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Shot Down

A Secret Diary of one POW's long march to freedom

Authors: Alex Kerr
Rated 5.00 out of 5 based on 2 customer ratings
(2 customer reviews)
01/Jun/2015
POW, WWII
296
Paperback
210mm x 140 mm
9781925275179
$24.99

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Alex’s Wellington, a twin-engine bomber, was shot down over Germany in 1941. At first hospitalised with hopes of repatriation, he unexpectedly found himself a prisoner in a German POW camp. Throughout those trying four years he was held captive, Alex kept a secret diary. This book reproduces his diary entries in a fascinating account of all aspects of life in a wartime prison.

He describes being part of the infamous ‘Long March’ during which he and his comrades were strafed by Allied aircraft; 60 POWs were killed and 100 wounded. Alex escaped the march with a mate, passing through the front lines between the British and German forces to commandeer a German mayor’s car and drive back to Brussels to take the next aircraft to freedom.

Alex’s charm and optimistic outlook will buoy the reader throughout, and the camaraderie between he and his captive comrades is always entertaining. This is an authentic World War II adventure — from being shot out of the sky, to incarceration and the ultimate triumph of escape and the end of the war.

Alex Kerr

Alex Kerr

Having previously served in the Citizens Military Force, Alex Kerr enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force in April 1940 in the first course of pilots in the Empire Air Training Scheme. After undertaking training in Australia and Canada he arrived in the United Kingdom in December that year. In April 1941, he was posted […]

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2 reviews for Shot Down

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Having previously served in the CMF, Alex Kerr enlisted in the RAAF in April 1940 in the first course of pilots in the Empire Air Training Scheme. After undertaking training in Australia and Canada he arrived in the United Kingdom in December that year. In April 1941, he was posted as a pilot to No. 115 Squadron RAF, flying Wellington Bombers. In May 1941, on his fourth operation, Alex was shot down over Hamburg. Badly wounded and unable to get out of the escape hatch, his life was saved by his rear gunner, who pushed him from the burning aircraft. Alex managed to open his parachute before losing consciousness. During the next four years as a prisoner of war, Alex studied and passed exams for a Certificate in Social Studies (Oxford University) and a Bachelor of Science in Economics (London University). Alex spent his 21st birthday in a POW camp, where a Canadian prisoner named Calvert gave him an egg for his birthday, a rare treat. During his time as a prisoner, Alex was involved in three escape attempts, one of which included the construction of a ‘record breaking’ tunnel. He succeeded on his third attempt. During his years of captivity, Alex kept a diary on which the book Shot Down is based. It’s an incredible story. In his foreword, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston (retd) described the book as a fascinating read and at the same time a careful and accurate record of life in the POW camps. There is no doubt that Alex Kerr’s strength and courage are an example to us all.

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    Hard core aviation enthusiasts may turn away from this memoir because it is a largely an account of captivity. That would be a mistake. The book includes enough training and operational details to satisfy any aviation nut – Alex’s account of his last op is sheer, nail-biting, storytelling magic. Shot Down is also an incredibly rich life story that even offers a gentle lesson in making the most of difficult circumstances. It is also a significant addition to Australian military, aviation, and prisoner of war history. Uplifting and recommended. Read it.

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