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82863.  Mon Jul 31, 2006 11:52 am Reply with quote

Q: How would you escape from Buckingham Palace?

A: By secret tunnel, of course

Conspiracy theorists have long believed that London boasted a maze of secret tunnels designed to protect the Royal family. These theories have long been dismissed as bunkum...until now.

In The Sunday Times News Review (July 30, 2006), the Queen Mother's former equerry Colin Burgess has revealed that Buckingham Palace did, indeed, possess secret tunnels.

During another garden lunch the Queen Mother casually started telling me about the tunnels under London. Some run from Clarence House to Buckingham Palace and from there to the Houses of Parliament. She said: “Colin, bring in a torch one day and you and I should go down and explore.”

Sir Alastair Aird, her private secretary, quickly interjected: “Oh, I wouldn’t bother doing that if I were you, Colin. I’m sorry, ma’am, but the tunnels closed many years ago.'

The Queen Mother told me she had occasionally explored the lower levels of Buckingham Palace with the king. “It was just after the war and we went down to the basement more out of curiosity than anything else. When we reached the basement, there was a man, I think he was a Geordie. He’d been there for a while and was very courteous to us.”

She added with a chuckle: “As it turned out he didn’t have a role at all. He was just a friend of a friend who lived in the basement. He was very polite though. I wonder what happened to him.”,,2092-2290606_2,00.html

159085.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 4:45 am Reply with quote

We're a bit light on escape material, so I'm bumping this thread up the order, and Vitali is going to do some digging around. There's quite a good thread called "Escapology" in the outer darkness, starting at post 122860.

Fred points out this:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A descendant of Harry Houdini wants his body exhumed to test a theory that the famed escape artist was murdered 81 years ago, a spokesman for the family's lawyer said.

Houdini, who was famed for freeing himself from chains, straitjackets and sealed containers, died in 1926 in Detroit, Michigan but was buried in Machpelah Cemetery in Queens, New York.

No autopsy was performed but the cause of death was said to be a ruptured appendix. Houdini's appendix was thought to have ruptured by a punch to the abdomen.

But Houdini's great nephew George Hardeen believes the performer may have been killed by people who were angry because he debunked their claims that they could communicate with the dead.

If his bid to have Houdini's remains exhumed is successful, Hardeen plans to have a team of forensic investigators examine the body for evidence of foul play.

Joseph Tacopina, a prominent New York defence attorney who charges $750 (382 pounds) per hour, is assisting Hardeen.

Looks like a non-starter to me, but it's good to know that somebody's making money out of it.

159110.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 5:36 am Reply with quote


159356.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 10:57 am Reply with quote

How about The Great Sheep Escape?

159358.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:02 am Reply with quote

There's also the story of the only successful escape from Alcatraz. The assumption has been that all three of the escaped prisoners died, but there's only evidence of one of them having died, and nobody is sure which one

The bit I like about this story is that they built their raft out of about fifty prison-issued rubber raincoats and inflated it with a stolen concertina.

159371.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:14 am Reply with quote


159384.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:33 am Reply with quote

I'm going to Alcatraz in October, sadly.

Unpaid parking fine, apparently.

159449.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 2:53 pm Reply with quote

Harry Houdini died on Halloween 1926, apparently from a punch to the stomach that ruptured his appendix, however a new book has raised the issue that he might have been poisoned, and one of the main suspects could be Arthur Conan Doyle.

Houdini devoted large portions of his show to debunking of a group known as the Spiritualists, whose members included Doyle, and their fraudulent seances, and Doyle once said: "[Houdini will] get his just desserts very exactly meted out. ... I think there is a general payday coming soon."

171145.  Tue May 01, 2007 6:47 am Reply with quote

I asked a work experience candidate named James Vincent to look at the subject of WW2 escapes from Britain for us. He's in the middle of exams, but has produced this note nonetheless:

There are 435 identified and confirmed camp locations. But there were no succesful escape attempts.

