The GREAT ESCAPE

by Paul Brickhill

Signed by Paul Brickhill

  • Price: £ 145

To commemorate the 75th Anniversary of ‘The Great Escape’ of 24 March 1944
A First Edition, First Impression of this famous book
With a laid in paper signed by Paul Brickhill

Faber & Faber First Edition, First Impression 1951.  263 pages and well illustrated with photographs, diagrams and maps.

Fine condition hardback book.  It is clean and bright with a very sturdy binding.  It is in exceptional condition considering its age. The dustjacket is Very Good, unclipped, with a little loss at the top of the spine and top corner of the front.  It has some internal reinforcing but looks very smart in its protective cover.  The Brickhill signed paper is not attached to the book.  See extra photos below.

This is one of the most famous books to come out of WWII telling the story of the mass breakout from Stalag Luft III in March 1944.  It was published as a Chapter in Brickhill’s first book, ‘Escape to Danger’ in 1946 and then on the request of his publisher it was expanded into a full length book and became an instant bestseller.

Paul Brickhill was an Australian journalist who did his flying training in Australia, Canada and England under the Empire Air Training Scheme before being assigned to 92 Squadron equipped with Spitfires and part of the Desert Air Force in North Africa.

On 17 March 1943, he was shot down over Tunisia and became a prisoner of war.  He was sent to Stalag Luft III, in Silesia, 150 km southeast of Berlin, arriving there on 4 April 1943. Brickhill became involved with the escape organisation, initially as a lookout before volunteering to work as a digger on the “Tom” tunnel. He developed claustrophobia, and as a result was reassigned and put in charge of security for the forgers. Because of his claustrophobia and the risk that he would panic and block the escape of others behind him, he was not allowed to take part in “The Great Escape”.

Following the announcement of the murder of the escapees who had been recaptured following the Great Escape, Brickhill became determined to document the event. Discussing the subject with fellow prisoner Conrad Norton, they identified that many of their fellow prisoners had other tales of daring escapes, and that they could provide the possibility of publishing a book after the war. As Brickhill had been involved in “The Great Escape”, he concentrated on that story, while Norton collected individual tales. As prisoners were forbidden from writing anything other than letters and postcards, they collected every piece of paper they could find and, writing in as small a hand as possible, they collected stories and hid them from the guards.

After the war, Brickhill returned to journalism, working as a London-based correspondent for Associated Newspapers. Meanwhile outside of working hours he had typed up his and Norton’s stories and the manuscript was accepted by Faber & Faber and published as ‘Escape to Danger’ in 1946.

Brickhill’s three best known works, ‘The Great Escape’, ‘The Dambusters’ and ‘Reach for the Sky’ were each turned into blockbuster films and together with the books did much to shape the public’s perception of the RAF’s participation in WWII.

A true first edition of one of the classic books  of WWII with a scarce Paul Brickhill signature.