Skip to comments.Jack Harrison, the last survivor of The Great Escape, dies at 97
Posted on 06/07/2010 8:28:33 PM PDT by naturalman1975
In the end, it was only time from which he could not escape. Jack Harrison, the last of those involved in the 'Great Escape', has passed away, peacefully and quietly, at the age of 97.
It has been 66 years since the dark night when he waited with bated breath, preparing to crawl through Harry and under the wire of Stalag Luft III.
Many years after the war the former RAF pilot, and his brave and resourceful comrades, would be immortalised by the iconic 1963 film - starring Richard Attenborough and Steve McQueen - which remains the staple fare of every Christmas Day celebration.
But, by then, the most audacious - and tragic - prisoner-of-war break out of the Second World War was only a memory to the Scots veteran, who had long since returned to his real life as a husband, father and classics teacher.
Mr Harrison would go on to live a long and fruitful life, spending the last two-and-a-half years of it in the veterans' hospital at Erskine, in Bishopton, Renfrewshire.
Yesterday a spokesman for the charity that runs the hospital said: It is with the greatest of sadness that we announce the passing of Great Escape veteran Jack Harrison.
Mr Harrison, thought to be the last survivor of the escape, passed away with his son, Chris, and daughter, Jane, by his side.
The success of the film The Great Escape may have elevated the humble Latin teacher to the status of a war hero. But to his family, he will forever be dad. In a joint statement yesterday, his two children paid tribute to him.
(Excerpt) Read more at dailymail.co.uk ...
It’s men like Mr. Harrison that fought for the freedom that my family and I enjoy. It’s a shame the current occupant in the WH does share the same appreciation.
I just watched this with my ten year old son and he really liked it.Then I gave him the history behind the movie.I’m setting the hook.I saw it at the Fox when it premiered in 64.Never gets old.
My ex-wife’s uncle, Micheal Ormond, was one of the three caught in the tunnel. He never got out, which basically saved his life.
God bless this man!
I watched it at the US embassy theater in Islamabad when I was 8. Stuck with me from then till now.
Besides Rob Roy, The Great Escape was my grandfather's favorite movie. It's definitely one of my top ten.
A timeless classic that all generations can appreciate.
RIP Jack Harrison
Its a shame the current occupant in the WH does share the same appreciation.
The low life is totally clueless of such things. TOTALLY!
Great flick, plus I really dug Steve McQueen.
It’s one of those movies that when I see it playing on TV, I stop what I’m doing and sit down and watch.
It certainly had an affect on me and started my life long love affair with WW2 history.
The movie has certainly stood the test of time has it not?We will never forget those great men.
RIP Jack Harrison. You’re finally going to be reunited with the rest of your hero colleagues, in a place with no wire and no guards.
I remember reading The Great Escape and being utterly fascinated by it. When I told my Dad about it, he said, “Oh, they made a movie of that - you’ll love it.” I have, all the many times that I’ve seen it. Thanks for all that you gentlemen did for us.
Rest In Peace
Our White House has been soiled and is disgraced.
My dad was a POW in Stalag Luft III, arriving in July, 1944, after the Great Escape try in the early spring that year. My dad was a B-24 pilot who was shot down over Romania. He said when he arrived, there was a memorial that just said ‘to the 50’. My husband was in Germany on business a few years ago and toured the grounds of the former Prisoner of War Camp. The memorial is still there. RIP all those who lost their lives in their try for freedom. You won the respect of countless people and the admiration of generations.
In Chicago media Ray Raynor had a kid’s show and played on Bozo’s circus on WGN during the 1960’s and 70’s.
He was self effacing, humble and funny.
But it was little known that he was a POW in that camp!
He never spoke of his war history. That was very common among those heroic men not to brag or boast of their war times adventures.
But with friends and a few brews...
The camp commandant allowed the memorial to be built - he, as a professional officer of the Luftwaffe serving his country who understand the laws and conventions of war, as opposed to the Nazi thugs - was appalled at the fact that prisoners had been executed.
The bravery of the POWs was astonishing enough, but his own courage in allowing the memorial in spite of the fact that the murders were at the direct order of Hitler, has always inspired me as well.
Watching Steve McQueen on the motorcycle jumping the fences and avoiding the Nazis started my love for motorcycles. Today I am a vets biker club President and ride every day.
“...the 1963 film... remains the staple fare of every Christmas Day celebration.”
I saw this movie years ago, I really don’t remember much about it, besides Steve McQueen and the motorcycle, lol, and that it is a great movie.
Why is it a Christmas day tradition to watch it in England?
A few years ago, one the British TV companies did a poll to find out what movie most people would like to see on Christmas Day. The Great Escape came very high, and every year since then it's been broadcast on Christmas Day. It has become a tradition itself.
Ditto. What an embarrassment. Even worse than Clinton.
Thanks, that’s interesting. Here in the US I think Christmas day is one of the very few days we don’t watch much TV.
In fact, one of the more popular “programs” (at least here in the NYC metro area-I don’t know if they have it in other places) was The Yule Log. It wasn’t a show at all, just a loop of a fire burning and the station would play Christmas music.
It used to be on overnight on one of the local stations, then it went away, but lately it’s been back (in High Definition, lol!) on Christmas morning.
Rest in peace!
Best Regards to Mr. Harrison's family
Me too, I saw this film with my brother when it first came out. My Mother would use the movies as her favorite babysitter and I guess my brother and I saw that film at least 3 times before she came and picked us up.
Never get tired of watching that movie.
Was that at the camp?
The caption of the pic is:
Jack Harrison, at right, the veteran thought to be the last survivor
of the World War II prisoner-of-war breakout from Stalag Luft III,
is seen with other prisoners-of-war in this undated file photo.
From this article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37573325/ns/world_news-europe/
Unless he was moved to a different camp after the escape, I'd guess this was taken at Stalag Luft III.
I saw this and Longest Day as a lad when they came out.
Steve McQueen was always so cool.
God bless. RIP to the last one.
I have the worlds worst memory as my brother told me many stories of his interment there, the forced march and their short stay in Stalag VII-A where Patton himself rode a tank through the gate to liberate them. My brother remembered all of that right down to the Pearl Handled Pistols on his hip. Patton’s son in law was a POW of Stalag III and the march. Bro still had his hand written notes and our sister transcribed them and scanned them into his iMac. His daughter has the original scribbles...
Aww. Thanks for the ping.
What color is the cover and who is the author?
It’s dark blue and I am not sure about the author. We moved recently and I’ll have to find the book. But I will get back to you!
I did a search and it looks like it’s about the Women’s Air Force. They were the pilots who ferried the planes from factories to military air fields during WWII. I know one of them but she has recently moved to Medford Oregon...
The book I have was probably from a POW Convention. My dad used to attend these functions in the 60-70’s. I remember one of the meetings in Dayton, Ohio, that the ‘ferret’ attended. I will find the book and let you know the details.
Thanks, that’s now on my list of books to read, and above a lot of less interesting things.
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