Author(s): Eric Williams
Two officers made home runs via a tunnel dug in the open air beneath a wooden vaulting horse from Stalag Luft III.
The author, a Royal Air Force bomber captain, was shot down over Germany in 1942 and imprisoned in Stalag-Luft III (site of the 'Great Escape' later in the war). He escaped after 10 months and, accompanied by a fellow RAF officer, made his way back to England. He relates his story in three distinct phases: the construction of a tunnel (its entrance camouflaged by the wooden vaulting horse in the exercise yard) and hiding the large quantities of sand he dug; the escape; and the journey on foot and by train to the port of Stettin, where Williams and his fellow escapee stowed away aboard a Danish ship, the Norensen.
The story of the flight across Germany is particularly tense, as Williams relates how their clothing and fabricated travel papers became shabbier and more conspicuous. This classic escape-and-evasion story, an exciting read and is arguably the most ingenious POW escape of WWII. The Wooden Horse became a legend among servicemen long before its publication in 1949.
It was famously filmed by Jack Lee, starring David Tomlinson, Anthony Steel, Bryan Forbes and Peter Finch.