22nd June 2005
VETERAN Beaufighter pilot Les Fitton kept young air cadets spellbound as he relived his daring recces.
Armed with rockets and cannons, he dodged radar, patrolling the Italian Adriatic as a 'shipbuster'.
"The most memorable part was when he fired the rockets at a ship docked and then days later you could still see most of the wreck," said air cadet Chris Mould, 16, of 306 (Runcorn) squadron, fascinated to hear first hand how the war was won 60 years ago.
Mr Fitton, who lived in Runcorn, was able to remember each sortie with such detail and precision, it was hard to believe this courageous airman is now 83.
He even produced his pilot's 'survival kit' - inside an old tobacco tin.
It included various James Bond-like devices, such as collar studs that doubled up as a compass and instruments that could be hidden during a body search and used as a means of escape if he had been captured.
"His talk was very interesting, coming first hand from a pilot who experienced World War Two," said cadet Chris Hulse, 14.
New recruit Jordan Williams, a Bankfield pupil, said: "I learnt a lot about the war that I didn't know before and a lot more about the planes."
Mr Fitton's two sisters, who both live in Runcorn and listened to his presentation, said it was the first time they had heard about many of his dangerous missions.
His drive and determination inspired many of the cadets who hope to follow in his footsteps.
Cadet Jonathan Alexander, said: "Listening to his story just made me want to be a pilot even more."
Squadron commander, Flt Lieut Mal Jordan, said: "Mr Fitton kept the cadets enthralled with his stories.
"I would like to thank him for giving up his time to come and talk to us. He has given us all great inspiration."
Runcorn air cadets meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays at their HQ in Highlands Road at 7.30pm. New recruits are most welcome.
Article by Barbera Jordan of The Runcorn and Widnes World