The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Breakout of WWI

Written by Neal Bascomb
Review by Edward James

Most of us have heard of the Great Escape of WW2, when 76 POWs tunnelled their way out of Stalag Luft 111 in 1943.  WW1 also had its Great Escape, also via a tunnel, when 29 British and Empire officers escaped from Holzminden camp in July 1918. Ten of them made the ‘home run’ to neutral Holland (only three of the Great Escapers of 1943 made it home).

Only the second half of The Escape Artists is about the Great Escape.  The first part chronicles all the abortive attempts that the escapers made during their captivity before their eventual success, only four months before the end of the war. These failures are obviously not so exciting, but they give an opportunity to describe in detail what POW life was like, at least for the officers.