WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Book Review: Committed to Escape: a NZ soldier’s story

This story chronicles Daniel Riddford’s escape as a prisoner of war during the second World War.

Riddiford was a member of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force at the invasion of Libya in November 1941. His high hopes of adventure ended with capture.

The book describes the two years of his life from his capture (Sidi Rezegh, North Africa) in November 1941 until his freedom in December 1943 (Bari).

He was interred in six prison camps across three countries. He changed his identity twice and made two escapes.

His third attempt, when he disguised himself as a Frenchman, escaping from the Austrian camp of Spittal, was successful.

Further adventures followed in the mountains of Northern Italy and at the hands of the Partisans in Yugoslavia.

For his efforts in helping to lead a large group of Escaped POWs through Yugoslavia to freedom, Riddiford was awarded the Military Cross.

Committed to Escape was written on his return to New Zealand after the war. The prevailing post-war attitude was to forget about one’s war experiences and get on with life. So it is only now, 60 years later, and through the efforts of his wife, Yvonne, that we are able to share in his experiences and the heroism of those times.

This mixed group of POWs, British, South African, an Indian, fellow New Zealanders as well as Italians develop over their journey to freedom a unique esprit de corps The hope, guile, disappointment, determination and frustration of seeking freedom together with language variables, make for enjoyable reading.

More importantly his story enables, not merely his family, but all New Zealanders to appreciate his contribution to peace and justice in a place far removed from his own. (Ruamahanga Press RRP $29.95 plus $4.50 p & p.)

ruamahangapress@wise.net.nz