London, Oct 24 (ANI): A British officer held at Colditz, the prisoner-of-war camp the Nazi's believed was escape proof, used ingenious code he developed to write love letters to a string of girlfriends for passing information to British intelligence.
Captain Pat Reid was the prisoners' first 'escape officer', immortalised on screen by actor Sir John Mills in the 1955 movie The Colditz Story and by Edward Hardwicke in the 1970s TV series.
But neither showed the jail-breaker's complex love life, or how it helped keep the captive British servicemen involved in the war effort.
Reid was a lothario with a string of girlfriends at home in England.
Before the war he kept in touch with them, and kept them secret from others - and possibly each other - using simply coded love letters.
He continued to use the code when he became one of the first POWs sent to the Germans' new high-security camp.
"Pat was quite a womaniser in his youth," the Telegraph quoted Brian Degas, his friend and the co-creator of the Colditz TV series, as telling the Sun.
"He used to communicate with old girlfriends in code and when he got to Colditz he just started to communicate with his girlfriend in the same simple code.
"Two of his fellow prisoners, Dick Howe and Rupert Barry, realised that if they could make the code more sophisticated they could communicate with London and pass on information they picked up from military gossip," he said.
Pat wrote coded "love letters" - sent through the Red Cross - to his girlfriend, while other POWs did the same to their loved ones.
The women in turn passed the messages on to MI9, part of the War Office.
"The guards and German officers often spoke about troop movements and by passing on details like that to MI9, our men could still play a part in the war," said Degas.
Captain Reid's "love letters" revealed details of gasoline and rocket fuel reserves, 30 miles from Colditz, which the US later bombed. (ANI)