The Dodger is the long-awaited story of Johnny Dodge, a wartime hero, the American-born cousin of Winston Churchill and a pivotal figure in the escapade immortalised in the legendary Hollywood film The Great Escape. Of all the Allied prisoners who broke out of Hermann Göring's 'escape proof' camp in the famous episode of March 1944, Johnny Dodge was the most intriguing.
When the Second World War broke out, he volunteered for the Army but was quickly captured after the debacle of Dunkirk. He became a prisoner of war and an inveterate escapologist and troublemaker - eventually becoming one of the ringleaders of the 'Great Escape'.
Surviving the murderous Gestapo, he was thrown into a VIP compound of Sachsenhausen concentration camp on the orders of Heinrich Himmler - but escaped once more. After recapture, Johnny was spirited away by the SS to a meeting in Berlin with Hitler's interpreter, who sent him on a clandestine mission to his cousin in Downing Street. His odyssey through the dying embers of the Third Reich to Switzerland and freedom in the company of a louche Nazi apparatchik is the last curious escapade in the story of Johnny's adventurous life. The Dodger draws upon Dodge's voluminous private papers, including photographs taken inside prison camps and letters home, casting revealing new light on the myth of the Great Escape.
Tim Carroll is a national newspaper journalist and television producer. He is the author of The Great Escapers: The Full Story of the Second World War's Most Remarkable Mass Escape and was co-author of In Hitler's Bunker: A Boy Soldier's Eyewitness Account of the Führer's Last Days. He is married with two children and lives in London.