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30 Seconds On The Great Escape
Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
Most of the 2011 recipients are veterans. Ted Barris, a civilian, also received the commendation.
About Ted Barris
Over the weekend, my wife and I arrived at our daughter’s and son-in-law’s house. As usual, we brought the coffee and donuts. Our grandchildren supplied the entertainment. Last Saturday, Wyatt (who’s nearly two) and I played a little floor hockey in the kitchen. I flipped a rubber ball his way. He chased it – arms and stick flailing every which way – and then he whacked the ball back to me. It wasn’t too long before I cautioned him out loud. “Be careful,” I said. And then almost instinctively, I added, “I don’t want you knocking somebody’s eye out.”
The rain was steady. The air must have been as cold as the day they were commemorating – a few degrees just above zero. The years had changed the way the place looked. But neither the weather nor time had washed away the memory. During the 70th anniversary ceremony of the Great Escape, I witnessed, 50 young Royal Air Force officers marched in single file past the reviewing stand. Each contemporary soldier carried the photo of one of the 50 air officers murdered following famous prison breakout in March 1944. One of the commemorating airmen was Simon Flynn. “I loved the movie, but I knew it wasn’t fact,” Flynn said. “But I feel honoured to be part of the commemoration.”
When two recent acquaintances of mine arrived at the former Stalag Luft III location, in September 2013, they expected that the former German prison camp, while now a museum site near the town of Zagan in western Poland, would be fairly peaceful. The two Britons (as well as builder David Dunn and painter […]
The man was driving his pickup that day, as I remember it, with his young daughter in the car seat beside him. Maybe he was in a hurry. Maybe he had too many things on the go. But – like too many of us – he decided to do some of his business while driving, on the phone. He happened to be driving along Brock Road in Pickering, Not., back in the days when the railway line below Taunton Road was a level crossing. He didn’t see the train in time and plowed into it. Bad enough, as I recall, he killed himself, but I remember the newspaper headline. “Man drives truck into moving train,” it said. “Kills infant daughter.”
I had just completed one of my talks on The Great Escape. It was about an hour’s presentation at the Legion hall in Port Carling (in Muskoka) last Saturday. I asked someone to turn up the lights, so I could see the audience and take some questions. It’s in those moments that I prepare myself for a tough question and maybe some criticism. And I’m OK with that. Then, a man in the front row put up his hand to speak and the room went silent. “I spent months in a POW camp just outside Munich during the war,” Jack Patterson said quietly, but steadily. “It was exactly the way you said.”