Great Escape Tunnel Set for Excavation

'George,' a lesser-known tunnel, was dug after initial escape

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 19, 2011 11:03 AM CST

(Newser) – It's called "George," the lesser-known tunnel of the Great Escape, and historians hope to uncover World War II equipment or personal effects when engineers excavate it. Prisoners of war dug “Tom,” “Dick,” and “Harry” for the famous 1944 escape attempt from the Nazi camp, and those who didn’t make it out on that night—not realizing that 50 of the 76 escapees were killed by the Gestapo—later dug “George” for their own attempt, the Telegraph reports.

The tunnel, however, was never used because the prisoners were forced to march from the camp in German-occupied Poland back into Germany. A veteran identified the entrance to the tunnel last year, on the grounds of the prison camp Stalag Luft III. Teams will begin excavating in the spring, and may excavate the Harry tunnel as well.

Jack Harrison, right, thought to be the last survivor of the WWII POW breakout from Stalag Luft III that inspired The Great Escape, is seen with other prisoners-of-war in this undated file photo.
Jack Harrison, right, thought to be the last survivor of the WWII POW breakout from Stalag Luft III that inspired "The Great Escape," is seen with other prisoners-of-war in this undated file photo.   (AP Photo/Erskine-pa, file)
Museum pieces of the POW escape are displayed at the 60th anniversary of 76 Allied officers breaking out from Stalag Luft III POW camp during WWII, at the Imperial War Museum March 16, 2004 in London.
Museum pieces of the POW escape are displayed at the 60th anniversary of 76 Allied officers breaking out from Stalag Luft III POW camp during WWII, at the Imperial War Museum March 16, 2004 in London.   (Getty Images)
circa 1942:  Prisoner of war camp Stalag Luft III which was run by the Luftwaffe for captured airmen until its liberation on April 29, 1945.
circa 1942: Prisoner of war camp Stalag Luft III which was run by the Luftwaffe for captured airmen until its liberation on April 29, 1945.   (Getty Images)
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"The Great Escape" trailer.   (VintageFilmTrailers)

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