LONDON - Jack Harrison, who survived the Great Escape plot by Allied prisoners in a German prison in World War II, has died at age 97, his family said.

Harrison died Friday at Erskine veterans' home in Bishopton, Scotland.

As one of the camp's gardeners, Harrison helped dispose of the dirt excavated from three escape tunnels. He was 98th on the list of some 200 inmates designated to make the escape on March 24, 1944, but only 76 got away before guards raised the alarm.

The breakout was celebrated in the 1963 film "The Great Escape" starring Steve McQueen and James Garner.

Only three men managed to reach safety. Adolf Hitler ordered the execution of 50 recaptured escapers, and 23 others were returned to custody.

"I guess it was a blessing in disguise I never made it through, as most were shot," Harrison said in an interview last year. "But the main purpose wasn't just to escape. It was to outfox the Germans. It was a huge moral victory. It humiliated Hitler and gave the Nazis a bloody nose."

Of the three tunnels dug by prisoners, two had been found by guards and closed before the escape attempt.

Harrison was a Royal Air Force pilot who was shot down and captured in November 1942 on his first mission, a raid on the Dutch port of Den Helder. He was taken to Stalag Luft III prison near Sagan in eastern Germany - now Zagan, Poland.

After the war, Harrison resumed his teaching career. He retired in 1975 as director of education for the isle of Bute.

His children said Harrison took up marathon running in his 70s to raise money for charity.