Book Review: Beyond the Call: The True Story of One World War II Pilot’s Covert Mission to Rescue POWs on the Eastern Front by Lee Trimble with Jeremy Dronfield
“It was a horrific time of my life. I don’t know if I can talk about it even now. I saw atrocities. I saw the worst in people. I was deceived into going there—misled and lied to by my own people.” Robert Trimble
Another great story of the war behind the headlines of World War II. Gripping tale of a bomber pilot who volunteered for a mission then discovered he was actually sent to do another. Well told with sufficient background and detail to draw the reader in. I read it in less than two days. Maps and photographs document the story.
“They [the ex-POWs] heeded assistance, guidance, reassurance. Somebody need to be out there, helping to bring them to safety. Somebody was. One man was out there alone; one man whose sole purpose was to get the Americans home. And not just Americans: all the stray people from the free world were his concern.”
Unlike many Office of Strategic Services operatives, Captain Robert Trimble went into Poland with no training and only a flimsy cover story. He did that mission well, even as it swelled. That the Russians lied should surprise no one; that American diplomats and senior military contrived with them should sadden us all.
“It was to be a while … before Robert discovered the full extent to which both he and Colonel Helton had been lied to.”
Eventually he saved hundreds of Americans and allies—many of them slave labor civilians—but in the end was snubbed and discarded by his own leadership. As bad as the horrors of the Nazis were—and Trimble saw the death camps—what the Russians did to the Americans, Allies, Poles and even their own people staggers the imagination.
“Poltava Air Base looked like Hell with everyone out to lunch.”
While based on the author’s conversations with his father, internal evidence suggests this is more historical fiction than exact history. Undoubtedly this happened; the conversations and action occasionally seems contrived.
“Appeasement from weakness and fear is alike futile and fatal. Appeasement from strength is magnanimous and noble and might be the surest and perhaps only path to world peace.” Winston Churchill