An Ipswich centenarian who was based alongside the famous Dambuster squadron before running a host of successful businesses has turned 101.

Ken Oatley celebrated his big day on March 24 with family during a luncheon and tea party.

The birthday boy said that he has had a wonderful life and has managed to do everything he had wanted to do.

“The recipe for a long life is being happy,” he added.

Ipswich Star: Ken Oatley turned 101 on March 24, Family archivesKen Oatley turned 101 on March 24, Family archives (Image: Family archives)

Mr Oatley loves cars, enjoys working and keeping himself busy, as well as spending time with his family and friends.

Ipswich Star: Mosquito Men book, SuppliedMosquito Men book, Supplied (Image: Supplied)

Mr Oatley was born and grew up in Frome, where his parents owned the local bakery.

During the outbreak of the war, Mr Oatley was too young to enlist, so he joined the Home Guard until he came of age in 1940.

He undertook pilot training and was then selected as one of the Pathfinder Force pilot trainees in Canada.

Mr Oatley was posted to 627 Squadron at RAF Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire on Mosquito aircraft where he flew 22 operations, including the Dresden raid in February 1945.

The squadron has now been featured in a new book called Mosquito Men.

Mr Oatley is now in demand to talk about his war-time recollections and until recently regularly took part in book and picture signings .

He has appeared in a German-made wartime drama documentary called The Drama of Dresden.

Ipswich Star: Ipswich businessman Ken Oatley celebrates his 101st birthday, SuppliedIpswich businessman Ken Oatley celebrates his 101st birthday, Supplied (Image: Family archives)

He features in a YouTube documentary made by the Imperial War Museum, Duxford about the Mosquito, has been recorded on four audio tapes by the Imperial War Museum, and has taken part in a podcast with the historian Dan Snow.

He has recently been filmed and interviewed for snippets in a new DVD and documentary called – ‘Mosquito’.

Ipswich Star: Pilot Ken Oatley, Family archivesPilot Ken Oatley, Family archives (Image: Family archives)

He also served with the Bomb Development Unit at RAF Marham.

In 1952, Mr Oatley moved to Ipswich to manage The Oriental Restaurant.

He added a bakery on Frobisher Road and six cake shops, which became part of the local bakery group Tooks. 

In 1967, he sold the business and became managing director of 35 Fine Fare Restaurants, but after two years he decided he wanted to run his own business and bought a shop in The Walk in Ipswich, converting it into Marshall's restaurant.

Ipswich Star: Ken Oatley, Family archivesKen Oatley, Family archives (Image: Family archives)

Later, he added the two Wimpy Bars in Ipswich, a hotel in Leicester and The Chocolate Box in The Walk, which his wife Irene ran for five years. 

Mr Oatley's son Rodger said: "The whole family wishes my dad a very happy birthday."

Ipswich Star: Ken is far left kneeling front row, Private archivesKen is far left kneeling front row, Private archives (Image: Private archives)

Mr Oatley sadly died on September 13.