Saturday, March 09, 2024

Peter Butterworth was involved in the two most famous prison camp escapes of World War II

There's a well-known - and true - story about the Carry On actor Peter Butterworth. As a prisoner of war during the second world war, he was one of the vaulters who helped in the famous Wooden Horse escape.

When he heard in 1950 that a film was being made about the escape, he auditioned for a part. Only to be told that he "didn't look convincingly heroic or athletic enough". Which is why you won't see him in the trailer above.

Stalag Luft 3 was also the camp from which The Great Escape took place later in the war. In that, the man who was to play Farmer Fiddler, Brother Belcher and Citizen Bidet helped dispose of sand and with forging documents.

Butterworth's involvement in what are probably the two most famous escapes of the war may not have been a coincidence. While a prisoner he had been recruited into the secretive MI9, which existed to organise and encourage escapes by prisoners of war.

Another future Carry On actor involved in this line of work was Jon Pertwee. For a time he worked for Ian Fleming in Naval Intelligence, and one of the things he did was train Naval officers in escape techniques.

The office tea was made by a bright young Able Seaman who would later be Commissioned and write the Royal Navy's guide to the Japanese navy.

His name was Jim Callaghan.

1 comment:

Phil Beesley said...

Motor sport journalist Simon Taylor had a cameo role in the film "Rush" about the 1976 F1 season. The wardrobe supervisor told him that the jacket he had worn that year didn't look authentic.