The death of "Bill" Leslie James Edward Goldfinch (26-32) has revealed another remarkable wartime adventure and achievement by an Old Framlinghamian. Those who have read Pat Ried’s The Colditz Story will recall that, towards the end of their captivity, a few of the prisoners were constructing a glider in the Colditz roof to be used by two prisoners to fly to freedom. The designer of the glider and instigator of this audacious scheme, together with racing driver Tony Rolt, was Bill Goldfinch. Perhaps fortunately, the prison was liberated by the Americans before the escape attempt was made. However, in 2000 Channel 4 commissioned a glider to be built to Bill’s plans which reached a height of 700ft at RAF Odiham.
Click here to see a full description of Bill's life in the Distinguished Section.
Bill, after training as RAF aircrew at the beginning of the war, was captured in Greece in 1941 when his Sunderland flying boat crashed while evacuating troops to Crete. When he recovered from his injuries he was sent to Stalag Luft III where he and Jack Best managed to tunnel out of the camp. Eventually, their recapture resulted in them being sent to the escaper’s prison at Colditz.
News of Bill’s life and death was brought to us by fellow aviator Bruce Micklewright (S 48-51). After flying Sabres for the Canadian Air Force Bruce spent many years as a Cathay Pacific pilot. When he retired he restored a Tiger Moth and finished it in the Framlingham colours of chocolate and blue. This was spotted by Bill Goldfinch at Old Sarum airfield and, with a mutual interest the pair became firm friends in the seven years before Bill died.