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'The Great Escaper' talk to raise funds for GB U19 Water Polo Squad

The Great Escaper: The Life and Death of Roger Bushell - Love, Betrayal, Big X and The Great Escape

Friday 19th May, 7.00 pm 
Bolton School Arts Centre

Simon Pearson, the author of The Great Escaper, will present an illustrated talk about the extraordinary life of Squadron Leader Roger Bushell who masterminded ‘The Great Escape’ from Stalag Luft III. He was given exclusive access to Bushell’s family archive before writing his book, which was the first biography of this great wartime hero.

Roger Bushell was, by any standards, a remarkable schoolboy. A fine rugby player and cricketer, he became a first-class scout – one of the first in the country – learnt French and German and led the debating society before going to Pembroke College, Cambridge to study law.

He grew up to be an even more remarkable man – a romantic loved by women and men – who in 1944 would lead the Great Escape from Stalag Luft III, a story that was immortalised in the classic Hollywood film.

When he left the sixth form in 1928, his final report said: “His popularity in house and college was due to his indomitable spirit”.

During the course of the Second World War, the Nazis felt the full force of Bushell’s spirit. 

As the commander of a Spitfire squadron, the former barrister with a reputation for making a party swing was shot down over Dunkirk on May 23, 1940. He would become no ordinary prisoner-of-war, and the mass breakout he led from Stalag Luft III would be no ordinary escape.

It was an act of war prosecuted by one of the most belligerent, imaginative Allied “armies” ever to confront Hitler’s tyranny, with Bushell leading the way.

This event is free and open to the public. After his lecture, Mr Pearson will take questions from the floor.


To book a free place or for more information please email Dr Michael Yates (my@boltonschool.org).

This talk has been arranged by Bolton School Boys’ Division to raise funds for the Great Britain Junior (U19) Water Polo squad, which includes many boys from Bolton including School pupils. A collection will be made after the talk in support of the squad and Mr Pearson will sign books sold in aid of the team.

The Great Escaper Cover Roger Bushell Roger Bushell