The Great Escape

Click here to go to an excellent account of the "Great Escape". This link also includes details of what happened to those escapees who were executed by the Gestapo on Hitler's orders.

Ken Rees (Wng/Cdr RAF Retired) was in the tunnel when it was discovered, and never made it out. His story has been published as "Lie in the Dark and Listen" and covers his whole wartime RAF career from when he joined up at 19 years of age, and his time in Stalagluft III after he was shot down in October, 1942. Details can be see HERE. His book is certainly worth reading as well. His book also includes a reference to the "legendary" parties that used to be held in Block 103 (my block)as excerpted HERE.

Other excellent links on the details of Stalagluft III and THE GREAT ESCAPE can be seen at the following Sites and

A board game based on The Great Escape is currently in production. Details can be seen at There is also a forum on the game at

The Film "The Great Escape" is also a fairly accurate representation of what happened (with the notable exeption of Steve McQueen's motorbike sequence) and is well worth watching. Except for Roger Bushell (Big "X") the characters in the film were mostly constructed from composites of actual participants.

A still from the film taken in the tunnel during the escape sequence.

Lee Kenyon also made a graphic record of the tunnel while it was being constructed. Copies of his remaining portfolio can be seen HERE. Signed copies of this portfolio were presented at the 1977 Reunion.
Lee Kenyon
Lee Kenyon at the 1977 Canadian Reunion

A committee has now been formed towards creating a permanent memorial and chapel in commemoration of the escape and the fifty men who were assassinated by the Gestapo. Click the above figure or HERE for complete details and to see how you might contribute.
Click HERE to go to an article about the proposed design published in the September 26, 2002 edition of the Calgary Herald.

If you have a fast machine you can click HERE to view a film that was made at todays museum. Plug in your audio and click on "Sagan Film" on the next screen and wait a short time for it to download.

View a more detailed description of the 50 escapees murdered by the Gestapo by clicking on the above photos of the "50". A 50th year Memorial Service was held on March 25, 1994, at the Central Church of the Royal Air Force, St Clement Danes. Click on the Memorial Service Brochure below to read the inscription printed inside the back cover.
Some notes about the tunnels based on my memories of the time.

11 April, 1943: The three Great Escape Tunnels. Tom, Dick & Harry, were planned and started. -(dirty sand on top of yellow sand).
TOM - Entrance from Block 123 in passage. Depth 25 ft; length 220 ft. (The Germans discovered this on 8 September, 1945 and blew it up).
DICK - Entrance from Block 122, washroom sump. Depth 25ft; Length 60 ft. (Used later for dispersal of sand).
HARRY - Entrance from Block 104 under tiled base of Fire Stove. Depth 28ft; Length 365 ft.

All shored with wood (bed boards etc), with two half-way houses, wooden railway and three trolleys used. Air pump made from kit bags and pipeline made from KLIM Milk Tins fitted together. Rope made from Red Cross string (platted). Mains Electric Lighting or Fat & Wick lamps. (One of our light fingered members picked up a 600 ft roll roll of electric cable from a German workman).
90 tons of sand dispersed via trouser sacks and kit bags.

Operation Escape 200

Post-war named ‘The Great Escape’

THREE successfully reached destination England:

F/Lt. Jens Muller, M.C., R.A.F. Norwegian,Seconded from R.N.A.F. Air-pump designer and Intelligence was No.. 43 out of the tunnel. Successfully reached England during 1944.
F/Lt. Peter Bergsland, M.C., R.A.F. Norwegian, Seconded from R.N.A.F. (Spitfire) Squadron. Clothing Expert was No. 44 out of the tunnel. Successfully reached England during 1944. Born 17th January 1919. Died 22nd June 1992 in Oslo, Norway.
F/Lt. Bram (Bob) Van der Stok, M.B.E., R.A.F. Dutch, 914 (Spitfire) Squadron. Meticulous Artist and Forger (Passports, Passes, Visas) was No. 18 out of the tunnel. Successfully reached England during 1944. Born 13th October 1915. Died 1992 in Virginia, U.S.A.


F/Lt. Sydney Dowse; Major Johnny Dodge, D.S.O., D.S.C.; W/Cmdr. Pricky Day, A.M. and F/Lt. Bernard A. James were imprisoned in Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Oranienberg, Germany. (Click om F/Lt. Bernard A. James to read the obituary that appeared in the Associated Press on February 1, 2008).


F/LT. Raymond L. N. Van Wymeersch, Free French Air Force, was imprisoned in Berlin and in 1945 transferred to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.


F/Lt. IVO P. Tonder, R.A.F. Czech, and F/Lt. Freddie Dvorak, R.A.F. Czech, were imprisoned in Colditz, Silesia, Germany.


F/Lt.Desmond Plunkett was imprisoned in Stalag Luft 1, Barth.
(F/Lt. Plunkett was on the same O.T.U. course as myself on Wellingtons at Wellsbourne).


The fifteen remaining officers of the seventy-six Escapees were eventually returned to base, Stalag Luft 3, Sagan, Silesia, Germany.
Click HERE to read the press announcement of the passing of Flt/Sgt Eric Dowling, who helped forge many of the documents used by the escapers.

The one hundred and twenty-four Officers on Stand-by to leave the Camp dispersed themselves within the Camp immediately upon the discovery of the tunnel ‘break-out’ by the Germans.


The following images were taken from a document circulated to all prisoners after the escape, with the inferred conclusion that all escapees would be shot as "gangsters", thus giving the Germans total permission to continue acting in the way they had done with regards to the "fifty". Total propaganda of course!

Please click on each thumbnail to see a larger version.

Comment by son Peter.

(I had hoped to include my father's memories of the activities surrounding this occasion. However, his health deteriorated significantly in 1998 and I was unable to obtain further details. He was still having flashbacks to his time in camp while he was in hospital prior to being transferred to the nursing home where he spent his final days unil late 1999. On one of my hospital visits during this period the nurses told me that he had hidden in one of the ward bathrooms. When I finally persuaded him to return to his bed he told me that he was trying to escape from the camp. He said that he had his escape supplies and map on him and was just waiting for his chance to avoid the guards. I found his "supplies" (several chocolate bars), his raft (the rubber mat from beneath his sheets) and map (a rolled up copy of that month's issue of the "National Geographic") when they dropped out of his pyjama leg as I led him back to his bed. I know that he still weeps whenever he thinks of all the friends that he lost to the Gestapo assassinations that resulted from this heroic episode, and it obviously still affected him deeply even after so many years).

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