The incredible story of Gyles Mackrell and his Burmese, elephant-assisted wartime rescue mission.
In the summer of 1942, Gyles Mackrell – a decorated First World War pilot and tea plantation overseer, performed a series of heroic rescues in the hellish jungles of Japanese-occupied Burma – with the aid of twenty elephants.
At the age of 53, Mackrell went into the 'green hell' of the Chaukan Pass on the border of North Burma and Assam. Here, Mackrell and a team of elephant riders rescued Indian army soldiers, British civilians and their Indian servants, from the pursuing Japanese, directing the elephants through jungle passes and raging rivers, and territory infested with sand flies, mosquitoes and innumerable leeches. Those he saved were all on the point of death from starvation or fever: that summer was spent in a fight against time.
Now in Andrew Martin's hands this never-before-told tale of heroics is given the shape of a suspenseful adventure, a wartime rescue whose facts are the stuff of fiction. Flight By Elephant is a gripping chronicle of war and survival, starring everyone's favourite animal – the powerful, exotic and hugely loveable elephant.
Andrew Martin grew up in Yorkshire. After qualifying as a barrister, he won The Spectator Young Writer of the Year Award, 1988. Since, he has written for The Guardian, the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, the Independent and Granta, among many other publications. His columns have appeared in the Independent on Sunday and the New Statesman. His Jim Stringer novels – railway thrillers – have been published by Faber and Faber since 2002.