John William Best

Military Person

1912 – 2000


Who was John William Best?

Flight Lieutenant John William Best MBE, was a British Royal Air Force pilot. He was a notable Prisoner of War, who was held captive at Colditz Castle in eastern Germany during World War II. Best was noted for his several attempts to escape from Colditz and for his part in building the Colditz Cock, a glider from which he hoped to escape by air.

Jack Best was born near Llangollen in North Wales and grew up there. He moved to Kenya as a young man where he was a farmer. When the war began in 1939, Best joined the RAF and was trained as a pilot. During one of his flights across Africa in 1941, his plane ran out of fuel off the coast of Greece and he was captured by German soldiers. He was taken to Stalag Luft III, the prison made famous in the movie The Great Escape. Best and another prisoner dug a tunnel and escaped to Poland where they were captured. On 9 September 1942, they were taken to Colditz Castle where other escapees were taken because German commanders believed the thick rock walls of Colditz would prevent escape.

Best attempted escape several times but was recaptured.


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Aug 6, 1912
  • United Kingdom
Apr 22, 2000

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