Alfie Fripp, oldest surviving and longest-serving British prisoner of war, dies age 98

 

The oldest surviving and longest-serving British prisoner of war has died at the age of 98.

Alfie Fripp was held in 12 different PoW camps during the Second World War after his plane was shot down by the Germans in only the second month of the war.

He died in hospital in Bournemouth today with his family by his side.

The last of the “39ers”, the unfortunate few taken prisoner in the first year of the conflict, Alfie spent part of the war in the infamous Stalag Luft III, site of “The “Great Escape” of seventy Allied prisoners, that was later immortalised on film.

Mr Fripp’s niece, Patricia Fripp announced her uncle’s death on Facebook. “For the friends of Uncle Bill, AKA Alfie. He passed away this morning surrounded by his family. He never complained, was always cheerful and will light up Heaven,” she wrote.

Born in June 1913, Alfie Fripp enlisted with the RAF in September 1930. At the outbreak of war in September 1939, his squadron, the 57th, was sent to France to fly air reconnaissance missions for the British Expeditionary Force sent to repulse the Nazi advance on western Europe.

Three days after the declaration of war he married his sweetheart Vera Violet Allen. Barely a month later, the Bristol Blenheim he was flying in was shot down over Germany by the Luftwaffe, and he and his fellow crewmen were taken prisoner.

He acted as a Red Cross representative in a succession of prison camps. He was not in Stalag Luft III at the time of the infamous escape in 1944, but the young pilot of the plane he was shot down in, Flight Lieutenant Mike Casey, became one of Allied serviceman who escaped from the camp, only to be caught by the Nazis and executed on Hitler’s orders.

After enduring more than five years internment, Mr Fripp was involved in the Long March of 1945  when thousands of PoWs were forced to march westwards in winter from camps in occupied Poland, as the Nazi-held territories fell into disarray under the advance of the Russian Red Army.

After the war Mr Fripp continued to serve in the RAF until his retirement in 1969. He retired with his wife to Bournemouth and became a sixth-form teacher before fully retiring at the age of 65.

In 2009 Mr Fripp returned to Stalag Luft III for the first time in more than 60 years to remember colleagues who did not survive the war.  “I’m glad I came to remember Mike - you reflect back on all the memories and the people you knew,” he said. “As for the Germans, I’ve forgiven them but not forgotten.”

Of his long life, he wrote on his website: “I look back over the years on my RAF career with pride and consider it a great privilege to have served from the time when the strength was only 30,000 airmen and the ration allowance five pence per day...It is little short of a miracle that I have survived for so long, through a forced landing in the bay of Biscay in a Scapa flying boat in 1936 whilst ferrying it to Alexandria, to a pre-war crash in a Blenheim Mk I in 1938, through my World War II experiences to the present day.”

 

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Sport
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Life and Style
i100

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

MFL TEACHER, SUPPLY VACANCY, LOVELY SITTINGBOURNE SCHOOL

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The Job We are currently recruit...

NQT Teachers

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: Randstad Education can provide you wit...

MATHS TEACHER, PERMANENT VACANCY, TONBRIDGE SCHOOL

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is currently ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week