Paul Brickhill

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search

Paul Chester Jerome Brickhill (20 December 1916 – 23 April 1991) was an Australian fighter pilot, prisoner of war and author who wrote The Great Escape, The Dam Busters, and Reach for the Sky.


Brickhill was born in Melbourne, Australia and educated at North Sydney Boys High School. Afterwards, he worked as a journalist.

During World War II he joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Under the Empire Air Training Scheme, Brickhill undertook advanced training as a fighter pilot in Canada and the United Kingdom, before being assigned to No. 92 Squadron RAF, a Spitfire unit with the Desert Air Force. In 1943, he was shot down over Tunisia and became a prisoner of war.

While imprisoned at Stalag Luft III, in Germany, Brickhill was involved in an elaborate mass escape attempt. He did not take part in tunnelling or the escape itself, due to claustrophobia.

On D-Day, while still in captivity, Brickhill heard on German radio of two huge Allied armadas heading towards Cap d'Antifer and Calais. In fact these were diversions created by No. 617 Squadron RAF to fool the Germans, a fact he learned months later.

After the war, Brickhill wrote the first major account of the escape in The Great Escape (1950), bringing the incident to a wide public attention. He went on to write two other best-selling war books: The Dam Busters, the story of Operation Chastise and the destruction of dams in the Ruhr valley by No. 617 Squadron, and Reach for the Sky, the story of Battle of Britain ace Douglas Bader.

Brickhill died in 1991, aged 74.


  • Escape to Danger (with Conrad Norton). London: Faber and Faber, 1946.
  • The Great Escape. New York: Norton, 1950.
  • The Dam Busters. London: Evans, 1951.
  • Escape – Or Die: Authentic Stories of the R.A.F. Escaping Society. London: Evans, 1952.
  • Reach for the Sky: The Story of Douglas Bader DSO, DFC. London: Collins, 1954.
  • The Deadline. London: Collins, 1962.
  • Three Great Air Stories. London: Collins, 1970.

Film adaptations

Three books by Brickhill were made into feature films: The Dam Busters (1955), Reach for the Sky (1956), and The Great Escape (1963).


  • "Brickhill, Paul Chester Jerome 1916–1991." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, 69: 68–69.

External links