Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Behind Enemy Lines: A Young Pilot’s Story

Behind Enemy Lines: A Young Pilot’s Story

H. R. DeMallie
For ages 12 and up
Sterling Publishing, 2007   ISBN: 978-1402741371

Young Howard DeMallie is thrilled when his training as a flying fortress pilot is finally over. He is going to be the "skipper" and he knows full well how much responsibility such a position will entail. Still he cannot help being excited at the prospect of finally going to war.

On December 6, 1944, Howard and his crew take off from a field in England in the Blanco Diabolo to drop bombs on Merseberg, a city in Germany. All goes well until they get hit by flack over Germany. By some miracle they manage to get the plane to fly back as far as Holland but then the poor Blanco Diabolo can go no further. The crew have to bail out.

Howard lands on Dutch soil without mishap and is found by some friendly and helpful boys who clearly understand how much danger he is in. Quickly they get him out of his American clothing and into something which will allow him to blend in with the locals more effectively. Then they take him to a safe house where they hope the German?s won?t find him.

At great risk to themselves members of the local Resistance movement hide Howard and another member of his crew, waiting for the right time when they will be able to get him out of Holland and back to England. Before this can happen however, Howard is captured and taken into custody. What follows is a terrible period when he is imprisoned in horrific conditions. Howard is then finally taken to a prisoner of war camp in Germany where he stays until the camp is liberated by the Russians.

This is an incredible story which shows all too clearly how strong the human spirit can be in adversity. Not only do we see how determined Howard is to survive but we also see how brave his Dutch rescuers are, and how willing they are to risk everything to save him and to hide him from the Nazis. Young people who have been lucky enough never to have experienced war will find this account touching and inspiring. They will see through Howard's eyes what it was like to live in an occupied country, and they will understand that being a pilot was not all glory and fun. In reality it was terrifying and dangerous. Often it was deadly.

Written in the first person with great candor and genuine feeling, this book is both an interesting and an engaging read.

This is one of the titles in the "Sterling Point Books" series.