Nicolas Tindal-Carill-Worsley

Group Captain Nicolas Tindal-Carill-Worsley RAF (known as Nicolas Tindal) (7 March 1911 – 28 January 2006), was a bomber pilot during the Second World War who helped plan and execute the Great Escape from Stalag Luft III, where he was imprisoned between 1940 and 1945.

Nicolas Henry Joseph Tindal
Nicolas Tindal, c.1940.
Birth nameNicolas Henry Joseph Tindal-Carill-Worsley
Born(1911-03-07)7 March 1911
Dublin, Ireland
Died28 January 2006(2006-01-28) (aged 94)
Bishops Lydeard, Somerset
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Air Force
RankGroup captain
Battles/warsWorld War II


Tindal was born in Dublin,[1] the son of Commander Ralph Tindal-Carill-Worsley, RN and Kathleen, daughter of Simon Mangan of Dunboyne Castle, HM Lieutenant for County Meath from 1895 to 1905.[2] Tindal was born to a distinguished family. Amongst his ancestors were Lord Chief Justice Sir Nicolas Tindal, Erasmus Darwin, and Charles Worsley. His father and uncle, Charles Tindal-Carill-Worsley, had both served on the Royal Yacht and went on to have distinguished careers in the Royal Navy, Charles commanding HMS Prince George during the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915[3] At the same time, Tindal's maternal grandmother's first cousin, Brigadier General Paul Aloysius Kenna, VC, was commanding a brigade in the invasion of Suvla Bay, where he was killed in action in August 1915.[4]

Early lifeEdit

He was educated at Beaumont College, a Jesuit public school in Berkshire,[5] and Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, before reading Botany at Trinity College, Dublin. While at Trinity, he befriended Oliver St John Gogarty and learned to fly.[1]

Military careerEdit


He was commissioned as a pilot officer in the Royal Air Force in 1931.[6] He was promoted to flying officer in 1933,[7] and subsequently to flight lieutenant, before promotion to squadron leader in 1938.[8] Tindal's first cousin, Geoffrey Tindal-Carill-Worsley also served in the RAF during the Second World War, retiring an air commodore. His kinsman, Wing Commander Archie Tindal, was the first Australian airman to be killed on the Australian mainland in the war and gave his name to an RAAF air base.

In the mid-1930s, while stationed at RAF Grantham, Tindal played rugby for Leicester. He was also twice capped for the RAF, playing against the Royal Navy at Twickenham in 1933 and 1934.[9]

Tindal became a flying instructor in 1938, where his students included such future flying aces as Stanford Tuck.

Second World WarEdit

From the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, he served with 14 OTU and then he commanded 44 Squadron flying handley Page Hampden bombers. He was shot down on 11 December 1940 at Châteaubriant in occupied France, together with Sergeants E Martin, J McEwan and RP Tebutt. All were taken prisoner and Tindal was eventually imprisoned at Stalag Luft III, where he spent the rest of the war.[10]

Great EscapeEdit

His particular responsibility preceding the Great Escape was to forge the documents of the escapers. He had originally been on the list of airmen due to escape from the camp in the daring enterprise, but had given his place to a Polish airman whose wife was due to give birth in England. This man was shot along with other airmen at the direct orders of Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, an order that was one of the pieces of evidence most critical in securing Göring's conviction at the Nuremberg trials. Tindal had had his own escapes - once escaping in German uniform for eight days, before being caught near Hamburg.[1] For his many escape attempts, Tindal was twice mentioned in Dispatches.[11]


Tindal was promoted to group captain in 1946, with seniority to July 1945.[12] He was appointed commandant of an RAF base in Treviso, Italy, in 1945, before being appointed to a staff position in Palestine, until his retirement in 1948. While in Jerusalem, where he was stationed with his family, Tindal narrowly escaped the King David Hotel bombing, on 22 July 1946.

Tindal retired to County Donegal in Ireland in 1949, where he bought a country house and farm. He was an early pioneer of fruit farming in Ireland, until his orchards were destroyed by Tropical Storm Debbie in 1965.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

On 27 June 1936 Tindal married Winifred (1913–1997), daughter of Major Henry Cooper, Green Howards, joint master of the Belvoir Hunt,[2] and niece of Evelyn Cheston and they had seven children: Charles (m. Rosemary Dennehy, granddaughter of Sir Cecil Stafford-King-Harman, Bt, of Rockingham), Penelope (m. Henry Clark, colonial officer and MP for Antrim North (1959–1970)), Francis (m. Brigid, daughter of Col Phillip Lauder), Caroline (m. Peter, son of Maj. Gen Sir David Dawnay and Lady Katherine (née) Beresford), Jacqueline (m. John, son of Dr Harold Frank Hoar), Ralph (m. Caroline, daughter of James Villiers-Stuart of Dromana within the Decies) and Anthony (m. Penelope Railton). He left 25 grandchildren and 38 great grandchildren.


Tindal died at Dunkirk Memorial House, Bishops Lydeard, Somerset, on 28 January 2006. A requiem mass was held at the church of St. Conal and St. Joseph, Bruckless, Co. Donegal, on 6 February 2006.[13]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d "Irishman who helped dig tunnels for the Great Escape". The Irish Times. 18 February 2006.
  2. ^ a b Townend, Peter, ed. (1965–1972). Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry. Vol. 3 (18th ed.). London, England: Burke's Peerage Ltd. p. 977. |volume= has extra text (help)
  3. ^ "Letter from C T-C-W to his mother Elizabeth, 8 June 1915, sold by Prestige Philately 13 June 2009" (PDF). Retrieved 4 February 2014.
  4. ^ CWGC entry
  5. ^ "Beaumont Union Facts". 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  6. ^ "No. 33874". The London Gazette. 18 October 1932. p. 6559.
  7. ^ "No. 34015". The London Gazette. 16 January 1934. p. 393.
  8. ^ "No. 34576". The London Gazette. 2 December 1938. p. 7611.
  9. ^ History of RAF Rugby 1919-1999 by John Mace (The Royal Air Force Rugby Union, 2000)
  10. ^ "Records of the 'Department de la Loire Atlantique' (in French)". Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  11. ^ "No. 37598". The London Gazette. 4 June 1946. p. 2817.
  12. ^ "No. 37867". The London Gazette. 16 August 1946. p. 4107.
  13. ^ "Group Capt Nicholas Henry Tindal-Carill-Worsley". The Daily Telegraph. 2 February 2006.