Sunday, March 22, 2009

Anniversary of the Great Escape

Former prisoners of the German POW camp immortalised in the film 'The Great Escape' will return this week to pay homage to the men who were murdered after the breakout.

Adolf Hitler ordered 50 recaptured Allied airmen to be shot as a deterrent to others seeking to escape after their spectacular bid for freedom from Stalag Luft III.

Only three men made 'home runs' to safety through a tunnel which, nevertheless, tied up tens of thousands of Germans, who would otherwise be fighting, in the search for the escapers.


No Americans were involved in the escape. The fictionalized account, The Great Escape, did, however feature Americans in pivitol roles.

The Steve McQueen character was based in part on Alvin Vogtle, a pilot from Alabama, who although made several escape attempts, did not participate in the final escape depicted in the film.

Vogtle's Obit

There are also aspects of Eric Foster represented in McQueen's character. Foster was a British Flight Lieutenant and Navigator for the RAF.

Eric Foster Article

McQueen's motorbike scene is completely fictional.

James Garner's character is a compilation of many POWs.

Richard Attenborough plays Roger Bushell, the mastermind of the escape. Bushell was a South African born Auxiliary Air Force Squadron Leader for the RAF.

PBS article about the three that got away


  1. I believe McQueen did the stunt himself,right?

  2. I believe McQueen did the jump himself,right?(probably with a marlboro in his mouth)

    Terrible actor, but very,very,cool. Hangin' with Ali MacGraw probably didn't suck either.i will have a Stang like the one he had in "Bullit".....someday

  3. McQueen was obsessed with motorcycles and insisted that the scene be included in the film.