War veteran, 95, the last survivor of The Great Escape

A British war veteran has become the last surviving member of the true story behind The Great Escape, following the death of Australian pilot Paul Royle.

Former squadron leader Dick Churchill, 95, was one of the 76-strong team who escaped from the Stalag Luft III camp in Poland in 1944.

Their feat of courage went on to represent one of the most-told stories from the Second World War, immortalised in the 1963 Hollywood film starring Steve McQueen.

The survivors kept in contact through the Sagan Select Subway Society newsletter – of which Mr Royle and Mr Churchill were the last two recipients.

Mr Churchill previously said he thought sharing his surname with the wartime prime minister kept him alive in case the Nazis wished to use him as bait with a powerful potential relative.

The former squadron leader, from Crediton in mid-Devon, said: “I had a call from his (Mr Royle’s) son, telling me.

“He was 101 and I was 95, although I had expected him to survive me because he was living in Australia which is much warmer than England, of course.”

Mr Churchill said he has been inundated with requests from journalists, historians and autograph hunters following his part in Operation Escape 200, which went on to be known as The Great Escape.


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