Bushell, Roger Joyce

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Bushell, Roger, born on 30-08-1910, in Springs Transvaal, Africa. Squadron Leader Bushell was a South African born British Auxiliary Air Force  pilot, who organized and led the famous escape from the Nazi prisoner of war camp, Stalag Luft III. His father, a mining engineer, had emigrated to the country from England and he used his wealth to ensure that Roger received a first class education. Bushell became fluent in French and German, with good accents, which became extremely useful during his time as a prisoner of war. In 1932 he joined 601 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force, nicknamed ” The Millionaires’ Squadron”    under command of Sir Henry Nigel St Valery Norman, 2nd Baronet , which was also often referred too 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. Bushell was given command of 92 Squadron in October 1939 and his promotion to Squadron Leader was confirmed on 01-01-1940. In the same 92th Squadron was Gordon Neil Spencer ‘Mouse’ Cleaver, born in Stanmore, Middlesex and was educated at Harrow School. Cleaver was the inaugural winner of the Hahnenkammrennen Combined in 1931, and is the only British skier to win at Kitzbühel. In the same race was Roger Bushell, of Great Escape fame, who finished in 14th place. On 19-05-1943, age 45, Norman died in the post-crash fire when Lockheed Hudson IIIA FH168 that was to carry him to North Africa force-landed after take off from RAF St.Eval. During the squadron’s first engagement with enemy aircraft on 23-05-1940, 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.     Bernard Scheidhauer.  
Specht, age 30, was shot down over Maastricht Holland, on 01-01-1945, but his body never found. Busnell crash landed his Spitfire on German 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. In the spring of 1943, Bushell masterminded a plot for a major escape from the camp, his third, now from Stalag Luft III. , commander Friedrich Wilhelm von Lindeiner-Wildau,

. Von Lindeiner-Wildau later surrendered to advancing British forces as the war ended. Was imprisoned for two years at the British prisoner of war camp known as the “London Cage” He was repatriated in 1947 and died on 22-05- 1963 at the age of 82, less than two months before the film The Great Escape was released..

Roger and his partner the Frenchman Bernard Scheidhauer, who had left France in 1940 and had joined the RAF,
      were among the first few to leave the tunnel and successfully boarded a train at Sagan railway station. They were caught the next day at Saarbrücken station awaiting a train to Alsace in France. Bushell by accident had talked in English

Death and burial ground of Bushell, Roger Joyce.

  Bushell and Scheidhauer were murdered three days later, on 29-03-1945, by Emil Schulz   of the Gestapo and  his  boss Police leader SS Standartenführer Dr. Leopold Spann, SS No:275503.. Spann died in an air raid on Linz on 25-04-1944, age 36.
After their capture, it transpired, the two PoWs had been handed over to Dr Spann. And when orders for their execution arrived from Gestapo headquarters in Berlin, the prisoners were driven out of town and told they were being returned to Stalag Luft III.  Instead, just outside Saarbrucken, they were ordered to stretch their legs and relieve themselves. At this point, both were shot in the back by Spann. Scheidhauer died immediately, but Bushell was only injured and lay writhing on the ground. Spann ordered Schulz to ‘finish him off’. Schulz drew his pistol and hesitated  –  he had never shot a man before  –  but Spann insisted, shouting: ‘Just do as I tell you. Remember this man is a terror-flier,  in fact, Bushell had been a fighter pilot. ‘Schulz said he finally closed his eyes and pulled the trigger.
Fifty of the other 76 escapees were killed in the Stalag Luft III murders.
Kriminalsekretar Emil Schulz was hanged on 27-02-1948, age 46, by hangman Albert Pierrepoint in Hameln Prison. And, so he went to the gallows, but not before his wife Angela and his two daughters Ingeborg and Helga, had divorced him and his daughters later wanted nothing to do with him.
Dr. Leopold Spann escaped court as he was killed in a air attack by the US Eight Air Force at Linz in Austria, on 25-04-1945. The Gestapo headquarters there got a direct hit and took 50 death. Australian Flight Lieutenant Paul Royle,  one of the last two survivor who also fled Nazis in a ‘Great Escape,’ dies at 101
on 23-08-2015.
Roger Joyce Bushell is buried, age 33, on the war cemetery of Poznan, Old Garrison Cemetery.

 

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