Fighter pilots' amazing reunion
TWO Spitfire pilots have had an amazing reunion in Ipswich more than 60 years after they fought the Japanese in the Second World War.Angus Gray, 83, and Ernie Unsted, 86, were young men when they served in the RAF's 152 Squadron flying Spitfires in Burma in 1943 and 1944.
TWO Spitfire pilots have had an amazing reunion in Ipswich more than 60 years after they fought the Japanese in the Second World War.
Angus Gray, 83, and Ernie Unsted, 86, were young men when they served in the RAF's 152 Squadron flying Spitfires in Burma in 1943 and 1944.
Today, after 61 years apart, they are good friends again thanks to an Ipswich man with a passion for history.
Mr Gray, who lives in Cheltenham Avenue, Ipswich, with his wife Margaret, met Mr Unsted on Friday, for the first time since their flying days in the war.
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Rob Rooker, a 37-year-old security officer who lives in Ranelagh Road, brought the pair together after tracking them down through advertisements in The Evening Star and his website which records the history of 152 Squadron.
On Saturday the trio travelled to Duxford where they were to be reunited with another eight members of 152 to take part in celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the Spitfire.
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Mr Unsted, of Houghton, West Sussex, who is known to his friends as Lofty, said of meeting Mr Gray after so many years: “I recognised him. I'm very pleased to see him. At least he's like me - we got back.”
Mr Gray said he had put his time in the war behind him before answering Mr Rooker's advertisement in The Star looking for 152 veterans but was happy to reminisce with his long lost mates about their days flying Spitfires.
He said: “I never expected to see any of them.
“Normally the last thing I would have talked about was the war but the whole object of meeting them again is remembering.”
Both agreed a sense of humour was essential for making it through the war and Mr Gray added: “The thought of death never entered your mind. You never thought it was going to happen to you.”
However both remembered pals who were killed in bombing raids and the pair said they had nearly got killed on the same day but both returned home to marry and have children.
Mr Unsted, a father of two and grandfather of eight, flew 162 sorties in his Spitfires and he flew for another 10 years on his return to England, before becoming a builder.
Mr Gray, a father of three and grandfather of two, left the RAF on his return to England and worked for Ransomes, Sims and Jeffries in Ipswich.