied Europe who chose to risk their lives in an attempt to help Allied servicemen return to Britain to continue the fight against Nazism.
1 - After Colditz
2 - The O'Leary Line
3 - The Comet Line
4 - Women Agents
5 - Brittany
6 - 'Marathon'
7 - Occupied Holland
8 - Aftermath
Author: Airey Neave
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2010 edition of 1969 original