Soldier-author’s ‘passionate’ wartime book republished

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THE story of a soldier-author from Hull, one of the many thousands who never made it home after the end of the Second World War, is republished today.

Faber Finds has reissued The Trap at the request of Dan Billany’s niece Jodi Weston Brake, who is still trying to find out more about what happened to her uncle, who went missing after going on the run from a prisoner of war camp in Italy.

Billany was born into poverty on Hull’s Hessle Road but managed to get into college, later becoming a teacher and author.

A lieutenant in the Second World War, he was captured with hundreds of others in North Africa by the Germans on June 1, 1942.

Biographer Valerie Reeves, who has been a fan ever since reading his story the Magic Door as a child, said: “He is an outstanding writer who deserves to be better known. The Trap is considered one of the best books to come out of World War Two.”

After the fall of Mussolini in 1943, Billany and his friend David Dowie were set free and tried to head south to the British lines. The manuscript for The Trap and another book The Cage were left in 13 scruffy exercise books in the safe-keeping of an Italian family, who kept their promise to post them home at the end of the War. They were published after his father Harry, who for years refused to accept his son was dead, approached Faber.