6 X 9 inches, 240 pages
8 b&w photos
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Review by John Freeman, The Plain Dealer
Review by Tom Feran, The Plain Dealer
The POW Story
The Memoir of an RCAF Spitfire Pilot
Edited by George E. Condon
SHOT DOWN OVER FRANCE IN 1941.... This book is Brian Hodgkinson's recollection of his extraordinary experience as a Spitfire pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force and as a prisoner of war in Germany for approximately three-and-a-half years.
It is, of course, the story of an airman, but only incidentally is it a tale of aerial derring-do. Hodgkinson's wings were clipped by a German Messerschmitt before they were fully tested. He was shot down over France, one of the pitifully outnumbered and terribly inexperienced pilots sparring for time at war's beginning.
It was a shocking introduction to the reality of war for the tall, handsome 26-year-old Canadian radio personality whose deep bass voice had since 1935 become familiar to millions of listeners to programs of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. What happened to him in the sky above France on that fateful day in 1941, as it turned out, was no more than an explosive prologue to the story of one man's fight for survival in the Nazi prisoner-of-war compounds.
Some 60 years had to pass before Hodgkinson could bring himself to stir the ashes in which were buried the memories of his terrible experience. When he finally did poke into the past, he was astonished to find there were embers underneath that even at this late date could be fanned into the flame of total recall.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, in September 1939, Brian Hodgkinson was happily employed in the broadcasting industry as a staff announcer with Radio Station CKY, a regional network of the CBC, in Winnipeg. When the bugle blew he volunteered for the RCAF. After his POW experience, he became a radio personality in Cleveland, Ohio, a prominent newscaster and editorialist for several of the city's broadcasting stations over a period of some 35 years. It was there that he fostered an unlikely friendship with Gerorge E. Condon, a newspaper man whose job it was to give scholarly critiques of radio and television. Later, Condon would edit the memoirSpitfire Down. Hodgkinson was still assembling his collection of memories at the time of his sudden and unexpected death in Cleveland, Ohio, on March 26, 1999.