Author(s): Suzanne Campbell-Jones
After a lifetime in the RAF, Group Captain Bob Allen, finally allowed his children and grandchildren to see his official flying log. It contained the line: 'KILLED WHILST ON OPERATIONS'. He refused to answer any further questions, leaving instead a memoir of his life during World War II. Joining up aged 19, within six months he was in No.1 Squadron flying a Hurricane in a dog fight over the Channel. For almost two years he lived in West Africa, fighting Germany's Vichy French allies, as well as protecting the Southern Atlantic supply routes. Returning home at Christmas 1942, he retrained as a fighter-bomber pilot flying Typhoons and was one of the first over the Normandy beaches on D-Day. On 25 July 1944 Bob was shot down, spending the rest of the war in a POW camp where he was held in solitary confinement, interrogated by the Gestapo and imprisoned in the infamous Stalag Luft 3 and suffered the winter march of 1945 before being liberated by the Russians. Fleshing out Bob's careful third-person memoir with detailed research, his daughter Suzanne Campbell Jones tells the gripping story of a more or less ordinary man, who came home with extraordinary memories which he kept to himself for more than 50 years.
The compelling, previously unknown story of the wartime adventures of Bob Allen: pilot, aerial photographer and prisoner of war - a remarkable man who had served his country across the world from Africa to Europe during World War II.
For most of her working life Suzanne Campbell Jones has been a film director, writing and producing documentaries for television. These include 'Battle for Britain' a 75-minute documentary for ITV to commemorate the 50th anniversary of that event. Suzanne started out as an anthropologist and her Ph.D about communities of Roman Catholic nuns was published as 'In Habit'. While writing No Ordinary Pilot she has researched archives in Britain and abroad: visited grass airfields in Normandy, met the curators of the Sagan Museum in Poland, followed the path of prisoners on the run in Germany and sought to fill the gaps in the source - her father's memoir.