London, June 8 (ANI): Jack Harrison, the last-known survivor from a group of inmates who attempted to break out of a German prisoner-of-war camp, and whose Herculean effort was the subject of the acclaimed movie "The Great Escape", has died at the age of 97.
Jack Harrison was amongst the 200 prisoners who strived to regain their freedom by orchestrating an escape through a tunnel codenamed "Harry" at Stalag Lugt III in the March of 1944.
He was standing 98th in the snaking queue of inmates and was awaiting his turn to break free, when an alarm was suddenly sounded and the break-out was brought to a halt.
Of the 76 men who did manage to get away only three were fortunate enough to have successfully completed the "home-run" which entailed traversing through the length of Nazi-occupied Europe into the safety of the Allied Lines.
The brutal Nazi regime then executed 50 of the detained as a heinous expression of Nazi vengeance on the orders of the Hitler.
"I guess it was a blessing in disguise I never made it through, as most were shot. But the main purpose wasn't just to escape. It was to outfox the Germans. It was a huge moral victory. It humiliated Hitler and gave the Nazis a bloody nose," The Independent quoted Harrison who managed to cheat death by the skin of his teeth, as saying.
The audacious escape attempt inspired the creation of the celebrated movie "The Great Escape" which had a glittering Hollywood starcast including stalwarts like Richard Attenborough, Steve McQueen and James Garner. The film was based on an account by Paul Brickhill, an Australian Spitfire pilot shot down over Tunisia while serving with the RAF, who helped organise the break-out. (ANI)