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Great Escape Tribute Kicks Off June 23rd

By: | Published 19 June 2013, 22:14 | Views: 2,793 | tags: afghanistan, help for heroes, charity, colditz, world war 2, battlefields, motorcycle, ride, adventure, steve mcqueen, great escape, armed forces, support, afghan heroes, triumphs
Motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the UK are about to depart on an epic journey across the battlefields of Europe in aid of military charity Afghan Heroes.

Six riders will embark on the Great Escape commemorative ride this summer culminating in a remarkable tribute to one of Hollywood’s most memorable sequences – where Steve McQueen attempts to leap the barbed wire fence along the Swiss border on a motorbike.

The Great Escape tour will leave Dover on June 23 for a two-week tour of famous battlefields of World War II taking in Prisoner of War camps including Stalag Luft III on the Polish border and the notorious Colditz Castle.

The unique mission is the brainchild of recently retired police officer and motorcycle enthusiast Peter Spowage from Rochester in Kent. He said:

“This summer is the 50th anniversary of the release of the Great Escape film and the charity ride will combine commemorative visits to wartime battlefields alongside movie landmarks such as Fussen in the Swiss Alps where we saw Steve McQueen attempt to leap the border wire on a motorbike.”

Three of the six motorcycles involved in the trip will be replicas of the Triumph Steve McQueen rode in the film sequence.

Peter said:

“Although the film is a firm family favourite and familiar to many, it  is based on real events which are less well known. Out of the 76 who escaped three made it back, 23 were returned to POW camps and fifty airmen were murdered by the Gestapo after escaping.”

Joining the party will be Afghan Heroes stalwart Stitch Black who also launched and runs the Heroes Charity Riders fundraising group.

The two week itinerary begins at Dover on June 23 and proceeds to Dunkirk taking in the battlefields of Arnhem before heading east to Berlin, Brandenburg and Poznan, where 48 of the airmen murdered by the Germans after escaping from Stalag Luft III are buried. The party will then head for Dresden visiting Colditz Castle before visiting Berchtesgaden, Hitler’s mountain residence in the Bavarian Alps.

The return journey will take in Battle of the Bulge lynch-pin Bastogne before heading home via Ypres and Dunkirk.

Peter said:

“Leaving Dunkirk and heading back to England brings the whole experience into focus and a lump to the throat.  As well as paying our own tribte to a legendary film we are aiming to raise thousands of pounds for Afghan Heroes.”

Afghan Heroes founder Denise Harriswhose son Corporal Lee Scott lost his life in July 2009 while serving with 2 Royal Tank Regiment in Afghanistan,  said the Great Escape would raise funds to help the charity expand its current mission opening a series of Retreat post services facilities around the country.

She said:

“This unique fundraising effort will not only support today’s servicemen and women but will also pay proper tribute to the soldiers, airmen and sailors who gave their lives during World War II.” 

To date  Shepton Mallet-based Afghan Heroes has sent 24,500 boxes of home comforts for troops on the front line, supplied Multi Media equipment in to The Queen Elizabeth Hospital & Camp Bastion as well as establishing the first holiday home where returning troops and the families of the fallen can spend quality time with their family. It continues to provide support for families of the fallen our returning troops and our wounded.


For further information on Afghan Heroes go to or  the Retreat at

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