|Dutch POWs in Colditz - E H Larive|
‘Deceiving the German mind was a psychological finesse.’ - Francis Steinmetz
|Hauptmann Reinhold Eggers - pbs.org|
|van Lyden, Kruimink & van der Krapp - IWM|
The three Dutchmen hiding in the castle were another piece in the puzzle to confuse the Germans, in addition to the deception carried out by Lieutenant Gerrit Dames and other Dutch POWs during the Larive and Steinmetz escape. That had been a deliberate ploy to draw attention away from the manhole cover and shaft. (See The Larive and Steinmetz Escape - Part One) The ‘missing' men remained in hiding and were eventually found by the guards ten days later during a detailed search of the Dutch quarters.
|Captain 'Vandy' van den Heuvel - The Colditz Story|
During the period when the park exercise was suspended, escapers Dufour and Smit were returned to Colditz and placed in solitary confinement as punishment. Caught at the Swiss border on the brink of freedom, they at least had assimilated vital information around leaving Colditz from the park and the current dangers on the Swiss frontier around Gottmadingen. On their return to the castle, this intelligence was somehow passed to the Dutch and reached escape Officer Captain Machiel ‘Vandy’ Van den Heuvel. Details were given to Major Cornelis Giebel and 2nd Lieutenant Oscar Drijber. Once the park exercise began again, these two men would attempt yet another escape via the manhole.
|Lt Oscar Drijber|
The German staff and guards had still not worked out where the POWs were escaping from. The diversion from Lieutenant Dames at the wire fence of the exercise enclosure on the last escape (Larive and Steinmetz) had helped to keep the manhole location under wraps. Eggers said:
|Major Cornelis Griebel|
The new drill had only been in operation for a few days when Giebel and Drijber made their escape attempt. The skill was in the creativity, preparation and execution of the plan. Contrary to a version of the Larive and Steinmetz escape, there is no evidence to suggest that the bolt across the manholecover was replaced during their escape whilst the men were hiding in the brick shaft. The same applied to Dufour and Smit. It is likely that the escapers removed the bolt, climbed in to the shaft and only replaced it across the cover after they exited later.
|Major Damiaen J van Doorninck|
Once Giebel and Drijber had climbed into the manhole shaft without being seen by the guards, the bolt would be replaced on the cover – except that the bolt and nut to be used was a fake. The nut had been made from wood and a glass bolt adapted from an aspirin bottle. Both were painted grey to look like the originals.
Final part of the manhole saga is next week.
Colditz The German Viewpoint - Reinhold Eggers (Highly recommended read)