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WWII veteran sees Spitfire fly

Local World War II RAF veteran, Bob Morrell, recently had the opportunity to see a Spitfire fly at Solent Airport.

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

Originally from Brighton, 97-year-old Bob 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.

Bob took part in several tours during his service, including to Singapore fighting versus the Japanese. It was during this posting that Bob 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. Bob 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 Bob 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 to Bob about the aircraft and the technical aspects, and also let him get up close to the aircraft for some photographs.

Fundraising Officer, Kim Bowen-Wood, who arranged the day, said: “I was completely impressed by Bob’s 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 Bob and were coming up to him to shake his hand. It was a really special day.”

 

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