Born December 20, 1916 in Melbourne, Paul Brickhill was educated at North Sydney High School and Sydney University. At the time of his enlistment in the RAAF, he listed his previous qualifications: “Journalist Two years Aviation and Defence work for ‘The Sun’. At present sub-editor Sunday Sun.” On May 20, 1941, Brickhill and his fellow Australian airmen embarked at Sydney for advanced flying training in Canada. He had completed elementary flying training at No. 8 EFTS Narrandera. Upon completion of operational training at No. 53 OTU, RAF Llandow, Brickhill was posted to No. 74 Squadron, January 16, 1942. By August, he was in the Middle East serving briefly with No. 145 Squadron. After a stint in September with No. 127 Squadron, Brickhill spent October and November 1942 serving with No. 274 Squadron. On December 8th he was posted to No. 92 Squadron.
At 1243 hours on March 17, 1943, 12 aircraft of No. 92 Squadron took off from Bu Grara. At approx. 1305 hours. P/O Bruckshaw was at about 9000' about 2 miles out to sea when he saw three aircraft in line astern coming towards him about a mile away from the South, and about 500' above him. The leading aircraft, when at the above position from P/O Bruckshaw turned about rate two to port and was closely followed by his No. 2 (50 yds behind) into the turn. As the third aircraft turned, P/O Bruckshaw identified it as a Macchi 202 and it was only about 50 yards behind the No. 2 (F/O Brickhill), he called up on the R/T to try to warn him. Simultaneously with his transmission, P/O Bruckshaw saw the enemy aircraft fire while in the turn and immediately F/O Brickhill's aircraft flicked into a turn the opposite way, and the ammunition was seen to explode in both mainplanes. The aircraft then fell down apparently out of control, and as P/O Bruckshaw was then himself being attacked, he lost sight of the aircraft. When next he saw the aircraft it was at about 2000' and a parachute was just opening. The aircraft crashed and burst into flames at Z.6109, and when the parachute was last seen it was drifting slightly to the S.W. of the burning aircraft. Flying Officer Brickhill landed near a minefield and was captured by Italian troops. Brickhill spent the next three and a half years as a prisoner at Stalag Luft III. LONDON - October 1954 Dapper Australian Journalist Paul Brickhill has hit the jackpot as the most successful author in Britain. By last weekend, seven months after its first publication, the 276,000 copy of his biography, "Reach for the Sky," the story of legless wartime flying ace Douglas Bader, had been sold. Brickhill's history, "The Dambusters," telling the story of the smashing of the great German dams by a special RAF squadron commanded by the late Wing Commander Guy Gibson, VC, sold 132,000 copies. It yielded Brickhill some £20,000, plus £15,000 for the film rights. Brickhill also made £25,000 from 'Escape or Die' and 'The Great Escape,' featuring a tunnelling feat in the German prison camp where Brickhill, then an Air Force officer, was among the prisoners.