The Great Escape: A Canadian Story

By Ted Barris

A different retelling of WWII’s so much dramatic get away, advised via first-hand memories of the warriors who skilled it.

at the evening of March 24, 1944, eighty Commonwealth airmen crawled via a 336-foot-long tunnel and slipped into the wooded area past the twine of Stalag Luft III, a German POW compound close to Sagan, Poland. the development grew to become referred to as &8220;The nice Escape,&8220; an complicated breakout greater than a yr within the making, concerning as many as 2,000 POWs operating with awesome coordination, intelligence, and bold. but inside a number of days, all yet 3 of the escapees have been recaptured. for that reason, 50 have been murdered, cremated, and buried in a distant nook of the felony camp.

yet such a lot don’t understand the genuine tale in the back of the good break out. Now, at the eve of its seventieth anniversary, Ted Barris writes of the major gamers within the get away try, those that acquired away, those that didn’t, and their households at home.

Barris marshals groundbreaking learn right into a compelling firsthand account. For the 1st time, The nice Escape retells the most amazing episodes in WWII without delay during the eyes of these who skilled it.

Joint Winner of the Libris Award for Non-Fiction ebook of the 12 months 2014
Globe and Mail Bestseller
Toronto Star Bestseller

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3 days after the part bosses reopened “Harry,” Floody took his first shift digging and the sand started to movement back. approximately that point, he took a couple of minutes to sprint off a postcard to his sister, Catherine, at domestic in Toronto. “My mail has taken its traditional wintry weather lapse . . . a four-month gap,” Floody wrote overdue in January, suggesting he could have been just a little distracted. Then he further an ironic sign-off. “Life is going on in its predestined rut . . . Your brother, Wally. ”[24] in the meantime, crew Captain Massey acquired the Kommandant to ease the outside wintry weather evening curfew; kriegies have been allowed to stroll among the barracks huts till 10 p. m. Massey used to be reminded, despite the fact that, that one of many ball-retrieval ideas, enacted in the course of the past season’s baseball video games, used to be now in impact. “Snowballing needs to stop one-half-hour earlier than roll call,”[25] the order stated. The kriegies might abide through the snowball rule, yet below hide of darkness, a gradual line of penguins moved among “Harry” and the theatre sporting whatever else. not like the former summer’s covert task, the iciness penguins didn’t need to cover their sand pouches. whilst a penguin arrived on the mouth of the trapdoor in Hut 104, Langford laid a kitbag or trouser pouches jam-packed with sand over his shoulder. whilst safety boss George Harsh informed him the best way used to be transparent, the penguin carried his load out the door of Hut 104 immediately to Hut 109. And if the path was once secure from there, a stooge directed him round Hut a hundred and twenty in the course of the snow and into the theatre. on condition that Flight Lieutenant Tony Pengelly was once level supervisor for all of the kriegie productions, the goons had little cause to be suspicious of his past due night presence on the theatre. but if colossal X introduced the rush to resume digging in “Harry,” Pengelly labored with the degree carpenters to put in fake nails within the base of a seat within the again row of the theatre in order that it regarded secured to the ground yet was once truly movable. The chair again used to be additionally no longer secured in position. while a catch operator slid the chair again up within the air, then flipped the seat itself ahead towards the row in entrance, a small trapdoor within the ground lower than the seat was once printed. “That used to be a lifesaver, simply because a couple of hundred hundreds sand got here out of [“Harry”],” Albert Wallace acknowledged. “I bear in mind going into the theatre one evening with my luggage filled with sand. i used to be instructed the place to take a seat simply because that’s the place the trapdoor used to be. I sat in seat quantity 13, pulled my little tickies and out went the sand. ”[26] Pengelly defined that once the theatre used to be darkish (had no productions running), dust used to be dumped throughout the seize all night. underneath the ground forums of the theatre, in the meantime, the Tin guy (John Colwell) and 5 different sand-dispersal males labored feverishly to maintain the capture below seat 13 transparent and movement the sand to the a ways reaches of the theatre’s move slowly area. [27] whilst every one penguin unloaded his kitbag or pouch in the course of the catch, the sand fell right into a basin that used to be pulled by means of rope to a packing aspect. There, Colwell’s group tamped the sand up tight to the ground among the joists and opposed to the partitions.

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