The Last Escape


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1. Chapter 1

“Do you think we’re there yet?”

Flight Lieutenant John Barcombe looked back down the low, narrow tunnel that the two of them had been digging for the best part of a year. It had been slow progress in their weakened states, and he realised it was a miracle they had got as far as they had.

“We must be past the fence now,” he replied. “Not sure if we’ve made the woods though.”

 “I don’t think either of us can take much more of this,” groaned Frank Kilby, his flight engineer. They hadn’t seen the other five members of their crew since the fateful night of 14th August 1942 when their Lancaster had been shot down on a bombing raid over Germany, though they knew their rear gunner, “Stinker” Starnton was dead.

“We’ve no time to dig any further,” Barcombe stated. “It has to be tonight. We probably won’t have another chance.”

With a great effort, Barcombe rolled on to his back and attacked the roof of the tunnel with his spoon. Crumbs of earth fell on him as he dug upwards.

“Are you sure we’re doing the right thing?” Kilby asked.                              

“It’s our duty,” Barcombe replied gravely. “And you know the only other way out of this place is in a coffin. Nobody’s got out since Kirchausen took over.”

Kilby nodded. “Kirchausen won’t be too pleased when we’re gone. There’s bound to be reprisals. Perishing Nazi…”

He fell silent as a beam cold draught blew down the tunnel. Barcombe smiled. “We’re through!” The two of them tore away with their bare hands at the small hole Barcombe had made until it was large  enough for Barcombe to kneel up through. He looked around him. They’d come up pretty much where he thought they had – outside the fence but still twenty feet from the trees that would cover their bid for freedom. But it was a cloudy, moonless night ideal for escaping. If they were careful, they could make it to the trees without detection. Using all his strength, Barcombe clambered out of the hole and pulled Kilby through after him.

“We must get to the trees quickly,” whispered Barcombe.

“I know I must,” Kilby replied grimly.

At any moment they expected to hear the bark of a dog or be caught in a beam of light, but there was none and reached the wood undetected.

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