D-Day 70: Veteran pilot relives wartime memories at flypast

Veteran pilot, Peter Garrod.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (141639-13)
Veteran pilot, Peter Garrod.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (141639-13)

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DAEDALUS airfield was a hive of activity as pilots, crew and veterans gathered in Lee-on-the-Solent.

Lee Flying Association organised a huge three-day D-Day commemoration event, culminating with parachutists leaving Lee for Normandy today.

For former Air Transport Auxiliary pilot Peter Garrod, 93, the sheer variety of planes on display at the airfield was a familiar sight.

He flew planes across the country during the Second World War.

He took the chance to see the gathered craft, including eight Dakota and two Spitfires.

He told The News: ‘We had to be able to jump into anything.

‘Quite often we did not know what we were going to fly – we just had to step up and get on with it.

‘It’s a wonderful experience to come back.’

Peter, of Hamble, flew to the continent three months after the landings.

The auxiliary unit was set up to transport the huge number of aircraft in the war.

A group of veterans were shown around the planes and the LFA hangar, which had been decked out for the occasion.

Ahead of the memorial flight last night there were vintage vehicles and music from singers The Three Belles.

And at the airfield nearly 90 parachutists were preparing for their jumps to Normandy.

E5 Sergeant Ben Van Buren, 29, was one of the jump masters due to lead today’s drop.

He said there was ‘heartfelt sentimental value’ in carrying out a commemorative jump.

He said: ‘It’s absolutely amazing, it’s one of the greatest honours a paratrooper can have.’

As reported, residents in Lee-on-the-Solent and the surrounding area have put up aircrew and parachutists.

Chris Nettleton, 73, ad her husband Nick, 73, were hosting.

Chris said: ‘It’s been amazing – to have the guests has been amazing.’