|Richard Attenborough as Roger Bartlett - Mirisch Films|
|Roger Bushell - wikipedia|
|Donald Pleasence as 'The Forger' -|
|Alex Cassie - Forging- |
|Tim Walenn - The Forger - IWM|
|James Garner as 'The Scrounger' - Mirisch Films|
|Sagan 111 (IWM HU21013)|
Sagan 111 had a large lending library with books provided by the Red Cross and YMCA. Harvey Vivian was the head of education in the camp. Examinations took place with papers being set by professional bodies and sent in through the Red Cross. Examinations were formally invigilated by other POWs from education backgrounds and lectures took place from qualified academics who were in the camp. Not all kriegies were hell bent on escaping, although Jimmy James observed that continual study within the confines of the camp had a blinkered effect on the person and as soon as the study was over, the kriegie became more acutely aware of the ‘barbed wire and goon boxes’, which in some cases led to temporary insanity.
*Donald Pleasence had personal experience of the era, as he had been a member of wartime aircrew and a POW.
‘When the stooge in 103 saw a ferret approaching, he opened a window, the man in 109 immediately saw this and put a folded paper against the window. The stooge next to the library caught the signal, knocked on the wall, and the stuff was out of sight in a few seconds.’
Another method of signalling was for a stooge to sit outside a hut with a towel around his neck, which meant all clear. The towel on his knees meant ‘German in sight’ and if he sat on the towel it meant that a ferret was near or a German was approaching the hut.
The scene in the film portrays this well and although Werner does not succumb to bribery, he has his pocket picked and loses his wallet with papers, Ausweiss and identity card in. He is hardly going to report it, so in desperation returns to ‘The Scrounger’ who promises to help him find the missing wallet - the alternative for Werner is ‘The Russian Front.’ The trade-off is a 35mm camera with a 2.8mm lens and focal plane shutter. Copies of Werner’s documents would be taken by the forgers before they were ‘found.’
The escape organisation obtained numerous items and information this way, including the geography around the camp, train times, places to avoid – even details of planned searches of huts.
Jimmy James reported that eighty seven per cent camp distilled alcohol (often made with raisins from Red Cross parcels) was offered to the guards. One collapsed unconscious and got dragged across the compound by the two dogs in his charge; whilst another fell out of a ‘goon tower.’
Moonless Night - B A 'Jimmy' James
The Great Escape - Paul Brickhill
Lie In The Dark And Listen - Ken Rees
War Pilot Of Orange - Bob Vanderstok
Web Site The Great Escape -Rob Davis- http://www.elsham.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/gt_esc/