The mastermind of the Great Escape was Squadron Leader Roger Bushell. Described by his Commanding Officer as 'one of the greatest of his generation', Bushell was born and brought up in South Africa but went to school in England, studied law at Cambridge and became a London barrister.
After being shot down in May 1940, Bushell escaped three times, spending eight months with the Czech resistance in Prague during the build up to the assassination of the SS chief Reinhard Heydrich.
After being recaptured and sent to Stalag Luft III, he waged an unconventional war on the Nazis, leading an international brigade of prisoners who became one of the most belligerent, imaginative and mischievous 'armies' ever to confront Hitler's 'monstrous tyranny'.
Bushell and his escape partner Bernard Scheidhauer were among the first few to leave the tunnel, and successfully boarded a train at Sagan railway station. They were caught the next day at Saarbrücken railway station, waiting for a train to Alsace.
Bushell and Scheidhauer were murdered by the Gestapo three days later.