Almost 70 years ago to the day, Squadron Leader Tony Pickering’s Hurricane plane was shot down by the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain.
But thankfully he survived and lived to tell the tale. The 90-year-old war veteran was the special guest at RAF Cosford Museum’s 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain event at the weekend.
Mr Pickering, from Rugby, Warwickshire, was just 19 when the Luftwaffe launched an air raid on British shores in 1940.
He took to the skies in a Hurricane and when he was hit by German fire he was forced to bail out and parachute to safety, moments before his plane crashed in flames.
His question-and-answer session was just one of the many highlights that took place on Saturday and yesterday at the county museum to commemorate the Battle of Britain anniversary.
RAF Cosford spokeswoman, Nina Mitchell, said: “Tony was only there on the Saturday and he proved very popular. People were desperate to hear his stories and hear what he had been through.”
The two-day event was hailed a success by organisers with visitors, young and old, enjoying a host of events at the museum designed to show how British people united against a deadly foe.
And for many of the visitors attending the Shropshire airbase, it was like taking a step back to wartime Britain.
Mrs Mitchell said: “This year’s event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain was an outstanding success attracting about 4,500 people to the museum.
“We had plenty of attractions on site during the weekend and this was a very special weekend for the museum.”
Visitors were invited to enjoy an art exhibition themed around the battle, a series of flying displays of World War Two aircraft, plus a special exhibition dedicated to the famous Battle of Britain pilot and double leg amputee Douglas Bader.
Activities included engine demonstrations, a performance from the RAF band and the chance to see how a World War Two emergency operations room looked.
Visitors could also meet Winston Churchill courtesy of a re-enactment as well as enjoy a display of aircraft models and military vehicles.
By Alex James