Newly restored Spitfire to pay tribute to the men who risked all

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Tommy Wheler, one of NH341's wartime pilots, with the aircraft during restoration Mr Wheler, who is now 96, was honoured with a flypast by the RAF Red Arrows when he returned to Britain in 2015.During his sortie in NH341 on 24th June 1944 several German mechanised transports were destroyed.  Later in the war he was shot down and, in what became known as ‘Wheler’s walk,’ successfully escaped captivity three times to return to his unit.Flt Lt Antony ‘Parky’ Parkinson MBE, who is due to captain NH341’s forthcoming maiden flight, said: “It symbolises so much of the war years and there aren’t many people in the world who don’t think the Spitfire is the most impressive plane to have flown in our history.”Pilots that were shot down by other planes wanted to be shot down by a Spitfire.” Yesterday, in preparation for that commemorative event, the newly-restored plane, which took part in 27 combat missions during World War II, was showed off for the first time at the Imperial War Museum’s Duxford Aerodrome, one of the most RAF’s most important wartime bases.There were gasps of delight from assembled veterans and aircraft aficionados as the plane made its way out of its hangar and onto the runway.Gerry Abrahams, 94, a former Lancaster pilot who served in the 75 squadron between 1944 and 1945, was among those who had gathered to watch.”Hearing the engine start made my heart flutter, that is the best part of a Spitfire,” he said. “We can’t forget what happened in the war. So many soldiers lost their lives and young people don’t realise that, but they should.”Ron Dearman, 93, who flew a DC3 Dakota with the 267 Pegasus squadron during the war, added:  “The Spitfire looks smashing. Everybody should know about these planes which helped us fight in the war.” Among the other men who flew her were  Flt Lt, later Squadron Leader, H C ‘Charlie’ Trainor and Flt Lt A B ‘Bruce’ Whiteford. Warrant Officer James “Jimmy” Jeffrey, who was shot down in NH341 in 1944, but survived and evaded capture with help from the French Warrant Officer James "Jimmy" Jeffrey, who was shot down in NH341 in 1944, but survived and evaded capture with help from the French Trainor, who received the Distinguished Service Order (DSC) DFC and Bar, claimed ‘Ace’ status after achieving eight victories over German aircraft, including two ME109s, in NH341.Whiteford flew NH341 more times than any other pilot and the personalised markings ‘EO’ and ‘Elizabeth’, in honour of his wife, have been recreated on the aircraft.Only one of the Canadian airmen who flew Spitfire NH341 in battle is still alive today – Flg Off T R ‘Tommy’ Wheler. WO Jeffrey survived the war and returned home to Canada and his wife Jean.Three years ago the badly damaged body of NH341 was bought by Keith Perkins, the owner of Aero Legends, a firm which offers the public the chance to fly in vintage planes such as the Tiger Moth, Harvard or Spitfire.It took dozens of craftsmen and engineers and a lot of patience to restore NH341 to its current state, able to take to the skies once more.Mr Perkins said: ” When I acquired this aircraft as a restoration project I was totally unaware of the history that surrounded it and it has been a fascinating journey of discovery, with new information becoming available all the time. In its short but eventful operational life NH341 it touched many lives.”center_img Jimmy Jeffrey with some of the French resistance fighters and villagers who helped him escape capture by the Germans after his Spitfire was shot down in 1944 Nearly three quarters of a century ago a group villagers risked their lives to rescue Canadian pilot Jimmy Jeffrey from the clutches of the Nazis after his Spitfire crashed in Normandy, one of hundreds of allied airmen assisted by the French during the war.This summer the very plane he flew will dip its wings over the site near Orbec where he crashed in July 1944, to pay tribute to all those brave men who took to the skies to defend Britain from invasion and those who helped them on the ground.The flight will be the result of an extraordinary £3 million project to recover and rebuild Jeffrey’s Spitfire NH341. Spitfire NH341 was flown by nine pilots of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 411 Grizzly Bear Squadron, including Warrant Officer Jeffrey, before it was shot down after engaging in a dogfight with a Focke-Wulf 190 near Caen.The squadron was part of 126 Wing, the highest scoring allied Air Force Wing of World War Two –  claiming 336 enemy aircraft destroyed – and NH341 is credited with shooting down two Messerschmitt 109s.WO Jeffrey managed to bale out when the plane was hit, before being taken in by the Soetards, a local farming family.With the help of the French resistance – who brazenly took him into a local town for a haircut and to buy cheese under the noses of the Germans – he managed to return to his unit at the airfield of Beny-sur-Mer, occupied by the Allies following the D-Day invasion. Spitfire NH341 undergoing restoration  Tommy Wheler, one of NH341’s wartime pilots, with the aircraft during restoration Spitfire NH341 undergoing restoration  Jimmy Jeffrey with some of the French resistance fighters and villagers who helped him escape capture by the Germans after his Spitfire was shot down in 1944last_img read more

