The Diggers of Colditz
The classic Australian POW story about escape from the inescapable
By Jack Champ and Colin Burgess
Published by Simon & Schuster
RRP $35.00 in paperback • ISBN 9781760852146
First published in 1985, this updated edition contains added detail, including short biographies of a number of the men involved.
There were men from many nationalities imprisoned at the infamous Colditz Castle but, for this book, the authors have concentrated their efforts on telling the story of the twenty Australians who spent time at Oflag IVC, as it was designated.
Jack Champ, a lieutenant in the 2/6 Battalion, was captured in 1941 while trying to reach Crete after the failed Greek campaign.
With the help of Colin Burgess, he has recounted his journey as a POW ending at Colditz, which included internment in several camps and involvement in various failed escape attempts.
Although not all escape attempts were unsuccessful: the ‘Warburg Wire Job’ saw 28 men escape from Oflag VIB, resulting in three men reaching England via the famous Comet escape line.
Further attempts were made at Oflag VIIB at Eichstatt with one of these resulting in more than 60 men escaping via a tunnel painstakingly constructed over a period of months.
While the escape produced few tangible results – most men being captured within hours or days – the tunneling experience was later put to great effect at Stalug Luft IV which famously featured in the book and movie, ‘The Great Escape’.
This book stands as a testimony to the mateship of the Australians who suffered sometimes years of imprisonment before Germany’s final surrender.
It is in fact a classic POW story that deserves to be remembered.