BROKEN DREAMS – Review by Mark Barnes

Our friends at Narwal are known for their unique style and spirit which I have told you before is quite infectious. This latest book from their stable continues the methodology using a difficult to execute device to tell the story and happily the authors manage it with aplomb.

This is the story of a Douglas DC-3 built in Oklahoma City that entered into USAAF service in 1945, too late to take part in any significant events from the European war, but went on to have a sterling career with the French Air Force and Air France before being passed down through a succession of smaller operators.

The aircraft operated in Europe and Africa right up until the end of 1970s but in 1981 it was severely damaged during a storm and ended up mounted on a pole at the Victory Memorial Museum in Belgium where it was painted to represent a D-Day aircraft complete with invasion stripes and a fictitious serial number. The DC-3 stayed at the museum until 2002 when it was being transported by road when it was badly damaged in an accident. After a number of other adventures the remains of the aircraft were dismantled and at this point our Dakota Hunter friend Hans Wiesman enters the story.  I hope you are all reading his blogs on WHO!

This fiercely individualistic book is a great deal of fun and a very nice read. The photographs are up to the high standards we expect from Narwal and the look of it is very appealing.  While I enjoyed it immensely I would seriously suggest it is perfect for youngsters with a strong interest in aviation. This book makes learning fun and if this was a specific intention of the authors she they have been very clever. Whatever the motivation is a simple piece of very good storytelling.

Ok, Broken Dreams is a book about a plane, right? Yes and no. The book is really a story about people. We meet the ladies who built DC-3s and the people who flew them during the classic post war era. A good number of people directly involved with the aircraft throughout its life appear and the result is a very rewarding and tangible piece of history. It is unusual, but that is the point and I have to say it charmed me from first to last.

I really like this book and I am especially pleased the Narwal chaps managed to sneak in a photo of a Renault 4 van.  In addition the book offers a different perspective of the work of our friend Hans Wiesman and that is pretty cool.  Suzanne van Leendert is a documentary maker and her film of the book is also available.  Double prizes!

Reviewed by Mark Barnes for War History Online

The Story of a Unique Dakota Told By the Old Lady Herself
Written by Suzanne van Leendert and Barry McCabe
Narwal Publishers, ‘s Hertogenbosch, 2015
ISBN: 978 90 817110 5 0

Mark Barnes

Mark Barnes is a longstanding friend of WHO, providing features, photography and reviews. He has contributed to The Times of London and other publications. He is the author of The Liberation of Europe (pub 2016) and If War Should Come due later in 2020.