Whiting tells two loosely related tales. The first is of the planned great escape itself, an audacious attempt by Germany to take advantage of the huge number of POWs in Britain by the winter of 1944. These men were to escape in large numbers, capture nearby military equipment and march on London. The hope was this would combine with the offensive in the Ardennes to give Hitler some leverage to negotiate a more favourable peace.
The second follows Baron Freiherr von der Heydte, an experienced German paratrooper commander, from Normandy to the Ardennes, where he commanded a conventional paratrooper force that attempted to seize a key road junction. Just as had happened in Normandy his men were scattered over a wide area, achieving more through the confusion they caused than if their attack had gone as planned. This confusion spread back as far as Britain, where it greatly added to the concern when the POW's plan began to come to light.
This is a fascinating look at a little known episode during the Second World War, an audacious plan that if it had even come close to success would have been amongst the most famous incidents of the war.
1 - The Baron and the Sixth Para
2 - Whites, Blacks and Greys
3 - A Mission is Proposed
1 - Attack!
2 - The March on London
3 - Murder
4 - The Last Escapes
Author: Charles Whiting
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2009/10 edition of 1992 original