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The Canteen Tunnel

I have the great privilege of presenting here a remarkable piece of research by Mike Furlong, concerning the true location of the Canteen Tunnel. The 'official' location of the Canteen Tunnel entrance, as given by current information and, to some extent, the Castle tour guides, is on the 'corner' of the canteen where it bends around to the south-east into the deep alcove that used to house the window, but where there is now a door on to the patio outside. However, Mike has researched evidence, some of which is actually old evidence looked at in a new light, that suggests a different location for the tunnel entrance. Without further waffle, I will now hand you over to Mike:


An investigation to establish the true location of the entrance
Mike Furlong

The drawing by John Watton on page 110 of The Colditz Story by Pat Reid.

I believe it is this drawing that has probably led to the canteen tunnel entrance being incorrectly identified. As with many of John Watton’s drawings it is probably more of an artist’s impression than an accurate and true picture of the canteen. (Take the shape of the manhole cover for example.) In order to show Kenneth Lockwood chatting with the German Feldwebel below the window as well as the activity at the manhole both have been combined. This would be impossible if the correct tunnel entrance was portrayed as Kenneth & the German would be hidden in the window recess. It would also mean that the shelves on the right-hand side of the drawing would be positioned at right angles to the outside wall of the canteen. Also, why would the counter be in this position?

These pictures from After the Battle No. 63 may have falsely represented the true location of the canteen tunnel entrance. It even suggested that the interior of the canteen may have been altered. The ‘manhole’ that can be seen (outlined in red) was in fact something attached to the top of the floorboards and has since been removed. The stain in the floorboards where this item has been removed can clearly be seen in the next picture. The original floorboards are completely intact.

This picture taken in May 2007 shows the staining to the original floorboards where something laid on top of it has been removed. The original floorboards are complete suggesting that this was never a manhole cover.

This drawing from the Diary of George Martin Schädlich further complicates the canteen tunnel debate. Although it shows the manhole cover nearer to the entrance to the canteen, the line of the canteen tunnel is incorrect as is the location of the exit. Perhaps this was just the artist's interpretation and not based on fact?

This drawing is also shown in the diary of George Martin Schädlich. It shows another inaccurate view but it does indicate that the tunnel entrance (manhole) was much closer to the canteen entrance and the Hof. It also illustrates that the tunnel was of considerable length (18 yards?) and that the entrance was on the opposite side of the counter to the table beneath the window. [See picture below - TC]

Top picture [Below - TC] shows the canteen today. Superimposed is a copy of the Lange photograph in what I believe to be the true location of the canteen tunnel entrance. At the far end on the right is the window recess. Note the drainage pipe running down the wall on the right hand wall where it turns into the window recess. This pipe appears quite old and is likely to have been there during the war. There is no pipe in the picture taken by Lange.

The bottom picture is a scan from the map in Pat Reid’s ‘The Colditz Story’ (pages 112/113) which shows the line of the canteen tunnel. [Red arrow runs parallel to the tunnel which is shown by a dotted track - TC]

Pat Reid wrote:
'Sure enough, there were tunnels leading in two directions, one connecting with the tunnel already noticed from the yard, and the other leading out under the window beside which Kenneth and the German worked. A second reconnaissance in more detail showed this latter to be about eighteen yards long and built on a curve.'

Recent photograph on the right showing what I believe is the location of the canteen tunnel entrance. Note absence of drainage pipe and exact match of floorboards. 'Pat Reid wrote: 'in front of the counter on the buyers’ side was a manhole cover'.

[Above - TC] Comparison of Lange photograph and location today. The curvature in the wall can just be made out below the counter in the left-hand picture.

In this view the Lange photograph seen on the left has been overlaid onto the present day picture on the right. Note the exact match of wall and floorboards.

Picture of ‘official’ canteen tunnel entrance showing discrepancies when compared with Lange photograph.

Note no iron pipe in R/H picture and no step in floorboards in the L/H picture. The distance from the ‘entrance’ in the L/H picture to the exit can not be more than about five yards. Note that the corner of the wall is almost in line with the centre of the manhole in the right hand picture. The manhole has been described as being on the buyers’ side of the counter. Surely if this was the true location it would be on the sellers’ side? Perhaps the brickwork that can be seen in the left hand picture was a base for a stove or maybe even a safe?

Any comments on this research would be most welcome, via my contact page.

Original research and photos by Mike Furlong and Gavin Worrell, June 2008. Webpage constructed by Tony Cutcliffe.

Also see the related subject: The Terrace Sewer Research Page

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