The Escape – David McIntyre + Henry Craig (Birdcage of the Bay: St Helena Island Prison)

The Escape – David McIntyre + Henry Craig (Birdcage of the Bay: St Helena Island Prison)


1911 was one of the biggest escapes
that happened on St Helena from the St Helena penal establishment and it
caught the attention Australia-wide as everybody rushed to try and keep a
lookout to find two prisoners who had escaped from St. Helena Island.
Henry Craig and David McIntyre the two of them caught the attention of
Australia but actually they never left the island and that was the most biggest
irony of their escape story. The prison was in its heyday things were
running smoothly and and Craig and McIntyre are these privileged prisoners.
They help out in the workshops, they helped the warders. Craig has managed to secure himself a bed in the hospital and one of the warders is really appreciative
of Craig’s help. To the extent that he totally breaks the prison rules and he gives Craig a bottle of whiskey, and alcohol isn’t allowed on the island. It’s a thank-you, but Craig and McIntyre have a plan.
McIntyre will report sick and get into the hospital as well and they’ll have
that bottle of whiskey there. Now it seems that the bottle of whiskey gets
used as a bribe to the people who are actually in the hospital with them, so
they bribe the other prisoners to stay quiet. What they’ve done is help
themselves to useful tools in the workshops so they’ve actually got the
ability to take the hinges off the locked door and open it that way. They pretty much ran down and managed to get themselves into the
lumber yard. That meant they were just about outside of the prison, but it
was starting to become morning and they knew that there was nowhere to hide. So
they knew they they were going to be seen any minute, so they quickly decided
that they would hide in a roof and that way they would be able to continue their
escape but give themselves a break in the roof so they went to the tailor’s shop
and undid the tile roof tiles, crept in and laid down quietly. That’s where they
stayed for the next 11 days. To escape but not escape, to actually
hide inside the stockade while everybody else was
looking for them is just hard to imagine. So they crept out of the roof at night
again, they managed to steal some tools from the workshop area. From the
blacksmith’s they stole some crowbars and from the toolshed they managed to
steal a few bolt cutters and some pliers, and they managed to get themselves, with
a hook that they also stole from the tool shop, they managed to climb over the
high stockade fence. It was a very tall fence and they clambered over with the
help of a hook and ran to the southern part of the island as fast as they could.
They managed to get into the boat shed they get the boat, they try to get it
down the rails and go down into the water. It comes off. They get the small
rowing boat, they can’t get that down. They get a horse, the horse usually pulls
the boat down to the water and they can’t get the horse to do what they want
and it’s getting close to dawn. They’ve spent many hours trying to escape from
the island and they’ve come to the final conclusion that this is it. They need to
hand themselves in. So they walked themselves back up to the stockade, went
to the boot makers shop and handed themselves in and and gave themselves up.
It was to everybody’s absolute amazement that these men was still on the island.
Everybody had decided, across Australia that the men were long gone and they
were never going to see them again. So to know that they were still here on the
island really put some egg on the face of the authorities and there were
inquiries to try and find out about how they can prevent that from
happening again. The warder who gave them the whiskey, the
bottle of Dewar’s whiskey, the warder who was grateful for their assistance in the
workshops, he was a warder called warder Rawlinson. William Rawlinson knew the
seriousness of what he’d done and when the enquiry was started to be held
looking into all facets of the escape and what went wrong, he knew they would
not stop until they’d found the man who was responsible for the whiskey and he
knew it was him and as a result of that he felt that he just could not face the
loss of his own respect and the loss of his job. Warder Rowlinson
had a drinking problem and he took his own life with a cutthroat knife. The
warder who was grateful, is the warder who showed the most remorse and punished
himself

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