The Great Secret
The German officers and enlisted men of Compound 1A at Camp Papago Park in Arizona shared a great secret: a tunnel was being dug and a number of men would escape. It made a cohesive unit of the men–they dug together, sweated together and dreamed of breaking out from the camp.
Adding to the drama was that high-ranking American officers from the 9th Service Command were going to tour the camp in November 1944 to view how an efficient POW operation really worked. While at Camp Papago Park, a colonel planted both feet firmly on top of the hidden tunnel entrance and proclaimed that the camp never need be concerned that the prisoners were digging tunnels to escape–the soil, he declared, was hard as a rock! Everyone smiled at the comment, including some of the prisoners who heard it. One can only imagine the laughter of the men of Compound 1A after the big wigs finished their tour.
Digging continued through the month, and the soil was so firm that it did not need shoring. Finally, on December 20, the four captains in charge of the tunnel decided they had gone far enough–they had dug 178 feet to the Arizona Crosscut Canal. The time for the escape would be over Christmas weekend.
Read my novel about a young German POW at Camp Papago Park. Please go to “The Swastika Tattoo.”
Next time: Plans finalized for the Great Escape
Copyright Geraldine Birch. All rights reserved.