Great Escape 2 – We Made It
Photos sent in by Dave Muckle
On June 4th we left RAF Biggin Hill on the beginning of our charity ride following the route of Sqn Ldr Roger Bushell, the aim of the trip was to firstly pay our respects to the 50 airmen murdered by the SS after the Great Escape, and secondly to try and raise £10,000 for forces charities The Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes.
En-route we visited various places of military significance, those being-:
Hells Highway from Eindhoven to Arnhem (accommodated by the Dutch Airforce and Army) , Hohne Garrison which was once a German military base ( Accommodated by 7 Armed Brigade, better known as the Desert Rats), Barthe on the Baltic coast of the former East Germany – site of Stalag Luft I where a number of prisoners were first taken.
From there onto Berlin where we visited the grave of Flt Lt Denys O Street, the only escaper buried in Berlin, the former SS Headquarters, currently being renovated, the Brandenburg Gate and Russian Memorial on the B2 before departing for Zagan in Poland.
We were accommodated by the Polish Army who could not have done more for us, they fed us and transported us around during our stay. On day 2 there we were taken to Poznan by coach to pay our respects at the graves of the 48 escapers who ashes are buried there, we laid wreaths on each grave and a five shot salute was made by the local unit.
Next port of call was Colditz Castle after a stop off in Dresden, we stayed in the Hostel which is in one of the original buildings and had a 2 ½ hour tour. Normally it only takes 1 ½ hours but we had the ‘climb fences and go down holes tour’, well worth the visit if your in the area.
As the order for the murders was given by Hitler at the Eagles Nest in Berchetsgaden, it seemed only right that we go there as well. The following morning, before departing for Fussen we planned to ride up for a look but unfortunately for us vehicles are no longer allowed up there so you have to take a bus, we couldn’t afford the 2 ½ hr delay as we had a long day in the saddle, but next time…..
We were now riding through Southern Germany/ Northern Austria to visit the site of the motorcycle jump that was in the film, we knew roughly where it was so would need time to look around when we got there. After asking some locals they directed us to the field and straight away you could see it was the one. We wanted photo’s of our replica bike at the same spot which took a bit of time to get right, but we made it in the end.
A 1 ½ hr ride saw us at our hotel in Austria, a bit later than anticipated but we made it in time for food and beer which was the main thing.
Up bright and early as today we do the Stelvio Pass, one of the escape routes used by allied POW’s to get into Switzerland, a fantastic road and a lot of fun on Bonneville’s. We came down on the Umbrail Pass onto the A28 to Davos, round through Lichtenstein and onto Feldkirch for the night in another hostel, an old leper colony in the 1700’s….nice!
The route home took us through the Black Forrest riding part of the B500 onto Trier for a night, then follow on to Ypres in Belgium. We were taking part in the Last Parade ceremony at 8pm so had to get there in plenty of time, we met up with 3 riders from the Belgian branches of the Blue Knights (Police motorcycle club) who took us all the way to the hotel.
They came in very handy when we found the road closures due to major works in the town, they just moved the barriers for us. Two members of our team laid the wreath in Police and RAF uniforms while the rest of us in our waistcoats and Berets (those that had them) watched on.
All that remained was to get home, we had a ferry booked for 12 o’clock so we had a gentle ride (in torrential rain) back to Dunkirk. Having another visit to the ships bridge, as we did on the way out, and some food we were ready for the last little piece.
We left the boat and had to wait for the support vehicles to clear customs and we were away, members of the Royal British Legion Riders Branch were there to ride back with us, and at the top of Jubilee Way were members of the Triumph Owners Club (Rats). We rode back together before splitting on the M2 so they could get to the RV before us.
As a group the 7 bikes and 2 4×4’s drove into the car park of the Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham, where we were met by the local TV and press, and members of our families.
That was it, the ride was done, it was emotional at times, a good laugh at others and we all came back talking to each other which is a bonus. After 3000 miles with no breakdowns of any kind, and the Triumph clothing never let in a drop of rain, we had exceeded our target of £10,000 for charity. All in all a great success.
Huge thanks go to Laguna Motorcycles for the motorcycles and Nissan UK for the support vehicles, also Biggin Hill Airport who were a major sponsor and Bikesure Insurance with out who the ride would not have happened.
Prior to, and since we have returned we have had a lot of interest from other riders interested in doing this trip, and after some consideration 2 of the team have decided to run with it as a private venture. If you are interested in this adventure please register your interest on our website at www.greatescapetours.org and we will keep you informed of progress.
Sth East Region