The Shelburne Escape Line is the U. S. A. Best Book Awards Winner 2015 (military history).
It has been released in hard copy by Pen and Sword Books, UK's largest publisher of military history.
The Shelburne Escape Line: Secret Rescues of Allied Aviator by the French Underground, the British Royal Navy, and London’s MI-9 tells the story of the Shelburne Line—a secret evacuation route that operated during World War II from the Breton coast of France—pays tribute to the audacity and heroism of the men and women of the French Resistance and Allied military personnel.
The book has just been published by Pen and Sword Books, UK’s leading military publisher.
The first half of the book concerns the set-up and operation of the Shelburne Line itself—one of the later escape lines that operated within Nazi-occupied Europe. It was established at the end of 1943 by two French-Canadians, Lucien Dumais and Ray Labrosse, who worked as agents for a secret branch of MI-9, the British military intelligence agency responsible for providing assistance to Allied servicemen stranded behind enemy lines. Working with the French Resistance, Dumais and Labrosse arranged for groups of Allied airmen to be taken from "safe houses" in Paris by train to the town of Plouha, on the southeast coast of Brittany. Volunteers in Plouha would then hide the men in local houses until conditions were suitable for sailors from a British motor gunboat, the MGB 503, to collect them in rowboats from a secluded beach and transport them back to England. Eight successful evacuation operations were conducted on moonless nights between January and August of 1944. A total of 121 Allied airmen and nine French agents were rescued from beneath the noses of German sentries on the cliffs above. Though the risk of betrayal remained ever present, the Shelburne Line was never infiltrated by the Gestapo. The author of The Shelburne Escape Line considers it to have been one of the great success stories of the War. Readers of the book will surely think so too!
Part II of the book consists of personal stories of airmen and others who were caught up in the war in France. Some recount the experiences of 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, to find their way to safety. Two stories are about French youths, longtime friends of the author, who were too young to join the fight for their homeland but were marked for life—literally, in one case. These are intimate accounts of ordinary people that reinforce the fact that war touches everybody.
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. She and her husband Don first learned of the Shelburne Line when visiting friends in Plouha some years ago, and Réanne felt compelled to research it further. Many of the people who appear in the book are the Douglass's personal friends and acquaintances.