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Publisher's Summary

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 nine months gruelling toil in oxygen-starved darkness. Of the 29 escapees, just 10 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.

©2018 Neal Bascomb (P)2018 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-13-20

A daring and truly captivating account!

Not just one break out story but several, although most were ultimately flawed. Their book really captures the sights, sounds and smells of the many camps these men were shuffled through like a deck of cards. Disorienting and cruel, these men used brains and guts to both exact their freedom and their revenge against tyrannical guards and commanding German officers. This book is thrilling, funny, sad and incredible. I would highly recommend.

Note: If you are new to this story, skip the prologue as there is a pretty glaring spoiler. Otherwise enjoy!

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  • Geoff smith
  • 03-12-20

A Must read

Do yourself a favour and grab this book. An incredible true story and great piece of history