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On the night of the 10th/11th March 1945, 67 German Prisoners of war escaped through a Tunnel from Hut 9. This was the largest breakout of enemy POW's in the UK.
The disposal of clay from the Tunnel was a problem. Much of it was removed and scattered within the grounds of the camp, and in gardens, cultivated by the prisoners. This was difficult, as this clay was of a different colour to the top soil, so a solution was needed. At the end of the rows of beds within the hut, a small storage room was located, just before the ablutions and larger storage area. With the debris and bricks still laying around the camp, the entrance to this small storage area (shown in picture (1)) was bricked up, with a small access hole towards the top. All that remained was after removal from the tunnel, the balls were compressed into balls(8) and passed through the hole. This accumulated to a height of nearly 2 metres. The camp guards never suspected a thing, and walked past the false wall every day. Early in the 1980's, this false wall and it's contents was discovered by P.C. Reg Dodson during his investigation. He got access to the clay and brought out a few clay balls. I saw, but never photographed the false wall in it's place. Later on that decade, either through age and decay or vandalism, the wall retaining this clay collapsed into the Ablution block spilling it's contents across the floor. This appeared to be a recent thing when I got to the camp to photograph it (6). So, armed with a shovel I began digging, and recovered many artefacts within the clay. My prize, the U-boat Officers boots, verified by the Imperial War Museum. (12) & (13)


Plan of escape hut, showing positions of tunnel entrance and false wall built to hide spoil from the tunnel.


Room similar to the one bricked up by the prisoners to hide the clay from the Tunnel(1) Tool found buried in the clay from the Tunnel(2) Location of Tunnel entrance(3) Location of Tunnel entrance(4) Location of Tunnel entrance(5) Clay from Tunnel spilling into the ablutions block(6) View out of the escape hut window 1989(7)
Clay Balls from the Tunnel passed through small opening at the top of the false wall(8) More Clay balls, which still have fingerprints in them(9) Pair of boots found in the clay(10) Boots(11) U-Boat officer taken in the Imperial war Museum, London(12) Close up showing same type of boots discovered in the tunnel clay(13)


Searching for escapees around Bridgend