Perilous Moon Website
Perilous Moon is a lavishly illustrated book that observes Occupied France during World War II through the eyes of British bomber pilot Neil Nimmo and newly discovered period photographs. Shot down by Luftwaffe nightfighter pilot Helmut Bergmann, Nimmo and his crew were the German’s sixth of seven victims in 46 minutes. With seven wrecked Lancasters and 38 Allied airmen killed, Bergmann had singlehandedly turned what should have been a relatively simple RAF raid into a life-long nightmare.
With barely time to parachute from Q-Queenie, his stricken Lancaster, Neil Nimmo’s unholy adventure had only just begun. Unusually, Perilous Moon follows both pilots, Nimmo and Bergmann, through the war after that April night, and continues to observe them as the Occupation of France comes to a sticky end.
Three weeks after landing on a ploughed field between Amiens and Abbeville, Neil Nimmo was in Paris, the endlessly mysterious Nazi-occupied French capital. Seething with Nazis and intrigue, the beautiful city remained remarkably unscathed, but steeped in political and moral ambiguity.
Alongside the occupying forces, the Gestapo and French collaborators, Paris held its share of remarkably brave, often-fearless Resistance workers. But for the moment, average Parisian life would go on, stubborn French individualism triumphing over politics, and hardship met by resignation or stiff resolve. This odd normality wouldn’t last once D-Day came, and after it became clear the desperate Allied gamble had worked, the Germans were caught wrong-footed, and both the Luftwaffe and Wehrmacht supply lines were failing.
When the Allies broke out from their beachheads and raced south to Paris, many French changed sides or swayed yet further in the Allies favour. Toward the end, as France became a bloody battlefront, with it came intrigue, score-settling and murder. As the tide turned Neil Nimmo was close to it all—things had changed, the previously reluctant and confirmed collaborator now found his stance a dangerous liability, and an evading Allied airman was now an invaluable and possibly life-saving asset.
In the late 1980’s Neil Nimmo fell ill and is no longer with us, but in Perilous Moon his son Stuart Nimmo, a Paris based documentary maker, closely chronicles the period with over 200 original, previously hidden photographs. This unusual, fascinating book cuts through the fog that shrouded the Occupation, and which continued to linger for decades to come.
Speaking personally, as a long time student of the air war, and a publisher of military history for 20 years, this is just my sort of thing.
IAN DRURY , 2012-10-24
“Stuart Nimmo, perspicacious journalist, assiduous historian, fine storyteller, and devoted son has given us a masterwork of rare images and gripping narrative.”
MORT ROSENBLOOM, AUTHOR, JOURNALIST, FORMERLY EDITOR OF INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT AND BUREAU CHIEF ASSOCIATED PRESS, 2012-11-05, 2012-11-05
"Perilous Moon by Stuart Nimmo is about the adventures of the author's father, an RAF bomber pilot, and the Nazi ace who shot him down. The frontpiece of the book is heartbreaking, and sets the tone of what is to follow. "Our two protagonists," it is labeled, "in all their youth and innocence." . . . The two would be inescapably caught up in a huge war, both doing what they had to do. . . . These little boys were to show pluck and bravery and devotion to duty and to their countries, and it is merely happenstance that one of them died for the cause of barbarism. . . . The photographs here have not been published before, and Perilous Moon is full of them, over 200 images showing war machines, and warriors at work and play. . . . Putting the stories together this way makes this a special volume among the many about the war."
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH , 2013-01-16
"…compelling reading…lavishly illustrated…extremely highly recommended."
“gripping true story…richly illustrated … a fine tribute…a riveting account of the air war and a fascinating examination of the cloudy political and moral ambiguity mixed with shame that enveloped the occupation and lingered for decades to come.”
TOY SOLDIER, MODEL FIGURE MAGAZINE , 2013-02-06
“The detail in the book, including scores of photos and maps, is remarkable. Apart from lengthy interviews with his father, Nimmo stumbled across another rich vein of material… Neil Nimmo, the only pilot to survive among the seven shot down, had bailed out with the rest of his crew, and survived, dying in 1992. What a story he had to tell. And what a story his son Stuart has written.”
ARNIE WILSON, HUFFINGTON POST , 2013-02-19
Stuart Nimmo has cleverly put together the wartime tales of two little boys who wanted to become pilots – one born from Scottish ancestry, the other in Bochum, Westphalia. Their paths crossed in the early hours of that moonlit Easter Monday morning. And while Bergmann was waiting for his Ritterkreuz, Nimmo was trying to get back to England. Nimmo’s exploits are taken from notes and jottings made after the war, trying to record the exciting tales he told his three sons. It romps along!... This excellent book spends sometime covering various aspects of the war, the rise of Nazism, things aeronautical and it contains a fine set of hitherto unpublished photographs – many from Bergmann’s own album. “
“To the virtually numberless books on World War II, Stuart Nimmo adds a volume that’s not quite like anything else: the story of his father and the Nazi air ace who shot him out of the sky over Occupied France…. At every opportunity, Stuart Nimmo underscores that what happened to Helmut Bergmann, that smiling little boy in aviator goggles, was a tragedy in its own right. That remarkable, stubborn granting of shared humanity is the core of this unforgettable book, which deserves in your WWII library, no matter how crowded that library is.”
OPEN LETTERS WEEKLY , 2013-02-21
“…extremely well composed narration… not only opened a new window on France for me but pulled back the shades and opened the blinds that were intentionally closed by successive political leaders for the past sixty nine years as France struggled to keep a tight lid on the truth about how divided the population had become in the fog of war during the Nazi occupation.”
20TH CENTURY AVIATION MAGAZINE , 2013-05-03