Thursday, 10 January 2013

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" to an old prisoner of the Second World War called Alfie Fripp

Alfie, who was a Second World War, Royal Air Force Squadron Leader, shot down by the Luftwaffe and thought to be the longest-serving British prisoner of war, has died at the age of 98. He was the oldest survivor of the so-called '39ers', the name given to those captured at the start of the conflict.

What you possibly didn't know about Alfie, that he :

* was born in Bournemouth, Dorset, sent away to train as a 12-year-old Royal Navy electrical apprentice he failed to graduate because, at 4ft 10in tall and instead, joined the RAF in 1930 and married his sweetheart, Vera Allen, in September 1939, three days after war broke out.

* was sent to France with his his '57 Squadron' when he was a flight sergeant and the navigator in Bristol Blenheim bombers and just a few weeks later was shot down by the German Luftwaffe over Belgium during a reconnaissance mission.

* later said : "We were forced to hedge-hop at six feet to avoid being attacked again by a Messerschmitt in a cloudless sky. We crash-landed after colliding with the treetops."

* was captured along with the rest of the crew and in the years which followed was held at 12 different German prisoner of war camps, including Stalag Luft III, the scene of prisoner escapes which were dramatised in the film 'The Great Escape'.

* helped 76 PoWs prepare to escape from the camp in Poland in 1944, by acting as a spy for them as well as obtaining vital tools like wire cutters and files and was transferred out of the camp a few months before the mass break-out,

* endured the 'Long March of 1945', when thousands of PoWs were forced to march in winter from a camp in Zagan in Poland to Spremberg in Germany and many died from the cold and starvation.

Always cheerful': Alfie Fripp, pictured second left with fellow prisoners-of-war (l-r) Andrew Wiseman, Frank Stone and Reg Clever on a visit to Stalag Luft III camp in Poland in 2009, has died aged 98* revisited the camp at the age of 95 in 2009, with fellow prisoners, left to right, Andrew Wiseman, Frank Stone and Reg Clever.

* was freed at the end of the war after Germany had been conquered by the Allies.

Was said of, by :

* his niece, Patricia Fripp : "For the friends of Uncle Bill, AKA Alfie. He passed away this morning surrounded by his family. He never complained, was always cheerful and will light up Heaven."

* Pat Jackson, a family friend whose father, Charles Hancock, was held with him at Stalag Luft III : "He was a lively and vibrant man. Just eight weeks ago he was marching past the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday. He had also been making plans to go to Stalag Luft III in March to take part in a ceremony for the men who died in the Great Escape."

and :  "He and the others he was with were the unsung heroes of the war. They didn’t know if they would ever see home again but they never gave up the fight."

* was said of by Mrs Jackson : "Alfie was a legend, a great wit and an inspiration to all who knew him. He was a ladies' man, full of humour and up for anything. He had an amazing spirit."

                                          Alfie, on the right, with fellow prisoners.

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