WWII tunnel digger 'Mole' dies

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World War II tunnel digger John Fancy whose actions inspired the film the Great Escape, has died.

He was an adventurer, a charmer, above all, a nuisance. Warrant officer John Fancy volunteered for the RAF seeking adventure and he certainly found it.

Just nine months after the beginning of hostilities in the WWII, the young and dashing RAF observer was shot down.

His Blenheim bomber had just successfully hit its target in the Ardennes when he came under heavy fire from German anti-aircraft positions on 14 May 1940. Within moments the aircraft had ditched.

At her home in Slapton, South Devon, his daughter Jan says she remembers her father telling her how a line of lime trees broke the aircraft's fall, effectively saving his life as his plane crash-landed.

She said: "He was a charmer, a ladies' man, he was doted upon by his sisters as a boy. The day he was shot down, he'd been told he was a father to be and felt indestructible."

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