A Second World War hero pilot who thought he’d die in 1943 after being captured by German soldiers has celebrated his 100th birthday with a flypast by his former squadron.
Ron Tomlin was treated to the surprise flyover to mark his milestone by the UK’s RAF’s No 10 Squadron – the same fleet he first served with as a teenager 80 years ago.
The veteran admitted it was a day he never thought he’d live to see after being captured by Nazi troops and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in 1943.
Ron was just 19 when he signed up to fight in World War Two and took part in bomb raids over Hamburg and Nuremberg.
The former sergeant bomb-aimer’s Halifax plane crashed in the English Channel after experiencing engine troubles and he spent a grueling 17 hours adrift at sea.
Incredibly, members of his squadron were forced to put their fingers in the holes of their leaky gunfire-damaged dinghy in order to stay afloat until they were captured.
He was then sent to a PoW camp and interrogated at the Gestapo headquarters at Dulag Luft before eventually being liberated by advancing British forces.
Ron returned to Birmingham and later retrained as a draughtsman before marrying his wife Freda and having two sons, David and Mike.
Ron and his son Mike look out for the RAF flyover in celebration of the veteran’s 100th birthday. PHOTO BY WORCESTER NEWS/SWNS.(Worcester News, NQ via SWNS)
He now lives at a care home in Droitwich, UK, where he celebrated his 100th birthday with friends and family at the weekend.
Worcester and Districts Royal Air Force Association organized the flyover on Saturday, September 9, to pay homage to his years of service during World War Two.
Ron gathered with pals and relatives to watch the Atlas A400M plane fly over the party twice, with the aircraft dipping its wing to salute the war veteran.
He said: “I was quite impressed because of the size of the airplane and the fact that a force like that can do that on behalf of someone like me.
“It was a nice little surprise and a better flight than anticipated.”
Ron, who lost Freda last Christmas, said he felt incredibly fortunate to have the years he’s had with his wife, two sons and many grandchildren.
He added: “The simple answer is I am no different than I was yesterday, I am no different than I was last week, and I am different from a year ago, but that is because things have happened.
“But suddenly we were woken up and told there was nothing wrong with the plane and we were going to Nuremberg, so we were on operations two nights in a row.”
The plane lost height as it flew over Dieppe, descending to 9,500ft, making it a sitting duck for the enemy.
Gunfire duly arrived as it descended over the English Channel, damaging the inflatable lifeboat.
The crew was forced to make an emergency landing on water and patch the dinghy as best as they could.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker