Savage Will

Savage Will

The Daring Escape of Americans Trapped Behind Nazi Lines

Additional Formats
  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 9780451419132
  • 352 Pages
  • NAL
  • Adult


Savage Will brings to life a remarkable story of perseverance, heroism, and survival: the true tale of the American medics and nurses who endured two months in Nazi-occupied Albania—and the fearless citizens and Allied intelligence officers who risked all to save them.

On a cold morning in war-ravaged Sicily in 1943, men and women of the 807th Medical Air Evacuation Squadron boarded a routine flight to the Italian mainland to care for wounded soldiers. En route, their plane became lost in storm clouds looming over the Adriatic Sea, drifted hundreds of miles off course, and crash-landed in remote mountainous Albania.

Stranded without proper winter clothing or weapons, the Americans were trapped hundreds blizzard-plagued miles from Allied lines in a country torn apart by rival bands of pro- and anti-German guerrillas.

What followed is the most thrilling untold story of World War II—a saga that would ensnare a cast of hundreds, from President Roosevelt and top Allied intelligence officials to a host of brave Albanian Resistance fighters, the British and U.S. Mediterranean air forces, and the gritty officers sent behind enemy lines to rescue them: a dashing English lieutenant and a tenacious American captain.

Hunted by German soldiers, the American castaways were forced to rely on what one survivor called their “savage will” to elude their enemy and ultimately find their way to freedom. Savage Will is a testament to a generation who defied all odds.


“Amazing… Timothy M. Gay’s book informs us of the courage and ‘savage will’ of the men and women of the 807th Medical Air Evacuation Squadron after their Dakota C-53 aircraft crashed-landed in Nazi-held Albania, 850 miles from Allied lines…. As this was one of the rare cases of women being trapped behind enemy lines, the British SOE and the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS), along with the Allied air forces, put together a desperate rescue mission to get the nurses and medics out of Albania. Looking over their shoulders with impatience were FDR and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill…. This interesting, well-researched story reads like a thriller, and I suspect, like Argo, it would make an interesting movie.” —The Washington Times

“New and surprising… will shed light on an area you have likely heard little about, and it tells a fine story, worthy of cinematic adaptation.” —America in WWII

“Powerful, intriguing, well-researched, and fierce. Savage Will is a must-read espionage and survival story that will appeal to fans of military non-fiction everywhere. This is Argo meets Ernest Shackleton during WWII’s darkest days.”—Marcus Brotherton, Author of Shifty’s War

Savage Will is a wonderfully entertaining and moving story of survival, heroism, and escape, one of the best to emerge from World War II.”—Alex Kershaw, New York Times bestselling author of The Liberator


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