Sinclair, Albert Michael “Mike”, “Der Rote Fuchs” “The Red Fox”

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Sinclair, Albert Michael “Mike”,”” The Red Fox” born 26-02-1918 in Kensington, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Greater London, England, to Colonel Thomas Charles Sinclair, C.B.E. and his wife Iris Lucy Sinclair (born Lund) of Winchester. His father was a soldier and his mother came from a military family. Mike had two brothers, John, the youngest, and Christopher the eldest. All three served in WW2 with distinction, serving with the 1st Battalion the Scots Guards.Service No: 176764,.under command of Prince Henry Field Marshal, the Duke of Gloucester.   Prince Henry died 10-06-1974 (aged 74) in Barnwell Manor, Nor, amptonshire. John was killed at Anzio on 08-02-1944, age 23 and Christopher, despite being captured by Rommel’s forces Erwin Rommel

   escaped and was awarded an MC. Christopher retired a Lieutenant Colonel. Mike participated in many successful escapes from POW Camps, the ‘Franz Joseph’ escape, the ‘60 Second Terrace’ escape to name but a few, but never managed a Home Run. Ultimately freedom came when he paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Educated at Winchester College, he played for the college cricket XI at Lord’s. He went on to study History and Modern Languages at Trinity College, Cambridge. Later, this linguistic ability and knowledge was to prove invaluable. “Mike”was generally known served with the 2nd Battalion The King’s Royal Rifle Corp.Service No: 75265. He held the Distinguished Service Order.

Mike was captured by German forces in northern France and sent to Stalag XXI-D (Poznań) POW camp in the north of Poland.

Death and burial ground of Sinclair, Albert Michael “Mike”. “The Red Fox.

On 25-09-1944 Mike successfully climbed the wire whilst in the exercise area in the Tiergarten but was shot dead a few yards later on his approach to the high stone wall. A bullet from a sentry hit him in the elbow but ricocheted into his heart, killing him instantly.

 Guards on duty at Colditz Castle It was a very risky escape, which had been successfully carried out by the French Lieutenant Pierre Mairesse Lebrun in the Summer of 1941, but it was a calculated risk. Mike stumbled and lost his footing which slowed him down. Many leaves cover this area in Autumn. The following is an extract from a moving tribute from the camp’s Church of England Padre which he delivered at Mike’s memorial service: “Mike” came from an Ulster family living in England. He was at school at Winchester, went up to Cambridge, and joined the 60th just before the war. He fought at Calais, was taken prisoner, was sent to Laufen and there to Poland. There he made his first escape in which he crossed the frontiers of the General Government, Slovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and was caught getting into Bulgaria. He tried to escape on the way back through Czecho-Slovakia, was recaptured, held for a time by the Gestapo, and finally sent to here two and a half years ago. Since then his life has been practically one attempt after another to escape. On different occasions he got as far as Cologne, the Swiss Frontier and the Dutch frontier. You know better than any congregation in the world what that means. About a hundred of you have got right away from a camp once, only about twenty more than once – let alone over a frontier – and this is the “Escapers” camp. British POWs He didn’t himself take foolhardy risks, but when he went with others and risks were unavoidable he took full share – and more. You remember his escape as Franz Josef. And in his last and riskiest attempt he went alone. Whenever the story of escaping in this war is written, Mike Sinclair’s name will be there, high up on the list. And he deserves it because he had qualities that really ultimately matter. When he made his mind up on a thing he was absolutely determined to carry it through. He made mistakes, as we all do, but he learnt from them he had a conscience about them. Most people’s reaction to failure is to wipe it out of their memories and be comfortable. Mike’s reaction was NOT to forget it – and at times it made him very depressed – but to go on trying till he’d made up for it. That is the kind of character that really matters in a soldier”.Sinclair was the only person to be killed while attempting to escape Colditz. Sinclair in Colditz, seated with a mess, second from right.

The French Lieutenant Pierre Mairesse Lebrun served as a captain in the 4th regiment Chasseurs de l’Afrique and was captured during the Fall of France. He was sent to Oflag IV-C, at Colditz Castle, from which he escaped on 02-07-1941.

After a walk in the park all POWs gathered to be counted and be escorted back to the main castle. At this moment all guards, who stood around the park fences, also returned to the park entrance, leaving the back fences unguarded. Mairesse Lebrun and Lieutenant Pierre Odry used this opportunity to leave the group, and together they ran to the fence at the backside of the park. Odry catapulted Mairesse Lebrun over the fence where he ran away. The German guards were so stunned that they did nothing initially; when they recovered, they started shooting without success. Still in his sports clothes, Lebrun hid in a field and via Switzerland reached Vichy France.

In December 1941 Pierre went to Spain, where he was arrested. He tried to escape again but fractured his spine paralysing his legs, but survived the war and died 06-12-2003, age 91. Lieutenant Pierre Odry also survived the war and died 29-11-1975, age 73, in Briare, Loiret,

The Germans buried Sinclair in Colditz Civil Cemetery with full military honours, his coffin was draped with a Union Flag made by the German guards and he received a seven-gun salute. Mike, age 26, was buried in the town cemetery. He in 1947 was reburied in Berlin’s British Military Cemetery, Charlottenburg. Section 10. L. 14.

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