Site Index

Why is Colditz so famous?
The current situation
Description of the Castle
Research Section
Getting to Colditz
About this Website
Recommended reading
British Declaration of War
Contact us

Help to support this website

Return to main Index


The Terrace Sewer

When the British Canteen Tunnel escape was attempted in May 1941, the tunnel exit was situated on the small triangular lawn on a terrace on the eastern side of the Castle. Because a sentry was posted on this lawn, the British had to attempt to bribe him in order to get him to 'look the other way' while the escape was going on.

The escape attempt was unsuccessful because the sentry was not 'turned' by his bribe; instead, he reported the incident to his superior officers and the escapers were caught as they emerged from the tunnel exit. Here is a picture of the tunnel exit, most likely taken by Hauptmann Hans Lange on the 'morning after'.

Recent research by Mike Furlong and Gavin Worrell, however, has shed an interesting light on that lawn terrace. Similarly to the article about Mike's research on the Canteen Tunnel, I present the research verbatim as given me by Mike. The terrace referred to in the article below is the lawned terrace described above, on which the Canteen Tunnel exit was situated. Enjoy!


What if the escapers had known of its existence?


In Jun 2008 Gavin Worrell and Mike Furlong were able to gain access to the large sewer below the terrace as the door had been removed.

The sewer below the terrace runs as shown by the red lines. There are two manholes into it today. [Shown as blue circles in the above picture - TC]

The sewer is blocked by a brick wall where it goes under the former Kommandantur. (Be interesting to know how far it goes beyond that.) The brick wall is directly below the doorway that can be seen leading into the reception area of the youth hostel. [Below - TC]

The line of the sewer is shown in this view, The first manhole can clearly be seen behind Renate Lippmann. The second manhole can just be seen in front of the doorway into the reception area of the youth hostel (former Kommandantur).

[The manhole in front of the doorway leads to the underground sewer as shown in the picture above - TC]

The sewer below the terrace outside the canteen window.

If the escapers had known this was here they might have broken through to it and avoided the terrace. Note the first manhole visible in the roof and the iron drain pipe on the right.

Does the pipe link up with the one on the right hand side of the window recess in the canteen?

The line of the sewer below the terrace is shown by the red lines. As can be seen it is in close proximity to the tunnel exit. Had the escapers tunnelled just a little further they may have broken into this large sewer and avoided having to show themselves on the terrace. There would also have been no need to bribe the guard.

Pat Reid said 'Alas! The tunnel did not continue on the other side. Beyond the wall, under the grass, was sticky yellow clay. My next idea was to make a vertical shaft which would bring the tunnel up to the grass.'

Shot showing the doorway into the sewer below the terrace and stone balustrade. Pat Reid describes this as “a 40 ft drop to the roadway below” but to be fair it does get higher as one moves along the terrace to the south. Until recently this sewer entrance was sealed by a wooden door.

This shot shows the line of the terrace sewer as viewed from the doorway onto the terrace from the reception area of the youth hostel. The first manhole cover can be seen clearly. The sewer entrance is directly below the first and second wall pillar as shown in the picture below.

More views of the sewer beneath the terrace:


Thanks, Mike, for another superb piece of work!

Here also is a picture I have adapted from one of Mike's pictures above, showing the relationship between the sewer and the Canteen Tunnel exit. The exit to the tunnel is now under a patio, and the approximate location of the exit site is indicated by the red spot. I leave the reader to speculate as to how close the prisoners were to getting in to that sewer.....

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: Canteen Tunnel Research Page

Return to Research home page