Royal Canadian Air Force

Carl Boggild


Nothing fazes Carl. At 92, this escaped prisoner of war and former businessman is content with his life at Sunnybrook's Veterans Centre, where he's immersed in a peaceful, structured routine. His war years were not as tranquil.

During the Second World War, Carl was a flight lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Air Force, navigating Lancaster bombers.

He was shot down and injured over Nuremburg in 1943, and taken prisoner at Stalag Luft III, where he helped build the escape tunnel made famous by the film "The Great Escape." Carl's job was to help gather bed boards and pieces of wood from under the barracks to fortify the massive tunnel.

The escape occurred in March 1944. Luckily for Carl, he wasn't high enough in the hierarchy of prisoners to make the escape. Out of 76 men who went down the tunnel, 73 were re-captured. Fifty were executed by the Gestapo.

In April 1945, Carl staged his own escape. While on a march through the German countryside near Bremen, he and a friend rolled into a ditch and waited for the column to depart.

They travelled west on foot, sleeping under the floors of buildings. Carl arrived in England just a month before the war ended.

He is modest about these tales of courage. "Survival is a basic instinct, you know," he says.

Seventy years after his daring escape, Carl is grateful for the calm routine of life at the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre.

Carl enjoys reading, hanging out with his friend Digger, and participating in group discussions.

"I like it here," says Carl. "I'm very happy."

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