Academic journal article Military Review

Savage Will: The Daring Escape of Americans Trapped Behind Nazi Lines

Academic journal article Military Review

Savage Will: The Daring Escape of Americans Trapped Behind Nazi Lines

Article excerpt

SAVAGE WILL: The Daring Escape of Americans Trapped Behind Nazi Lines

Timothy M. Gay, New American Library, New York, 2013, 352 pages

On 8 November 1943, an American C-53 aircraft crash landed in Nazi-occupied Albania. The plane, with its Army Air Force crew of four, carried 13 female Army nurses and 13 male Army medics from the 807th Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron. For the next two months, 27 members of group battled incredible odds to finally be rescued. The remaining three members of the contingent, separated from the group, were eventually rescued two months later. Timothy Gay's outstanding volume, Savage Will, captures their unbelievable story of courage and physical and mental stamina.

Gay provides an engrossing account of the action, taking readers from the days prior to the crash to the successful rescue of the group. In between, he describes the brutal hardships they faced, including a lack of food and water, brutal weather, and a trek of more than 600 miles over extremely challenging terrain, wearing poor footwear and possessing little winter clothing. To make matters even more precarious, their entire journey involved traveling through a country heavily occupied by German soldiers--and in the midst of a civil war. It is a powerful testimony to the ability of human spirit to meet and overcome the substantial challenges they faced.

The author also details the experiences of those who assisted in the rescue. This diverse group includes members of the Albanian resistance, local villagers who provided what little they had to the group, members of the British Special Operations Executive, and the American Office of Strategic Services, more commonly known as the OSS. …

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