A True Story of the Great Escape
A young Australian POW in the most audacious breakout of World War II
By Louise Williams
Published by Allen & Unwin
$29.99 in paperback
Just this week ABC’s Richard Fidler interviewed author Louise Williams about the book she has written on her uncle John Williams, the character loosely portrayed by Steve McQueen in the movie The Great Escape.
Here is the link to the interview – it’s certainly worth listening to:
The book – published very recently by Allen & Unwin – tells the story of young Australian fighter pilot John Williams DFC and how he became a POW in the notorious Stalag Luft III camp in Germany. John had joined the air force shortly before the outbreak of war and, in the larrikin tradition, led his squadron into air combat over the deserts of Libya and Egypt dressed in sandals and shorts.
John and his best mate Rusty Kierath were among the 76 POWs who tunnelled their way out of the supposedly escape-proof camp under the noses of their German guards. Their families never learned what really happened once the pair made it out into the forest.
John’s niece Louise Williams has pieced together his life, from his upbringing in a tight-knit family hit hard by the Depression, to his exploits in the air, and the many missing details of the tragic escape. It is a powerful and intimate story of one of the most dramatic episodes of World War II.
An amazing and ultimately sad story.