The Great Escape

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Moi, Mar 16, 2004.

  1. Moi

    Moi Active Member

    Sep 2, 2003
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    The ONLY GOOD place
    Perhaps this should be under the movie section, but I'm not reviewing the awesome movie. If you liked the movie, you may know that it was based ona true story. Well, happy anniversary to these brave guys...

    <B>Soldiers Relive WWII Great Escape 60 Years On

    These were the men who broke out of Nazi Germany's supposedly escape-proof camp Stalag Luft III on a moonless night in March 1944, creating one of World War II's most enduring legends and inspiring a classic war film.

    The Great Escape itself was 60 years ago but Squadron Leader Jimmy James, one of the 76 who escaped through the tunnel code-named Harry, clearly remembers the moments as he waited underground to scramble to freedom.

    "I felt a combination of surprise that we'd managed to accomplish this and also there was a tremendous tension, mixed with fear. But mainly I think I was very excited," he told reporters at London's Imperial War Museum.

    That night was the culmination of months of preparation, involving hundreds of men across the compound. Stooges warned of approaching guards and "penguins" disposed of the buckets of sand dug up by tunnellers.

    "We put sand in long sausage-shaped sacks inside our trousers. The German guards had no orders to watch for people with sand coming out of their trousers," penguin Dr Maurice Driver said.

    Three tunnels -- Tom, Dick and Harry -- were started but guards discovered Tom and blew it up. Dick became a store for sand and tools, leaving Harry as the escape tunnel.

    But on the night there was a major hitch. The tunnel cleared the barbed wire, but came up short of the woods around the camp that would have covered the escape.

    "We had to put a rope from the top of the exit to a man in the woods. One pull meant 'go' and two pulls 'stop'," James said. Using the signals, 76 men made it out.

    Ken Rees was meant to be number seventy-nine.

    "I was just about to leave. I was about 20 feet from the tunnel exit when I heard a shot fired," he said. A guard had spotted them.

    "I crawled backwards up the tunnel. I tried to kick at the shorings to cause a fall. I thought a guard might try to fire up the tunnel behind me."

    Rees was put in solitary confinement in the 'cooler', where the film's star Steve McQueen (news) spent long hours throwing a baseball against the wall.


    A break-out on this unprecedented scale seriously embarrassed the Nazis and Hitler ordered the Gestapo to shoot 50 of the captured escapees.

    "A great friend of mine was one of the 50. I almost felt guilty that he was shot and I wasn't. Normally I don't think about it but when you meet up with people who were in the camp with you..." Rees did not finish the sentence.

    After he escaped, James was captured and taken to another camp. "People say, 'Was it worth it?' The Germans had never done anything like that previously but it was war so we had to expect the unexpected," he said.

    "Only three men got home. It was a big effort for that," he said.

    The Silesian forest in Poland has grown back over the compound but Dick, the store tunnel the Nazis never found, is still there. On Wednesday, Britain's Channel Five will screen a documentary called The Great Escape: Revealed.

    "We found the concrete slab that blocked off the tunnel. Remember Charles Bronson (news) washing in the shower in the film? That's Dick. We even found the metal hooks that were used to lift the slab out," said Peter Doyle, whose father was a prisoner-of-war in another camp.

    "We found evidence of the bed boards they used to prop up the tunnel, tins they used for air pipes and a forger's rubber stamp made out of the heel of a boot," he added.

    "There is such a mythology around the escape. I think they find it hard to believe what they did." </B>
  2. Dan

    Dan Senior Member

    Aug 28, 2003
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    Aiken, SC
    Good movie, great story! Hooray for these guys!
  3. Annie

    Annie Diamond Member

    Nov 22, 2003
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    Interview with someone that was there, but didn't escape or get shot. Fascinating:

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