The War Memoir of New Zealand Pilot & POW – Galbraith Hyde MBE
On the last day I saw my father Galbraith Hyde alive, a letter had arrived for him from France.
“Let me introduce myself” it said.
“In November 1942, 54 years ago, your 4 engine bomber was shot down over the Brest Peninsular, in France. You crawled from the wreckage and were taken by a group of farmers to a small farmhouse where you spent the night.
The next day, you sheltered at a different farmhouse, where there was an old couple, a younger woman and a little boy.
I was that little boy!
I’m writing to ask how things went for you after you left us?”
When I read the letter out to my father, he smiled, as he knew he wouldn’t be the one writing the long reply back.
Galbraith Hyde had an extraordinary war!
Luckily for us in the last few years of his life he wrote a memoir documenting his experiences.
During the four years he was away he had –
Survived the shooting down of his fully laden four engine Stirling bomber crashing into a French hillside. He then spent eight weeks on the run, bicycling his way across occupied France, eventually taking shelter with a farming family, before his betrayal and capture.
Once captured he was strenuously interrogated by the Gestapo before serving time in – the historic Amiens Prison, Graudenz Castle, Thorn POW Camp, and in the Air Force compound within the famous Stalag VIIIb Lamsdorf prison camp. There he even switched identities with a army POW to increase his escape possibilities by moving back into the main camp. During his captivity he had spent over 6 months in solitary confinement.
His bold and hair raising escape attempt by stealing a German aircraft led to a Court Martial for “attempted sabotage of the Third Reich” and a 2 year civil sentence. A subsequent semi successful classic escape by cutting through the wire helped him narrowly avoid this sentence to Buchenwald, when one of their escape party made it to freedom in Switzerland and brought their case to the attention of the Red Cross.
To top all that off, he then participated in the infamous forced “Long March” across the winter snows of Europe via the harsh Northern route. His party covered 1,200 klms, often sleeping in the snow, with little or no food. He was finally liberated by the 2nd US Armoured Division “Hell on Wheels.”
The book gives you unique insights into what it was really like flying Night Missions with Bomber Command and the idiosyncrasies of flying the world’s largest heavy bomber at the time, the famous Short Stirling.
You’ll go through his intensive training with the Empire Training Scheme in New Zealand and Canada and see the world explored through the eyes of vibrant 18 year old living life to the full on his first overseas adventure and his determination to survive.
You get his first hand accounts of life as a POW and insights into men under those extremely challenging times.
You can read two Chapter Extracts from his journal by following the links below.
One fully describes a Night Flying Mission with Bomber Command, over the Alps to Genoa. The second gives insights into flying the Short Stirling 4 engine bomber.
Or if you want the full thrilling story, you can obtain a copy of the Journal in it’s current eBook version. We have made the pricing of this very accessible.
In 1995 I reproduced Dads manuscript and distributed printed copies to close family and friends and a few official archives like the Alexander Turnbull Library in New Zealand.
Over the years more people have requested a copy, including researchers in France studying escape and evasion history, historians in New Zealand, writers and more.
Dad’s story has been mentioned briefly in many books, including the “Official History of New Zealanders in the Royal Air Force,” in Max Lambert’s more recent “Night After Night, New Zealanders in Bomber Command.” He is also mention in several Canadian War memoirs, including “Lone Survivor” & “Three Stripes and Four Brownings” by Bill Jackson RCAF.
Recently, I decided to start work on the manuscript again and make available an eBook edition. I’ve divided it up into more manageable chapters and corrected some spelling.
Details – The book is instantly downloadable as a pdf and readable on any Computer or Device.
It is currently 121 pages long, over 58,000 words and divided into 30 chapters.
You can purchase the eBook via the secure servers of either PayPal or Stripe, the worlds largest Online Credit card processor.
The Price … currently just US$9
Download an Extract Chapter
Download Extract 1 – Flying the Short Stirling
Download Extract 2 – Night Raid on Genoa
Purchase the full Edition 2 pdf version.
Please contact me with any questions, via my main website