Thursday, 30 July 2015

Killing time in Stalag Luft III

Yesterday I had a fun session at the library trawling through Australian Red Cross newsletters and I came across this classic example of Stalag Luft III ingenuity: a jam tin clock. It apparently worked!
Constructed from Red Cross cocoa tins, bits of wood, tin, pencils, nails filched from heaven knows where, thread and melted-down silver paper it must have taken ages to delicately put together. According to the newsletter, all the gear wheels were carved from plywood with a penknife (I bet that was contraband!) and the shafts were pencils which had gramophone needles fitting in the ends for bearings. The weight was a cigarette tin filled with earth and the numbers. The numbers were painted on, and the hands painted to match. All did not run smoothly (I won’t beg forgiveness for that terrible pun) and the anonymous clock maker ‘had a bit of bother to engage the teeth correctly’. But at the time of the photo and letter, ‘seems quite OK now’. Apparently, according to the maker, ‘It has amazed the whole camp, and ran for two days without stopping’.
Even though he said it himself (and I tend to agree) ‘it does look good’, the clockmaker was not going to let time lay idle in his hands (groannnnn). ‘We are setting about working out a method of making it chime at the hours’. I wonder if he achieved his aim? 

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