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Subject: "Great Escape" Veteran Bertram "Jimmy" James dies aged 92

Written By: Philip Eno on 01/20/08 at 4:45 pm

Full Obit on BBC News Online

Tributes have been paid to Bertram "Jimmy" James, one of the veterans of the Great Escape, who has died aged 92.

Sqn Ldr James was one of 76 men who broke-out of Stalag Luft Three, the supposedly escape-proof Nazi prisoner-of-war camp.

Despite being recaptured he was one of the lucky ones - fifty of the men who escaped were executed.

The daring mission was recreated in The Great Escape, which became one of the best-loved and an iconic World War II films.

Military historian Howard Tuck, a close friend of the legendary veteran, said Sqn Ldr James had dug the first RAF escape tunnel of the war, at Stalag Luft One, at Bart, in 1941.

That was just one of 13 attempts to escape from Nazi captivity.

"He was the country's greatest living war hero. He had a truly remarkable life," Mr Tuck said.

"This guy was truly unique and he was the finest gentleman anyone could ever meet.

"To me he represented not only an era, but a type of Englishman you rarely meet.

"He was honest and funny and I used to talk to him like he was 25."

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