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From Calais to Colditz: A Rifleman's Memoir of Captivity and Escape
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From Calais to Colditz: A Rifleman's Memoir of Captivity and Escape

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The descriptions of his colourful fellow prisoners, their captors and their extraordinary experiences are as good as any of the previous accounts and in many respects more revealing.

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By Harry Pardoe

The author was a young platoon commander when his battalion were ordered by Prime Minister Winston Churchill to defend Calais to the last man and so distract German attention from the evacuation of the BEF at Dunkirk. After an intense four day battle, the survivors were subjected to a gruelling twelve day march towards Germany.

There followed incarceration in a succession of POW camps during which the author succeeded in escaping twice, both over the wire and by tunnelling, remaining at large on one occasion for twelve days. These exploits qualified him for a place in the notorious Colditz Castle, the supposed escape-proof camp. The descriptions of his colourful fellow prisoners, their captors and their extraordinary experiences are as good as any of the previous accounts and in many respects more revealing.

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