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The Great Escape – 75th Anniversary Commemorative

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  • The escape attempt that captured the attention of Hollywood!

  • 75th commemorative 1oz silver proof coin

  • Display of the Allied’s physical and mental endurance and determination

  • Strictly limited and exclusive worldwide edition




The Great Escape of 24th March 1944 is one of the most revered WWII prisoner-of-war exploits of all time. It was largely made famous by a sixties Hollywood movie based on a somewhat understated book by Australian Paul Brickhill, an actual PoW at Stalag Luft III, Sagan, Poland where the escape took place.


Typically, the film distorted the story with fabrications and inventions; the real events were much more fascinating. The book's stiff-upper-lip style understated the doomed heroism of those involved. But both made the full tragedy of the Great Escape clear — and paid proper tribute to the fifty recaptured escapees murdered at the direct order of an enraged Adolph Hitler.


The unprecedented mass escape from heavily guarded Stalag Luft III ("prison for aviators") was masterminded by RAF Squadron Leader Roger Bushell, code-named "The Big X", a serial escapee who planned to free a record number of over two hundred PoWs, complete with civilian clothes and forged papers. Over six hundred prisoners dug three tunnels named Tom, Dick and Harry.


These had to be extra deep, nine metres below the surface, to elude German sonar detection; their cross-section was terrifyingly small, just over half a metre square. The camp was located over sandy soil that could collapse and prevent tunnelling. Full top and side shoring was made from timber stolen from prison bedding and buildings. Excavated soil, a conspicuously different colour from surface ground, was skilfully disposed of. Civilian-looking escape clothes were re-tailored from uniforms. Travel documents were stolen where possible or forged. And it all had to be done without detection.


Finally, the big night came on a much-awaited moonless night. Despite many difficulties and early detection, 76 men did get out through the tunnel named Harry until the 77th man was discovered emerging by a guard. Only three escapees made it home. The rest recaptured. The Gestapo on the direct order of Adolf Hitler murdered fifty of these recaptured escapees. Included in those executed were Roger Bushell, and five Australians: James Catanach (Squadron Leader – No.455 Sqn RAAF); Albert Hake (Flight Lieutenant – No.72 Sqn RAF); Reginald V. Kierath (Flight Lieutenant – No. 450 Sqn RAAF); Tom Leigh (Flight Lieutenant – No. 76 Sqn RAF); John E. A. Williams (Squadron Leader – No450 Sqn RAAF).


This commemorative silver coin has been struck to the highest proof standards to remember the triumph of ingenuity, organisation and sheer physical mental endurance of our allied prisoners that tunnelled their way out of an escape proof German prisoner camp some 75 years ago.

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