The Forgotten

The Forgotten

Canadian POWs, Escapers and Evaders in Europe, 1939-45

Book - 2013
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Unforgettable tales of heroism, bravery and escape--the remarkable true stories of Canadian soldiers and civilians lost behind enemy lines in the Second World War

The Forgotten tells the story of the more than 10,000 Canadian servicemen, merchant mariners and civilians whose war ended in surrender, capture and imprisonment, through the eyes of a group of men in Hitler's grasp: Private Stan Darch, who had already survived the cauldron of Dieppe; seventeen civilian priests and brothers captured at sea, one of whom risked his life to hide an escape tunnel after the Great Escape; Edward Carter-Edwards, who endured the hell of Buchenwald concentration camp; and RCAF Sergeant Ian MacDonald, who, having been on the run for six weeks after being shot down, was betrayed to the Gestapo and survived six weeks in the notorious Fresnes Prison in Paris. To survive the often horrid conditions of Stalags across Europe and the hunger marches through the freezing snows of the winter of 1944-45, these otherwise ordinary Canadians demonstrated extraordinary valour and commitment to each other and to the Allied cause.

Nathan M. Greenfield, author of the Governor General's Award finalist The Damned , shares never-before-heard stories of these forgotten Canadians in thrilling and often heartbreaking detail in a book thateveryone will remember.

Publisher: Toronto :, HarperCollins Canada,, [2013]
Edition: First Canadian edition
Copyright Date: ©2013
ISBN: 9781443404891
Branch Call Number: 940.5472 GRE
Characteristics: xii, 471 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm

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Norman C. Smith
Jul 30, 2015

This is a well-organized book about a topic that has been very little covered - the experience of Canadian Prisoners of War in Europe during WWII. Some of the stories are reasonably well-known (e.g., the Canadians involved in the Great Escape), but others not very well known at all (e.g., the experience of a number of Oblate priests and brothers held for years as POWs, even though they were non-combatant).

The author has arranged the book chronologically, so that we start with a series of "captured" anecdotes, then go through life in the camps, and end with the end of the war. It tends to break up the continuity on stories related to specific individuals, but it is does give a good sense of what was happening at any given time, in my opinion. For me, the structure was fine.

The weaknesses of the book come down to the editing and design. On the editing side, I found that the author made a number of "typo" style errors, such as misspelled names, that should have been caught by an editor. He also made some errors of fact, such as the location of the battle of Trafalgar, which he probably thought he knew but didn’t verify. There were enough of these to make me wonder how careful the author was. I have read a couple of other books by the same author, and had the same reaction to them. He needs to be more attentive. However, not a killer problem.

On the design side, I think that a couple of extra maps showing a few more of the places mentioned in the various stories would have been helpful. Again, not a killer problem, but a bit of a weakness.

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