Eric "Digger" Dowling, one of the planners of the famous "Great Escape" from a German POW camp in World War II, just died on the eve of his 93rd birthday.
Dowling, a Royal Air Force lieutenant, forged passports, made maps and helped dig the one tunnel the Germans didn't discover before 250 prisoners escaped from Stalag Luft III in occupied Poland. Many who escaped carried documents forged by Dowling, who couldn't accompany them because he wasn't one of the 250 chosen by lot, The London Times reported. Three got away; 50 were reported executed on Adolf Hitler's personal order.
Stalag Luft III, in occupied Poland
Dowling survived the war, but didn't much care for the film that made the escape famous, because it altered some facts to tell the story. Here is part one of a featurette about the history and the making of the film. (part two can be found here)
Dowling died in his sleep in a nursing home in Bristol.