Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Escapism

Over the last couple of days I have heard a lot about the anniversary of the escape from Stalag Luft III of course it was an heroic act on the part of the escapees and a dastardly act on the part of the Gestapo to have 50 of them summarily shoot.   This is of course the "The Great Escape", it is 70 years ago today that 76 of the prisoners escaped, of that 76 only 3 made it to freedom and 50 were executed.   Remarkably it is also now over 50 years since the film from John Sturges was released (as opposed to escaped).   For me one of the more interesting aspects of the film has always been what was a 1961 Triumph TR6 Trophy doing in the German Army? ~ apart from waiting to be stolen by Steve McQueen's character "The Cooler King"

The film is actually based on the book of the same name, a factual account of the actual escape, what both the book and the film tend to overlook is that most of the camp's 10,000 or so prisoners had little or nothing to do with the escape, or indeed had any thoughts or intentions of escape.   My Father's best friend was an RAF Navigator / Bomb Aimer who saw out his war in this camp, he would relate how most of the prisoners would concentrate on survival, finding small pleasures, and basically making the best of the situation.   It was also obvious that the friendships he forged while there were very special, and every year there would be a reunion, with veterans flying in from around the Common Wealth and beyond.   I certainly remember meeting a couple of his Canadian friends who he met while a prisoner.   I suppose that something like this that is shared creates a deeper bond than most of us experience in normal day to day life.

The Daily Telegraph tells us that Dick Churchill at 94 is the last surviving escapee, I am surprised as my father's friend and most of his friends died relatively young, I had always assumed that their time of incarceration and privation would have been a big factor in this.
Post a Comment