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- DescriptionOf all the daring PoW escape stories that have come to light in the last 100 years and immortalized by Steve McQueen in the film The Great Escape, the story of J.L. Hardy has to be one of the most remarkable. A PoW for three-and-a-half years, Hardy made less than twelve escape attempts while imprisoned by the Germans in the First World War, five of which being successful. In early 1915 he attempted to escape from Halle Camp, near Leipzig, by breaking through a brick wall into an adjacent ammunition factory. After five-months work the project proved impracticable. In the summer of 1915 he was transferred to Augustabad Camp, near Neu Brandenburg, and after being there 10 days he managed to slip away from a bathing party outside the camp, together with a Russian officer. After a difficult journey they covered the 50 miles to the Baltic coast. They swam a river, were nearly recaptured once, but eventually reached Stralsund. They nearly managed to get the crew of a Swedish schooner there to give them passage, but were arrested at the last moment. Hardy was returned to Halle and joined an unsuccessful attempt with a group of Russian officers to break down a wall. He then made a solo escape attempt by picking locks and breaking through a skylight before sliding down a rope onto the street. From here he slipped into the rain and darkness. He spoke eugh German to make his way by train to Bremen. Here, broken down by cold and hunger, the Germans recaptured him. He was then transferred to Magdeburg, where he escaped with a Belgian officer using subterfuge, audacity and good fortune . They reached Berlin by train, and went on to Stralsund. From there they crossed to the island of Rugen, but were arrested before they could find a fishing boat to take them to Sweden. His next prisoner of war camp was Fort Zorndorf, from where escape was virtually impossible. Nevertheless he made several attempts, and one nearly succeeded when, with two others, he almost got out disguised as a German soldier. Hardy was transferred around further and made subsequent escape attempts until he finally managed to escape for good in March 1918, after being a PoW for over three-and-a-half years. Written in Hardy's own words, this book reads like a wartime thriller or Hollywood screenplay and his Great War story makes for fascinating reading.
- Author BiographyCaptain Jocelyn Lee Hardy DSO MC was a British Army officer famed for his courage on the battlefield and repeated escapes from German prisoner of war camps during the First World War, the details of which are found in this book. Born in 1894 and seeing action in the war as earlier as 24 August 1914, Hardy's unit acted as a rearguard to cover the retreat of 5th Infantry Brigade at Le Grand Fayt. On 26 August Hardy was reported as missing in action and spent the best part of the next three and a half years as a prisoner of war. Hardy continued to serve in the Army until 1925 when he retired on account of ill-health. He was the author of seven books, I Escape! being his first. He died in 1958, aged sixty-three.
- Author(s)J. L. Hardy
- PublisherPen & Sword Books Ltd
- Date of Publication30/11/2014
- SubjectMilitary History
- Place of PublicationSouth Yorkshire
- Country of PublicationUnited Kingdom
- ImprintPen & Sword Military
- Content Note6 B&W pics and maps
- Width156 mm
- Height234 mm
- Spine0 mm
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