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‘Great Escape’ POW’s incredible second world WAR diary surfaces, sold at auction

RAF Flt. Lt. Viv Phillips (left) and a colleague-officer during the second world War/a cartoon of Phillips’ diary of life as a PRISONER. (Auction House Hansons)

The remarkable World War II diary of a Royal air force officer who played a role in the famous “Great Escape” escape from the Stalag Luft III POW camp has been sold at auction in the united kingdom

RAF Flt. Lt. Viv Phillips to help with the building of the tunnel used in the mass prison breakout, which was immortalized in the 1963 Hollywood blockbuster The Great Escape.” The diary, together with Phillips’ war medals, was auctioned to a private UK buyer for $17,827 on Friday.

Sold by Phillips’ cousin, the magazine includes stories, sketches, cartoons and poems, according to the auction house, Hanson’s Auctioneers, which handled the sale. The prisoners drew names from a hat to choose who of them would escape from the pow camp in March 1944. Philips’ name was not chosen, so he was not part of the escape itself, which perhaps saved his life 50 of the 76 prisoners who escaped from the camp for PRISONERS of war were shot by the Gestapo following their recapture. The other 23 were recaptured and captured again by the Nazis. Only three of the escapees made it to freedom.

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Phillips, who was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) medal for his role in the escape, died in 1997.

The diary tells the life at the infamous Stalag Luft III, where Phillips was a PRISONER from 1943 to 1945. (Auction House Hansons)

“Everything in the journal reminds me of the movie the sketches of the camp, the humor, and the stories of how the prisoners their powers to make a tunnel to escape Stalag Luft III,” says Adrian Stevenson, militaria expert at Hansons, in a statement obtained by Fox News.

An RAF navigator, Phillips was recorded after his bomber was shot down during a raid on the Amsterdam Power Station in 1943. His incredible escape from the plane is told in the magazine.

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“He was in the camp from 1943 to 1945 and describes how the prisoners smuggled sand from the tunnel in their pants,” says Stevenson. “The prisoners had to dispose of tons of sandy soil as they are dug out of the tunnel. He was the boss of the people spreading the sand and later became a tunnel, a carpenter.”

Phillips (left) and a colleague from a fellow RAF officer with a Lockheed Martin Ventura aircraft in the background.(Auction House Hansons)

The calendar also contains an “In Memoriam” page dedicated to the Allied prisoners killed in the escape from the POW camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

March 24 marks the 75th anniversary of the prisoners escape.

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Phillips was involved in the ‘Great Escape’ mass prison breakout immortalised in the Hollywood film of the same name.
(Auction House Hansons)

In wartime artifacts offer a fascinating glimpse into the life at the infamous camp for PRISONERS of war. The United States Golf Association Golf Museum in Far Hills, N. J., for example, contains a number of rudimentary golf balls made of prisoners’ boots in Stalag Luft III. The balls were used on a makeshift golf course was built by Prisoners of war.

Last year, an extremely rare world War II Spitfire fighter plane flown by a pilot who later took part in the “Great Escape” was recovered from a remote Norwegian town of bergen.

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Adrian Stevenson, militaria expert at Auction house Hansons, with the diary. (Auction House Hansons)

Specially equipped for long distance explorations, the Royal Air Force Spitfire AA810 was shot down on 5 March 1942, during a mission to the photo of the German battleship Tirpitz. The Spitfire pilot, Flt. Lt. Alastair ‘Sandy’ Gunn, rescued from the plane, but was captured by German troops. Two years later, Gunn was part of the “Great Escape” breakout. Recaptured shortly after the breakout, the Midfielder was among the 50 escapees executed by the Gestapo.

Fox News’ Emily DeCiccio contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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