I wonder how many picked up this Memoriam notice that appeared in The Mercury Friday 5th April 2019. Newspapers these days do not having the large sales that they used to enjoy, and on my part are only occasional purchases. The one I bought on Saturday albeit being a day old, had a very interesting notice which is the subject of this post.
The Second Edition of Allan Jackson’s Facts about Durban has this entry on Durban’s timeline.
“ 1944 On the night of 24th March 1944, 76 allied Prisoners of War including a Durbanite and ex-Glenwood High School pupil, Neville McGarr escaped from Stalag Luft III prison camp in Sagan, Poland. This became to be known as The Great Escape. Fifty of the escapers, including McGarr were executed by the Gestapo on being recaptured. Only three of the 76 eventually reached safety.”
Glenwood High School 1st XV 1935.
In his book “The Great Escape” written by Paul Brickhill in 1951, the authors writes in his preface:
“ Several years have softened the memories but they have not faded. Nor, I think, they ever will. This is the first full account of the greatest prison-camp escape of them all.” The film made of this event in World War Two remains one of the best ever made.
I did a bit of research on the escape and have the book but found the book lacking in some detail and is not definitive. In retribution to the escape and the enormity of it, the Gestapo were ordered to kill 50 of the escapees that had been captured although the majority were officers. After their execution by firing squad details, the bodies of the men were cremated.
It would appear that McGarr was amongst those captured, re imprisoned then executed. His was amongst the 10 bodies cremated at Breslau Concentration Camp.
The names of those cremated at Breslau are: WJ Grisman, AD Gunn, SZ Krol, JL Long, CAN McGarr, H Milford, DO Street, P Tobolski, E Valenta, JF William.
The memorial to the 50 escapees executed.
The newspaper memorial is a reminder. Lest we forget.
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