Seven tense hours
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How pilot Bram Vanderstok found his way to freedom in the Great Escape 24 March Seventy-five years ago to the day, a group of POWs were preparing to crawl to freedom through a foot long tunnel in what would become known as the Great Escape. One of grim determination in the face of seemingly impossible odds.
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On paper, the Germans' plan to put all the repeat-offender escapees in the one heavily fortified camp seemed like a good one. Dense barbed wire and imposing watchtowers were the surface-level deterrents, while loose, sandy soil and underground listening devices put paid to the shallow tunnels the prisoners had become extremely adept at digging. After narrowly avoiding a Gestapo firing squad on his most recent escape attempt, Bushell was determined to inflict a mighty blow on the enemy in the form of a mass breakout unlike any seen so far in the war.
His plan was for three tunnels Tom, Dick and Harry to be dug simultaneously, with the aim of hundreds of POWs getting out and forcing the Germans to divert stretched resources to track them down.
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What followed was a veritable escape industry that operated under the noses of the camp guards, nicknamed "ferrets" by the POWs. False identity papers were forged, air force uniforms were converted into business suits, and German language lessons abounded.
The dirt was dispersed in attics, and casually spread on the camp grounds through bags hidden in the prisoners' trousers. All efforts were then concentrated on Harry, and by late March, the metre tunnel was complete. The night of the escape provided one final element of drama: the tunnel fell several metres short of the thick woods where the exit had been planned a massive surveying error.
What followed were seven tense hours of the escapers gingerly climbing out of the hole, a stone's throw from a guard tower, and shuffling across the snowy ground to cover. There was no hair-raising theft of a German fighter plane for an aborted flight to Switzerland, and the daredevil Steve McQueen character trying to leap to freedom on a motorcycle was a complete fiction.
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The escape routes were much more mundane and low-key, mainly involving cross-country hikes under cover of darkness. A nationwide manhunt rounded up all but the three who made it home, and a furious Hitler initially ordered they all be shot. Talked down by his Nazi lieutenants, he settled on the figure of Over the next few weeks — again, unlike in the movie — the marked men, including five Australians, were taken out in pairs and small groups and gunned down by Gestapo agents. It was, in the end, a huge price to pay, and decades down the track several escape survivors were still expressing doubts whether the effort was really worth it.
Now, 75 years later, we remember all of these brave men, particularly those who paid with their lives. The anniversary is unfolding with a touch of sadness with the death over the last month of the last two known Great Escape survivors.
Last member of real-life Great Escape team dies aged 99 | World news | The Guardian
Former Squadron Leader Dick Churchill, one of the handful to be recaptured and sent back to captivity, died at the age of The escape veterans may now be gone, like so many of those who fought in World War II, but their heroic exploits live on. Grilled ham and cheese sandwich Please note that we do not take reservations by email, only by phone: 31 Here is this weeks games list — if you would like to watch any other game not mentioned please mail us at bar.
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