They were American and British air force officers in a German prison camp. With only their bare hands and the crudest of homemade tools, they sank shafts, forged passports, faked weapons, and tailored German uniforms and civilian clothes. They developed a fantastic security system to protect themselves from German surveillance.
It was a split-second operation as delicate and as deadly as a time bomb. It demanded the concentrated devotion and vigilance of more than six hundred men-every one of them, every minute, every hour, every day and night for more than a year.
Made into the classic 1963 war film of the same name starring Steve McQueen, James Garner, and Richard Attenborough.
Paul Brickhill (1916-1991) was shot down over the Mareth Line in Tunisia on March 17, 1943. He landed in the middle of a minefield in front of the enemy barbed wire and was captured. He was soon transferred to Stalag Luft III, where he joined organization "X" working on the great escape.