By George! Fourth Great Escape tunnel to be excavated

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Tom, Dick and Harry famously had their stories told in the film The Great Escape, but more is soon to be learned about a little-known fourth tunnel.

This spring, a British team is due to excavate "George", at the site of the Stalag Luft III camp in Zagan, Poland.

The tunnel was built after the March 1944 escape by 76 Allied prisoners that is portrayed in the film starring Steve McQueen, but never used for an escape.

It was a "contingency tunnel", he believes, built amid POWs' growing fear that the advance of the Russian army might prompt their German captors to turn on them.

It could have been used to store possible weapons as well as items for an escape through the tunnel, if that was deemed necessary.

No escape ever took place because, in January 1945, the retreating German army forced thousands of POWs on the infamous "Long March" back to Germany in freezing conditions. About 200 men died.

One veteran has told Dr Tuck he remembers putting a radio set in the tunnel, and the historian believes the excavation could also uncover forged documents, clothing, tools and food....

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