Latest News/ VE Day 75 Anniversary - 2020
Our Club celebrates two links to WW II - our 97 year old active club Member and Deputy Treasurer Norman Wilson, and Mark Discombe, AFC, Officer Commanding Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
One Man, Two Historic Flights – A Tribute
Our Club is proud of its two links to World War II. Firstly, our 97 year old active club Member and Deputy Treasurer Norman Wilson, and secondly, to a man we have welcomed into our Rotary Club – Mark “Disco” Discombe,
AFC, Officer Commanding Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Mark is the son-in-law of
our International chairman, Malcolm Acors. Over fifty Rotarians and
friends joined us in January when Mark took time out from his busy life
to tell us about his life and work.
Mark links us to two Very Special Moments in this month of May – the Memorial Flight to honour Captain Tom’s 100th birthday and his Walk In The Garden, which raised over £32m for NHS charities, and the Spitfire flight on the VE Day 75th anniversary in tribute to the Battle of Britain fighter pilots – The Few.
Flight one saw him fly a World War II Hurricane, accompanid by a Spitfire, over Capt Tom’s Bedfordshire home and the garden he walked laps around for the charity money. (Malcolm Acors has circulated a brilliant video from the cockpit of a wartime plane showing a pilot’s view of the RAF flypast in honour of Captain Tom.) Tom watched and waved during the flypast, organised by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, when the two wartime RAF planes flew overhead to celebrate his 100th birthday.
In a personal tribute, Mark Discombe told our Newsletter: “It’s really captured the imagination of the nation and we are blown away with what he has achieved for the NHS and the vast amount of money he has raised”.
Top Button Off In Salute
As if one endeavour was not enough, Mark took to the sky again the following day in an RAF Spitfire to take part in the VE Day 75 flypast. The brilliant photographs and his own words – again exclusive to Newsletter – tell his story better than any narrator.
“Ninety minutes before I got into the Spitfire I released the top button on my uniform as a salute to the World War II fighter pilots who always left it unbuttoned to stand out in the crowd. There was a stop at Southend to refuel, then the two Spitfires were filming the dramatic scene as we flew over the white cliffs of Dover.
We flew two Spitfires at the request of the BBC, a Mk Vb (AB910) D-Day veteran leading our Mk 11a (P7350) – the only airworthy Battle of Britain Spitfire, complete with original WWII bullet holes.
“It was a privilege to take part in the VE75 commemoration and enjoy the spectacle. The weather was perfect, and the white cliffs of Dover were radiant, a perfect afternoon, English sunshine and a time to reflect and remember.
Lest We Forget.”
Brothers in Arms
Our very own World War 11 veteran, Norman Wilson has regaled us often with his many true tales of conflict, valour and the search for the grave site in Germany of his brother Douglas, killed when his plane crashed while distributing leaflets over Germany.
Inevitable, therefore, that Norman, now 97, would ensure such events were duly celebrated on May 8. He describes the photograph featured above outside his home.
“I set up the Tribute on the front of my house. There were pictures (left) covering my 70 year dream of finding the crash site and original grave of my brother Douglas.
“In the centre is a large picture of a Sunderland flying boat in recognition of my wartime actions in these ‘planes against the Japanese, myself propped up against the wall and, finally, my trench coat with the wartime medals of myself and my brother; mine including The Burma Star and Douglas’s including The Aircrew Europe Star.
“Neighbours showed considerable interest and joined with myself and Brenda, who took the photograph, and others in the two-minute silence. I was very pleased with the outcome.”
So you should be, Norman – quite brilliant!