Escape from Villingen, 1918
Military History - World War I
6.125 x 9.25, 214 pp.
20 b&w photos., 2 maps.
Pub Date: 09/01/2000
C. A. Brannen Series
Price:        $29.95


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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Escape from Villingen, 1918

By Dwight R. Messimer

On July 26, 1918, American aviator First Lt. George Puryear shot down a German observation plane and then, in an act of bravado, landed to accept the crew's surrender. In fact, by miscalculation he had landed inside the German lines, and it was the Germans who accepted his surrender. But Puryear redeemed himself ten weeks later when he led a mass escape from the prison camp at Villingen, Germany.

Once he was out of prison and safely in the Black Forest, Puryear “went to a prearranged spot where we were to meet and waited fifteen minutes. While I waited there were about fifty shots fired. No one came, so I got down on my knees, prayed for luck and started off.” Five days later he reached Switzerland, the first American officer to escape from the Germans and return to his unit during World War I. Early the following morning Edouard Isaacs and Harold Willis made the hazardous crossing of the Rhine River to freedom.

Dwight R. Messimer is lecturer in history at San Jose State University and lives in Mountain View, California. He is author of five previous books, including Pawns of War and In the Hands of Fate.

What Readers Are Saying:

“Well, it was along time ago, but as you read this smoothly structured book you can almost feel yourself as kin with these American prisoners of war, plotting a possible escape from a German prison camp. You find yourself getting tense and involved, perhaps because we are people who unknowingly at times, always favor the underdog. . . .The author does a masterful job developing the scenario of the camp, the guards, the prison inmates and the immediate environment, adding two features that enlighten us sheltered and peaceful people in comfortable chairs and safely at home. . . Messimer slyly builds suspense for us, as we are reading this superb story, and thinking how it must have been for these prisoners now that the moment is at hand. . . . This carefully crafted book will hold your attention down to the moment that exhausted Lt. Puryear drags himself out of the Rhine, on the Swiss side of the river, the first American officer to escape from the Germans, and return to Allied control. . . . Whatever your decision, this book will hold your rapt attention through the final chapter.” --The Manhattan Mercury

“Messimer treats his readers to a story of determined men willing to risk much for the slim chance of freedom. . . . Messimer’s account of the only successful mass escape during World War I is instructive in that success in such missions often depends to a large part on the will of the people involved. . . . Escape from Villingen details a different world (and a different sort of war) than the one we know, and we are richer for the view Messimer affords us.” --Aerospace Power Journal


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