Three tunnels in the great escape

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three tunnels in the great escape

The Longest Tunnel: The True Story of World War IIs Great Escape by Alan Burgess

This is the real story behind The Great Escape of World War II popularized in the now-classic movie starring Steve McQueen and James Garner. First published in 1990 and based on sources not available for Paul Brickhills earlier work, the book tells how on the night of March 24, 1944, seventy-six Allied POWs slid through a 350-foot tunnel and out of a high-security German prison camp, into history. Within days, on Hitlers orders, fifty had been shot by the Gestapo and twenty-three captured and returned to the camp. Only three men escaped to the Allied lines. The true details of their harrowing story--and the subsequent efforts of their comrades to bring the Gestapo killers to justice--are even more thrilling and fascinating than those fictionalized in the film. The author, a former RAF flyer, not only knows his subject but knows how to shape an enthralling narrative. He describes how the flyers and aircrews dug three tunnels by hand, became master forgers of passports and travel documents, brilliant creators of civilian disguise, and made working compasses from discarded razor blades. His story of the postwar manhunt for the Nazis who murdered the flyers is nearly as dramatic as the escape itself.
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Great Escape Tunnel - what it looks like today in Stalag Luft 3

Stalag Luft III

The subsequent events, thanks to numerous books and the Hollywood epic The Great Escape , have become the stuff of legend. However the real story had nothing to do with Steve McQueen on a motorbike and over the top derring-do by a few men in reality some were involved. Despite being meticulously planned by the committee known as the X Organisation, the escape was a far messier affair than we have previously been led to believe. Events unfolded in chaos with numerous hold-ups and tunnel collapses. Some pushed their way in line; others fled their post altogether.

The camp held thousands of captured Allied airmen during WW2 and was considered one of the hardest to escape from. Three design features made tunnelling almost impossible the loose collapsible sandy soil upon which the camp was built, elevated prisoner housing to expose tunnels and the placement of seismograph microphones around the perimeter of the camp. His next attempt, however, would be his most ambitious yet. Codenamed Big X, Bushell headed up an Escape Committee and planned to get an unprecedented number of over men out from the camp in one attempt. One will succeed! Whilst the movie makes out that it was a small group of mainly American airmen who were part of the breakout, in fact over prisoners were involved in the construction of the tunnels and whilst U.

Three tunnels were dug for the escape. They were named Tom, Dick, and Harry. The operation was so secretive that everyone was.
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Nicolas Tindal: Group Captain Nicolas Tindal, who died on January 28th aged 94, was a well-known figure in Co Donegal, where he lived for a number of years having bought a farm there in - The site was selected because its sandy soil made it difficult for POWs to escape by tunnelling.

Untouched for almost seven decades, the tunnel used in the Great Escape has finally been unearthed. Despite huge interest in the subject, encouraged by the film starring Steve McQueen, the tunnel remained undisturbed over the decades because it was behind the Iron Curtain and the Soviet authorities had no interest in its significance. Unearthed: The entrance to the original 'Harry' tunnel, which lay untouched for almost seven decades. But at last British archaeologists have excavated it, and discovered its remarkable secrets. Scattered throughout the tunnel, which is 30ft below ground, were bits of old metal buckets, hammers and crowbars which were used to hollow out the route.

As a prisoner in the camp, he participated in the escape plan but was debarred from the actual escape 'along with three or four others on grounds of claustrophobia'. This book was made into the film The Great Escape. The book covers the planning, execution and aftermath of what became known as The Great Escape. Other escape attempts such as the Wooden Horse are mentioned as well as the postwar hunt for the Gestapo agents who murdered fifty of the escapees on Hitler's direct order. The book was published in Brickhill, a journalist before and after the war, had previously written the story four different ways, initially as a BBC talk, then as newspaper and Reader's Digest articles, and in the book Escape to Danger which he co-wrote with Conrad Norton. By the time of the book, Brickhill had eliminated some of the less heroic aspects of the story, including the fact that a large proportion of the compound's population had no interest in the escape.

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1 COMMENTS

  1. Marina V. says:

    What really happened on the night of The Great Escape

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