Occupied France, 1944-The End Game
Author: Stuart Nimmo
Review by: Joseph J. Gleason
I absolutely thoroughly enjoyed this extremely well composed narration which really captivated me from beginning to end. There is every reason why this would make an excellent movie. I only wish I had read Perilous Moon sooner and I honestly think it has inspired me to return to Paris and the surrounding towns of France with my new insight into activities of the resistance movement as seen through the eyes of Neil Nimmo. I now feel as though I have not seen Paris at all. Buildings used as safe houses for downed airmen and Nazi meeting places were silent about their past during my visits. There were no lingering signs of the intense dramas that had played out in the streets as the SS routinely stopped and harassed the citizenry, threatening severe retribution upon those who failed to cooperate in their efforts to capture the downed RAF airmen. Neil Nimmo’s son Stuart artfully takes us through that journey of a lifetime.
Stuart Nimmo not only opened a new window on France for me but pulled back the shades and opened the blinds that were intentionally closed by successive political leaders for the past sixty nine years as France struggled to keep a tight lid on the truth about how divided the population had become in the fog of war during the Nazi occupation.
Clearly rare black and white photos that expressively depict the interaction between the occupying military and the civilian population add a third dimension bringing the reader directly into each scene with perfect placement and timing. This book reads like a symphony of sight.
The author sets the opening scenes after an artfully crafted character development of both RAF pilot Neill Nimmo and the Luftwaffe’s Unteroffizeir Helmut Bergmann by describing the hazards of flying the Lancaster night missions against the Messerschmitt Bf 110 3s+FSs while fully illuminated by radar guided searchlights and flak. Any pilot could appreciate that intensity.
The younger generation will have viewed films or read about the Allied Force invasions launched upon the beaches of France, but the heroism of the RAF pilots in executing the vital missions that cut off railroad lines and destroyed factories that had been converted to repurpose Nazi captured booty has been grossly understated. These were the men who were thrust into nearly suicidal conditions in a desperate attempt to sever the head of the snake.
Neil Nimmo was one of those who were forced to bail out of their burning aircraft still loaded down with live ammunition and parachute into captured territory aided by key members of the resistance movement and how and where they were in play behind the scenes awaiting repatriation and gathering momentum against a faltering regime. The story uncovers the fragile crumbling support for communism and Nazi control that was evolving in and around Paris as the business of the people appeared to continue despite unannounced searches and nightly curfews.
This is one book I will recommend to several of my friends and not only those who have an interest in the numerous back stories that have evolved since the end of World War II, but to the casual visitors to Paris and the areas along the route from Abbeville to Amiens as well as Calais.
If there is an opportunity to draft this story as a movie script, it deserves full consideration.
Review by: Joseph J. Gleason