IN BROAD DAYLIGHT

ESCAPE FROM STALAG LUFT

In September 1942 two Royal Air Force officers cut their way through the barbed wire fence of Stalag Luft III. Charles Rollings unravels the story about one of the most daredevil escapes during World War Two

GOON-BOX AT THE SOUTHEASTERN CORNER OF THE CAMP
 IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, HU 21018
 PILOT OFFICER MORRIS WILBUR (‘FESS’) FESSLER. AN AMERICAN FIGHTER PILOT FROM NO 71 (‘EAGLE’) SQUADRON WHO HAD BEEN A PRISONER SINCE OCTOBER 27, 1941, FESSLER ORIGINATED THE SCHEME TO CUT THROUGH THE WIRE

Stalag Luft III is now famous for the ‘Wooden Horse’ escape in 1943 and the ‘Great Escape’ the following year. Back in the scorching, fly-blown summer of 1942, though, the camp seemed escape-proof. Since its opening that March, only four of its 2,000 prisoners had made it beyond the wire; they had been recaptured within days, and three of them were now in Colditz – the Sonderlager, or special camp, for persistent escapers. The guards at Stalag Luft III joked that life in England was so bad that the RAF preferred to stay in Germany.

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