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I will be remembering my father on Remembrance Day

Squadron Leader Lionel Hubert Wakeford, DFC was only 38 when he was killed during a training exercise on September 22 1953. He left behind a widow and three young children aged 11, 9 and 5. His eldest son, David, tells us about his father's distinguished flying career and how the RAF Benevolent Fund helped the family following the tragedy.

I was only 11 years old when my father died. I don't remember an awful lot about him but I do know I was very proud of him. As a young boy having a father as a jet pilot in the early 50s was like having an astronaut as a father!

Squadron Leader Lionel Hubert Wakeford, DFC Squadron Leader Lionel Hubert Wakeford, DFC

I've learned a lot about his career from his logbooks. I noted in one, while flying a Mosquito PF501 over Berlin on April 20 1945 he notes 'struck by lightning nose split open. Last raid on big city. Russians inside city'.

He was only 15 when he joined the RAF as an apprentice at RAF Halton. He flew Wellington bombers and then Mosquitoes with the Pathfinders, 139 Squadron. By the end of the war he had flown over 2,400 hours, was twice mentioned in Dispatches, and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

On September 22 1953 he was training Pilot Officer W.H. Williams in flying the DH Vampire Jet, the aircraft took off from Pembrey Airfield. However shortly after take-off he requested permission to return to base.

The aircraft was seen to weave for two miles approaching the airfield which was a method of losing speed. Unfortunately the Vampire crashed at the edge of the runway. The inquest found that the aircraft had suffered a severe fire probably starting immediately after take-off which had led to the crash. Both men were killed on impact.

It was a difficult time for all of us, my mother had never worked and there she was with three young children. The RAF Benevolent Fund stepped in and paid the mortgage and it also paid for us to attend boarding school. Over the years they helped us many times. It was a huge relief for my mother and I know we are just one of many families supported by the Fund.

This Remembrance Day I will be remembering my father and the other men who lost their lives during and after the war and all those families left behind.

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