Escape! Raney, O’Brien and the Race to Freedom!

Posted by on January 10, 2009


Do you remember the Band of Brothers series that was on HBO a few years ago?  Widely acclaimed, it was about an airborne unit in Normandy during World War II.  It was fantastically popular!  However, when is the last time you saw or heard anything about World War I in the same light? 

This is what I’ve noticed, at least to me.  World War I is slipping away.  Sure, many know the dry facts and knowledge about the war, some of the battles, the trench warfare, etc.  But what many people are missing is what made Band of Brothers so popular:  The human aspect.  The guy next door, the ambulance drivers, everyday life.  We don’t see that much about the Great War….

However, today, we are going to change that by examining an exciting tale of heroism, filled with knee-buckling excitement and adventure!  



Many Americans in World War I were not content to stand by the sidelines while the war was going on.  Pat O’Brien was one of them.  Going across the Atlantic, he served in the Royal Flying Corps and flew with his unit on the front lines, starting in 1917.  It was not easy duty, as many that flew were either killed or wounded.  He did however, meet someone:  Paul Raney, a Canadian serving much like O’Brien.  They became fast friends. 



On a mission over Germany in August, becoming involved in a dogfight with the Germans, O’Brien was shot down:



Raney saw that O’Brien had been shot down and later, many think in flying back and looking for O’Brien, got killed himself.  Said O’Brien:



O’Brien’s tales during his capture and daily events as a prisoner are ones that we don’t hear much about from World War I.  We go on to learn about his eventual escape, trip through Luxembourg and visit with British royalty after making his way back to Britain:



The rest of this fascinating account is available to you now via Google Books.  See the link below for the direct download or read online.  Learn more about his capture, trip to Courtrai, his dealings with his captors, and eventual escape!



Have a great weekend!


Paul Hartley Raney – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Harper’s Pictorial Library of the World War

Paul Hartley Raney


(1) LOC, Prints & Photographs Division

(2) LOC, Prints & Photographs Division

(3) Outwitting the Hun, O’Brien (Google Books)

(4) Outwitting the Hun, O’Brien (Google Books)

(5) Outwitting the Hun, O’Brien (Google Books)

(6) NARA

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