P.O.W's were sorted by the strength of their political beliefs, Black for hardcore nazi's White for non-nazi's and Grey for dubious cases.

Nice anecdote: Island Farm, a Welsh camp one night recieved a contingent of officers one evening in November 1944, upon arrival they had to carry their bags 2 miles to the camp but refused to move. The Stationmaster then arrived on the scene dressed in full uniform including long coat and gold braided cap. The germans mistook him for a high ranking officer and obediently followed his orders, goose-stepping and singing through the welsh countryside.

The POW's received the same quality and quantity of food as the Allied forces training in the UK or fighting overseas, these being somewhat better than those available to the civilian populace.
(The above information was found at which sources Prisoner of War Camps (1939 - 1948) by Roger Thomas and Temporary Settlements and Transient Populations. The Legacy of Britain's Prisoner of War Camps by Dr. Anthony Hellen)

More information on Island Farm can be found on their site which includes news clippings and radio broadcast of the day concerning the camp's 'big escape' in which 70 prisoners tunneled under the walls of their prison.

This escape contains the amazing anecdote in which the first two officers to escape were making their way through a village encountered a drunken local. Karl Ludwig (S.S. officer) and Heinz Herzler (Unknown) decided to hide in a nearby garden, but unfortunately the garden they chose to hide in belonged to the drunken man. Feeling the call of nature the local urinated into the bushes and onto the two officers. He then returned to his house unaware of what he had done. Fantastic though this tale is, it seems to be true. The site credits the book Come Out, Wherever You Are written by one Herbert Williams, I also found the same story on the Channel 4 history website,

The first officers imprisoned in Britain were held at Grizedale Hall, a stately home which was at the time expensive to run prompting this reaction from a certain Colonel Wedgewood; "would it not be cheaper to hold them [the pows] at the Ritz Hotel in London?"
The German prisoners were put to work on construction of new homes within the localities of their camps and were paid the current union rates of between 3 and 6 shillings for a 48 hour week.

There is still one remaining german POW, one Fallschirmjäger Obergefreiter Hans Teske. "In June he applied for a transfer to Kent and the officials removed his name from the list in Epping but for some reason did not put his name on their records in Kent. When he discovered the error he asked for his name to be put on the repatriation list but was refused. He continued his protests and lobbied his local Member of Parliament and several German ambassadors but to no avail and in 1970 decided not to pursue the matter so technically he is still a prisoner of war to this day!"

Information from, but the site credits no other source.

In either World Wars only one person, Gunther Pluschow, escaped mainland Britain. Sites backing this include wikipedia and a book found at amazon

The most audacious escape attempt was made by two Luftwaffe officers, Lt. Heinz Schnabel and Oblt. Harry Wappler on November 24, 194. They managed to attain forged papers identifying them as two Dutch RAF officers and escaped camp no. 15 near Penrith Northumbria to a local airbase. Here they found a plane and managed to set off to Holland, unfortunately their craft did not have enough fuel to make the flight and they returned home to capture. and

The general overview seems to be that although there were escape attempts the biggest trouble was getting off the island.

171151.  Tue May 01, 2007 6:56 am Reply with quote

More people escaped from Colditz than any other POW camp in either of the wars, despite there being more guards than prisoners. This was because all those most likely to escape were kept there, as it was thought to be the most safe.

More French escaped than any other nationality.


171177.  Tue May 01, 2007 8:06 am Reply with quote

Interesting point made in that article: I didn't know that after their early successes the Germans found themselves saddled with 7 million POWs.

171183.  Tue May 01, 2007 8:08 am Reply with quote

Imagine having to say
For you, ze war iz over!

7 million times.

171268.  Tue May 01, 2007 10:06 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
Interesting point made in that article: I didn't know that after their early successes the Germans found themselves saddled with 7 million POWs.

I don’t really get that. Once the surrender was signed, wouldn’t that country’s captured soldiers just be sent home?


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