Conditions were a lot harsher for British Prisoners of War in Europe. Hut 28 tells the story of the mass breakout in 1943 from Stalag Luft III and made famous in the film and Book “The Wooden Horse.”
The prisoners came up with the ingenious idea of concealing their tunnel beneath a wooden vaulting horse constructed from plywood from Red Cross parcels.
Working conditions were claustrophobic and as the tunnel got longer, a wooden trolley was devised to carry the digger to the work face. Another man operated a bellows system to help improve ventilation in the tunnel.
The finished tunnel was 300′ long and 30′ beneath the surface. 78 men succeeded in escaping, although only three managed to make it back to England. The rest were recaptured and 50 were later shot by German security forces.