History's HEROES? Dated 20th August 1910 - 29th March 1944

Roger Bushell

Created by

N Raphael


Stalag Luft III
He led the escape of allied prisoners-of-war from Stalag Luft III, only three of which made it back to freedom.



    • Brave / Courageous
    • A good and strong leader
    • Clever
    • Perseverant / Tenacious (keeps going despite challenges)
    • Decisive
    • Single minded / Focused (has a purpose)
    • Inspiring / Charismatic
    • Determined
    • Ambitious

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    The leader of the Great Escape

    Roger Bushell led what has become immortalised as The Great Escape, the inspiration for the heavily fictionalised film. He was executed for his actions to lead fellow prisoners to freedom by the Nazi Gestapo in 1944.

    Roger Bushell arrived in Stalag Luft III, a prisoner of war camp, after being shot down while fighting in the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain and being passed from prison camp to prison camp before arriving finally at Stalag Luft III. Whilst in captivity, he conceived a daring plan to launch the escape of 200 prisoners using a sophisticated system of tunnels to dig under the barbed wire and disperse across the Third Reich using forged papers, elaborate identities and cover stories. He also co-ordinated the secretive escape effort, an organisation of many prisoners with specialist skills who arranged every detail of the escape; from converting prison uniforms into civilian clothes through to replicating ID papers and digging tunnels. Three tunnels were dug, the idea being that if one was found or compromised there would be others to replace it. One tunnel was discovered by the Germans and destroyed, one was used for storage of escape equipment and one was used for the actual escape. Of the 600 prisoners who worked on the project, only 200 were planned to escape, only 76 escaped, 73 were recaptured, 50 were executed and only three made it to freedom. Roger Bushell was among those who was recaptured, and was executed by the Gestapo in reprisal in 1944.

    Life in Roger Bushell's world

    Life in a prisoner-of-war camp was harsh. Prisoners received less than the amount of food required for a normal person to survive and the cramped conditions of a camp drove some men to insanity and suicide. Having said this, Stalag Luft III had considerably better conditions than many others. Prisoners had their own newspaper, theatre, library and other activities

    Was Roger Bushell a Hero?

    • He risked his life fighting during the crucial Battle for Britain in the Royal Air Force until his capture in 1940
    • He coordinated the prison break from Stalag Luft III in Nazi Germany, in what was later immortalised by the fictionalised film "The Great Escape", without his leadership this daring scheme would not have succeeded and three men would not have reached free
    • He was martyred at the hands of the Gestapo for this attempt to free his comrades in

    Things you might not know about Roger Bushell

    He was an avid skier, and a lawyer in his civilian life. He even had a ski run named after him in Switzerland for his record-breaking skiing.


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