Last of the ’39ers’: Hero of the REAL Great Escape who was the oldest surviving and longest-serving British POW dies aged 98

Joris Nieuwint

A World War II veteran thought to be the longest-serving British prisoner of war and the oldest survivor of the so-called ’39ers’ – those captured at the start of the conflict – has died aged 98.

Squadron Leader Alfie Fripp, who was shot down by the Luftwaffe in October 1939 just a month after the war began, passed away in hospital in Bournemouth earlier today surrounded by his family.

He was held at 12 different PoW camps, including Stalag Luft III, the scene of prisoner escapes that were dramatised in the film The Great Escape.

Sqn Ldr Fripp helped 76 PoWs escape from the camp in Poland in March 1944 by acting as a spy for them as well as obtaining vital tools like wire cutters and files.


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