The Great Escape of 1918

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by Kyt, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    Revealed: the Great Escape of 1918 | Art and design | The Observer

  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    On the 2nd of September 1915 this aircraft force-landed somewhere near Whitby, the crew were described as "Safe". The aircraft was repaired. 02.09.15. R.A.F. B.E.2c 1109, RNAS Redcar (believed Home Defense Flight). Details as you have them plus:

    The aircraft was built by Beardmore & Co. at Dalmuir and delivered to RNAS Redcar on 31st July 1915. It moved to RNAS Scarborough on 25th August 1915 but was back at Redcar on 27th August. Following the incident above it was repaired although there is no indication of where this happened. It was back at RNAS Scarborough on 8th November 1915 and moved to RNAS Atwick/Hornsea on 11th November but was back at Scarborough on three days later. It transferred to RNAS Redcar the following day, 15th November where it remained until being transferred to RNAS Cranwell on 26th May 1917. It was deleted from charge on 2nd November 1917.

    Pilot - Sqdn Cdr Charles E H Rathborne, ok.

    Obs - Flt Lt Charles B Dalison, ok.

    Aircraft Crashes on and around the North Yorkshire Moors

    1. Name - Charles Edward Henry RATHBORNE R.M.L.I
    2. Date Commissioned - 1 September 1903
    3. Date retired - Transferred to R.A.F. 1 August 1919 - Retired from R.AF. 13 October 1935
    4. Rank - Temp Lt. Colonel 31 December 1916 D.S.O.* Air Commodore R.A.F., C.B., D.S.O.*
    5. Awarded wings - 16 April 1913
    6. Flying schools - Central Flying School , Upavon
    7. Aircraft types flown - Short Biplane, Maurice Farman, White Seaplane, BE2, Camel
    8. Decorations - D.S.O. 17 January 1919 (Capt. RMLI. Wing Cdr. RNAS)
    "In recognition of his gallantry and devotion to duty during the course of a long distance air raid in which he acted as a pilot of a fighting machine which formed part of the escort. Wing Commander Rathborne was brought down whilst protecting the bombing machines, his engine having been put out of action. It was owing to the gallantry and self-sacrifice of this officer and those of other fighting machines that all the bombing machines returned safely from the raid".
    D.S.O. Bar 16 December 1919
    "For gallantry in escaping from captivity whilst a prisoner of war."
    C.B. 1935
    1914 Star, War Medal, Victory Medal.
    9. General - From the outbreak of the Great War he was in charge of seaplanes operating from Dunkirk until joining the Independent Air Force in France. Having been promoted to Wing Commander on 31 December 1916 he was involved in fighter operations and was escorting a bombing force in April 1917 when he was shot down and captured near Lake Constance, Germany, and became a POW. On 23 July 1918 he escaped from Holzminden POW camp and regained the Allied lines on 28 July 1918.
    For his part in the raid he was awarded the D.S.O., and a Bar for his escape.
    He transferred to the R.AF. on 1 August 1919 and he eventually gained promotion to Air Commodore. Among his appointments were :
    1930 - 32 Chief Staff Officer, Inland Area.
    1932 - 35 A.O.C. R.A.F. Mediterranean.
    He retired on 13 Oct 1935 and from 1938 he held the post of Area Deputy Commandant, Southern Area, Observer Corps.
    He died on 21 December 1943.

    Flying Marines
  3. David Layne

    David Layne Active Member

    Though the movie “The Great Escape” might have dramatized on the silver screen the story of the prisoners of war who tunneled their way out of Holzminden camp, a tough PoW (Prisoners of War) camp in Germany in 1918, a major exhibition will showcase how the escapees pioneered the subterfuge.

    According to a report in The Guardian, the audacious bid for freedom will be featured in the Imperial War Museum London’s show ‘In Memoriam: Remembering the Great War’, marking the 90th anniversary of the armistice on 11 November.

    “Everybody’s heard of The Great Escape, but it will surprise our visitors to see that similar escape attempts took place in the First World War,” said Terry Charman, senior historian at the museum.

    “Holzminden was the worst prisoner of war camp in Germany and had a reputation like Colditz for being inescapable. Its commandant, Karl Niemeyer, was particularly brutal,” he added.

    Holzminden, near Hanover, held 550 officers and 100 orderlies, and after it opened in September 1917 there were 17 escape attempts in the first month alone.

    All were unsuccessful.

    In November that year, the prisoners began digging a tunnel that would run under the camp’s perimeter wall.

    They were assisted by three German administrators at the camp: a mailman who became known to the soldiers as ‘the letter boy’, a man who supplied torches and was dubbed ‘the electric light boy’, and a female typist who passed on information because she was infatuated with an airman.

    The captives had a room at the barracks in which they made imitation German army uniforms and used a basic camera to forge identity documents. They also created an air pump out of wood and tin tubes from biscuit tins.

    The tunnellers worked in three-hour shifts, in teams of three, using trowels, chisels and a ‘mumptee’, an instrument with a spike on one end and an excavating blade on the other.
    The earth was moved in basins by a pulley system then hidden in the cellar roof.

    The tunnel remained undiscovered and nine months later was 60 yards long and six feet deep.

    In July 1918, 60 officers began the escape attempt, getting away through a nearby field of rye. But the tunnel collapsed on the 30th man, blocking the escape route.

    It meant that the next one, Major Jack Shaw, had to turn back.

    Of the 29 escapers from Holzminden, 19 were rounded up and taken back to the camp, partly because the alarm had been raised by a farmer whose rye field had been trampled.

    But, the remaining 10 made a successful run to neutral territory, led by Wing Commander Charles Rathborne, who hid on board a train and reached the Dutch frontier after three days.

    The 10 great escapers were awarded medals at Buckingham Palace by George V. (ANI)

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