Selected by Diana Manipud, Archives Assistant
This is an illustration of a group of prisoners of war tunnelling out to escape from a German prison camp by Brigadier John Alan Lyde Caunter. Whilst with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), he was captured by German forces in 1914. Caunter managed to escape to the Netherlands from Schwarmstedt prison camp, Germany in 1917.
The illustration is from a photograph album in the Caunter collection, which also includes a few press cuttings relating to the escape that provides interesting context to the illustration. According to the Land and Water journal, Caunter’s escape was, ‘extraordinarily ingenious and of the prolonged nerve-racking kind. He got on a top shelf in the parcels room, before the very eyes of a German; lay there cramped and stifling for hours; then stole out of the window while a sentry on each side turned his back… [he had to] wait by one bridge while the sentries carried on a conversation with two girls who seemed as though they would never go away’. I think that this illustration is a playful reflection of Caunter’s own experience and I love the humour and detail of it, from the little silhouetted figures of tunnellers, the courting couple, the dachshund to the Zeppelin.