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Wegmann, Rolph and Bo Widfeldt. Making for Sweden, part one: The Royal Air Force. Walton-on-Thames, Surrey: Air Research Publications, 1997
Foreword; Acknowledgements; photos; References.
Appendices: British crew members of RAF aircraft crashed or landed in Sweden 1940-1945; Graves Registry by Cemetery
Yossarian's pal Orr made it to Sweden the hard way, paddling around Gibraltar, but thousands of airmen in World War II fact, not fiction, landed or crashed in Sweden or ditched in Swedish waters.
This unusual little gem recounts the details of all RAF aircraft and flyers who came down in the neutral Scandinavian nation.
Arranged chronologically, the incidents are covered in 275 case studies ranging from 11 June 1940 to 10 May 1945. Each case gives date, aircraft type and mark, serial number and markings (where known), squadron number, headquarters (Bomber Command, Coastal Command, etc). Each crew member is then listed with rank, name, crew position, nationality, and fate. Then follows a full description of the incident with text running from a single paragraph to several pages.
The various cases prove individually to be absorbing vignettes of internees (who are usually repatriated quickly), POWs (some crewmen come down within reach of the enemy), evaders, MIAs, and KIAs. Cumulatively, the cases paint an interesting picture of Sweden's evolving posture relative to Axis and Allies, and the skill and knowledge with which RAF flyers were able to take advantage of Swedish neutrality and the Geneva Convention to save themselves when all else failed.
An additional section discusses courier flights between Great Britain and Sweden (over a thousand in 1944 alone) and a final chapter describes policy and conditions of internment.
The internees received a per diem from the British Embassy via the camp administration and the total received was deducted from the accumulated pay in Britain on repatriation. The American aircrews were on the whole better off than the British internees as they were paid by the American embassy a per diem which was so liberal that this almost created an inflation problem in the area as they could afford lots of things unheard of by the local inhabitants. They became very popular with the girls and especially the shopkeepers.
The first appendix provides a complete roster of "British crew members of RAF aircraft crashed or landed in Sweden 1940-1945 (including those who were members of crews from which anyone escaped to Sweden or were found dead in Sweden.)" with name, rank, serial number, nationality, squadron, date, fate, notes, and case number. The second appendix lists particulars, by cemetery, for all RAF airmen buried in Sweden.
The authors took over twenty years to research all the material here, and their hard work has paid off with a terrific little book on an obscure topic.
Part two will cover USAAF arrivals in Sweden, but don't expect to find Orr -- or Yossarian himself -- within its pages.
Available from online booksellers, local bookshops, or directly from Air Research.
Thanks to Air Research for providing this review copy.
Reviewed 4 April 1998
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