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Honour for Second World War airmen
A FORMER bomber navigator who carried out raids on Berlin during the Second World War will visit London next week to see the Queen unveil a new memorial.
Douglas Tew, 88, from Carterton, flew 17 bombing runs during the war and went on to fly reconnaissance missions over Russia during the Cold War.
The £7.5m Bomber Command Memorial will be unveiled in front of 5,000 veterans and their families in Green Park on Thursday.
Mr Tew said: “I think the memorial is very important and I feel very proud to be able to take part in the ceremony.
“Winston Churchill said bombers stopped the war. They reckon it shortened the war by two years and saved thousands of Allied troops’ lives.
“I hope the memorial shows future generations what a waste of lives the war was and bring to their mind never to have another war.”
Mr Tew was born in Sheffield and join the Royal Air Force in 1944 at the age of 18.
He said: “The truth was that I did not want a bayonet stuck through me and I was not a great lover of water, so the airforce was the best bet.”
After training in Canada to be-come a navigator – his eyes were not strong enough to be a pilot – he joined 101 Squadron.
He flew in Lancasters, which were crewed by eight people, and took part in17 bombing raids, including on Berlin, Cologne and Hamburg.
On the way back from a raid on Kassel towards the end of the war, his plane’s rear gunner spotted a German fighter plane – a Junkers 188 – on their tail.
Mr Tew said: “The gunner asked the skipper if he could open fire and he said no, wait until he turns in to open fire on us.
“This chap did not. He came along our side, tipped his wings at us and went off.
“He could have blown us out of the sky but I think he realised the war was over and he was not going to get shot down.”
Mr Tew said he was proud of his time in the forces and said he did not have any regrets about the campaigns, which were only ever on military targets.
He said: “I realised we were giving them some of the stick they had given to us in Coventry and Manchester and, where I come from, Sheffield.”
After the war, Mr Tew’s Lancaster was involved in humanitarian food drops in Holland.
He said: “I really enjoyed doing that. I met a Dutch man and he said they had been living on potato peel and bulbs for months.”
Later, Mr Tew flew along a border of Russia to take reconnaissance pictures before his retirement in 1982 after 36 years in the airforce. He went on to work as a rent collector for West Oxfordshire District Council and later as a haulier.
He now lives in Carterton – near RAF Brize Norton, where his old squadron is now based – with his wife of 63 years, Mollie Tew, 85.
They have two children and four grandchildren.