How The Escape Was Nearly Foiled:
The escape happened during the night of the 10/11th March 1945, but on the day of the escape (10th March), a farmer by the name of Garfield Davies who owned Newbridge Farm, which bordered Island Farm, decided to plough his field.
Incidentally, Garfield Davies was the brother of John Davies - the farmer (tenant) renting Island Farm which was partially requisitioned to make the PoW camp.
As Garfield approached the hedgerow, near
to the camp boundary wire, he became aware of prisoners, along the length of
the wire, watching him work. Keen to show to the Germans that he was a skilled
ploughman he set off towards the other side of the field. Out of the corner
of his eye though, he noticed that the prisoners had now lost all interest in
his ploughing, but this got renewed as he approached the wire again. Garfield
thought that Germans from industrial cities might be interested in his tractor
and Garfield did his best to show his farming skills.
Garfield recalled that there was a very large flat stone only a short distance from the wire and as he skirted around it, rather than risk damaging his plough, the prisoners stared as if mesmerised. On his next run Garfield had to plough further away from the stone and this time only a handful of prisoners watched him.
During the early hours of the following morning, Mr Davies heard shots from the camp and saw many lights flashing and later that day, when he went to inspect his newly ploughed field, he found out why the prisoners had shown such apparent interest in his ploughing; especially when in the vicinity of the large stone. The large stone had been used to camouflage the exit to the tunnel and, had Mr Davies been careless enough to have hit the stone, not only could he have damaged his plough, but he could have also caused a cave-in or the discovery of the tunnel.
An aerial view of the camp.
Note the "diamond" shaped field - owned by Garfield Davies
ploughed on the day of the escape (10th March 1945).
Escape Tunnel Exit With Hut 9 Behind