Rathangan Local History Group – ‘The Great Escaper. Flight Lt. Mike Casey and the Rathangan connection.‘ – a talk by James Durney (CKAS Council Member), historian with Kildare Arts and Library Service,on Wednesday March 20th at 8pm in the Old Schoolhouse Rathangan.
The Great Escape is an iconic film loosely based on the escape of 76 POWs from the Luftwaffe run Stalag Luft 3 in March 1944. Looking behind the film’s version of events James Durney, historian with Kildare Arts and Library Service, will tell the story of Flight Lt. Mike Casey who spent his early years in Hollywood House near Rathangan.
Mike Casey was shot down on a reconnaissance mission over the Wesel-Bocholt area of Germany in October 1939. He spent five years in various POW camps, acquiring a reputation as a difficult prisoner, before ending up in the supposedly escape proof Stalag Luft 3.
Casey was the escape treasurer, responsible for concealing caches of forged documents around the camp. When 76 POWs escaped from the camp it prompted a massive manhunt with an estimated 70,000 German Police, Reservists, and Gestapo involved in the search effort. Just three POWs escaped, and 50 of the recaptured POWs were executed on the orders of Adolph Hitler.
(NB This talk was originally scheduled for February)