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Sgt Pilot Fred Young and the many who did so much for their country

Sergeant Pilot Fred Young was just 26 when he was killed right at the start of the Battle of Britain. His niece Janice Betson took part in a special video highlighting the fact that a staggering 33 per cent of those who fought in the Battle of Britain were injured or lost their lives. We presented Janice with a restored photo of Fred in colour. In this special blog she tells us more about Fred and his RAF career.

"On 11 July 1940, the second day of the Battle of Britain, Fred was pilot of Whitley Mk V number 1424. The aircraft took off from Linton-on-Ouse at 2135 for operations over Leverkusen in Germany. On its way home, the aircraft crashed in to the back of a factory in Antwerp, killing all five personnel on board.

Sgt. Fred Young

"The daughter of the owner of the factory, a young woman in her early twenties, saw the bodies when she had to go in to the building with the firemen.

"She said that from the condition they were in they would have been killed instantly. She wrote to my grandfather, and the other parents, after the war, and sent photos of the graves.

"The Germans had put original German crosses on each grave, which she said were the same as those provided for their own dead.

"She got in to trouble with the Nazis during the war for putting flowers on their graves.

"I know my family found her letters enormously comforting and my aunt kept in touch with her until she died at the age of 92.

"I never knew Fred but we were all immensely proud of his RAF career. Fred was born in 1914 in north London and enlisted in the RAF in April 1934. He had always wanted to be a pilot, but did not have the qualifications, so joined as a clerk.

"In March 1938 he was recommended for training as an airman pilot. He was promoted to sergeant in May 1939 and qualified as 'First Pilot Day' in October that year. He joined 58(b) Squadron Bomber Command on 14 May 1940.

"He took part in many raids in May and June 1940. When my aunt died I was given a box which contained a black and white passport-sized photo of Fred and I thought it would be such a nice idea to have it restored into colour– I think the family would have loved it.

"Grandpa attended the Unveiling and Dedication of the Battle of Britain Memorial Chapel in Westminster Abbey on 10 July 1947, and he said that Fred's name is the last one on the Battle of Britain Roll of Honour which is kept in the Abbey.

"It's so important that we remember these young men who gave so much for their country. Fred was actually quite old compared to some of the young men who lost their lives – some were so young and they didn't know if they would come back or not. I'm very proud of what he and they all did for us."

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