A transcription of a poem from a wall within Stalag Luft III originally written by Flight Lieutenant Edward Gordon Brettell.


If you can quit the compound undetected,
and clear your tracks nor leave the slightest trace
and follow out the programe you've selected,
nor lose your grasp f distance time and place.

If you can walk at night by compass bearing,
or ride the railways by night or day,
and temper your illusiveness with daring,
trusting that sometime bluff will find a way.

If you can swallow sour frustration
and gaze unmoved at failures ugly shape,
remembering as further inspiration,
it was o is your duty to escape.

If you can keep the great Gestapo guessing
with explanations only partly true
and leave them in their heart of hearts confessing
he didn't get the whole truth out of you.

If you can use your cooler fortnight clearly,
for planning methods wiser than before,
and treat your first miscalculations merely,
as hints let fall by fate to teach you more.

If you scheme on with patience and precision
It wasn't in a day they builded Rome
and make escape your only one ambition
The next time you attempt it you'll get home.
By. F/Lt. Bretel.

(After poem)
Originally copied from the wall of a cell in which would be escapees served sentences of solitary confinement for their abortive escape attempts.
F/Lt. Bretel was among the band of R.A.F. Officers ruthlessly shot when recaptured after escaping from the north compound Stalag Luft III on 25th March 1944.






Pages 56-57 from the diary of F/L Andrew N. Orr.
Edward Gordon Brettell, DFC (19 March 1915 – 29 March 1944) took part in the 'Great Escape' of Allied Prisoners of War from Stalag Luft III, and was one of those recaptured officers subsequently executed for their escape attempt. Gordon Brettell is buried at the Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery, Poland.

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