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Wingless Victory [Paperback]

Anthony Richardson
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; New impression edition (6 Nov 1970)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330104268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330104265
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 11 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 291,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

great pan pbk,1956,photos,sir basil embrys escape from occupied france

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An good tale, but a little light in detail. 19 May 2010
I've had this book - an original 1950 hardback publication - for as long as I can remember. I have no recollection of who gave it to me, or when. I dimly recall skimming through it as am aeroplace-obsessed child, and being disappointed with it's lack of dogfighting.

So, it raised a smile when I chanced across it again when helping my Mum clear the old family home in preparation for a move.

As the book comes with no description, I'll add one - Basil Embry was one of many British Servicemen to escape from the collapse of France in 1940. This is his story, and a real tale to tell it is too. Embry worked his way to from St. Omer to Spain almost entirely on foot, with help (sometimes) from the French people he met along the way. Some narrow escapes included being picked by an SS unit in Northern France - an event which would have meant certain death if it was not for some quick thinking.

The book itself is supremely sober; a reflection of when it was written, and the author. Anthony Richardson served with Embry in the RAF, and indeed convinced him to relay the tale some ten years after the event.

So, it's worth considering that this book in written in the style of the 1950s - sober, almost dour, matter-of-fact, and without embellishment or the sensationalist grammar which can afflict modern retelling of escape stoires. It does not shy away from the occasional grim business of knocking Germans off their perches, but it does not dwell on it either.

It's also written by a serviceman, writing down the memories of a serving RAF Wing Commander at a time when the Cold War was beginning to hot up. So an appreciation of British understatement and reserve is needed to really get the best from the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great story of courage! 22 Mar 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Wonderful book, I enjoyed every page of it and couldn't put it down! The delivery was fast and the book (more than 50 years old) was in a good condition.
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"Wingless Victory is the story of an audacious and desperate man on the run, the record of one of the first wartime escapes through Occupied France. It reads like a first-class thriller and, as one critic put it, 'leaves fiction gasping far behind.' On May 27, 1940, Wing-Commander Basil Embry (later Air Chief Marshal Sir Basil Embry and Commander, Allied Air Forces in Central Europe 1953-56), although appointed to a higher command, decided to lead his old squadron into battle for the last time. Within the hour he was shot down in France and found himself alone, unarmed, and in uniform. Capture was inevitable. He was, in fact, captured three times, but refused to submit. Once he broke from a column of prisoners under the muzzle of a German machine-gun. Another time he fought his way out, killing three Germans with a stolen rifle and then hiding in a manure heap for nearly six hours. But perhaps the most amazing of all his exploits was the occasion on which, in the role of a fanatical member of the Irish Republican Army, he shook his fist under the nose of a German inquisitor, yelling hatred and abuse of Britain until his captors finally turned him loose to find his own way home. At this period there was little of escape technique to guide him and he had no opportunity to lay plans or prepare equipment. Yet, by sheer courage and wit, he found his way back to Britain to fight and fly again. He won the D.S.O. and three bars, and the D.F.C.

Anthony Richardson, who relates Sir Basil's story as it was told to him at first-hand, served in the same squadron and later became its Adjutant. Established as a writer for over twenty-five years, he is known as a novelist and for his volumes of war poems, many of which dealt with Sir Basil Embry's squadron.
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