Meeting him in 1947 was an honour and a great privilege. In 1947, using an allocated RAF Mosquito aircraft, he began visiting European RAF stations. One of them was my station, RAF Gatow, near Berlin. At that time I was the personal driver of Gatow’s Commanding Officer, Group Captain Summerville.
As his driver I was ordered to take Mrs Summerville and Leonard Cheshire on a tour of the then badly damaged city of Berlin. Among the places we visited was the Reichstag. We entered the Russian Sector through the Brandengate, to visit Hitler’s Bunker. We also visited the American and French Sectors.
During lunch at one of the RAF clubs there I had a long conversation with Leonard Cheshire. I found him to be a soft spoken, intelligent, interesting person. And in spite of being in awe of the great man, I was able to converse quite freely with him. Amazingly to me he was quite interested in the part that I played as a Rear Gunner. It was a wonderful day and experience for me, one that I shall never forget.
My active service, despite being short, was nevertheless very exciting and dangerous. I was involved in combats with ME109s, FW190s, JU88s and ME262 Jet Fighters. I’ve flown through flak so heavy you could have walked on it, and dropped vertically from 11,000ft to 500ft.
Nothing special. Just the sort of thing that most world war two aircrew had to deal with. Happy days.
What Group Captain Leonard Cheshire VC achieved during his time in Bomber Command is nothing short of miraculous in the eyes of world war two aircrew.