THE amazing story of a Wadeford resident who was born in German-occupied Czechoslovakia has been released 72 years after she survived a plane crash from which she was saved by the only other survivor.

Sylvie Dare was just 18 months old when a plane carrying her and her parents made a daring trip in treacherous weather.

Her mother, an English dancer, and her father, a Czech businessman, met in Paris in the 1920s where they lived until the outbreak of the Second World War.

During the war, Sylvie’s dad was part of the French Foreign Legion. After the country fell to the Nazis, he spent time in a concentration camp away from the rest of his family.

Sylvie was born after their reunion in 1944 and, when peace finally came, they returned to Paris. Stateless and unable to get employment, he was persuaded by his former employers to return to his Sudeten homeland.

“That is when the fateful journey took place,” said Sylvie.

Terrified of the dangerous trip, Sylvie’s mum had managed to get her sons to safety with family in England.

Sylvie lived most of her life unaware of the journey, until some letters were uncovered by her brothers.

“My father had to get on the plane last because he was held up by paperwork,” said Sylvie.

“He asked this man to board with my mum and I because he was worried for us.

“Before we took off there were warnings about the weather but they were keen to do the flight because this was the inaugural trip between these two airports and also the pilot had been away from his family during the war and wanted to get back.

“We touched down on the way over and were told again that the weather was bad, but they went on.

“Now it was snowing, visibility was impossible, and the co-pilot even opened a window, which is ridiculous.”

The plane they were using was an old war bomber converted inside, with 20 people crammed in.

Sylvie added: “When it came in to land, it hit the landing strip broadside first.

The aircraft crashed and being at the back of the plane, Sylvie’s dad died instantly.

Her mum became trapped in her seat, conscious but unable to move in the wreckage.

“This man who was with us got me off by some superhuman effort, as it says in the letter,” Sylvie said.

“He managed to wrap me in his army overcoat and get me through a hole in the fuselage.”

The man, who was the only other survivor from the crash, was called Jean Van Der Veecken.

Sylvie added: “The book tells the story of how I try and track him down and the amazing coincidences of that and the people I was able to meet who had a connection in some way to this story.

“We managed to find his family but, unfortunately, he had died in 1976.

“His family didn’t even know about this incident with the baby. They knew about the crash, but not about me.”

Last week, Sylvie held a book signing at Chard Bookshop, and is set for another event in the area in a couple of months time.

You can also buy ‘A World of Fallen Pieces’ at Ilminster Bookshop. The next signing is at Ilminster Arts Centre on September 4.