|Typical German Guard Tower|
It is strange that that some escapers had never set foot in the tunnel before the night of the breakout because they were members of the other tunnel project which had not yet been completed (see previous post). Also certain POW’s had been solely involved in other areas of the ‘end to end’ process:
‘As soon as I had made a small hole the cold night air gushed in…and the rain which had started to fall splashed on my face.’
He described what happened as he made his move:
‘I wormed my way out and lying flat, I crawled away from the hole. After a few yards I stopped, spread my camouflage net over me and looked around to get my bearings.’
The tunnel had exited right on top of the crest of an incline which had blocked the view from inside the camp as to the state of the ground beyond. The terrain was open and level rather than the decline that the escapers had predicted.
|Tunnel Exit as photographed in 1981 (larger than the original)|
Opening the tunnel exit had taken more out of him than he realised. His arms were weakened and crawling became very slow and painful.
He realised that it was the glow from a luminous watch and a further figure crawled past him. The five minute interval plan had clearly been ignored.
Eventually he reached the cover of a ditch and some bushes. Standing up to get some bearings, he calculated that he had strayed further to the left than planned which had cost valuable time. It was doubtful that O’Sullivan would wait for long at their rendezvous point, so
‘Suddenly I felt myself falling and as I hit the bottom a sharp pain stabbed at my left ankle and knee. …I found that I had fallen down a large and deep irrigation ditch.’
Underground From Posen - Michael Duncan Highly recommended read