We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

The Escape Artists

On sale

23rd August 2018

Price: £20

Select a format

Selected: Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781473686779

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.

Summer, 1918: twenty-nine officers crawled into a 16 inch high, 55 metre tunnel dug only with spoons. This was the culmination of 9 months gruelling toil in oxygen-starved darkness. Of the twenty-nine escapees, just ten would make their way back to Britain.

When captured Royal Flying Corps pilots Captain David Gray, Captain Caspar Kennard and 2nd Lieutenant Cecil Blain had arrived at Holzminden – or ‘Hellminden’ as its occupants called it – the Germans’ highest-security prison complex had seemed impregnable. ‘The Black Hole’ was ruled by the iron fist of Camp Commandant Carl Niemayer, under whose brutal temper prisoners were known to be shot and beaten to death. Not least the breakout artists.

After five unsuccessful attempts from different camps in one year, the obsessive Captain Gray was personally determined to orchestrate the building of a tunnel directly under the feet of their one hundred armed guards. With an improvised oxygen piping system, stolen disguises and astonishing courage, this handful of the Kaiser’s 2.3 million prisoners would succeed in making their way to neutral Holland and eventually back to Britain – for a private audience at Windsor Palace. The most unlikely escape of the Great War, their derring-do became military legend and the inspiration for the subsequent great escapes of the Second World War.

What's Inside

Read More Read Less


Candice Millard, author of 'Hero of the Empire: The Making of Winston Churchill'
Through careful research and unusual insight, Bascomb takes his readers inside not just the terrors of an infamous World War I POW camp but the minds of the men who were determined to think their way out of it. It's riveting reading, but more than that, it's inspiring.
David Grann, author of 'Killers of the Flower Moon'
'Brims with adventure, suspense, daring, and heroism'
Mail on Sunday
Terrific ... [a] stirring story
Daily Express
Candice Millard, author of Hero of the Empire
It's riveting reading, but more than that, it's inspiring
David Grann, author of Killers of the Flower Moon
A remarkable piece of hidden history, told perfectly . . . brims with adventure, suspense, daring, and heroism
Daily Mail
Entertaining . . . very little is known about the escape artists of World War I, but Bascomb's suspenseful and well-researched book could change that
Mail on Sunday
Terrific . . . [a] stirring story
Choice Magazine