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The Canadian connection to the Great Escape

11 November 2023

Re:  “Lest we forget: They made the ultimate sacrifice” (Toronto Sun Editorial, 11 November):  I realize your list of Canadian involvement wasn’t meant to be a comprehensive list, but another to add to it is “The Great Escape.”  While the 1963 movie was very entertaining, it was sadly historically incorrect.  Many of the escape’s key players were Canadians, including RCAF Flying Officer Wally Floody, originally from Chatham, Ontario, who is considered the architect of the Great Escape.  His experience in the mining industry in Kirkland Lake gave him the expertise needed to survey, design and engineer the tunnels. 

Additionally, while the super-cool character played by the super-cool Steve McQueen was a completely fictional character, designed to appeal to American audiences.  In reality, there were no Americans in the North Compound at Stalag Luft III.  I would highly recommend reading The Great Escape:  A Canadian Story, by Canadian author/broadcaster Ted Barris. 

Sources:  David Pugliese Defence Watch The True Story Behind the Great Escape | Ottawa CitizenThe Great Escape: A Canadian Story • Ted BarrisEDITORIAL: Lest we forget: They made the ultimate sacrifice | Toronto Sun.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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