The Lost Airman Audio Book Review

The Lost Airman: A True Story of Escape from Nazi Occupied France

Authored by Seth Meyerowitz, Narrated by Peter F. Stevens

Audiobook, 9 hours and 36 minutes

Published by Recorded Books

Language: English

ASIN: B01A03G4R4

Staff Sergeant Arthur Meyerowitz was the flight engineer of B-24H 42-7754, named “Harmful Lil’ Armful”.  On only his second combat mission, Harmful Lil’ Armful was hit by German flak over Cognac.  The damaged Liberator was then singled out by Luftwaffe fighters and shot out of formation.  The nine- man crew were ordered to bail out over France.  Seven men got out successfully, five were captured, two killed.

Meyerowitz injured his back upon landing, but made his way to a French farmhouse.  Fortunately, the occupants had contacts within the French resistance, who spirited him away to Toulouse.  There the decision was taken to hide Meyerowitz in plain sight – he was to pose as a deaf-mute French laborer until he could be smuggled out of the country through Spain.

The story is worthy of a Hollywood thriller, full of narrow escapes and intrigue.  Almost too full at times.  The book was written by the grandson of Arthur Meyerowitz, who never met his grandfather.  Throughout the book I was left with the nagging feeling that everything was being played up a bit, and filled with details which the author could not have known.  Gestapo agents are on every corner, walking around in hobnail boots or riding around in armored halftracks, which apparently were not needed by Panzergrenadiers at the front.  As Arthur escaped across the Straights of Gibraltar in a Spanish fishing boat, the author repeatedly warns of the danger from lurking German U-boats, waiting at any moment to sink a neutral vessel in hopes of maybe preventing the escape of an American airman.  There are examples like this throughout the book which are a bit over the top for readers versed in military history.

The Liberator’s radio operator, Staff Sergeant Joseph Defranze, also evaded capture.  I would have liked to have known more about his evasion, and the ordeals of the five crewmembers captured by the Germans.  Meyerowitz also blames the Liberator’s pilot for bailing out ahead of his crew, something the author brings up repeatedly but which he admits is not mentioned in any of the crew’s debriefing records, not even his grandfather’s.

Overall, an interesting story, but it might have been told better.


8 thoughts on “The Lost Airman Audio Book Review

  1. If this audio book says it’s a true story, then it’s a discredit to the real history. I have had similar experiences in my research and it’s a disservice to those who served in WWII. If it says it’s part fictional then it’s fine although I would want to spend time reading it.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. There are numerous similar stories that were left untold. In my own humble opinion adding details that are not factual will distract any reader with even little knowledge of WWII.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. As I was raking the leaves in my backyard I was thinking if I should tell you the reason why I was so adamant about this.

        I was once befriended by a veteran rear gunner who had written a self-published biography. Little did I know he had made up many things. Another veteran was fuming about that when a publisher had decided to publish it and give it more visibility. Think about this for a moment. He had written he had fallen asleep in his turret several times as the trip was boring…
        He had written he had taken pictures of Halifax harbor during the war, got caught but nothing happened, he had dinner with J.A.D. McCurdy. In a veteran reunion after the war he said he had met General Jimmy Doolittle who stopped everything he was doing to greet him because they were both in North Africa in 1943. He made up that his pilot died when their plane crashed… Still alive in Canada in 1946.

        Another thing that made me wonder if Pierre Clostermann’s book Le Grand Cirque has such made up stories. In his second book Feux du ciel he talks about having met Buzz Beurling. I have checked the chronology of both and it didn’t match. Name droppings?

        Now you know why I had reacted to this story.


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