Great Escapes: Remarkable Second World War Captives

What can documents reveal about how people held captive ‘escaped’ during the Second World War?

This interactive workshop is inspired by our new exhibition, Great Escapes: Remarkable Second World War Captives. In this dynamic session, students will explore a range of sources including photographs, maps and personal military cards to learn about the experience of individuals who were held captive during the Second World War. Learners will engage with diverse stories from Prisoners of War in Germany and Japan as well as people who were interned in Britain. They will learn about how these individuals found inventive ways to escape their realities such as sport, art and even companionship with the only ever animal Prisoner of War, Judy the dog. This session is a fascinating and powerful way for students to learn about this aspect of the Second World War.  

What to expect in this onsite workshop: 

Students will participate in groupwork to explore the experiences of five individuals who were taken captive during the Second World War.  Learners will have the unique opportunity to handle original documents and investigate what these records can reveal about individual’s remarkable stories of escape, both physical and mental. Learners will interact with the exhibition to enhance their understanding of these individual’s stories. They will and develop skills in evidential thinking, historical enquiry and spoken language.  

Links to curriculum: 

Key Stage 2:  

This session supports schools focusing on a thematic study in British history (beyond 1066).  

Key Stage 3:  

Challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day. 

The Second World War  

Session options

This session is delivered as a:


at The National Archives

2 hours


  • Wednesday 28th February – 1pm
  • Wednesday 27th March – 10am and 1pm
  • Wednesday 12th June – 10am and 1pm
  • Wednesday 19th June – 10am and 1pm
  • Wednesday 26th June – 10am and 1pm

Cost: Free to UK schools

Suitability: Key stages 2-3

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