The Great Escape

October 11, 2009

Much has been written since the end of the war, about the exceptional exploits of the prisoners of Stalagluft 3, and their attempts to escape by means of constructing three tunnels, “Tom”, “Dick” and “Harry”, which were dug from underneath the accommodation huts, to beyond the perimeter fence, to allow some 80 or so prisoners to escape and try to reach England.  A  full account of the exploits of the tunnelers can be found here at http://www.historyinfilm.com/escape/real5.html, but I wish to recount Alan’s personal experiences within this blog.

I wish to start with some drawings found within Alan’s personal effects, and with which he used to illustrate speeches he gave after the war, about “The Great Escape”

The first drawing above shows the elaborate ventilation machines that the tunnelers made out of everyday objects that they could obtain from around the compound, or from guards whom they bribed. The ventilation chimneys and shafts were made from KLIM tins (tinned milk) and slotted together to make a long tube.

The second drawing shows the cramped conditions the tunnelers worked in underground, as they dug away, and subsequently shored up the sides of the tunnels with wooden slats, often taken from bunk beds.

The drawing below shows the underground workshop that was constructed to allow the tunnelers to work away from the gaze of the German guards.

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