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Brighton war hero who escaped from the Nazis in Italy dies
A war hero who launched a daring escape from his Nazi captors after relieving himself in the woods will laid to rest next week.
John Slinger, who passed away on Christmas Day aged 93, was also notably one of the last to be evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940.
His step-son has told how the then 20-year-old swam out to the final boat in just his underpants and helmet after blowing up French bridges to slow the German's advance - saving countless lives in the process.
Born in Birmingham in June 1920, he joined the Royal Engineers at the outbreak of the Second World War.
He was soon in the thick of the action when involved in the valiant evacuation of the British Army at Dunkirk.
Such was his exhaustion at reaching the final ship, he had little recollection of the return journey or even which port he entered.
After a short period of rest and recuperation he was sent to North Africa and Tobruk.
When not involved in the intense fighting he was getting into trouble with the establishment.
Step-son, Charlie Gimenez, said: “One of his lasting memories was of him and his friends skinny-dipping to cool off one day.
“Little did they know, Churchill was visiting and he was somewhat shocked by the sight of all these naked men.”
The oppressive heat, which caused him skin problems throughout his life, saw him trade chocolate and cigarettes for eggs with the local Bedouin which he then cooked for his pals on the bonnet of a vehicle.
But towards the end of the 240 day siege of the Libyan city he was captured by the Nazis who set about transporting him to a prisoner of war camp in Eastern Europe.
During a rest stop in Italy while relieving himself in the woods he made his escape.
He scarpered to the nearby mountains and was taken in by sympathetic locals including the then Italian teenager, John Cappelli.
Such was the friendship between the two that they stayed in touch until the Italian's death three years ago.
Mr Slinger's resistance finally came to an end when a German officer spotted his distinctive blue eyes and gentlemanly walk.
There was no escape this time and he spent the remainder of the war in a German POW camp in Poland.
Soon after he left the army for the hotel industry which saw him move the Sussex coast.
He first lived Peacehaven before moving to Friar Crescent, Brighton, in 1974 after meeting his wife.
In his later years he became heavily involved in both the Dunkirk Veterans Association and Royal Engineers Association.
Mr Gimenez said: “My lasting memory of him will be of an incredibly proud, brave and loving man.”
He leaves his wife Joan, 71, step-children Mr Gimenez, 50 and Elizabeth Burley, 45, and five grandchildren.
His funeral will be held at Brighton's Woodvale Crematorium on January 14 at 11.30.
The family has requested no flowers with donations instead to the Royal Engineers Association.
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