My uncle, John Edwin Ashley Williams DFC, was one of the 76 escapees who tunneled their way out of the German Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp on the night of March 24, 1944. This event has been dubbed the Great Escape and was the subject of a blockbuster movie starring Steve McQueen.
The movie did not depict a true picture of events and all but three of the escapees were recaptured by the Germans. Tragically, the success of the escape so enraged Hitler that he ordered the secret execution of 50 of the 73 who were recaptured, in violation of the Geneva Convention. Escapees were driven into remote forests to be shot.
My uncle was one of the fifty who were executed. We don’t know where he was executed, but he and three others were cremated in the town of Most, which is located in the Czech Republic. Due to the efforts of a Czech pilot called Michal Holy, the Great Escape Memorial at Most was unveiled by the descendants of these four and other heroes of the Great Escape on March 24, 2012, the 68th anniversary of the break out. Click on the following link to read the full story of The Great Escape Memorial at Most.
My sister, a journalist and published author, was present at the unveiling of the Great Escape Memorial in 2012 (see her article about the ceremony). She and has now written a book about our uncle’s life. The book is called A True Story of the Great Escape and will be available in Australia at the end of August.