'In these pages lies the story of a brave young Australian fighter pilot who, on August 19, 1944, launched from the British aircraft carrier His Majesty's Ship (HMS) Searcher to do his duty. He epitomised a generation who knew what freedom was, and were willing to give their all to keep it... An extraordinary journey indeed indeed' - Commodore Chris J Smallhorn, Commander Fleet Air Arm
This is the story of Fred Sherborne, a young Australian fighter pilot in World War II, shot down in August 1944, between Châteaurenard and Avignon, in the South of France. It is a story about the pursuit of his identity by French locals who wished to uncover the story of this man, and others, who fought for them, in the skies above their land.
It is a heady mixture of memories, tales passed down, and bonds formed between an unidentified Allied fighter pilot who, confusingly, wore a Canadian pilot's jump suit and bore a French-sounding name, but didn't speak French, and the French civilians who would risk their lives to save him.
As luck would have it, those who found him in this Vichy region rife with German collaborators were farmers who were sympathetic to la Resistance. One particular man, Marcel Bellin, outside the town of Châteaurenard, secreted him away, outside the last grasps of German occupation.
This is the story of how, nearly sixty years later, the truth of this rescue - following devastating misinformation that Sherborne took to his grave, filling him with misplaced guilt - finally came to light.
The book accompanies an official exhibition at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, the naval air station HMAS Albatross, near Nowra, New South Wales, where parts of Commander Fred Sherborne's Wildcat V aeroplane are on display along with other artefacts from the story.