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Remembered Today:

The Road to EN-DOR


AthollHighlander

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AthollHighlander

Hello I've just found a book in a charity shop. Described as the "First World Wars most famous escape book". The author a young Welsh officer was one of the starving garrison of Kut-el-Amara which surrendered to the Turks. The plot centres on the use of an ouija board to deceive the Turk guards into believing he and a fellow prisoner were in touch with spirits to allow them the opportunity to escape. Has anyone out there read it? If not I'll give you my own verdict asap. First published in 1919 the edition I have by Pan was published in 1955.

Oh the road to En-Dor is the oldest road

and the craziest road of all

Straight it runs into the Witch's abode

As it did in the day of Saul

And nothing is changed of the sorrow in store

For such as go down on the road to En-Dor

(Rudyard Kipling)

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This is a copy of the review of "En-Dor" that I have on the Long, Long Trail:

One of the more famous memoirs about the escape in 1918 of two British officers (actually one Welsh and one Australian) from the Yozgad POW camp in Anatolia, Turkey. Jones masterminded an incredible effort that first persuaded his captors of the existence of what he calls a 'Spook' through use of a ouija board. The Spook went on to instruct the Turks to move the officers to Constantinople and to eventual freedom. The journey however necessitated the officers undergoing extreme deprivations, cruelty at the hands of the Turks, and indeed hanging themselves at one point. Extraordinary.

There are quite a few books about the experience of British POWs in Turkey. They include escapers tales such as Sir Thomas White's "Guests of the unspeakable", E.O.Mousley's "The secrets of a Kuttite", Johnson and Yearsley's "450 miles to freedom" and H.C.W.Bishop's "A Kut Prisoner", in addition to "The road to En-Dor". These, plus other accounts, paint a ghastly picture. The Turks inflicted appalling cruelty on their captives at Kut-al-Amara, for instance - for me, a still-unpunished war crime of some magnitude. The conditions in which prisoners were held were crude and squalid. Food was not provided, but "wages" were...and the POWs were allowed into the villages to buy what little food there was to be had. Thus it was not prison fences that bound the British, but the hundreds of miles of unfriendly, often mountainous terrain between the camps and freedom. The successful escapees were incredibly resourceful.

Lieutenants E.H.Jones and C.W.Hill perhaps more than most, for their escape took them well over a year of continuous and most complex deception. On face value, to obtain freedom by persuading your captors that you have been possessed and are mad (with your close enemy confidants being entirely satisfied that this is the work of a Spook who will eventually guide them to the buried treasure of a rich Armenian murdered by the Turks), sounds difficult enough. Doing this in the face of detailed examination by highly-qualified authorities, 24-hour observation and so on, for months on end..when you are starving, with dysentery, and mis-treated...is just beyond comprehension. The temptation is say 'to hell with this, I need some water' must have been there constantly.

Jones and Hill finally got away by being placed onto an exchange ship in October 1918. Ironically this was only weeks before their brother officers who had remained content to undertake not to escape, joined them in freedom.

I found The road to En-Dor quite fascinating. Hard reading at times, as the 'plot' was so complex, but unforgettable.

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  • 3 weeks later...
AthollHighlander
I found The road to En-Dor quite fascinating. Hard reading at times, as the 'plot' was so complex, but unforgettable.

Having now read the book I must admit I found the plot quite intense and at times a little bit exhausting. The fact they could have been home virtually at the same time 'biding their time' must have been a huge blow but they had done all they could. and more.

Written almost immediately after the whole experience I'm amazed at how matter of fact the author is with regard to the whole chain of events but it may reflect the mindset of the generation with the 'let's just get on and never mind complaining' attitude.

At the outset of the book you almost feel it could be set in a Public school 'dorm' (not that I've ever been in one) with guys from different wings trying to 'outspook' each other.

It is also an insight of the dabbling in this area that would become fashionable at the time with many grieving relatives trying to come to terms with their loss. How many were 'duped' will never be known but we can hope they were offered some closure and peace of mind, whether genuine or not.

Certainly worth a read but the plot needs careful attention as the 'spook' has plenty to say, and certainly confused me at times. You are left with an impression of the Turk personnel involved, including the commandant of the camp, being just a tad gullible, but then I don't speak Turk, or ever had a sniff of buried treasure, so who am I to judge !

Atholl

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Hello I've just found a book in a charity shop. Described as the "First World Wars most famous escape book". The author a young Welsh officer was one of the starving garrison of Kut-el-Amara which surrendered to the Turks. The plot centres on the use of an ouija board to deceive the Turk guards into believing he and a fellow prisoner were in touch with spirits to allow them the opportunity to escape. Has anyone out there read it? If not I'll give you my own verdict asap. First published in 1919 the edition I have by Pan was published in 1955.

Looks interesting and liked the reviews. Appears that it's to be republished, see

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1...4269947-7490003

But not until January 2005.

RObbie

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