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The story of how British and American Intelligence thwarted a wartime plan for a daring mass breakout of German prisoners-of-war from a camp in Wiltshire, led by a hardcore of SS troops.
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This was the first time I have read a prisoner of war story involving Germans as the POWs, apart from having read the official history of British Intelligence in WW2 (which only dealt with the captured German spies). I have, however read lots about the prisoners of the Germans. It was interesting that security in British camps seems to have been quite lax. Despite many apparently successful German breakouts there is only one well known instance of a German POW making a home run. This book comes across as having been well researched where it comes to its primary subject matter, although there is quite a lot of preamble with a summary of how WW2 went which is not as well researched as the main subject. This lets it down for those well versed in WW2 history. Once the preamble is done there is a specific history of the camp in Devizes that is obviously the author's initial exposure to the story that he decided to write about. There is a lot of original research included where the author has spoken to locals about the camp before researching it in the national archives. The story follows the efforts of the British authorities to keep control in the last year of the war when prisoner numbers increased dramatically. The German POWs were graded according to their sympathies to the Nazis, the believers being black, the anti-Nazis being white and the majority Grey. The camps were initially mixed, and the Nazis outnumbered the anti-nazis. This meant that the camps were run by the Nazis and had a hostile tone for those Germans that had worked out how the war was going to end. After a riot in Devizes a number of the POWs were transferred to a camp in Scotland. When they got there some of the hardliners decided that some of their fellow POWs weren't ardent enough Nazis. This came to a head with the lynching of a German prisoner who was accused of collaboration with the British. --J. Kemp
This is really a book of three parts. The first concerns the development of British processing of captured enemy servicemen designed to extract as soon as possible any useful intelligence they might hold. The second concerns the military history of Devizes during the Second World War and especially the Prisoner of War camp that was established there in 1944. The third concerns the murder by other inmates of a prisoner in a scottish camp. The prisoner had been moved from Devizes after the authorities had smashed an abortive plot there for a mass escape. The three parts do have a connection but the author does not do a great job in linking them together so the book feels a bit like three essays than a seemless whole. That said the book is thoroughly researched and is full of interesting events and analysis. This subject is a bit of a backwater so it is useful to have even a flawed account and it will be of particular interest for anyone in Wiltshire with an interest in the period. --P. J. Connolly
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Book Description Alan Sutton Pub, 1996. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0750912820
Book Description Sutton, 1996. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0750912820
Book Description Condition: New. New. Seller Inventory # STRM-0750912820