Zero Night: The Most Daring Great Escape of World War II
Mark Felton

Zero Night: The Most Daring Great Escape of World War II

On the night of 30 August 1942, “Zero Night” as the escapers called it, almost 50 British officers staged the boldest and riskiest mass escape from a German prisoner-of-war camp during World War II. It was the first ‘great escape’ and instead of tunnelling, the British boldly went over the huge perimeter fences.

‘Operation Olympia’ would see a mass escape led by a small group of tremendously brave and resourceful young army, navy and RAF officers. The prisoners at Oflag VI B Warburg, Germany’s largest officers camp, set in motion what fellow prisoner and fighter ace Douglas Bader called ‘the most brilliant escape conception of this war.’

Working in secret, they created a complex and daring plan, manufactured civilian clothing and designed and built huge wooden scaling contraptions. After weeks of secret training, four teams of officers charged the camp’s double perimeter fences armed with the ingenious climbing contraptions and set about launching the boldest escape the Germans had yet seen.

Backed by a carefully planned deception campaign involving another fifty prisoners, months of meticulous planning hung in the balance during three minutes of mayhem and confusion. The prisoners managed to scramble over the extensive barbed wire fences and ran off into the darkness pursued by German bullets. Some stayed gone for over ten days, having extraordinary adventures before being recaptured, while three made a ‘home run’ to England, the same number as in the more famous ‘Great Escape’ in 1944.

Zero Night tells the incredible and forgotten story of the ‘first great escape’.

Zero Night is:

  • Narrative- and character-driven true history.
  • A compelling story of British wartime bravery, amazing ingenuity and incredible, even reckless, daring and courage.

A tense and dramatic story that builds up to the climactic mass escape and evasion that is guaranteed to enthrall and entertain readers.

Book Details:

  • Author: Mark Felton
  • Published Year: 2014
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: Icon
    • US: St Martin's Press

Mark Felton

Being born in the army garrison town of Colchester in 1974, it was perhaps inevitable that Mark Felton should develop an interest in military history. After university and a stint in the civil service he later gained a master’s degree and a PhD at the University of Essex. After working as a university lecturer he moved with his wife to China in 2005 where he  continued to teach. He has authored over a dozen books, many receiving national and international attention and also writes regularly for several major history magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. After living and wor...
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Book Reviews

  • "A fresh light on the POW escape, focussing on the individual stories and characters to create a real’ great escape’"
    Military History
  • "rip-roaring …Telling this remarkable story in full for the first time, historian Felton evokes the suspense of the escape itself and the adventures of those who eluded the Germans, as well as the courage of the civilians who risked their lives to help them in enemy territory. "
    Business Standard
  • "The story is told here for the first time in all its ingenious detail and it is a well told by Felton who builds the suspense to such a palpable level that one is seriously cheering on these guys out loud to an empty room.   "
    http://www.elocal.co.nz
  • "Fans of the film The Great Escape (and frankly who isn’t?)  will love this book…This is undeniably history as it should be told and a thundering good read.'"
    History of War Magazine
  • "Fans of the film The Great Escape (and frankly who isn’t?) will love this book… This is undeniably history as it should be told and a thundering good read."
    History of War magazine
  • "A page-turner about one particularly daring escape from a Nazi POW camp during World War II… What makes this story particularly absorbing is the author’s use of diaries and interviews to re-create dialogue… The author grippingly tracks the evaders’ trek to freedom, an event that would warrant a book in itself. Even the epilogue will bring a smile. In this exciting book, Felton has captivatingly captured the bravery of the prisoners."
    Kirkus Reviews
  • " ...a page-turner about one particularly daring escape from a Nazi POW camp during World War II….What makes this story particularly absorbing is the author’s use of diaries and interviews to re-create dialogue….The author grippingly tracks the evaders’ trek to freedom, an event that would warrant a book in itself. Even the epilogue will bring a smile. In this exciting book, Felton has captivatingly captured the bravery of the prisoners."
    Kirkus
  • "Drawing heavily on the memoirs of the men involved, Felton has produced a tightly written, dramatic account... a great read, and possibly useful as a means of introducing a young adult to the history of World War II.  "
    The Strategy Page
  • "Drawing heavily on the memoirs of the men involved, Felton has produced a tightly written, dramatic account... a great read, and possibly useful as a means of introducing a young adult to the history of World War II.  "
    The Strategy Page
  • "Zero Night,” diligently assembled by Mr. Felton, are engrossing enough to keep readers reading through to the end...Films like “The Great Escape” and “Von Ryan’s Express” are fun escapist (no pun intended) fare. But a book like “Zero Night” reminds us that the real Allied escapees were often far more enthralling and admirable than those movies’ characters could ever be."
    Wall Street Journal
  • "...an exciting and intimate story, keeps you reading to the end."
    Galveston Daily News
  • "Felton’s book is nothing short of a thriller, where the plot is laid out, preparation progresses stage-by-stage and finally brought to fruition."
    Gulf News
  • "Zero Night is a fascinating recount of this lesser known escape story, and would appeal to a wide range of readers. Written in the tradition of other great World War II escape stories by authors such as Eric Williams and Paul Brickhill, Felton’s Zero Night is the first book to recount this escape story in detail. This was a book that the reviewer found very hard to put down. "
    News Weekly