During the pandemic of World War 1 in 1918, the last place you would want to be was in Germany, in a German Prison Camp behind German lines, where the flu pandemic broke out. Yet, that was exactly where James Norman Hall was.
James Norman Hall is the author of my Listen2Read Audiobook “High Adventure,” his memoir of his dangerous time as a pilot during World War 1.
He became a German prisoner because of a major defect in the Nieuport Type 128 bi-plane he was flying on a mission for the French Lafayette Flying Corp., the first Military Air Force in history, predating the US Air Force.
Hall was among the first pilots to engage in air-to-air dogfights, aerial battles, bombing runs and enemy surveillance. Hall volunteered before the United States became involved in World War 1.
PLANE’S DEFECT DISCOVERED TOO LATE
The defect in Hall’s plane was that it was completely made of fabric and, under the pressure of flight maneuvers, the fabric began to tear and come apart while the plane was high in the sky. Without the surfaces for airflow, there was nothing to keep the plane in the air!
Hall saw his plane tearing apart as he flew. He tried to maintain a course to safety, but the plane’s surface was rapidly disappearing and he was loosing altitude, flying lower and lower. Suddenly, an anti aircraft shell hit his plane and he crash-landed behind German enemy lines. The landing gear was sheered off, but the fuselage landed right side up.
WITNESS TO INFLUENZA FUNERALS
Pulling himself out of the wreckage Hall was captured by German soldiers and taken to a German hospital. Weeks later, Hall and some other prisoners were sent to a German prison camp near Landshutt to attend the funeral of French infantrymen killed by the influenza epidemic infecting German camps. It was a dramatic reminder of how vulnerable to the flu he was.
1918 INFLUENZA IN THE UNITED STATES
The flu had reached the United States earlier in the year when an Army private reported symptoms at Fort Riley, Kansas. It was part of a world wide epidemic and back in Germany Hall was in the center of it.
But then, on November 11, the Armistice was signed and the war was suddenly over everywhere except inside the German prison camp. Hall and other captured Americans worried that the pandemic would kill them, after the war ended but before they were released. They tried to convince the Germans to release them since the war was over and peace had been declared. At first, they had little success.
AMERICAN PRISONERS “ESCAPE”
Then something remarkable happened. The German officer in charge, Herr Pastor, gathered the Americans together and told them they were free to leave. It was theoretically an “escape,” but they would not be pursued. The men were given instructions on how to reach the Swiss border. And just like that James Norman Hall, Prisoner of War, was a free man.
James Norman Hall wrote of his World War 1 flying experiences in his book, “High Adventure,” which I have published as an audio book, narrated by Andre Devin.
“High Adventure” by James Norman Hall is available for download throughout the English speaking world. Here’s a link: https://www.audiobooks.com/audiobook/379332/?
It is also available from Audible.com, I-Tunes.com, Applebooks.com, Googlebooks.com, Scribed.com, Tunein.com.
“High Adventure” and my other audiobooks are available for free from public libraries subscribing to the Overdrive and Hoopla systems.
I pleased that teachers are using my promotional videos as teaching aids. Since the videos are all posted on YouTube they are easily available for home study.
There is a video for every audiobook in the American Adventure Library with historical pictures and excerpts from the audiobook students can listen to. Teachers can find them all at Listen2Read.com and are free to use them as home teaching aids.
I feel very close to our Listen 2 Read audiobook community and hope everyone follows all the rules suggested by the CDC in these difficult times. Please keep yourself very safe.
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