After being taken prisoner by the Germans in August 1914, Hardy wasted no time in trying to escape from the POW camps and was successful in five of these attempts.
Some of Hardy's more daring escapades are described below:
- In 1915, Hardy managed to sneak away from a bathing party after being transferred to Augustabad Camp. Accompanied by another escapee, Hardy travelled nearly 100km to the Baltic coast and nearly succeeded in getting passage from a Swedish ship. The two fugitives, however, were re-arrested just before they could escape.
- Attempting a solo escape this time, Hardy picked the locks of his door, broke through a skylight and slid down a rope onto the street. Using the German he had picked up in his time in the camps, Hardy managed to catch a train away from the camp. Eventually, weakened by cold and hunger, Hardy was recaptured.
- Working with a Belgian officer, Hardy escaped from Magdeburg Camp and managed to travel to Berlin by train. They then reached the island of Rugen, hoping to find a boat to smuggle them out of Germany to Sweden, but were arrested before they could do so.
- Hardy attempted to escape several times from Fort Zorndorf with one attempt involving Hardy disguising himself as a German soldier
After three and a half years as a POW, Hardy succeeded in breaking out of Schweidnitz Caamp in Silesia. Together with another British Captain, Hardy snuck out of the camp using forged police passes. After scaling a glass-topped wall, the two travelled nearly five hundred miles across Germany to reach the Dutch border. Hardy finally returned to England in March 1918.
Hardy's autobiography I Escape! gives more detail about his experience as a POW and his escape attempts.
The author of the book An Escaper's Log; Duncan Grinnell-Milne writes of Hardy “ His reputation as a prison-breaker was, I suppose, the most widely known throughout the camps of Germany, some of his adventures were really quite astounding.”