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The Elephant On My Wing – a New Zealand pilots war

RAF World War II
ISBN 1-84683-119-9
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by Peter A Wright | The WW2 exploits of a 211 Squadron Blenheim pilot in North Africa and Italy and subsequently as a prisoner of war and successful escapee who evaded capture

This is a real-life adventure story featuring a New Zealander whose wartime experiences were more varied and exciting than most. As the pilot of a Bristol Blenheim aircraft Bobby Campbell saw more than his fair share of action over the Western Desert and Mediterranean with 211 Squadron until he was shot down during his 25th operational sortie. He became a prisoner of war and was incarcerated at a number of different camps until successfully escaping and evading capture to return to England.

In The Elephant on My Wing author Peter A Wright tells the true story of young New Zealander Robert Douglas 'Bobby' Campbell, who travelled to England in 1938 to take up a position as a flying instructor with a London aero club, only to be talked into joining the RAF by an old school friend he met by chance in London.

After completing his elementary flying training at Yatesbury, he was posted to No.4 FTS at Abu Sueir, Egypt and on 19th July 1939 was posted to 211 Squadron, based in Ismailia.

When Italy entered the war, 211 was the first squadron to attack the enemy in the Western Desert from their permanent base at El Daba, 90 miles west of Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast. Bobby carried out 13 bombing missions, including a top-secret op behind enemy lines to drop off three army commandos (Captain Stirling’s fledgling SAS ) to take part in attacks on Italian airfields at Brace and Benini.

When Italy invaded Greece, 211 was sent to aid the Greeks. After completing 25 raids Bobby was shot down over Valona harbour and ditched into the sea. With a broken leg, he swam three miles to shore, climbed a 4,000ft cliff and, after a short encounter with helpful partisans, was captured by Italian troops.

Following interrogation, he was interned in a concentration camp at Fieri, southern Albania and subse-quently relocated to the Italian mainland, where he progressed through several POW camps.

Following several attempts he finally escaped, along with three other officers, from PG47 Modena and, with help from former Italian enemies, made it through German-occupied territory to Allied lines near Biferno, followed by a safe return to England.

The remarkable story of his adventures is told in full in this entertaining biography.

details softback | 140 x 205 mm | 250 pages
genre military biography / air forces and warfare / real-life adventure
readership military historians / aviation enthusiasts / general readers
themes RAF in World War II / prisoners of war / escape and evasion / Italy in World War II