Philip Newman, a British army surgeon left behind after the evacuation from Dunkirk, spent his time as a prisoner of war in France, then Germany, treating the wounded and sick - and planning to escape. After several failed attempts he got out over the wire and journeyed for weeks as a fugitive from northern France to Marseilles, then across the Pyrenees to Spain and Gibraltar and freedom. He was guided along the way by French civilians, resistance fighters and the organizers of the famous Pat escape line. His straightforward, honest and vivid memoir of his work as a surgeon at Dunkirk, life in the prison camps and his escape attempts gives a fascinating insight into his wartime experience. It records the ingenuity and courage of the individuals, the ordinary men and women, who risked their lives to help him on his way. It is also one of the best accounts we have of what it was like to be on the run in occupied Europe
At the outbreak of the Second World War Philip Newman was posted as a surgical specialist to the 12th Casualty Clearing Station. His unit went to France with the British Expeditionary Force and ended up in Dunkirk in May 1940. For ten days before the port was captured, he worked in an emergency surgical unit treating the wounded from the retreating British and French armies. He stayed on as the senior officer in charge of the patients who were too seriously injured to be evacuated and was awarded the DSO. He was held as a prisoner of war in Belgium, France and Germany for twenty months, then escaped through France, Spain and Gibraltar, arriving back in England in May 1942 and was awarded the MC. He returned to the continent in June 1944 serving as a surgeon with the British army during the campaign to liberate Europe from Nazi occupation. After the war he continued to practice as an orthopaedic surgeon at The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and at The Middlesex Hospital in London, where in 1962 he operated on Sir Winston Churchill for a fractured femur. Before retiring in 1976 he became president of The British Orthopaedic Association. In retirement he wrote this remarkable memoir, as a tribute to the French patriots who had aided his escape. It was originally published in 1983 under the title Safer Than a Known Way. Philip Newman died in 1994.