A new and extraordinary book…

Last week I took delivery of a book from Holland…a book of the memoirs of Charles Boyd Woehrle written by Ben van Drogenbroek and Steve Martin. Its title is

The Camera Became My Passport Home

It’s phenomenal and a real labour of love! The wealth of detail, the range of topics covered, the volume of photographs and overall presentation is staggering. Clearly, I’ve not read it all as yet and, to be honest, it’s going to take a long time to do so. However, I wanted to give my first impressions for anyone thinking of buying a copy.

It’s a large and heavy book – well made and bound with the printing on semi matte paper – so readers might prefer to sit at a table to read it rather than have it on their knees.

Although these are memoirs of Charles there are also details and mini-biographies about other airmen as well as details about various Germans who were important to the story.

Camp life is covered in fascinating detail from the minutiae of daily life to the overt and covert activities of the camp – the theatre, for example, with photos and descriptions of the performances and actors – down to the details of the uses of Klim and sardine tins. All totally fascinating and engrossing!

Ben and Steve are to be congratulated on their dedication in collecting artifacts, photos, drawings etc and writing about them in such an informed and interesting manner. It’s going to take me a long time to read it…with over 600 pages. It has an extensive index, which is very useful and a range of footnotes to add further detail to the already detailed text.

I was also fascinated to be able to read and see the work of the forgers with ‘work in progress’ photographs of partially completed documents as well as a range of photos I’d never seen before. Seeing the exact location of the hut in which my father was living before he was sent off to Heydekrug and the way in which the camp grew over time helped me immensely to appreciate the sheer size of the place.

Finally, each copy comes with autographs of the men involved with the writing of the book and each is a numbered copy. This book, I’m sure, will also become a treasured heirloom for those who purchase it. To those whose forbears were incarcerated in Stalag Luft III for any length of time at all… this book is an absolute treasure trove of information.

To Ben and Steve who set themselves the task of writing it… well done! It’s available from Ben van Drogenbroek and if you put his name into Google you’ll be able to find him. He’s also on Facebook. It’s not cheap, it’s a privately printed book that’s worth its weight in gold, though!


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