During World War II he joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Under the Empire Air Training Scheme, Brickhill undertook advanced training as a fighter pilot in Canada and the United Kingdom, before being assigned to No. 92 Squadron RAF, a Spitfire unit with the Desert Air Force. In 1943, he was shot down over Tunisia and became a prisoner of war.
On D-Day, while still in captivity, Brickhill heard on German radio of two huge Allied armadas heading towards Cap d'Antifer and Calais. In fact these were diversions created by No. 617 Squadron RAF to fool the Germans, a fact he learned months later.
After the war, Brickhill wrote the first major account of the escape in The Great Escape (1950), bringing the incident to a wide public attention. He went on to write two other best-selling war books: The Dam Busters, the story of Operation Chastise and the destruction of dams in the Ruhr valley by No. 617 Squadron, and Reach for the Sky, the story of Battle of Britain ace Douglas Bader.
On April 22, 1950, the 33 year old Brickhill married 21 year old Margot Slater, herself an Australian, in St Michael's Church of England, Chester Square, Pimlico. They had two children, but divorced in 1964 after a tempestuous marriage.
His life was the subject of a 2016 biography, "The Hero Maker: A Biography of Paul Brickhill: The Australian behind the legendary stories The Dam Busters, The Great Escape and Reach for the Sky", by Stephen Dando-Collins.
Brickhill died in Sydney, Australia, on April 23, 1991, aged 74.
- Escape to Danger (with Conrad Norton). London: Faber and Faber, 1946.
- The Great Escape. New York: Norton, 1950.
- The Dam Busters. London: Evans, 1951.
- Escape – Or Die: Authentic Stories of the R.A.F. Escaping Society. London: Evans, 1952.
- Reach for the Sky: The Story of Douglas Bader DSO, DFC. London: Collins, 1954.
- The Deadline. London: Collins, 1962.
- Three Great Air Stories. London: Collins, 1970.
- http://www.afr.com/lifestyle/paul-brickhill-australias-glamorous-heromaker-20160831-gr5byz; http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/brickhill-paul-chester-14647
- Paul Brickhill, the Australian hero-maker behind "The Great Escape", in Financial Review September 3, 2016 http://www.afr.com/lifestyle/paul-brickhill-australias-glamorous-heromaker-20160831-gr5byz
- "Brickhill, Paul Chester Jerome 1916–1991." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, 69: 68–69.