Wartime Bomber Command veteran John Bell was given a special insight into maritime chapters in RAF history when he visited Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre.
A retired Wing Commander who flew 50 operational missions in Lancaster bombers, John was given a tour of the Centre and its special displays on flying boats and their many roles in Coastal Command and the Battle of the Atlantic campaign.
John was joined by his sister, Evelyn Brown, and friends from the St Davids area including Ian Panton who organised the visit with the Heritage Centre team.
“It’s been fascinating to discover such a different RAF story about flying boats, including the famous Sunderland,” said John, “and to meet with some of the volunteers who run the centre. When doing my training I had two very close friends and one of them went to Coastal Command – it was the luck of the draw.”
After completing a tour of 30 operations with 619 Squadron John and his crew volunteered to continue operational flying with the famous 617 Squadron – the ‘Dambusters’.
A bomb aimer, his 20 missions with 617 included dropping the huge ‘Tallboy’ bombs on German V weapon sites in France after D-Day and on U-boat pens on the French coast. John was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and remained in the RAF until the late 1970s.
John and Evelyn also visited Carew Cheriton Control Tower and have promised to return to Pembrokeshire soon to meet again with new friends.