Originally Posted by Top_Gunn
Looking for a pilot.
1. Well known fighter pilot, though he was not an ace.
2. A lawyer before the war, and also an outstanding athlete.
3. Early in the war, he helped defend two other pilots at their court martial.
4. Shot down in an engagement in which he damaged two enemy planes, and was captured.
5. A successful movie presented a somewhat fictionalized version of the events that made him well known. The movie's departures from historical accuracy were made primarily to allow American stars to play important roles.
6. He did not survive the war.
How about Squadron Leader Roger Joyce Bushell? Thanks; Ernie P.
Roger Joyce Bushell RAF
(30 August 1910 – 29 March 1944) was an Auxiliary Air Force
pilot who organised and led the famous escape
from the German prisoner of war camp
, Stalag Luft III
. He was a victim of the Stalag Luft III murders
. The escape was used as the basis for the film The Great Escape
. The character played by Richard Attenborough
, Roger Bartlett, is modelled on Roger Bushell.
Bushell was born in Springs
, South Africa
on 30 August 1910 to English
parents Benjamin Daniel and Dorothy Wingate Bushell (née White). His father, a mining engineer
, had emigrated to the country from Britain
and he used his wealth to ensure that Roger received a first class education. He was first schooled in Johannesburg
, then aged 14 went to Wellington College
, England. In 1929, Bushell then went to Pembroke College, Cambridge
to study law
Keen on pursuing non-academic interests from an early age, Roger Bushell excelled in athletics
and skied for Cambridge in races
between 1930 and 1932 - captaining the team in 1931.
One of Bushell's passions and talents was skiing: in the early 1930s he was declared the fastest Briton in the male downhill category. He even had a black run
named after him in St. Moritz
, Switzerland, in recognition of the fact that he had set the fastest time for the run. He also won the slalom event of the annual Oxford-Cambridge ski race
At an event in Canada
, Bushell had an accident in which one of his skis narrowly missed his left eye, leaving him with a gash in the corner of it. Although he recovered from this accident, he still had a dark drooping in his left eye as a result of scarring from his stitches.
Bushell became fluent in French
, with a good accent, which became extremely useful during his time as a prisoner of war
Despite his sporting prospects, one of Bushell's primary wishes was to fly, and in 1932 he joined 601 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force
, which was often referred to as "The Millionaires' Mob" because of the number of wealthy young men who paid their way solely to learn how to fly during training days (often at weekends).
Although Bushell was pursuing a career with the RAF
he wasn't hampered in his attempts to become a barrister-at-Law
, of Lincolns Inn
From the outset of his legal career many commented on his ability as a lawyer, particularly in criminal
defence. After a while, Bushell was appointed to military
cases in prosecuting RAF personnel charged with various offences. These often involved pilots charged with dangerous flying. In October 1939, acting as assistant to Sir Patrick Hastings
, he successfully defended two RAF pilots, John Freeborn
and Paddy Byrne, court martialled
after the friendly fire
incident known as the Battle of Barking Creek
. Byrne would later be incarcerated with Bushell at Stalag Luft III.
Bushell was given command of 92 Squadron
in October 1939, and his promotion to squadron leader
was confirmed on 1 January 1940.
During the squadron's first engagement with enemy aircraft on 23 May 1940, whilst on a patrol near Calais
, Bushell was credited with damaging two Messerschmitt Bf 110
fighter aircraft of ZG 26
before being shot down himself, probably by future ace Oberleutnant Günther Specht
. He crash-landed his Spitfire
occupied ground and was captured before he had a chance to hide.
He became a POW
and was sent to the Dulag luft
transit camp near Frankfurt
with all other captured aircrew.