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  1. #21
    Senior Member Country: England
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    Originally posted by DB7@Aug 19 2005, 02:51 PM

    Yes, Charles Coward, and if I recall don't the credits involve Midlands Railways?
    The railway scenes were shot at what is now The Gateway Services on the London end of the M1. Formerly called Scratchwood, and before that it was the site of the Midland Railways ash tip. Some old drivers will tell you the engine and train were left in situ and just buried under tons of ash from the steam engines of the day. Before it became the ash tip, it was a dump for household rubbish and had its own shanty town of people who scratched a living by searching through the festering rubbish.

    So next time you are on a train going to St. Pancras, or motoring up the M1, have a look at the modern buildings of The Gateway services, and wonder just what is buried undsr them!!

  2. #22
    GRAEME
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    I'm always struck by the similarity between some of the escape details in The Password Was Courage and The Great Escape. In some places Escape apears to be a remake of the earlier film.



    I know that a lot of these escape details were generic - I'm not stupid - but it is the extreme similarity I am referring to.



    I know, also, that both films are based on true stories - different true stories. But has anyone else noticed the similarities I am talking about - the dirt spreading, the breathing apparatus, the truntaking in the tunnel and especially the emerging from the tunnel?



    Is GE influenced by Courage? And which do people prefer?



    I myself would have liked to see the Courage film go on to his experiences with the death camps in eastern Europe - although it would have altered the (overly?) jokey feel of the film.

  3. #23
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GRAEME
    I'm always struck by the similarity between some of the escape details in The Password Was Courage and The Great Escape. In some places Escape apears to be a remake of the earlier film.



    I know that a lot of these escape details were generic - I'm not stupid - but it is the extreme similarity I am referring to.



    I know, also, that both films are based on true stories - different true stories. But has anyone else noticed the similarities I am talking about - the dirt spreading, the breathing apparatus, the truntaking in the tunnel and especially the emerging from the tunnel?



    Is GE influenced by Courage? And which do people prefer?



    I myself would have liked to see the Courage film go on to his experiences with the death camps in eastern Europe - although it would have altered the (overly?) jokey feel of the film.
    It's something I've often commented on



    The Great Escape is based on a true story and apart from the way they include the Americans too much (they were moved to another camp some time before the escape) it's quite accurate.



    The Password is Courage is based on the biography of Sgt Major Charles Coward and claims to be a true story - but it can't be.



    The big escape at the end of PiC has so many similarities to GE that it can't just be coincidence. And there weren't any other escapes like the GE.



    The Great Escape took place in a camp for RAF officers. There were a few "other ranks" there to act as orderlies but none of them were involved in the escape. As a Sgt Major, Coward could have been sent to an officers camp but apparently elected to stay with his men. And if he had gone to an officers' camp it would have been one for army officers, not RAF officers.



    But there was nobody called Coward involved in the real event portrayed in The Great Escape.



    So did the film "borrow" the story of the GE to make it more interesting and exciting? Or did the biographer write it as if he was there? If the latter, how much of the rest of his biography is to be believed? How much of the rest of the film is to be believed?



    It's questions like those that spoil The Password is Courage for me.



    Steve

  4. #24
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook
    It's something As a Sgt Major, Coward could have been sent to an officers camp but apparently elected to stay with his men.

    Steve
    Aircrew were made up of senior NCOs as well as officers, and a Sgt Major is a SNCO rank (senior non-commissioned officer). However, in the camps they would almost certainly have been segregated into officers only huts, then SNCOs, then other ranks i.e. anyone below the rank of Sergeant (army or air force) or Petty Officer (navy).



    It's possible that all aircrew were housed together, commissioned or non-commissioned, but I've a feeling that the Luftwaffe had a similar hierarchical structure as the RAF, with extra rights and priveleges granted to officers only therefore SNCOs would have been excluded.



    This "us and them" culture was still very much present when I was in the RAF, but I don't think anyone minded this rather old fashioned olde worlde class structure, it seemed to work fine.

  5. #25
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    I have the book 'The Password Is Courage' and the author, John Castle, is apparently a pseudonym for two ex-POWs, Ronald Payne and John Garrod. Can anyone shed any light on this? Are Payne and Garrod real people or a joint pseudonym for Coward?



    Bats.

  6. #26
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by samkydd
    Aircrew were made up of senior NCOs as well as officers, and a Sgt Major is a SNCO rank (senior non-commissioned officer). However, in the camps they would almost certainly have been segregated into officers only huts, then SNCOs, then other ranks i.e. anyone below the rank of Sergeant (army or air force) or Petty Officer (navy).



    It's possible that all aircrew were housed together, commissioned or non-commissioned, but I've a feeling that the Luftwaffe had a similar hierarchical structure as the RAF, with extra rights and priveleges granted to officers only therefore SNCOs would have been excluded.



    This "us and them" culture was still very much present when I was in the RAF, but I don't think anyone minded this rather old fashioned olde worlde class structure, it seemed to work fine.
    But the even bigger segregation was between RAF prisoners and Army prisoners. That's why the ones in most films are called StalgLUFT (airman's prison)



    Steve

  7. #27
    GRAEME
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook
    It's something I've often commented on





    It's questions like those that spoil The Password is Courage for me.



    Steve
    Thanks Steve! A full and helpful reply. It's great to find someone who has noticed/cared about this - everyone I've ever spoken to about it before has shrugged their shoulders or, typically, never seen or heard of Password.



    I wouldn't say the film is ruined for me - but it is a shame it didn't stick closer to the real and amzing Courage story.

  8. #28
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by batman
    I have the book 'The Password Is Courage' and the author, John Castle, is apparently a pseudonym for two ex-POWs, Ronald Payne and John Garrod. Can anyone shed any light on this? Are Payne and Garrod real people or a joint pseudonym for Coward?



