The events presented in Albert R.N. are based on fact and took place in the prison camp, Marlag O for Naval Officers in North-West Germany during the spring of 1944.
The inmates of a German prisoner of war camp suspect they have an informant in their midst, foiling their escape plans.
Lieutenant Geoffrey Ainsworth (Anthony Steel), who was an artist in his civilian life, offers fresh hope by creating a lifelike dummy – nicknamed ‘Albert’ – that can be used to cover the absence of an escapee during roll call.
‘Albert’ is made from papier mache supplied by German newspapers, human hair and eyebrows contributed by the prisoners themselves, odd lengths of wire and a naval greatcoat.
Every part of it is small enough to be carried around so that “he” can be constructed in 10 seconds while the guards aren’t looking.
When it comes to exercising his privilege as Albert’s creator to be the first to escape, Ainsworth hangs back. He has been writing to a girl back home whom he has never seen and has built up an illusion of her. When it comes time to escape, he finds himself unwilling to meet reality and possible disappointment when he meets her.
So he insists that they cut cards to decide who shall escape first. Lt. Fred Erickson USNAF (Paul Carpenter) draws the ace and makes a successful getaway but is recaptured at the frontier and shot.
Meanwhile, Ainsworth’s comrades – unaware of the real reason – put his self-sacrifice down to generosity and, at the next drawing of lots, arrange for him to be the winner. But he promptly offers to sell his chance to the highest bidder.
Before another escape can be made, Lt “Texas” Norton (William Sylvester), an impatient young American flyer, gets tired of waiting and is shot while trying to cut his way through the wire.
Ainsworth concludes that Albert is unlucky and decides to destroy him. The senior officer at the camp intervenes, however, and to preserve camp morale, he orders Ainsworth to escape as planned, but he gives himself up tamely to the first guard who challenges him and, on returning to the camp, is labelled as a coward.
At the same time, he is given a batch of letters from his girlfriend, which radically change his mind, and he claims his privilege to escape by means of Albert. This he does with the help of Lt. Jim Reid (Robert Beatty), during which time they also pay off an old score with the German camp commander.
A fake POW camp was built on Headley Heath in Surrey for the film.
Directed by Alfie director Lewis Gilbert and released in some markets as Break To Freedom.
Lt. Geoffrey Ainsworth
Lt. Jim Reid
Lt. ‘Texas’ Norton
Lt. Commander Joe Brennan
Capt. ‘Bongo’ Barton
Lt. Fred Erickson
Lt. Henry ‘Hank’ Adams
Lt. Commander Henry Dawson
Lt. ‘Schoolie’ Brown
Lt. ‘Cutter’ Craig