Escaping with his life
From Dunkirk to D Day and Beyond © 2019
By Sir Nicholas Young
Biography Pen and Sword Military, Publisher; 256pp. ISBN-10: 1526746638 ISBN-13: 978-1526746634
Formats: hardcover, Kindle and audible.com
An inspiring and thrilling account of Leslie Young, a British commando who was captured and escaped from a prison camp in Northern Italy.
From the book jacket: Very few British soldiers could lay claim to such a full war as Leslie Young. Having survived the retreat to and evacuation from Dunkirk, he volunteered for the newly formed Commandos and took part in their first operation, the raid on the Lofoten Islands. He fought and was captured in Tunisia. He went on the run before his POW camp at Fontanellato was taken over by the Nazis after the September 1943 Italian armistice. He spent six months on the run in the Apennine mountains aided by brave and selfless Italians. Many of whom were actively fighting their occupiers. He eventually reached Allied lines but not before several of his companions were tragically killed by both German and American fire.
On return to England he immediately signed up for the invasion of Northwest Europe and despite being wounded eventually fought through to Germany.
This biography epitomizes service and dedication during the darkest moments of twentieth century history, World War II. It also shows the reader the human side of war, the resiliency of the human spirit and the British stiff upper lip, the grit of a soldier.
The book takes the reader on a journey filled with action and heartbreak as told in part by Young’s journal entries and his son’s descriptive and historically accurate narrative.
At times this reader felt as if the history lesson textbook was on the desk and the words blurred into a dry and drawn—out round of this-followed-that narrative. But this was the only drawback to this intriguing story.
The attempts of the author to enliven the story is sprinkled with pieces of the ingenuity of the time, like the bicycle brigade, for example. There is also depictions of the depredations of war upon humans, the land itself, and the civilians who struggle to survive the Nazi occupation.
The book opens with a touching and powerful poem written by an Italian poet, Pierre Luigi Felli. The poem is haunting and sets the book’s place historically as well as creatively. Felli’s last line, alludes to returning to the haunting places, “Years later, the return along those mountain pathways feeling the scent of memory.”
This reader was satisfied and pleased Sir Nicholas’s account is fascinating and honors his father’s journey and those who fought for freedom from tyranny.