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Thread: Greatest Escape ?

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    Default Greatest Escape ?

    I am looking at a draft of a history stating that the "Great Escape" from Stalag Luft III in March 1944 was "the largest mass exodus of POWs during the war" - but was it ?

    In asking this and inviting responses, I must (in fairness to the author of the above draft) define "escape" as the self-liberation of POWs through some plan or effort of their own. This would exclude cases where the POWs were rescued by outside forces. It would also exclude the situation in Italy in September 1943 when literally hundred of POWs were set free by virtue of the fact that Italian guards abandoned their posts and German guards did not replace them for 36-48 hours.

    However, for purposes of this query, I would include large-scale escapes by other army or navy personnel, and POWs other than British and Commonwealth forces (was there not a massive breakout of Japanese in Australia ?). Breakouts at Phoenix (Arizona) and Angler (Ontario) do not appear to match the 76-escapee figure of Stalag Luft III - but are there others ?

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    Hi Hugh
    I don't where to point you to look for this but reading an early escape book,at least 50 years ago, I recall seeing reference to a mass escape by Army Personnel from a camp at Marburg. It was early in the war and the attempt simply rushed the wire en-masse with home-made ladders and many got out,3 got home. How big a "masse" I don't know. I think it was mentioned in the Great Escape, by Brickhill or one of the Colditz books by Reid to make the point that then,'40 or 41, the Germans were feeling good about themselves and were not so organised to deal with escapes, whereas this changed as their fortunes and experience developed during the war. It was referred to as the Marburg Wire Job and, clearly, word had got round between camps
    Regards
    Dick

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    Based on Sagan memorial museum website there were following escapes.
    6 March 1943 Oflag Schubin(?) escape of 43 British officers (including Harry Day and Ian Cross).
    19/20 September 1943 Oflag VIB Doessel escape of 47 Polish officers, 37 were recaptured and executed.
    21 September 1943 Oflagu XVIIA Edelbach 67 Frenchmen.
    18 December 1943 Marlag (Marine Lager) near Hamburg 54 French sailors.
    Summer 1944, Łódź/Litzmannstadt 112 PoWs from Warsaw Uprising escaped from transport at railway station.
    The list may be not complete.

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    The Army escape was Warburg Oflag VlB. According to MI9 - Escape & Evasion 1939-45 Foot/Langley 41 got out, 3 home runs August 1942.

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    Not as big but 66 (or some say 70) German POWs did escape from Bridgend. And the COWRA breakout in Australia involved almost 550 Japanese POWs but that was more a riot than a concerted escape attempt to try to get back to their own forces

    A

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amrit View Post
    Not as big but 66 (or some say 70) German POWs did escape from Bridgend. And the COWRA breakout in Australia involved almost 550 Japanese POWs but that was more a riot than a concerted escape attempt to try to get back to their own forces

    A
    Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowra_breakout) indicates that "Nevertheless, 359 POWs escaped."
    Interests include Spitfires in Malta 1942 and 460 Sqdn 1943-44 (including Black Thursday)

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    Today whilst searching 'The Times' for other matters RAF, I came across the first mention of "The Great Escape" and the twelve RAF who were murdered are listed. As there has been no thread relating directly to it I thought I would just post it here. It's about three column inches and can be found at:-
    The Times, Friday, May 19, 1944; pg. 4; Issue 49860; col C
    If you have a particular interest in this matter it's there to read. If you can't access I could e.mail it to you, as I can't post it on the site.
    Stewart

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