|03-28-2006, 12:15 PM||#1 (permalink)|
AKA: Chief Muppet
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Great Britain
PoW pilot who inspired the Great Escape dies at the age of 102
By Richard Savill
A Second World War pilot who escaped seven times from prisoner of war camps has died aged 102.
Friends said Sqn Ldr Eric Foster, who died peacefully at his home in Bishop's Cleeve, Glos, on Sunday, was part of the inspiration behind Steve McQueen's character in the film The Great Escape.
As a flight lieutenant with 38 Bomber Squadron, Mr Foster was shot down over Paris while flying a Wellington bomber in 1940 and captured by German troops.
Over the next four years he escaped seven times from prisoner of war camps, sometimes dressed as a German officer.
He was taken to a German prisoner of war camp at Homark, near the Polish border, and tried to break out by shinning down a fire escape.
At Spangenberg Castle, which was surrounded by a moat, he sneaked out disguised as a member of the Hitler Youth.
He took a train to Switzerland but was caught during a chase.
He was taken to the Polish camp of Schubin, where he spent eight months digging escape tunnels, which guards discovered.
He was then taken to Stalag Luft III camp on which The Great Escape was based.
He convinced his captors he was insane and was sent home. He was promoted to squadron leader in 1945.
He later wrote about his exploits in his autobiography Life Hangs by a Silken Thread, which was published in 1992. Michael Beresford, 74, a friend, said some of Mr Foster's wartime activities were depicted by McQueen, who played Captain Virgil Hilts in the popular 1963 film.
Hilts, nicknamed "The Cooler King", was a fictional character but was believed to have been based on several real escapees.
Mr Beresford said: "Eric lived an extremely active life. After he was shot down he escaped seven times, but was recaptured. Eric had some good tales from the war, which he told in his autobiography."
The RAF said: "We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of the many great RAF heroes who fought bravely against Nazi tyranny.
"His service was exemplary and his heroics legendary."
|03-28-2006, 12:59 PM||#2 (permalink)|
Re: PoW pilot who inspired the Great Escape dies at the age of 102
RIP another great warriror passes on
|102, age, dies, escape, great, inspired, pilot, pow|
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