Wellington Society Guy Walters, ‘The Not-so-Great Escape’

The Wellington Society began the year by hosting Guy Walters OE in the Marten Library on Wednesday 15 September. The title of his talk was ‘The Not-so-Great Escape’, and was based around the true story of the film starring Richard Attenborough and Steve McQueen. Mr Walters talked about the various inaccuracies in the film and mentioned how the device most used by British prisoners inside Stalag Luft III was bribery. This was possible because the guards inside the real camp were more often than not very young, very old or had been wounded on the Eastern Front and were hungry much of the time, rather than the cunning detectives depicted in the film version. The ability of the prisoners to bribe them with cigarettes allowed them to obtain passes and clothes in order to aid their eventual escape. Mr Walters also reflected on the tragedy that was the execution of 50 of the 76 officers who had escaped. He questioned whether the escape had been worth it, considering that only three officers were able to make a ‘home run’, and that Roger Bushell, the commanding officer, had been unable to succeed in his stated aim to open up ‘another front’ inside Germany, thereby diverting resources from the main German war effort.

Robert Weale (SAL)