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Edward Howell

Edward Howell, author of 'Escape to Live.'

A former fighter pilot, Wing Commander Edward Howell became a best-selling author after the Second World War. His book, Escape to live, charted the story of his remarkable escape from a German prisoner-of-war hospital in Thessalonica in 1942. He was the central character in the BBC Television series Deliverance, screened some years ago. The production retraced his footsteps over the mountains of northern Greece, a journey he had previously undertaken with more purpose and no television cameras, during his daring wartime escape from Greece.

He had been seriously wounded after a ground fight in Crete, where two bullets shattered his left shoulder and fractured the humerus near the joint. Half his right forearm was missing, including some inches of the radius, and he was left for dead before being picked up by German paratroopers and taken to a prison camp hospital in Greece.

Howell later told of his experience of faith—letting God tell him what to do, during which he admitted to ‘receiving constant instruction’—before eventually escaping through the Greek mountains, boarding a smugglers’ boat from Mount Athos, the Holy Mountain, to Turkey and then Egypt, and latterly back home again with the help of shepherds and villagers he had befriended. He revealed how a star became his guide and his horrific wounds healed overnight.

After his escape from Greece and his eventual return to the UK, he was appointed to the Air Staff in Whitehall as a wing commander in 1943, working closely with the inventor Barnes Wallis in the development of the new bombs to attack hard targets. He later served on the planning staff of D-Day and ended the war on the Joint Staff Mission at the Pentagon in Washington. In 1948 he was invalided to the retired list of the RAF as a wing commander.

Howell worked for many years in the programme of Moral Re-Armament for reconciliation and change in Europe and Asia and helped to organise and direct international conferences in Switzerland and the US.

He retired in 1974 to the family home in St Andrews and acted for a time as development consultant to St Andrews University. Also, following a life-time interest in the Bible, he spent a number of years writing his own reflections on St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. Entitled Reading in Romans, it was printed privately in 1993.

Taken from an obituary published in The Scotsman, 23 August 2000. A similar obituary appeared in The Herald, Glasgow, on 12 August 2000, written by Douglas Millar.

Death year
United Kingdom
Primary country of residence
United Kingdom