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Aug 5 12 10:58 PM

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In the introduction to the 'Escape from Colditz' booklet that accompanies the AMan set, Major PM Reid writes about the enjoyment he got as a schoolboy, reading greatest escape books of WW1. How ironic (and inspirational) were the words of one of those writers, AJ Evans, years later when he wrote:

'The whole story of Colditz... will make an enthralling story; but it must be written by one of the men who was there.'

Major Reid was one of those men.

Episode two is drawn from a combination of two real-life escape attempts.

7 September 1942
Deciding that the prisoners, particularly the British, had too many personal belongings, they ordered them to box the possessions up in three-cubic-foot Red Cross wooden crates, then carry them up to a third-floor storeroom at the castle's south end. The next day, a guard noticed a rope of bedsheets tied together hanging out the storeroom window. In the room, guards found one of the crates opened, with a note scribbled on top: "I don't like the air in Colditz. Auf wiedersehen. Ex-PW Flying Officer Bruce." The diminutive Englishman Dominic Bruce was caught a week later.

12. December 1941
For their manhole escapes, the Dutch had tricked the guards into thinking they were all present at the prisoner count conducted in the park before the return to the castle. Two weeks before Christmas, the Germans discovered how. Suspicious that something was up during the count, the officer in charge asked all prisoners standing to the right of him to step to the right, and all those to the left of him to step to the left. One man remained in the middle. Turns out it was a dummy, all dressed up and standing in -- along with another equally gussied-up mannequin -- for two Dutch officers, who were soon found hiding under a pile of leaves.

Here we go then chaps! Episode two: 'Blame it on, Evans!'

For many long months, our Lads burrowed away up in the rafters of the British quarters, constructing false walls, and a maize of hidden passage ways....

Plaster and board was transferred to kit bags, and hidden in another section containing the Brits' personal affects and luggage

All the while they toiled....

...... they were desperate for news of a green light from the Escape Officer...

Finally, the months of hard work, bribery, and patience paid off....

In the early hours, Reidy gently moved a piece of false ceiling in the attic roof aside, and took his first steps towards freedom...

The blast of cold air at that height was thrilling....

Two of his comrades passed the endless sheets that they had knotted together out to him, as he balanced in the freezing night air.

Suddenly, the search lights began to randomly sweep the rooftops...

In a desperate attempt to instinctively hide the sheets, he almost dropped them over the side.

What Major Reid couldn't have known was that the sound of his boots scrabbling to keep hold on the roof, had alerted a guard

Half dressed, the trooper peered out into the black trying to pin point where the suspicious noise was coming from...

Keeping his Eagle-eyes peeled, the German gave a final sweep of the roof before deciding to raise the alarm, and a full roll call was decided upon.

With adrenalin pumping through his veins, and believing he was only minutes away from being discovered, he threw the sheets over the wall, and practically fell down the hundred feet of the perimeter wall....

Meanwhile, the rest of the Brits slowly gathered in the courtyard, mumbling and stalling for time....

The prisoners were counted, Reidy was there... all present and correct!

The Kommandant decided that a full cohort of prisoners must mean a false alarm. These things happen from time to time...

Meanwhile, Reidy was prepared to blank out his sprained ankle...

in anticipation of a home run!

And back in the British courtyard, the Team were preparing to welcome a new member!





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#8 [url]

Aug 22 12 7:40 PM

Great research, really enjoying seeing the stories 'brought to life' 

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