Canadian POW and key man of "The Great Escape" breaks near 70-year silence in new book

TORONTO, Nov. 6, 2013 /CNW/ - Testaments of Honour Press today announced the long-anticipated release of The Survivor: Scruffy's War. The latest work by military archivist and bestselling author Blake Heathcote tells the firsthand story of young Canadian fighter pilot John "Scruffy" Weir, and his remarkable journey from schoolboy to his field work with a covert intelligence network - secrets he kept until he began working with Heathcote in 2006. Full of intimate (and often comic) detail and as yet unrevealed insight, The Survivor: Scruffy's War takes us behind the myth to flesh out the real story of one of the great adventures of our time. 

Fighter pilot, prisoner of war, and a key tunneller in the Great Escape, Scruffy Weir never spoke about his war experiences - at least not until he decided to collaborate with Blake Heathcote. In dozens of interviews over two years, Weir gradually revealed his whole incredible journey - from his travels in pre-war Nazi Germany to the final days of the war, evading enemy agents who were hunting him down.

His memories, wartime journals, letters, and photographs - many reproduced for the first time in this book - come together to deliver a spellbinding account, not only of what is arguably the most legendary wartime escape of the 20th century, but also of an astonishing life, well-lived.

"Scruffy Weir was a charming, articulate man. But under his modest veneer was something quite different. Watchful and shrewd, with a gift for assuming the bland persona of a face in the crowd, he always operated below the radar. His keen mind made him an ideal spy catcher," says Heathcote. "In my 15 years of working with Canada's veterans, questions and conversations kept leading back to this man known as Scruffy. While many are reluctant to speak about their war, few are as guarded as he was. Now we know why. It was a privilege to work with this distinguished veteran, and I am honoured that he chose me to tell his story."

What makes a survivor? Most of us can only guess. In this remarkable book, Scruffy Weir breaks his silence of almost 70 years, telling how brains, grit, and a lifetime of training brought him safely through the darkest years of the war. The result is Blake Heathcote's The Survivor: Scruffy's War, a moving and affectionate portrait of Scruffy Weir, an extraordinary man, and a true survivor.

About Testaments of Honour
The Testaments of Honour Project's mandate is to record, on digital video, the personal histories of Canadian veterans — for our children, for students, for our families, and for the veterans themselves. This way, we ensure that the thread of experience is nurtured and kept alive — through the veterans telling their own stories in their own words. These hundreds of interviews on digital video will ensure that the remarkable individuals who forged the history in those formative years will always be able to say to us, in their own words, "This Happened to Me."

Image with caption: "On the left, John "Scruffy" Weir in June 1940, a newly minted RCAF pilot. And at right, John in Stalag Luft I, eighteen months later, having been badly burned when his Spitfire was shot down over France. (CNW Group/Crisp Pennyfeather Mordant Crisp and Minte) (CNW Group/Testaments of Honour)". Image available at:

SOURCE: Testaments of Honour

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