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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 March, 2004, 14:17 GMT
RAF veteran visits Nazi war camp
Jimmy James, RAF veteran
Mr James said his return to the camp was a "moving experience"
An RAF veteran from Ludlow is guest of honour in Poland to commemorate the 60th anniversary of The Great Escape.

The dramatic breakout from a German prisoner of war camp was recreated in a 1963 film starring screen legend Steve McQueen.

Jimmy James, an 89-year-old squadron leader, is one of the last survivors of the break-out from Stalag Luft Three, the supposedly escape-proof Nazi camp.

Mr James said returning to the camp had brought memories flooding back.

'Ghosts of the past'

Seventy-six Allied officers tunnelled their way out of the camp, but only three got back to Britain. Most were killed by the Gestapo.

Speaking to BBC Radio Shropshire from the camp, Mr James said: "It is quite a moving experience.

"The huts have been razed to the ground but you can see where we dug, the route of the tunnel and you can still feel the atmosphere of the camp.

"Having lost 50 comrades, ghosts of the past are inevitably going to rise up.

"I feel a great loss. I never thought that 60 years ago when I crawled out of the snow there would be a ceremony in Poland to commemorate the event."

Mr James will be attending a series of events throughout Wednesday.

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