Duty to escape

The Code of the United States Fighting Force, which applies to serving U.S. military personnel, outlines the duty to escape in article III

A duty to escape is a requirement that military personnel attempt to escape from captivity if taken prisoner of war. It is referred to in Second World War prisoner of war films including 1963's The Great Escape but was not actually a duty imposed on British officers at the time. The duty was formally applied to U.S. military personnel as article III of the 1955 Code of the United States Fighting Force, which remains in effect.


A duty to escape is a requirement for service personnel, particularly officers, to attempt to escape back to their own lines if taken prisoner of war by enemy forces. One of the earlier references to this is in 1891 when France prohibited its officers from giving their parole.[1] Parole was an arrangement whereby the officers would be granted their additional privileges or freedoms in exchange for promising not to attempt to escape to take up arms against their captors.[2] In this instance the prohibition of parole was not intended to maintain the officer's duty to escape but to ensure that they remained with and cared for their captured men.[1]

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