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Subject: Richard Churchill, Last survivor of the Great Escape.

Dies at 99
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Date Posted: Thursday, February 14, 06:34:00pm


The last survivor of the Great Escape has died aged 99.

Airman Richard Churchill was among the 76 men who crawled through tunnels in 1944 to escape Stalag Luft III, a Nazi prisoner of war camp.

However, only three of the men got clean away and 50 were rounded up and shot on Hitlerís direct orders.

Mr Churchill was recaptured three days after the escape. He and his comrade Bob Nelson were found by farmers hiding in a barn and were handed over to the Germans. The RAF man believed he was not shot because the Nazis thought he may be related to Winston Churchill.

After his recapture Mr Churchill, of Crediton, Devon, was forced into gruelling winter marches across Germany.

Down the hatch: A photo taken by officials at the German camp show the inside of the narrow tunnel, named 'Harry', in 1944. Some 76 men made it out before the escape was rumbled by Nazi guards

The Great Escape was immortalised in the 1963 film starring Sir Richard Attenborough and Steve McQueen.

He told the BBC in July last year: 'You fell into a certain category.

'Were you going to sit and enjoy the very few delights of a barbed wire prison camp until you were rescued by your comrades, if you were rescued, or were you going to try and get out of the place and rejoin and drop something on them?

'You could be a quiet person, do nothing much, above all don't annoy the Germans or the Gestapo, or you can try and do the opposite and feel better as the result of doing it.'

Making do: Stalag Luft III prisoners are seen walking past a watchtower around the perimeter of the camp in the winter months to keep fit and stay warm

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Subject Author Date
Died February 12, 2019 (NT)Old obitTuesday, February 11, 03:34:53pm

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