THE SHELBURNE ESCAPE LINE
Anacortes author Réanne Hemingway-Douglass announces the release of her new book: The Shelburne Escape Line – Secret Rescues of Allied Aviators by the French Resistance, Britain’s Royal Navy and London’s MI-9. A lifelong Francophile, Réanne tells the true story of the Shelburne Line, a secret escape route for Allied aviators stranded in WWII France, and the only line not infiltrated by the Gestapo. The book pays tribute to the audacity and heroism of the French Resistance members and Allied military and intelligence personnel who made the escapes possible. It also recounts the experiences of some of the numerous Allied airmen who were shot down over Occupied France. Réanne brings a personal touch to these histories, as many of the people she writes about are her friends.
Anacortes, Washington, March 1, 2014: Anacortes author Réanne Hemingway-Douglass announces the release of her new book: The Shelburne Escape Line – Secret Rescues of Allied Aviators by the French Resistance, Britain’s Royal Navy and London’s MI-9. A lifelong Francophile, Réanne tells the true story of the Shelburne Line, a secret escape route for Allied aviators stranded in WWII France, and the only line not infiltrated by the Gestapo.
As Réanne’s book recounts, the Shelburne was one of the later escape lines that operated within Nazi-occupied Europe. It was established at the end of 1943 by two agents who worked for MI-9, the British military intelligence agency responsible for providing assistance to Allied servicemen stranded behind enemy lines. Working with the French Resistance, these agents arranged for groups of Allied airmen to be taken from 'safe houses' in Paris to a small town in Brittany, where the men were hidden by local volunteers until a Royal Navy motor gunboat was able to pick them up from a secluded beach and take them back to England. A total of 121 Allied airmen and nine French agents were rescued from beneath the noses of German sentries on the cliffs above, in eight audacious evacuation operations conducted between January and August, 1944. Though the risk of betrayal remained ever present, the Shelburne Line was never infiltrated by the Gestapo.
The second part of the book comprises personal stories of airmen and other individuals who were loosely affiliated with the Shelburne Line or were otherwise caught up in the war in France. Some were American pilots whose bomber aircraft were damaged by flak or enemy fighters, obliging them to seek emergency landing fields or bail out with their crews over France. Two stories are about young French people, longtime friends of the author, who were unable to join the fight for their homeland but were marked for life—literally in one case—by the happenstance of being citizens of a country at war. These are intimate accounts that pay tribute to the heroism and courage of ‘ordinary’ people, while reinforcing the fact that war touches everybody.
The Shelburne Escape Line will be available through local bookstores, and online as an e-Book in Kindle, Kobo and other versions.
Praise for Réanne Hemingway-Douglass and The Shelburne Escape Line:
Even now, there still remain WWII stories most of us have not yet heard.The Shelburne Escape Line is one of the most poignant and includes Luftwaffe fighters attacking Allied bombers, air crews trapped behind enemy lines, secret agents and audacious midnight rescues. Finally revealed are extraordinary examples of ingenuity and quiet heroism on the part of ‘ordinary’ people.
- Maj. Gen. John D. Altenburg, Jr., US Army (Ret.)
Réanne Hemingway-Douglass has brought her impressive scholarly and translation abilities to an inspiring corner of World War II history. Her achievement is all the more remarkable because this aspect of the French Resistance was deliberately covert and secret. This book adds a thrilling chapter to the story of the fight for freedom.
- Roderick Nash, Emiritus Professor of History, UC Santa Barbara
Réanne is a world-class sailor, author, explorer and Francophile. Her translations, scholarship, interviews of Allied aviators are exemplary. Do I smell a movie here?
- Warren Miller, author, ski filmmaker, humorist and university lecturer
About the author:
Réanne Hemingway-Douglass is a French-speaking American who has considered France her "second country" since she spent a year in Grenoble as a college student in the 1950s. Awriter, editor, cyclist, sailor, and language teacher, her articles on bicycling, cruising, and women's issues have appeared in numerous outdoor magazines. Her book Cape Horn: One Man’s Dream, One Woman’s Nightmare is a classic in nautical survival literature. She and her husband Don have also published numerous nautical guidebooks and maps covering areas from Baja California to the Gulf of Alaska. The Douglasses live on Fidalgo Island, in Washington State.