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Codner, Richard Michael Clinton

Date of birth:
1920 (Malaya)
Date of death:
March 25th, 1952 (Tanjung Malim, Malaya)
Nationality:
British (1801-present, Kingdom)

Biography

Michael Codner, Royal Artillery, already was an inmate of Stalag Lugt III when he, probably as a result of his classical education, thinking about the Torjan Horse, came to the idea of a wooden vaulting horse. Together with Eric Williams, they developped the idea further.
Using bowls for shovels, Williams, Codner, and Oliver Philpot dug for three months, while gymnast used the vaulting horse for cover, before finishing the 100-ft tunnel. On the evening of October 29, 1943, the three men made their escape. Traveling north, Williams and Codner reached Stettin where they stowed away on a ship to neutral Sweden. Philpot, posing as a Norwegian businessman, took the train to Danzig and stowed away on a ship to Stockholm. The three men were the only prisoners to successfully escape from the camp's eastern compound.

After the war Codner was killed in an ambush in Malaya by communist guerrillas when he and a party were repairing a water pipeline.

Promotions:
August 2nd, 1941: 2nd Lieutenant

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Lieutenant
Unit:
Royal Regiment of Artillery
Awarded on:
April 27th, 1944
Awarded for:
Operation Escape 200
Action:
Recommendation:
"This officer was captured at Medjez-El-Bab on 14 Dec. 42.
He was sent first to Rome and then, by mistake, to DULAG LUFT (FRANKFURT-am-MAIN). From there he went to OFLAG XXIB (Schubin) and then STALAG LUFT III (SAGAN). Escape from Sagan is exceedingly difficult: no one had got home direct from SAGAN or had succeeded in making a break from the East Compound, where Lt. CODNER was imprisoned, for over a year. Wire schemes are suicidal and orthodox tunnels are always found. The only method for escape from the East Compound was something entirely new. Lt. CODNER with F/Lt. Williams started such a scheme with F/Lt. Philpot as third participant. On 8 Jul 43 the three men began digging a tunnel. A hollow vaulting horse was constructed under which the digging went on. The diggers were carried out daily inside the horse, and the dirt similary removed, whilst a squad of P/W did vaulting excercises under the nose of a nearby sentry. The tunnel was 95 to 100 feet long, and the exit was in the open about 15 feet outside the wire. On 29 Oct 43 the tunnel was complete and the three men escaped. For the rest of the journey Lt. CODNER and F/Lt. WILLIAMS were together. They were dressed in civilian clothing improvised in the camp. They went by train to FRANKFURT-an-der-ODER and then to STETTIN via KUSTRIN, arriving there on 30 Oct. On 1 Nov they entered the dock area, hoping to board a Swedish ship unaided, but this attempt proved unsuccessful. Contacts were made with Frenchman, but it was not until 6 Nov that they were put in touch with a Danish sailor who offered to help them. They were smuggled on board and hidden in the foc'sle of a Swedish ship. On 7 Nov the ship docked at COPENHAGEN. Lt. Codner and F/Lt. Williams were hidden by the sailor in a flat outside the town. On 10 Nov. having returned to the ship, they hid in the chain locker for a day and a night. On 11 Nov they were put ashore at STROMSTAD (SWEDEN). The next day they reached GOTEBORG and finally STOCKHOLM on 12 Nov 43.
I recommend this officer for the award of the M.C."

Military Cross (MC)
General Service Medal 1918-1962

Sources