World War II British Royal Air Force Officer. He was the central figure in the escape of Allied prisoners of war during World War II from the German Stalag Luft III, which was later portrayed in the book and motion picture "The Great Escape". Born in 1910 in Springs, Transvaal, South Africa, his family lived in Mossel River, Cape Province. He studied law Pembroke College, Cambridge, England, and became an adventurer during the 1930s, becoming fluent in German and French. At the outbreak of World War II he joined the Royal Air Force, rising to the rank of Squadron Leader. Shot down and captured by German forces on a mission over France in 1940, he was moved from one Prisoner of War camp to another because of his ability to escape, eventually being moved Stalag Luft III, which was located in Sagan, Germany (now (Zagan, Poland), and was supposed to be escape proof. At this camp he became known as "Big X", the leader and escape planner for the prisoners. His efforts facilitated the the digging of three tunnels, with a plan to have 200 prisoners escape from the camp. This plan would culminate in escape of 76 men on the night of March 24, 1944. Nearly all were recaptured, including Bushell, with only three men making it back to Allied lines. On the night of March 29, 1944, while he was being transported to what he believed was a new prison camp, Squadron Leader Bushell and forty nine other escapees were murdered by the SS on the orders of German dictator Adolph Hitler. Their bodies were all cremated and placed in fifty urns, which were given back to the POWs after a few weeks. The urns were moved at the end of the war from Sagan to the Old Garrison Cemetery in Poznan, Poland, where they lie in a common grave in the Commonwealth Section, located in the southeast end. In 1950 author Paul Brickhill, who had been a prisoner at Stalag Luft II but was not among the escapees, published the work "The Great Escape" detailing the men and events surrounding the attempt. In 1963 it was adapted into a motion picture of the same name, with actor Richard Attenborough portraying "Roger Bartlett", a character that was heavily based on Squadron Leader Roger Bushell.
Bio by: Elsie Celestino