Captain Richard Phillip Carr MBE, MC

In the 1963 film, The Great Escape, Steve McQueen plays Captain Virgil Hilts, who is repeatedly returned to solitary confinement after numerous attempted breakouts as a POW. In real life, Captain Richard Carr was equally vigorous in his escape bids, making no fewer than four determined attempts to gain his freedom and re-join the war effort. Indeed, Carr has been likened to the charismatic character of ‘the Cooler King’ played by McQueen.

I feel hugely privileged to be the custodian of this wonderful man’s medals, letters and other memorabilia. For Carr was a soldier who displayed ‘cold’, or premeditated, courage time and time again. Moreover, Carr was modest about his escape attempts, describing them as “four real breaks and a few minor ones”.

Born in 1920, Richard Phillip Carr was the son of a businessman who ran a large biscuit-making company. Little is known about his younger years but by 1940 he was serving with the Royal Artillery in France, where he proved to be a regular and quite splendid letter-writer.

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