Veteran combat mechanic who celebrated 100th birthday at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Center dies

Fred Pearce celebrates his 100th birthday at the Lincolnshire Aviation Center in East Kirkby. The veteran, who was the last known wartime member of 207 Squadron, died peacefully on Saturday January 22.

Fred Pearce worked on Lancasters at the former RAF base at Spilsby during the Second World War and was the only surviving member of 207 Squadron from Bomber County.

He passed away peacefully on Saturday.

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To mark its 100th anniversary last June, family and friends arranged a surprise visit to East Kirkby Aviation Center on Armed Forces Day.

Fred Pearce (left) as a flight mechanic during World War II. Photo: Kevin Mapley

Fred found the Lancaster he hadn’t seen in 10 years since his last visit

Current 207 Squadron Wing Commander Scott Williams of RAF Marham also visited the Center to honor Fred with a special presentation.

News of Fred’s death was shared by Friends of RAF Spilsby.

In a social media post, Friends paid tribute to him and the thousands of people “who did their part with their feet on solid ground”.

They said he joined 207 Squadron as a flight mechanic in 1942 on ‘A’ flight taking over, for obvious reasons, all Lancasters coded ‘F’ for Freddie.

Fred moved with the squadron from Bootsford to Langar in Leicestershire. It was from here that Lancaster III ED586 EM-F took war correspondent Wynford Vaughan-Thomas and soundman Reg Pidsley to Berlin on 3/4 September 1943 to record the now famous BBC broadcast of this raid.

207 Squadron’s last move of the war was to Spilsby in Lincolnshire where Fred was to meet his future wife, Renee Willerton. They were married for 75 years.

Back in Civvy Street, Fred and Renee moved to Surrey in 1947 where Fred worked with the South-East Electricity Board until his retirement. The couple moved back to Spilsby in 2003.

A poem written in 1942 by the late BBC comedian Eric Sykes, then an RAF wireless mechanic – Three Cheers for the Man on the Ground – remains very appropriate for Fred and the thousands of people who did their part with their feet. on the ground.

‘Wherever you walk you will hear people talking,

Men who rise in the air.

In daredevil fashion they enter the fray;

Face death without flinching.

They will raise a great cheer and buy a lot of beer,

For a pilot who is home on leave;

But they don’t care

For a flight mech or rigger

With nothing but “accessories” on his sleeve.

They just say ‘Nice day’ then turn away,

Without any mention of praise.

And the poor bastard who does all the work;

Just order his own beer,

We never told them, hours in the cold

Let him go on to seal the fate of Germany.

How he works on a kite, till all hours of the night;

And then comes the next morning at eight o’clock.

He gets no commission for working until take-off;

Or help aircrew prepare;

But whenever there are problems, it’s “Quick to the double”;

The man on the ground must be there.

Every flying crew could tell you;

They know what this man is really worth.

They know he’s part of the heart of the RAF,

Even if it stays close to the ground.

He doesn’t want fame, but please tell his story;

Spread some of his fame around you.

He’s one of the few, so give him his due;

Kudos to the man on the ground.

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