6 October 2010

Albanian Escape - The True Story of U.S. Army Nurses behind Enemy Lines

On November 8, 1943, U.S. Army nurse Agnes Jensen stepped out of a cold rain in Catania, Sicily, into a C-53 transport plane. But she and twelve other nurses never arrived in Bari, Italy, where they were to transport wounded soldiers to hospitals farther from the front lines. A violent storm and pursuit by German Messerschmitts led to a crash landing in a remote part of Albania, leaving the nurses, their team of medics, and the flight crew stranded in Nazi-occupied territory.

What followed was a dangerous nine-week game of hide-and-seek with the enemy, a situation President Roosevelt monitored daily. Albanian partisans aided the stranded Americans in the search for a British Intelligence Mission, and the group began a long and hazardous journey to the Adriatic coast. During the following weeks, they crossed Albania's second highest mountain in a blizzard, were strafed by German planes, managed to flee a town moments before it was bombed, and watched helplessly as an attempt to airlift them out was foiled by Nazi forces.

Albanian Escape is the suspense-filled story of the only group of Army flight nurses to have spent any length of time in occupied territory during World War II. The nurses and flight crew endured frigid weather, survived on little food, and literally wore out their shoes trekking across the rugged countryside. Thrust into a perilous situation and determined to survive, these women found courage and strength in each other and in the kindness of Albanians and guerrillas who hid them from the Germans.

Available from:
University Press of Kentucky

The Grey Wolves of Eriboll

The surrender of the German U-boat fleet at the end of World War II was perhaps the principal event in the war's endgame which signified to the British people that peace really had arrived. It is little known that the majority of the surrenders of U-boats on active west-European sea patrols in May 1945 were supervised in Loch Eriboll, an isolated sea loch on Scotland's far north-westernmost coast

With an estimated 160 U-boats on active patrol at the end of the war, it was imperative that these boats were made aware of the capitulation of German armed forces, that they accepted the surrender arrangements and then proceeded, surfaced, to designated British ports.

Loch Eriboll's attraction as the reception port was its isolation and its safe, deep-water anchorage - ideal for the arrival of armed U-boats that might still be intent on one last show of defiance. News of the momentous event was heavily censored - nothing appeared in the local press. Thirty-three U-boats, their officers and men surrendered between 10th and 22nd May 1945. The boats were arrested, boarded and disarmed; in some cases this vital exercise was completed by the simple expedient of lobbing ammunition, explosives and torpedo pistols overboard.

Each U-boat has been positively identified and detailed information provided including contemporary photographs, boat or flotilla emblem, together with the coordinates of where each boat was eventually destroyed in the north Atlantic. However, not all were destroyed by the Allies, some were retained by the British, American, Russian or French navies as spoils of war but the vast majority were lost accidentally or scrapped with the passage of time.

The Grey Wolves of Eriboll includes a wealth of historical insights including the German Surrender Document; detailed descriptions of the construction, service careers and circumstances of each surrendered U-boat; details of the frigates that supervised the surrenders; Operation Deadlight (a hasty plan to ensure the U-boats could not again be used aggressively) and contemporary newspaper reports.

Available from:
Whittles Publishing

Air Sea Rescue During the Siege of Malta: An eyewitness account of life with HSL107 1941-43

Air Sea Rescue During the Siege of Malta provides one of few available eyewitness tales about the often overlooked role of the Air / Sea Rescue teams during World War II. Focussing on High Speed Launch HSL107 which rescued close to 100 pilots during the siege of Malta, this tale is a personal account by Bill Jackson, a crew member of HSL 107.

While everyone around them was hell-bent on death and destruction, the crews of the Air / Sea Rescue Units were dedicated to the survival of both friend and foe alike. They carried out their job with little recognition and with great heroism. Battling the elements, often in appalling sea conditions, and under near-constant air attack from a most determined enemy, the units shared the privations endured by the islanders, coming close to starvation as the Axis forces inched toward invasion.

This book shares with the reader the elation of successful rescues, the exhilaration of the High Speed Launch at full throttle, and the determination of the Units to turn out at all hours in all weathers to go to the aid of both Allied and Axis pilots.

Bill Jackson was born and raised in Workington, Cumbria. He attended RAF Cranwell No 1 Electrical and Wireless School and was posted to Malta as a Wireless Operator Mechanic (WOM) with crew of HSL 107, the 'Old Lady' of Malta. Bill was repatriated in Sept 1943. He sadly died in late 2009, before this account was published.

Available from:
Troubador Publishing