Scottish Daily Mail
A salute to Teddy and his derring-do
WhILE hospitalised recently with a suspected aneurysm, in the bed opposite was a very elderly gentleman. his age made him nervous about treatment. he was 98! he was called Teddy, and I pricked up my ears when it emerged he had been an raF World War II bomber pilot, flying Wellingtons and Lancasters over the ruhr. The next day, he told me his story. There was no escaping the bright light in his eyes. Though deaf, he had something very special in his handsome face. he had kept his hair, too! When war broke out, he was conscripted into the army as a driver — a driving licence was rare among conscripts at that time. For two years, he drove commandeered lorries fitted up with guns and had a lot of fun. In 1941, the raF was so short of pilots, it started looking at army personnel for suitable people. he was selected and offered flying training and a big pay rise — and trained on Tiger Moths, I’m sure he said, in Scotland. Later, he chose Bomber Command as he felt fighters were too risky. Then he found they had to run bombing missions over the heavily fortified ruhr valley, aiming at Germany’s armaments factories. he flew 30 missions before going on to train other pilots. Later, he flew mercy missions to bring back PoWs, and would swoop down low over the coast so they could see Blighty. after the war, he became a nurseryman in Barnham, Sussex, where he still lives. I didn’t have a chance to find out more because once they realised my condition wasn’t heart-related, I was transferred with only seconds’ notice. as the bed rolled out I waved at Teddy to attract his attention and yelled loudly ‘Chocks away — brakes off’. he collapsed laughing and waved me off. I could hear him shouting flying instructions all down the hospital corridor. I think he really enjoyed that bit of cheek. What a privilege, eh?