On this day in history : 13th December 1914 – Lieutenant Otto Koehn – known as ‘the German jack-in-a-box’ – is discovered concealed in a packing crate at Tilbury Docks….attempting to escape to Hamburg….
Otto was a German prisoner of war…. He had been captured from a German freight ship travelling from the USA to Germany….and he had been taken to Poundbury Prisoner of War Camp in Dorchester…. Otto began to plan his escape soon after arriving….
On arrival at Tilbury Docks the SS Batavian was waiting to take the prisoners for repatriation to Hamburg…. Dockers decided the best way to load the crate Otto was secluded in was by rolling it down the ramp to the ship…. So shaken and jolted was Otto inside he could stand it no more…. He burst out of the crate head first….and surrendered….
Otto was returned back to Dorchester….and earned the new name ….’Jack-in-a-box’….