The true story of Oberleutnant Franz von Werra, a young Luftwaffe glamour boy and the only German prisoner of war taken in Britain who escaped from captivity and got back to Germany.
Shot down in the Battle of Britain, von Werra (played here by Hardy Kruger) wagered a British interrogating officer at the POW reception centre at Trent Park in Cockfosters, Hertfordshire, a magnum of champagne to a packet of cigarettes that he would escape within six months. He won his bet.
Von Werra’s two dashes for freedom in Britain were made from prisoner-of-war camps in the north of England. After failing once (from Grizedale Hall in Lancashire), he hit on a plan brilliant in its simplicity.
Posing as a Dutch pilot, he would get the RAF to provide him with a plane.
He escaped from the Swanwick POW camp in Derbyshire and made his way to Hucknall aerodrome in Nottinghamshire, where he got as far as the cockpit of a new Hurricane fighter and was on the verge of taking off when he was recaptured.
Only by seconds did he fail to pull off a bluff that would have earned the RAF a substantial red face.
He was transferred to a Canadian POW camp where he successfully escaped by jumping from a train, dragging a rowing boat to the half-frozen St Lawrence and making his way to the then-neutral US, thence via Mexico, South America (travelling through Peru, Bolivia and Brazil) and Spain, and so home to Germany. He reached Berlin on 18 April 1941.
On 25 October of the same year, while on patrol, his plane was seen diving into the sea. No trace of Von Werra was ever found.
Star Hardy Krüger served in the SS during World War II and was captured by the Americans. He managed to escape on his third attempt.
Michael Ripper, Stratford Johns, Bernard Horsfall, Glyn Houston and Norman Rossington all appear in minor uncredited roles.
Oberleutnant Franz von Werra
RAF Intelligence Officer
Commandant at Grizedale Hall
Duty Officer at Hucknall
John Van Eyssen
Roy Ward Baker