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WWII veteran sees Spitfire fly

A local World War II RAF veteran recently had the opportunity to see a Spitfire fly at Solent Airport.

A resident at Worthing-based charity, Care for Veterans, was accompanied by staff members who took him to the airport to witness three flights by the Spitfire.

The Care for Veterans’ resident joined the RAF in September 1938. He trained as a mechanic and became a qualified Fitter 2E and worked on aircraft engines, including Hawker Hurricanes.

He took part in several tours during his service, including to Singapore fighting versus the Japanese. During this posting, he was captured and spent three-and-a-half years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. He was moved around the Pacific Islands as a prisoner, and returned to the UK in 1945, after the Japanese had surrendered. He finds his experience extremely difficult to talk about, and understandably becomes very upset whenever it is mentioned.

The visit to Solent Airport to see the Spitfire was arranged by the charity to give the veteran a memorable day out. The Spitfire is owned and operated by Boultbee Flight Academy, who operate the special flights. The Boultbee pilots were more than happy to chat about the aircraft and the technical aspects, and also let the veteran get up close to the aircraft for some photographs.

Fundraising Officer, Kim Bowen-Wood, who arranged the day, said: “I was completely impressed by his stamina, and his level of recall was incredible. He was telling us about the different engine noises, remembering the smell of the fuel, and even running through his pre-flight checks before each flight. As soon as we arrived, he became so animated and thoroughly enjoyed speaking to the pilots. The other spectators all wanted to meet him and were coming up to him to shake his hand. It was a really special day.”

(The veteran’s identity has been kept anonymous for privacy) 

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