Facing Fearful Odds - My father's story of captivity, escape & resistance 1940-45

Discussion in 'User Introductions' started by John Jay, Oct 12, 2014.

  1. John Jay

    John Jay Junior Member

    Facing Fearful Odds jacket front.jpg Dear Forum Members,

    After five years' research and writing in my spare time and partly as a result of various items of much appreciated help from forum members, I have finally completed my book reconstructing the wartime experiences of my late father, Alec Jay, Called Facing Fearful Odds: My Father's Story of Captivity, Escape and Resistance 1940-45, it is being published this month by Pen & Sword Books.

    Facing Fearful Odds describes how my father fought at Calais in May 1940. While Churchill lifted most of our troops off at Dunkirk, the men at Calais were abandoned to surrender or die as their ammunition ran out. Thus, my father spent five years as 'an involuntary guest of the Third Reich', a member of the vast slave labour force that propped up Hitler's wartime economy. As a Jew, he was held by a regime dedicated to extinguishing his race. He responded by becoming 'a fully paid-up member of the awkward squad', leading one of Nazi Germany's few successful strikes, using his schoolboy German to demoralise civilians and staging five escape attempts. He eluded capture on the fifth attempt and became an honorary Czech partisan. He left behind no POW diary but he did bring home a slim volume of poems written in captivity. Around the poems I have reconstructed his war, drawing on numerous first-hand POW accounts, nuggets of information from forum members and archive materials at home and abroad.

    Pen & Sword will aim to have copies of the book available 'in all good bookshops' and through online retailers. In addition, the book can be purchased through Pen & Sword's own website, www.pen-and-sword.co.uk, or by calling its telesales department on 01226 734222.

    If any forum members do buy a copy and would like me to sign it, please email me at john@johnjay.co.uk and I will ask Pen & Sword to make the necessary arrangements.

    Lastly, I would like to send huge thanks to all forum members who helped me with my researches.

    Yours sincerely,

    John Jay
     
    Swiper, canuck, dbf and 2 others like this.
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi John

    Who was he with at Calais and how many pages in the book about his time at Calais?

    Cheers
    Andy

    Edit: I see he was QVR's...

    http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Facing-Fearful-Odds-Hardback/p/7864
     
  3. John Jay

    John Jay Junior Member

    Dear Andy,
    My father was a rifleman in 9 Platoon, C Company, 1st battalion, Queen Victoria's Rifles. About 60 pages, or about a fifth of the book, are about the siege of Calais. The other material relates to my father's experiences as a POW as well as before and immediately after the war.
    May I ask whether one of your relatives was at Calais and if so in which unit?
    Yours,
    John
     
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi John

    No close relatives of mine served in WW2. I have a have a bit of an interest in all things 1940 France.

    VCheers
    Andy
     
  5. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Understatement of the year, obsessive more like :lol:
     
    canuck likes this.
  6. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    John,

    You book sounds like a very interesting read and will likely be on my Christmas wish list.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  7. John Jay

    John Jay Junior Member

    Dear Tom,
    Many thanks for your note. I do hope you enjoy the book.
    Best wishes,
    Yours,
    John
     
  8. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    John

    Good luck with the book, which has just arrived on my iPad in Kindle format.

    Best regards

    Ron
     
  9. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    Another interesting book to order.
    Believe it or not, many british people don't realise that many Jews were in active service with the Allies in WW2 - found this out during a discussion on another forum.
     
  10. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    TriciaF

    Ron
     

    Attached Files:

  11. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    I know, Ron - your family is a prime example.
    I put them right, but there's still a lot of ignorance out there.
     
  12. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    John

    I have just finished reading your amazing book.

    It is decades since a book has stirred my emotions as much as this one and you should feel rightly proud of your sterling efforts.

    I am just about to go out for the morning but later today I intend to write a review on Amazon so that others may be encouraged to learn of your father Alec's years of captivity.

    I wish you nothing but sucess and congratulate you on honouring your father's memory in this wonderful manner.

    Ron
    (Who also knows what it is like to have a German say to him "you must be a Jew!")
     
  13. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Ron,

    You have wet my appetite and now I am really looking forward to reading the book at Christmas.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  14. Johnthepirate

    Johnthepirate New Member

     
  15. Johnthepirate

    Johnthepirate New Member

    Sorry if this is an old topic. My uncle John George Mossop also arrived in calais with QVRS on 22nd May 1940 and was also captured 4 days later. He was released in a prisoner exchange in 1943 as he was terminally ill with TB (which it is claimed he was injected with) and died 1 year later. Does anyone on here know what German POW camps I should look for to try and find more information on where he was taken or have any other information that would help?
     
  16. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    Hi,

    I'm sure someone will post details of his last POW Camp from internet (Ancestry) - may not show anything if repatriated 1943 - but your main source of info will be Red Cross.

    They are no longer accepting research applications as they are part way through a digitisation project to make WW2 records freely available and searchable - same as they did for their WW1 files in 2014.

    You will need to keep an eye on ICRC website for release dates of the database.

    You can consider making a Freedom of Information application to National Archives for a copy of his German POW registration card as it may have some camp details.

    If you haven't got his service file you could apply but they don't usually have details of soldiers locations post capture.

    Good Luck

    Steve Y
     
  17. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    You could be right there Steve - the only Mossops on Ancestry are:

    H R Mossop Royal Air Force : Officers & Other Ranks 143942

    M Mossop Border Regiment Lambinowice, Poland 3601159 16987 344 18

    Neither of which are our man - so Red Cross records seems to be the way to go

    TD

    edited to add:
    Seems as though one of our members RITSONVALJOS has notes to cover this soldier - http://2ndww.blogspot.fr/2009/01/died-after-repatriation-from-pow-camp.html

    He is also mentioned on another thread here - http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/44857-2nd-bn-60th-rifles-may-1940/
     
  18. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    Hi TD,

    Thanks for additional info.

    I wasn't aware of West Cumberland connection. I'm aware of Cleator Moor as I had 2 great aunts reside there. Great Uncle KIA WW1 lived in Bowthorn Rd pre 1914. Small world!

    Regards

    Steve Y
     
  19. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

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