Academic journal article Military Review

THE LAST ESCAPER: The Untold First-Hand Story of the Legendary World War II Bomber Pilot

Academic journal article Military Review

THE LAST ESCAPER: The Untold First-Hand Story of the Legendary World War II Bomber Pilot

Article excerpt

THE LAST ESCAPER: The Untold First-Hand Story of the Legendary World War II Bomber Pilot, "Cooler King" and Arch Escape Artist Peter Tunstall, Overlook Press, New York, 2015, 368 pages

Reflection time is something you do not often see in a personal memoir. Consequently, when someone deliberately takes seventy years to reflect on his life before releasing his memoirs, you take notice. This is the case with Peter Tunstall, who penned his memoirs prior to his passing in July 2013. In his superb volume, The Last Escaper, Tunstall focuses on his time as a British Royal Air Force pilot during World War II. It was a period highlighted by his captivity as a prisoner of war-for nearly the entire war.

For those who have read other books focused on the incredible experiences of Allied POWs during World War II, the name Peter Tunstall, a POW for nearly five years, should be extremely familiar. During that time, he attained legendary status for his innovative escape attempts and his uncanny ability to torment his German captors-both physically and mentally. Tunstall's passion for escape and intense desire to be an irritant to his captors resulted in his spending more than four hundred days in solitary confinement. It led him to being dubbed "The Cooler King of Colditz," which was the last camp he was held in prior to his release.

He structures his memoir into three distinct parts. In the initial chapters, he addresses his childhood years, where he developed an intense desire to fly. He then talks about his pilot training in the RAF.

The second part, and the focus of the volume, concerns Tunstall's years as a POW. The theme of the content is tied to advice he received in his initial RAF training by A. …

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