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Back From Tobruk

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In 1941 photographer Croswell Bowen joined American Field Service volunteer ambulance drivers and served alongside the British Eighth Army during World War II. As the war continued to escalate, he would have his mental, emotional, and physical well-being tested beyond anything he ever imagined. Back from Tobruk is the remarkable account of one man’s journey across a world torn apart, with only his camera and his moral convictions to guide him. As Bowen watched the number of wounded and dying soldiers grow, he struggled to understand the very nature of war itself. A lifelong Catholic and devoted pacifist, he tried to reconcile his commitment to nonviolence with his growing belief that the end of this war would finally bring peace to the world. As he spent time in hospitals and field dressing stations as both a caregiver and a patient, he witnessed soldiers reaching out to their former battlefield enemies, showing grace and compassion in a world seemingly bereft of both. “When the great leaders sit down at the peace table,” he wrote of his fellow servicemen, “they might take a lesson from those men.” Later a successful journalist and author, Bowen never forgot what he had witnessed during his time in Africa and the Middle East. Back from Tobruk documents the brutality of war and the resilience of the human spirit.

ISBN-13: 9781597979856

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: Potomac Books

Publication Date: 11-01-2012

Pages: 264

Product Dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

BETSY CONNOR BOWEN has worked as a community organizer, elementary school teacher, college instructor and assistant professor, securities analyst, journalist, and filmmaker. She is the author of a young adult novella, Spring Bear, and the editor of her father's World War II memoir, Back from Tobruk (Potomac Books, 2012).

Table of Contents

Foreword Betsy Connor Bowen xiii

Preface xxiii

Introduction xxv

1 Off to the Wars 1

2 Convoy to the Front 57

3 Tobruk 93

4 Flight from Terror 135

5 Panic in Cairo 161

6 War's Reverse Supply Lines 175

7 Home from the Wars 195

Afterword 209

Appendix A An Essay on Photography 213

Appendix B AFS Volunteers Who Gave Their Lives in North Africa and the Middle East, 1939-1945 219

About the Author and Editor 221