My Escape from Donington Hall, Gunther Plüschow

My Escape from Donington Hall, Gunther Plüschow

Gunther Plüschow was the only German Prisoner of War to successfully escape from the British mainland during either World War. He was a German aviator who was posted in China before the outbreak of war, and who was captured by the British during his attempt to return to Germany from China.

The book falls into three parts. The first looks at the author's time in the German territory of Kiao-Chow in China (better known in English by the name of the main settlement, Tsingtau. This includes a section on his pre-war life in China, with some fascinating insights into the colonial mindset of the period. The main focus here is on the Japanese siege, and the author's one-man aerial war (the author seems rather irritated that the Japanese conducted a regular siege rather than carrying out a costly frontal assault on the German lines). At the very end of the siege he was ordered to fly out of Tsingtau, starting the second part of the book.

After flying out of Kiao-Chow the author crash landed in China, starting the second part of the book - his attempt to escape to Germany via the United States and a neutral ship across the Atlantic. This daring effort almost succeeded before the author was detected passing Gibraltar, arrested and taken to Britain as a POW. During this period the author came into contact with British wartime propaganda, and his reaction to it is rather amusing.

The third part of the book is the traditional Prisoner of War story, although with the roles reversed. Plüschow is generally very polite about his treatment in British hands, despite undergoing one or two rather unpleasant incidents. Life in the camp is very similar to his British equivalents, and many elements of the escape are similar, including the attempts to mislead the daily prisoner count and the problems of surviving in a hostile country. Plüschow had the advantage of speaking and reading fluent English, so was able to keep track of the attempts to find him, and the descriptions given of him. His efforts to get to a port and get onto a neutral ship are compelling, and could just as easily have been written a British escapee.

This is a classic POW escape story, with the added bonus of being told from the German point of view. In many ways Plüschow's story is very similar to the more familiar British tales. The only significant difference is his attitude to setbacks, which he tends to treat with indignation, not a common reaction in British accounts.

1 - The Joys and Sorrows of a Flying-Man
2 - Beautiful Days in Kiao-Chow
3 - Threat of War - My Taube
4 - Some Japanese Jokes
5 - My War Ruse
6 - Hurrah!
7 - The Last Day
8 - In the Slime of the Chinese Rice-Field
9 - Mr Macgarvin's Ptomaine Poisoning
10 - Caught!
11 - Behind Walls and Barbed Wire
12 - The Escape
13 - Black Nights on the Thames
14 - Still at Large: The Chinese Dragon Clue
15 - The Stowaway
16 - The Way to Freedom
17 - Back in the Fatherland!

Author: Gunther Plüschow
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 160
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2015

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