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Tag: escape

Escape and Evasion files at the National Archives

Escape and evasion files are firsthand accounts of a military personnel’s escape from behind enemy lines. In World War II, thousands of U.S. troops crashed in Nazi territory and had to evade capture or escape from German prisons. The National Archives recently digitized 2,953 firsthand accounts of escape and evasion during the war.

Each account reads like a Hollywood script, and although each is a gripping tale of perseverance, there are some that stand out as truly remarkable. We here at POH have summarized and linked our 10 favorite tales, including emergency landings into soccer games, fake Nazi salutes, and Boy Scout disguises.

2nd Lt. John Dunbar – It was the Fourth of July in 1943 when Dunbar’s plane was shot out of the sky over La Pallice, France. After receiving assistance from local Frenchmen in the German-occupied territory he marched for 18 days through France dressed as a peasant. For five of those days he had no food. For the rest, he survived off beer and scraps of food that had fallen off carts along the road. Three weeks later he crossed the Pyrenees mountains on foot into Spain, where he was captured by the Guardia Civil and later released.

Sgt. William Davidson was taken prisoner after becoming lost in the woods near St. Die, Germany, on October 25, 1944. A Nazi patrol captured him … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Daring escapes from Nazi prisons!

In honor of Bastille Day earlier this week, we present a French “moustache.”

This moustache decorates the face of General Giraud, here seen out walking in the gardens of the cliffside fortress Konigstein, where he was held as a POW by the Germans. He was captured in May of 1940 and escaped two years later. According to a 1949 Life magazine article, about 100 French generals were held prisoner. Giraud was the only one who escaped.

It wasn’t the first time Giraud had escaped imprisonment. He had served in WWI and broken free from an enemy prison then as well.

This time, he escaped a heavily guarded fortress. Because it was  patrolled at night, he escaped during the day “by climbing down a blind angle of the 150-foot wall, outside the range of vision of the permanent watchtower secretary and between the regular rounds made by other guards” (Life, 1949).

And where did he get the rope to rappel down a fortress wall?

It was made from “raw material . . . accumulated painstakingly from short pieces of twine used for tying prisoners’ parcels from France” stolen from the prison post office by “a courageous young French corporal” (Life, 1949). The bits of twine were then woven into a rope, 150 feet long and 22 inches think, with a piece of wood at … [ Read all ]