Introduced by George Harsh
The thrilling true story of the largest British-led mass-escape of the Second World War.
In 1943, 600 disparate Allied POWs in the notorious Stalag Luft III prison camp, plotted an escape unprecedented in its scale and daring. Led by the formidable Squadron Leader Roger Bushell – or ‘Big X’ as he was known on the escape committee – the plan involved the digging of three tunnels (‘Tom’, ‘Dick’ and ‘Harry’) and the disposal of over 100 tonnes of yellow sand, all under the noses of the German ‘ferrets’, or guards.
The tunnels were lit with electric lighting stolen from the goons, shored up with boards from their own beds, traversed on an underground railway and ventilated with home-made bellows crafted from wood, canvas bags and bully-beef tins. But escape was only the beginning: 400 forged passes would be needed, some 200 suits of clothes tailored, maps memorised and languages learnt. If all went well, a staggering 200 prisoners would be freed in the largest British-led breakout of the Second World War.
Published in series with The Dam Busters and Reach for the Sky.
Find the complete Paul Brickhill collection here
Paul Brickhill, having been shot down in a Spitfire over Tunisia in 1943, was himself a member of the escape committee and boss of a gang of ‘stooges’ that protected the forgers while they worked in the camp. Modestly, he describes himself as merely ‘a cog in the machine’, but this was a machine with 600 human cogs that proved ‘that even in death man can triumph over any obstacle’.
Designed in series with our bestselling The Dam Busters, and featuring a binding by the same artist, this new edition is illustrated with photographs from the National Archives and the Imperial War Museum, along with original colour sketches of the men working in the tunnels by fellow-prisoner Ley Kenyon, who also provides integrated images and pictorial endpapers.
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