Shelburn differed from other escape lines in France in that rather than taking men across the Pyrenees to Spain, it sent them direct to England from the north Brittany coast by RN Motor Gun Boats.
Evaders who embarked from Plage Bonaparte near Plouha came from as far afield as Germany and Holland, and their helpers came from organisations and groups ranging from MI6 to the royal family of Monaco.
Express Delivery places Shelburn within a brief history of WW2 escape lines, explaining how it fits into that overall story, why it couldn't have existed earlier in the war, and why it was so successful. While the book follows the experiences of each individual evader, it also describes in detail the organisations in Paris, l'Oise and Brittany that made Shelburn possible, because it is the helpers who are the real heroes and heroines of this story, many of whose contributions, and eventual fates, have been sadly forgotten.
Helpers, the totally inadequate term used for such extraordinary people, came from all walks of life, with men and women of all ages, and even teenagers and children taking the kinds of risks to help foreign servicemen that would be hard to believe today – and the penalties for them if caught were harsh. Captured servicemen could expect to be sent to a prisoner of war camp but the civilians who helped them were liable to be executed or deported to Germany, along with their families and friends.