Former Second World War pilot and Sunrise of Winchester resident, Tony Farrell, has been awarded with the Bomber Command Clasp aged 99 years and 9 months, at a surprise presentation.
The awarding was made by the Mayor of Winchester, Councillor David McLean, and recognised Tony’s wartime service during his 50-year flying career, which began in 1936.
Tony was a Mosquito pilot during the Second World War, and amassed over 16,400 hours of flying overall, which is the equivalent of almost two full years at the helm of numerous aircraft.
He was joined at the presentation by two of his sons, his daughter in law, and over 50 residents from Sunrise of Winchester.
An emotive speech was given by Paul Cooper, Community Relations Associate at Sunrise of Winchester, who had initially alerted Tony’s son, Trevor, to the possibility of him receiving the award.
Bomber Command was the driving force behind the RAF’s bombing forces from 1936 to 1968, and was the leading light in the bombing of Germany during the Second World War.
Despite over 44% of those in Bomber Command being killed during the war, which was the highest rate in the British armed forces over that period, its members were not given medallic recognition after the war. This changed in 2012 when the Queen approved the issue of the Bomber Command Clasp to veterans.
With Tony already holding the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Force Cross, team members at Sunrise of Winchester are now hoping that he will receive the French Legion d’Honneur, which is the French equivalent of a knighthood, for his part in the liberation of France during the Second World War.
In the meantime, Tony’s sons are planning to take him on a flight in a light aircraft in the near future, in order to rekindle his passion for flying.
The team at Sunrise of Winchester will continue to encourage Tony to express his interest in aircraft, as part of their aim to ensure active, fulfilling lives for all residents.
Paul Cooper, Community Relations Associate at Sunrise of Winchester, said:
“It was a truly special occasion to see Tony being awarded with the Bomber Command Clasp, recognising his wartime service during a brave and hard-fought 50 years as a pilot.
“Tony experienced so much during his time flying various planes, including during the Second World War, and it is a privilege to have him here at Sunrise of Winchester, where we can learn from his insights every day.
“We are now hopeful that Tony will receive a Legion d’Honneur for his important role in the liberation of France, and get to fly in a plane (albeit not as the pilot) at some point very soon!”