SECOND World War veteran Alfie Fripp – who spent almost all the conflict in a prison camp – has died aged 98.
Alfie was believed to be the oldest and one of the longest serving prisoners of war and was detained at the Stalag Luft III camp where his comrades’ escape attempts inspired the film The Great Escape.
The Southbourne resident was photographing the movements of the German military from a Mk1 Blenheim plane when it was shot down and he was taken prisoner with the words “For you the war is over.”
The war was only three weeks old and he was kept prisoner for the rest of it. Alfie was held at 12 different PoW camps during his five years and seven months’ captivity.
Stalag Luft III became the scene of two daring escapes, later immortalised in hit films The Wooden Horse and The Great Escape.
Alfie used his job of picking up parcels from the railway station to procure items to help with escape efforts. He was transferred to another camp six months before the Great Escape when 76 of his allied comrades made it out of the tunnel in March 1944.
All but three were recaptured and Hitler ordered 50 of them to be shot, including Alfie’s pilot and friend, Mike Casey.
Alfie was originally from Wimborne and ran the science laboratory at Brockenhurst College after leaving the RAF.
He and his late wife Vera had two daughters, Sue Dorrell and Anne Gibbs, and he became a grandfather and great-grandfather.
He died in Bournemouth hospital yesterday surrounded by family following an ear infection, heart attack and treatment for water on the lungs.
Anne praised the “wonderful” nurses at the hospital and said her dad was still in high spirits the day before he died. She said: “He will be very sadly missed.
“What a great man he was, always smiling and always positive.”