Veteran, 94, thrilled to return to bomber
ASECOND World War veteran has returned to the cockpit of a Wellington bomber for the first time in 70 years.
Theo Eaves, 94, worked as a wireless operator and flew in 35 deadly missions over Europe during the conflict.
Now the plucky pensioner has been inside the aircraft once again during a visit to Brooklands Museum in Surrey, which is home to an iconic Wellington bomber recovered from a crash site at Loch Ness in Scotland.
Theo, from Poynton, was visiting with his granddaughter and soon had staff enthralled with his tales.
He said: “I got talking to the chief volunteer and soon I was telling a crowd about my experiences. There aren’t a lot of former bomber crew left these days, so I was glad to give them some insight.
“They let me go inside wearing a hard hat. Crawling about inside brought back many memories of my experiences. It’s hard to describe the feeling of being back inside a Wellington after so long.”
Theo was called up for the war effort in 1942. After training in the UK and Middle East, he was called into action in late 1943 as part of 142 Squadron, 205 group.
He flew all his operations out of Italy, dropping bombs on oil refineries, docks, harbours, bridges, aerodrome sites and enemy troops in Italy, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia. He also had to lay mines in the Danube river to hold up the German supplies.
In total he flew 35 operations spending many of those 175 hours under heavy attack from gunfire from land and air.
In 2013 after years of campaigning by veterans, the Government awarded the Bomber Command Clasp to aircrew in recognition of their bravery and service. But despite being equally as instrumental, those who took part in bombing raids over Italy, Africa, the Middle East and the Far East are not eligible for the award, which has been reserved for those who flew over Western Europe.
Theo, a retired headteacher and grandfather, campaigned for this decision to be overturned, writing to the Ministry of Defence, the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William for their support.
His online petition amassed more than 5,000 signatures.
Theo said: “The MoD never gave way but I’ll never give up. We acted together in the same war. It’s only fair that we get the same recognition.”
236 Bollington Squadron Air Cadets at the Bollington Remembrance event
The Macclesfield Remembrance parade
Theo Eaves inside the Wellington bomber