Win a copy of The Great Escape: A Canadian Story

How well do you know the Great Escape?

Before answering, Beachers might wonder, which one? The true story, the Hollywood film, or the bookstore on Kingston Road?

In the March 18 edition of the Beach Metro News, we spoke with historian Ted Barris, whose latest book tells the story of the many Canadians involved in the real Great Escape – a massive breakout by 76 Allied airmen who secretly dug a 109-metre tunnel to escape the Stalag Luft III prison camp.

We also spoke with Brian Floody, who grew up in the Beach with the real-life architect of that tunnel – his father Wally Floody.

Beginning at 11 a.m. this Sunday, Barris will present a special Fox Theatre screening of the 1963 Hollywood film about the story, which director John Sturges made with some design advice from Wally Floody.

From left, James Coburn, Wally Floody, and Charles Bronson chat on the movie set of The Great Escape, built near Munich, in 1962. Photo courtesy Cathernie Heron, sister of the late Wally Floody.
From left, James Coburn, Wally Floody, and Charles Bronson chat on the movie set of The Great Escape, built near Munich, in 1962.
Photo courtesy Cathernie Heron, sister of the late Wally Floody.

Also this week, if any reader is quick enough, a free hard copy of Barris’ book, The Great Escape: A Canadian Story, will go to the first person who answers the following question:

Name the Canadian Spitfire pilot who shot down a Luftwaffe plane that dropped bombs on Buckingham Palace, and later received a thank-you from Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, who watched the whole thing from her balcony. Hint: the same pilot was an extraordinarily lucky survivor of the Great Escape. Double hint: fans of Bernie Fletcher’s Reel Beach will find the answer in a column all about his favourite war movie.

Answers can be sent by using the comments box below, by mail, Twitter, or Facebook. Beach Metro News will draw a name from the list of correct entries on April 23, and arrange a pick-up of the book at The Great Escape bookstore.

For anyone wondering about the coincidence of the store’s name, Great Escape owner Katya Nosko says when Bruce and Marg Ewing opened the store 16 years ago, they started with the simple idea that any good book is indeed a great escape.

But Bruce is also a huge fan of the film, Nosko said. For the store logo, he sketched actor Steve McQueen playing the lead role in the movie and holding a book over the bars of his Triumph motorcycle.

After the store opened, Nosko said Brian Floody dropped by and pointed out the coincidence – one of the real-life players in the Great Escape had lived just around the corner. He gave them the movie stills and a photo of Wally Floody on the film set that now hangs in the shop.


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