The Great Escape

In the Erskine Centenary book – A Century of Care we tell the story of the brave and extraordinarily tenacious (if ultimately largely unsuccessful) attempt by Allied prisoners-of-war to escape from the Luftwaffe-run camp Stalag Luft III.

Situated near the town of Sagan (today known as Żagań) in Poland), 100 miles from Berlin the Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp was the scene from which a mass break-out which took place, the route being an ingeniously-constructed tunnel nicknamed ‘Harry’, on Friday, March 24, 1944.

The stories of Erskine Veterans Alex Lees and Jack Harrison are particularly fascinating. Lees helped dispose of the huge quantities of sand that were a consequence of the top-secret digging operation. Harrison, who was a runner to the mastermind of the escape Bushell, was waiting his turn to escape via ‘Harry’.  Once outside, he was to pose as a Hungarian electrician in the employ of a German firm. He never got his chance. However, 76 men managed to escape before the alarm was raised.

Erskine is proud and honoured to have cared for two of the Great Escape Veterans in their later years, and indeed they met for the first time in Erskine, albeit by video link.



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