Soldier's books to make 'Great Escape' at auction

When the wartime memorabilia of Private William "Mac" Macdonald goes up for auction, next month, a very special book will be among the items.

Entitled Stalag Luft III - dated 1944-45 - the book contains comical scenes of camp life at the prisoner of war camp later immortalised in the 1963 film The Great Escape.

It will sell at Lyon & Turnbull's sale of books, maps and manuscripts, in Edinburgh on 13 January.

A former navigator in a Bristol Blenheim bomber, Macdonald, from Elgin, Scotland, was shot down early in the conflict and imprisoned. He return to the camp 60 years later, prior to his death in April 2008, aged 88.

During his time at Stalag Luft III in Poland, Macdonald collected dozen of drawings of life in the camp, drawn by his fellow captured soldiers.


The poster for the highly-celebrated 1963 film
The Great Escape, starring Steve McQueen

Sketches include the famous "Harry" trench, the 348 ft-long tunnel which over 600 prisoners spent longer than a year secretly constructing.

In March, 1944, 76 men crawled through the tunnel to freedom - the single greatest POW jailbreak during World War Two.

Of particular note among the drawings is a picture of "Mac" in his tartan trousers, sketched by one of the legendary escapees: Alex Cassie, who was portrayed by Donald Pleasance in the film, starring alongside Steven McQueen.

Also included in Macdonald's camp journal are pages of verse, various photographs of camp life, and 15 pages listing the names and addresses of his fellow prisoners.

Collectors inspired by the never-give-up war time spirit may also be interested to know there is a signed photo of Winston Churchill available.

 



 

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