Sydney Dowse MC - one of the 'Great Escapers': Sydney Dowse, who died on Thursday aged 89, was one of the principal constructors of the tunnel used in the Great Escape; he was among those who got away, and was at large for 14 days before being recaptured and sent to the "death camp" at Sachsenhausen, where he dug another tunnel to gain a few more days of freedom http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?viewETAILS&grid=&xml=/news/2008/04/12/db1201.xml .....'Although Dowse spent most of his time underground, he also befriended a German corporal who worked in the censor's office at the camp headquarters. Through this contact he obtained numerous authentic documents, which were passed to the escape committee for copying, and much valuable military intelligence. He even managed to persuade the corporal to provide him with a tailored suit, which he subsequently wore for his escape. By mid-March 1944 the 336ft-long Harry (the only surviving tunnel) was complete. On the night of March 24 the tunnellers broke surface, but they were a few yards short of the covering woods. This caused delays; and Dowse, who was the 21st man to exit, and his Polish friend "Danny" Krol, were unable to catch their intended train. Their plan was to head for Poland, where they hoped to link up with the Polish resistance. The ever-resourceful Dowse had obtained a three-week supply of genuine food vouchers from the German corporal, so the two men decided to set off on foot and follow the main railway line eastwards........' '......Despite the loss of so many men, Dowse always believed the Great Escape was worth it. In later years he observed: "We caused havoc to the Germans. We tied up thousands â¦ looking for us." Dowse had an irrepressible enthusiasm and easy-going bonhomie. In Sagan he gained the nickname "Laughing Boy", but this disguised a tough and determined resolve. His friend Jimmy James remarked: "His spirit was undimmed; even in Sachsenhausen he was as ebullient as ever." In retirement Dowse divided his time between his elegant homes in Chelsea and Monte Carlo. Well known at the Savoy Hotel in London, he never needed to book for dinner, always being shown to one of the best tables. Throughout his life Dowse was passionate about rugby. Both before and after the war he turned out for Harlequins (whose tie remained his favoured neckwear), and at Stalag Luft III, during breaks from his tunnelling duties, he played in the camp's 1st XV. He continued to enjoy the fine things in life - including his Rolls-Royce and fast sports car - into old age, and once remarked: "Once one escapes from [Sachsenhausen], life holds no difficulties." And I just lurve this bit........ 'It is thought that Sydney Dowse married three times, but at the time of his death he was single.'