Post Number: 55
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|Posted on Tuesday, August 09, 2011 - 09:41 pm: |
THE funeral has taken place of Nottingham-born Harry Enever – a veteran of the real Great Escape.
Mr Enever, who has died at the age of 89, was one of the last survivors of the mass breakout in March 1944 from Stalag Luft III prisoner-of-war camp near Sagan, a Polish town 100k south of Berlin.
The events were dramatised in the film The Great Escape, which starred Steve McQueen.
Mr Enever was sent to Stalag Luft III after his Halifax bomber was shot down during a raid over Duisburg. He entered a camp where the Germans had decided to cage the most determined escapees under one roof. They included Squadron Leader Roger Bushell, a South African-born pilot with a fierce determination to escape, having twice tried and been recaptured.
He had a pathological hatred of the Gestapo, having witnessed its brutal treatment of prisoners.
Despite having a death sentence over his head if he tried to escape again, Bushell had a plan for a mass break-out of 250 men which would cause chaos for the Germans and strike a massive propaganda blow for the Allies.
Mr Enever became part of Bushell's scheme involved the construction of three tunnels, nicknamed Tom, Dick and Harry, hidden beneath barrack huts and a washroom.
Although the tunneling was carried out by a small team of diggers, hundreds of other prisoners were involved in the elaborate scheme.
Mr Enever was a "stooge", monitoring the movements of the guards and, by a system of signals, passing on the information to the diggers.
Harry Enever was given a number in the 80s and took his place in the queue of more than 220 prisoners waiting to get out of the escape tunnel – ironically named Harry.
However, because the tunnel exit was dug yards short of the trees that would have hidden the fleeing men, only 76 had made it to the safety of the forest before it was discovered.
Of those 76 who got out, 50 were executed, including Bushell. For the rest left behind in Stalag Luft III, there would be no more escapes.
Mr Enever remained in the camp for the rest of the war, before returning to his home in The Meadows, much to the relief of his family, including surviving sister Audrey Coleman, who lives in Netherfield.
Born into a mining family in Clayton Street, the Enevers were not well-off but Harry was bright enough to win a scholarship to Mundella Grammar School and, at 16, began work in the City Treasurer's office.
His career flourished. He rose up the local government ladder, becoming a council chief executive in Cornwall before he retired.
The funeral was held at Bournemouth Crematorium.
Mr Enever leaves a widow, Joyce, and one sister.