Amazing Prisoner of War Escape Stories

During times of war, it was a usual occurrence for people to be held captive by belligerent forces. These prisoners of war had a duty to try to escape. Those who returned home safely were allowed to rejoin the war, however even those who didn’t, contributed to the war effort by keeping many of the soldiers deployed to find them busy. The majority of prisoners of war had few chances to flee. They were malnourished, frail, frequently exhausted from hard labor and were watched around the clock. In spite of this, there were some amazing prisoner of war escapes. Let’s look at five of them.

1. Joshua Barney

Joshua Barney was commissioned as a lieutenant in the fledgling Continental Navy in 1775 at the age of sixteen. He was taken prisoner by the British in 1776, kept there until his release on parole. Barney was detained in Plymouth, England after being captured once more in 1980. Barney was granted rights as an officer, one of which was the ability to shop. He got a tailor to make him a new coat similar to that of a British navy lieutenant. Dressed in the new coat underneath another less noticeable coat, he crossed over the jail wall; Barney had paid a guard to cast a blind eye.

2. The Great Escape

The Great Escape is the one that is still talked about, so much so that it caught the interest of filmmakers in 1963. The Great Escape from the compound of Stalag Luft III in March 1944, a camp housing allied pilots, is one of the most well-known prisoners of war breakouts. Squadron leader, Roger Bushell, led plans for a large-scale escape. Three tunnels named Tom, Dick and Henry were constructed to allow two men to get away. Of the eighty men who went through the tunnel, only three made it home safely. The others were all captured.

3. Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill, a correspondent for Britain’s Morning Post traveled to South America during the Boer War in 1899. Churchill was on an armored train carrying British troops which was shelled by Boer troops and was derailed. Churchill was captured and kept as a prisoner in a camp in Pretoria. While the guards weren’t looking on the evening of December 12, 1899, Churchill climbed the prison wall and fled. He hid during the day and traveled at night until he made it safely to Portuguese East Africa.

4. Merian C. Cooper

Merian Cooper was a pilot during World War I and then served in the Soviet Civil War where he was captured and became a POW. After trying to escape and failing miserably, Cooper was sent to a labor camp in Moscow. After nine months and attempts on his life, he plotted with two other prisoners to make an escape. They safely escape to Latvia about 430 miles away. Inspired by Russian fairy tales he read while in prison, Cooper produced the 1933 film “King Kong.”

5. Franz von Werra

Franz von Werra was a German fighter pilot, who, during the battle of Britain, was held as a prisoner of war. He was shipped to Canada. From Montreal, the prisoners were being transported by train when Von Werra jumped through a window of the moving train. He walked to New York and turned himself in to American authorities. He received assistance from the German consoles in America who helped him escape to Mexico. Von Werra returned safely to Germany and went back to active duty.


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