Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: November 2019

Chapter 5 - Challenging the Holzminden illusion


On the evening of 23 July 1918, twenty-nine British prisoners at the officers’ camp at Holzminden in Lower Saxony escaped after spending nine months digging a tunnel beneath their enclosure. Among them was Lieutenant Peter Lyons, a Western Australian of the 11th Battalion, who had tried to escape from Holzminden on two other occasions. Armed with a compass, a map of Germany, some money and a cut of bacon, this time Lyons was successful and took off across Germany towards neutral Holland with two other British officers. Lyons recalled hiding in woods during the day and avoiding all major roads and villages by night. ‘When night came and things were quiet, we would set out again … we travelled in this manner for 12 days, covering 185 miles [298 kilometres].’