Jack Harrison, one of last survivors of The Great Escape, dies at 97





In the end, it was only time from which he could not escape.

Jack Harrison, one of the last of those involved in the 'Great Escape', has passed away, peacefully and quietly, at the age of 97.

It has been 66 years since the dark night when he waited with bated breath, preparing to crawl through ‘Harry’ and under the wire of Stalag Luft III.

Many years after the war the former RAF pilot, and his brave and resourceful comrades, would be immortalised by the iconic 1963 film - starring Richard Attenborough and Steve McQueen - which remains the staple fare of every Christmas Day celebration.
But, by then, the most audacious - and tragic - prisoner-of-war break out of the Second World War was only a memory to the Scots veteran, who had long since returned to his ‘real life’ as a husband, father and classics teacher....

Mr Harrison would go on to live a long and fruitful life, spending the last two-and-a-half years of it in the veterans' hospital at Erskine, in Bishopton, Renfrewshire.

Yesterday a spokesman for the charity that runs the hospital said: ‘It is with the greatest of sadness that we announce the passing of Great Escape veteran Jack Harrison.

‘Mr Harrison, thought to be the last survivor of the escape, passed away with his son, Chris, and daughter, Jane, by his side.’

The success of the film The Great Escape may have elevated the humble Latin teacher to the status of a war hero. But to his family, he will forever be ‘dad’. In a joint statement yesterday, his two children paid tribute to him.

They said: ‘To others, he was considered a war hero, but to us he was much more than that. ‘He was a family man first and foremost. He was also a church elder, a Rotarian, scholar, traveller and athlete. He took up marathon running in his 70s to raise money for charity.



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