Many of us are familiar with the story or film ‘Operation Jericho’, the Mosquito attack on Amiens prison in February 1944 which demolished parts of the prison walls thus enabling French Resistance fighters jailed there to escape. The raid was called for by the French Resistance as some 200 prisoners were about to be executed by the Germans. The raid successfully blew three holes in the walls and more than 250 prisoners did indeed escape. A message was later sent congratulating the RAF on the success of the raid.
And then it all starts to unravel!
This new Red Kite publication by French author Dr Jean-Pierre Ducellier (and edited by Simon W Parry) looks very closely at this raid and at first tells the basis of the tale with which we are familiar. Dr Jean-Pierre Ducellier is a native of the Amiens area and his interest in the story led to his own research. Upon entry into the archives in France and later, England, Dr Ducellier quickly began to uncover a number of discrepancies from the official story, upon which the books and the film were based. More intensive research revealed some strange occurrences - some files had been destroyed and others removed from the National Archives. Origins of the request for the mission did not, it seems, come from the French Resistance, nor apparently did the congratulatory message. Without giving away anything, this book presents much stimulating information concerning the raid, its planners and its participants, its results and its subsequent shroud of mystery. It is a great read and puts forward a new and plausible possibility for the bombing of the prison, which suggests saving the Resistance fighters from execution was not the reason. So what was it? It may surprise you, but it’s entirely plausible.
It’s a heavy (weight wise) 392 page book, due to the glossy stock which reproduces the photographs and diagrams brilliantly. Impressive, without a doubt! Interesting, certainly! The research has been extensive. The facts are all laid out, extensively illustrated and a new ‘theory’ put forward with sound reasoning (or is it carefully considered assumptions?). It might be considered somewhat akin to a conspiracy theory perhaps, but its still fascinating reading, nevertheless. Highly recommended.
This hardback book is available from Hyland’s Bookshop in Melbourne (03 9654 7448 or www.hylandsbookshop.com.au) for about $80.
Many thanks to Ms Orietta Colussi of DLS Australia Pty Ltd for the review copy.
Review by John Baxter