Meghan Markle rings teen prodigy cellist to ask him to play at

When most people see an unknown number flash up on their mobile phone, they brace themselves for a cold call telling them about a road accident or mis-sold PPI.But Sheku Kanneh-Mason will be glad he answered one particular mystery telephone call, after picking up to find Meghan Markle on the end of the line.Kanneh-Mason, a rising star of the classical music world and teenage prodigy cellist, has described how he was “bowled over” by a telephone call from Ms Markle, personally inviting him to play at her wedding to Prince Harry on May 19.The 19-year-old cellist, who became the first black winner of the prestigious BBC Young Musician award in 2016 and has since played at the Proms, will join a line-up of wedding musicians including a gospel choir, a soprano singer, a trumpeter and the choir of St George’s Chapel.Kanneh-Mason, who comes from a family of talented musicians, said: “I’m so excited and honoured to perform at Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle’s wedding. Sheku Kanneh-Mason, winner of BBC Young Musician 2016 Sheku Kanneh-Mason, winner of BBC Young Musician 2016Credit:BBC James Vivian, Organist and Director of Music at St George’s Chapel Credit:Reuters Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry on May 19 Trumpet player David Blackadder Karen Gibson and The Kingdom ChoirCredit:PA Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry on May 19Credit:Eddie Mulholland Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Trumpet player David BlackadderCredit:Reuters Mr Vivian said: “The choristers, lay clerks, organists and I are very much looking forward to this exciting day and are pleased to be performing at the service music chosen by the couple.”We are also looking forward to welcoming to St George’s musical colleagues from near and far who will be performing at this very special and joyful occasion.”The service has been designed around the couple’s own tastes, with their spokesman previously saying: “This wedding, like all weddings, will be a moment of fun and joy that will reflect the characters and values of the bride and groom.” The chapel will echo to the gospel sounds of the Kingdom Choir founded and directed by Karen Gibson, who has previously worked on high-profile events including the Queen’s Jubilee, the Concert for Diana, and VE Day celebrations at Buckingham Palace in 1997.The palace said the British choir “has become known for its united sound, warm energy and enthusiastic performance”. “I was bowled over when Ms Markle called me to ask if I would play during the ceremony, and of course I immediately said yes.”What a privilege to be able to play the cello at such a wonderful event. I can’t wait!” They will be joined by soprano Elin Manahan Thomas, best known for her performances of Baroque masterpieces.James Vivian, director of music at St George’s Chapel, will be in overall control of the service’s music which will also feature state trumpeters from all ranks of the Band of the Household Cavalry, St George’s Chapel choir and Luke Bond, the chapel’s assistant director of music, will play the organ. Gibson, who will lead her group during the service, said: “The Kingdom Choir is truly honoured to be invited to sing at the wedding of Prince Harry and Ms Markle, and very excited to be taking part in such a historic moment.”It will be a moment that we will always treasure, and we’d like to take the opportunity to wish the couple all the very best for their coming union.”The Prince and Ms Markle may be planning to contrast the uplifting voices of the gospel singers with Baroque pieces, selecting soloists who have made their name playing music from the period. Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir The invitation came after the cellist impressed Prince Harry during an evening in London last June in aid of Antiguan charity the Halo Foundation.In a statement releasing details of the Royal Wedding music, Kensington Palace said: “Both Prince Harry and Ms Markle have taken a great interest and care in choosing the music for their service, which will include a number of well-known hymns and choral works.” David Blackadder, principal trumpet with both the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Academy of Ancient Music, will play with The Orchestra, comprised of musicians from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the English Chamber Orchestra and the Philharmonia. James Vivian, Organist and Director of Music at St George's Chapel  read more