Article published on September 18, 2015.
The untold first-hand story of the legendary bomber pilot, ‘cooler king’ and arch escape artist.
When I began my operational career, I had precisely two hours and ten minutes’ worth of experience as pilot in command of a bomber at night.
The product of a lifetime’s reflection, The Last Escaper is Peter Tunstall’s unforgettable memoir of his days in the RAF and as one of the most celebrated of all British POWs. Tunstall was an infamous tormentor of his German captors dubbed the ‘cooler king’ (on account of his long spells in ‘solitary’), but also a highly skilled pilot, loyal friend and trusted colleague.
Single-mindedness is often the key to success in most things and, if what I am told is true – that I was to chalk up the all-comers British record number of escape attempts during the next twelve months – I attribute this entirely to that state of mind.
Without false pride or bitterness, Tunstall recounts the high jinks of training to be a pilot, terrifying bombing raids in his Hampden and of elaborate escape attempts at once hilarious and deadly serious – all part of a poignant and human war story superbly told by a natural raconteur.
…we had established that one could get away with wearing German uniform. After that, it became a regular stunt and my own speciality.
The Last Escaper is a charming and hugely informative last testament written by ‘the last man standing’ from the Colditz generation who risked their lives in the Second World War. It will take its place as one of the classic first-hand accounts of that momentous conflict.
As well as our BookChap Book of the Month for September, it was also selected for this month’s nudge List – you can read an extract and, if you’re quick, enter our competition to win 1 of 3 copies we have to give away.
WHAT THEY SAY
“If this escape memoir is franker about the unrelenting prospect of death than any other books written before, it is also leavened by passages of sangfroid, humour and audacity. The author’s cartoons depict both the brutality and the absurdity of the camps.” – The Times
“An extraordinary memoir.” The Military Historical Society
“Right up there with Stalag 17 and The Great Escape.” The New York Post
The Last Escaper by Peter Tunstall, published by Duckworth on 10 September, 2015 at £9.99
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