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The Escape Artists

The Escape Artists

The tale of the three daredevil World War I pilots held in Germany’s most infamous POW prison, their organisation of the greatest mass prison escape of the conflict, and their extraordinary flight to freedom.

Summer, 1918: twenty-nine officers crawled into a 16 inch high, 55 metre tunnel dug only with spoons. This was the culmination of 9 months gruelling toil in oxygen-starved darkness. Of the twenty-nine escapees, just ten would make their way back to Britain.

When captured Royal Flying Corps pilots Captain David Gray, Captain Caspar Kennard and 2nd Lieutenant Cecil Blain had arrived at Holzminden – or ‘Hellminden’ as its occupants called it – the Germans’ highest-security prison complex had seemed impregnable. ‘The Black Hole’ was ruled by the iron fist of Camp Commandant Carl Niemayer, under whose brutal temper prisoners were known to be shot and beaten to death. Not least the breakout artists.

After five unsuccessful attempts from different camps in one year, the obsessive Captain Gray was personally determined to orchestrate the building of a tunnel directly under the feet of their one hundred armed guards. With an improvised oxygen piping system, stolen disguises and astonishing courage, this handful of the Kaiser’s 2.3 million prisoners would succeed in making their way to neutral Holland and eventually back to Britain – for a private audience at Windsor Palace. The most unlikely escape of the Great War, their derring-do became military legend and the inspiration for the subsequent great escapes of the Second World War.

(P)2018 Hodder & Stoughton Limited
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Genre: Humanities / History / Military History / First World War

On Sale: 23rd August 2018

Price: £19.99

ISBN-13: 9781473686809

Reviews

Fascinating
Daily Express
It's riveting reading, but more than that, it's inspiring
Candice Millard, author of Hero of the Empire
A remarkable piece of hidden history, told perfectly . . . brims with adventure, suspense, daring, and heroism
David Grann, author of Killers of the Flower Moon
Entertaining . . . very little is known about the escape artists of World War I, but Bascomb's suspenseful and well-researched book could change that
Daily Mail
Terrific . . . [a] stirring story
Mail on Sunday
Absorbing
Choice Magazine