    Bats.
    We'll have to try to dig a bit deeper.

    Was there ever even a real Sgt Maj Coward? Or is the whole thing made up? Or a combination of the stories of a lot of different people?



    Is the escape in the book? Does it mention things like the tunnel being difficult to open and falling short of the woods? Or did they just make that up (based closely on The Great Escape) for the film?



    There's a Wikipedia page about Coward. But the only source cited is the book 'The Password Is Courage'



    There are some interesting comments on the Wikipedia Talk page where someone else casts some doubt on the story as given in the book and the film.



    Steve

  9. #29
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GRAEME
    Thanks Steve! A full and helpful reply. It's great to find someone who has noticed/cared about this - everyone I've ever spoken to about it before has shrugged their shoulders or, typically, never seen or heard of Password.



    I wouldn't say the film is ruined for me - but it is a shame it didn't stick closer to the real and amzing Courage story.
    If it is a real and amazing story

    It's certainly amazing, but is it real?



    Steve

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook
    We'll have to try to dig a bit deeper.

    Was there ever even a real Sgt Maj Coward? Or is the whole thing made up? Or a combination of the stories of a lot of different people?



    Is the escape in the book? Does it mention things like the tunnel being difficult to open and falling short of the woods? Or did they just make that up (based closely on The Great Escape) for the film?



    There's a Wikipedia page about Coward. But the only source cited is the book 'The Password Is Courage'



    There are some interesting comments on the Wikipedia Talk page where someone else casts some doubt on the story as given in the book and the film.



    Steve
    Here's a short article on Charlie Coward MQ MAGAZINE Issue 17 - Holocaust: The Count of Auschwitz



    And another with a slightly different view of him (halfway down the page) Autumn 2006

  11. #31
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sid
    Here's a short article on Charlie Coward MQ MAGAZINE Issue 17 - Holocaust: The Count of Auschwitz



    And another with a slightly different view of him (halfway down the page) Autumn 2006
    I think that he expanded on the truth slightly in his book - and then the film expanded it a whole lot more. They both "borrowed" stories that actually happened to other people (like The Great Escape)



    Steve

  12. #32
    Senior Member Country: UK Big Figure's Avatar
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    I've always enjoyed this WW2 film starring Dirk Bogarde as Charles Coward, a supposedly true account of a soldier's exploits in and out of POW camps. However, I believe there was some controversy when the book/film was released, with some of Coward's contemporaries disputing the accuracy of his adventures. I got the impression they were not questioning that the events actually happened, but his role in them.



    Anyone know the story behind this, please?



    Thanks.

  13. #33
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Figure

    I've always enjoyed this WW2 film starring Dirk Bogarde as Charles Coward, a supposedly true account of a soldier's exploits in and out of POW camps. However, I believe there was some controversy when the book/film was released, with some of Coward's contemporaries disputing the accuracy of his adventures. I got the impression they were not questioning that the events actually happened, but his role in them.



    Anyone know the story behind this, please?



    Thanks.
    I don't think it was all Coward's fault. The biography embroidered stories quite a bit and put him in situations that he couldn't have been in. The film then embroidered things a lot more.



    The claim that it's based on real life, especially on Coward's real life, should be taken with a huge dose of salt.



    Just look at the final escape. It's obviously describing The Great Escape, they even have trouble opening the tunnel and come out short of the woods. But The Great Escape was from an officers' camp. Coward was in an "other ranks" camp. Actually, as a sergeant-major he could have gone to the officers camp, but he chose to stay with his men



    There certainly wasn't anyone called Coward involved in The Great Escape



    But there were a lot of things that he did do which weren't mentioned in the biography or the film. Like his work in helping some people escape from Auschwitz II (Birkenau). That earned him a Righteous Gentile award.



    Steve

  14. #34
    Senior Member Country: England
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    Apart from Winston Churchill Charlie Coward is the only English recipient of the Israeli Peace Medal and the only Englishman to have a tree planted in his name on the Avenue Of Righteous Gentiles at Vad Yashim. It is written of him in the Jewish paper Ha-Kol that he was not one of the worlds great conversationalists or geniuses. He was quite unremarkable. But he was one hundred and one percent a real human being. Not at all the characterization by Dirk Bogarde in the film which is after all a 1962 view of the war.

    The book goes into more detail of Cowards death camp exploits but was also a 1954 view. The essentials of his written account were at the time locked away in the massive records of the War Crimes Trials, and after the trials were used in over two thousand German civil law suits.

    As early as the meetings at Tehran in 1943 the Allied chiefs were talking of war trials. The information of mass murder they discussed was sent in coded letters to the War Office by Charlie Coward and other. Coward addressed his letters to an already dead relative under the name of William Orange. His wife caught on to the deception and passed on the correspondence. With more information being released from the archives one imagines the 2010 film or book view of Charlie Coward's war would be even more different.

    Last year saw the newly created Hero Of The Holocaust Medal which was awarded to 100 year old Sir Nicholas Winton and 91 year old Denis Avey. Charlie Coward was posthumously awarded his Medal with 25 others. 65 years is a long wait to recognize these brave people but I suppose there must have been a lot of security reasons at the time for the government to put them away for so long.

    The book Operation Mince-Meat sheds a lot of new light on The Man Who Never Was story. It brings the contribution of agent Zig-Zag into the deception. Agent Zig-Zag was the safe-cracker turned spy Eddie Chapman who's own book The Eddie Chapman Story was made into the film Triple Cross. Having read Chapman's two books and Ewen Montagu's thin novel I can say there is no mention of agent Zig-Zag in any of them. Perhaps time for another version of both.

    The way things are released from the archives perhaps even more views could be in the pipeline when the 100 year rule is up?

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