Claire McGill – The Great Escape

The Great Escape

By Claire McGill

“Ready to go?” said Jack. I nodded slowly. We had been planning our escape for months, so many I had lost count. It started when we joined the British army. Jack and I were young and foolish. We thought the idea of fighting for our country in a war was brilliant. We have been friends all our lives and I knew Jack was unpredictable, but he gave me a shock when he said, that we should join the army. Sixteen years old, was all we were. It didn’t take much time for Jack to convince me that we should leave. He always got what he wanted.
He said we would be heroes, that we would win medals; instead we are stuck in this prison camp in Germany. Even the cold wet and rat filled barracks were better than this. At least we were free men there.
We were captured by the Germans during the battle. I’ll never forget the sound of bullets whizzing through the sky or the fallen men groaning in pain. Now Jack and I are here with a group of other prisoners of war. Over a few months, we have all been digging a tunnel, past the perimeter of the prison camp. We are going to escape through the tunnel and when we’re out, we won’t look back. That’s the plan anyway.
“Now men, as soon as you are out, run. Don’t look back if someone has been caught, just keep going but make as little noise as possible”, said Jack, looking braver than anyone else. “Good luck” he said to me. “Good luck” I said quietly.
The tunnel was wet and slippery and I sank deeply in the mud but my spirit couldn’t be dampened, as I was about to be free. I moved further and further in the tunnel and then I felt the icy cold snow on my hands. I was out. I felt overjoyed. Then, I felt a bright light hit my face and heard shouts. They had spotted us. I ran as fast as I could but I sank deep in the snow. Then I heard a gunshot.
Jack had told us not to turn around but I could not resist the urge to. Then I saw him, the blood trickling from his forehead on to the white snow. It was Jack. I had never seen him look so vulnerable. I dropped to the ground beside him. “Go, you don’t have much time left” he said weakly. “I can’t just leave you here” I said. “If you stay here they will find you and kill you. Live your life while you still have it. Fight for England in that war and live” he said. Then there was silence.
I got up, the tears streaming down my face. I had lost my best friend. I stumbled through the darkness and turned around. The Germans were coming. I needed to hurry. They were ready to spill more blood than Jacks. I saw the coldness in their faces and decided I was going to fight the war for England, for myself and for Jack.

Claire McGill, Age 12
Presentation College,
Currylea, Tuam,
Co Galway

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