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Great Escape survivor dies at 101
28 Aug 2015 09:09
Australian Paul Royle, one of the only two remaining survivors from World War II's daring "Great Escape" prison break, has died aged 101 in a Perth hospital, his son said this morning.
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Gordon Royle told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation his father passed away following a fall at a care facility.
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"Dad continued to live his life to the full. It was a fall that killed him in the end," he explained, without saying exactly when the veteran died.
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The only living survivor now is 94-year-old Briton Dick Churchill.
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Mr Royle was one of 76 men who tunnelled out of German prison camp Stalag Luft III on a bitterly cold night in March 1944, an event immortalised in the 1960s film The Great Escape, starring Steve McQueen and Richard Attenborough.
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They dug three tunnels, codenamed Tom, Dick and Harry, although only Harry was used.
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Just three men made it to safety from a camp the Nazis said was escape-proof. The rest were captured by the Gestapo and 50 of them executed on Hitler's orders.
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Mr Royle, from Perth, was spared, and in an interview with the ABC last year the former RAF Flight Lieutenant said he still had vivid memories of emerging from the tunnel to a snowy landscape.
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"It was very pleasant and all we saw was great heaps of snow and pine trees. There was snow everywhere, it was cold," he said, maintaining that he was not scared during the dash to freedom.
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"You had other thoughts in your mind you see, you wanted to get out," he said.
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After making it through the tunnel, Mr Royle waited for a companion and the pair walked through the night before finding a place to sleep for the day in the bushes.
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Their freedom was short-lived, however, with the two men recaptured in a small village nearby and taken to a local jail.
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