The Great

On the 24th March 1944 the most

famous prisoner of war escape in

history took place...


Immortalised in the classic film

'The Great Escape', the real story of

the mass break out from Stalag Luft III

is stranger than fiction...

Deep in the forests of Eastern Europe is the site of Stalag Luft III, a Nazi prisoner of war camp.

It was a maximum security camp designed to deter any attempt at escape.

But that didn't stop one group from trying. Three tunnels codenamed Tom, Dick and Harry were dug attempting to avoid the restrictions...

The huts were raised off the ground so that the german guards could spot any tunnelling activity.

They were also built away from the perimeter fence so that any tunnels would have to be even longer.

Additionally, the camp was constructed on a sandy subsoil making it very difficult to dig structurally sound tunnels.


A well organised team for planning the break outs

Roger Bushall

Organised and led the breakout

Born: 30th August 1910

Service: Royal Air Force

Rank: Squadron Leader

Unit: No. 92 Squadron RAF

Alan Bryett

Worked on security during preparations for the Great escape

Born: 1923

Service: Royal Air Force

Rank: Flight Lieutenant

Unit: Bomber Command Squadron 158

Walter Morrison

Born: 26th November 1919

Service: Royal Air Force

Rank: Flight Lieutenant

Unit: No. 103 Squadron RAF

Davey Jones

One of handful of americans involved in the Great Escape

Born: 18th December 1913

Service: United Air Force

Rank: Major General

Unit: Doolittle Raiders

Ken Reese

Born: 2nd February 1921

Service: Royal Air Force

Rank: Wing Commander

Unit: No. 150 Squadron RAF


The Germans later calculated that the prisoners had used up an astonishing number of objects for their three tunnels

90double tier
bunk beds
Klim Tins


How were the 3 tunnels made?

The two foot bed boards determined the dimensions of the tunnels: one board high and one board wide.

The prisoners' tunnels produced tonnes of sand which they had to get rid of without the guards noticing.

Sand from the tunnels was hoisted up the vertical shafts twice a day.

Dispersal teams took the sand away in trouser bags made from socks. They became known as 'penguins' for their waddling walk.

Away from the watchful eyes of the guards the 'penguins' disposed of the sand across the camp.

As the tunnels became longer there was less oxygen available at the digging face.

WALTER MORRISON helped to design a contraption that would feed fresh air down the tunnels.

Fresh air was fed to the tunnels along a pipe of repurposed powdered milk tins.

Shortly after the air pump was installed,

another set of prisoners revolutionised

the process of moving sand up

and down the tunnel...

Underground railways - complete with halfway houses where the diggers could change trains.

The railway would also provide a high speed escape route on the night of the breakout.


10.30 PM 24TH MARCH, 1944 - After 11 months of hard work, one tunnel was complete

The escape was a lot slower than anticipated. On the night, less that a dozen men per hour made it through tunnel harry.

At 5:00am disaster struck – the 77th man emerging from the tunnel was spotted by a german guard.

The 76 men of the great escape fanned out from sagan as the whole of Germany was placed on national alert.

Just three of the great escapers reached freedom. All the others were rounded up by the Germans within a fortnight of the mass breakout.

The great escape incensed hitler and he ordered 50 of those recaptured to be executed.

Find out more with:"Revealed: The Great Escape" A crack team of engineers and archaeologists join forces with some of the original survivors, to unearth, for the first time, the secrets of the most famous wartime escape in history.
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