A FORMER pilot who was rewarded for his daring exploits during the Second World War has described feeling “surprised but delighted” to be featured in an exhibition in his home village.
Photographs of 95-year-old Ben Parker Jackson DFC and the late Jack Stokoe DFC are included in Cornforth History Society’s exhibition in Cornforth Library.
Both men grew up in the village and went on to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for their heroic actions during the Second World War.
Mr Jackson, who now lives in Trimdon Station with his wife of 68 years Lavinia, learned of the exhibition in The Northern Echo and was amazed to discover his photograph was part of the display.
His delight was made all the greater when he visited the exhibition on Saturday (December 1) to find the history society had devoted a full display to his experiences in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) 431 Squadron.
Second World War pilot Ben Parker Jackson visits the exhibition at Cornforth Library
And, as an extra special surprise, Andy Denholm, Chair of Cornforth History Society, revealed the results of research into Mr Jackson’s family tree, which he has traced back to the 1600s.
Looking at the old photographs and documents detailing his flying missions, Mr Jackson, who returned to his job as an electrician at Thrislington Collier after the war, said the display had brought back a lot of memories.
“I didn’t expect it to be this big,” he said. “I am very surprised but delighted too. I feel over the moon.”
Flight Sergeant Ben Parker Jackson received the Distinguished Flying Cross for a daring mission to drop sea mines in Lorient Harbour in Brittany, France, in June 1943.
As Flight Sgt Jackson and his crew approached the target area they were spotted by active search lights and damaged by anti aircraft guns posted on the Ile de Groix - an island to the South-West of Lorient.
The rear gunner fired at the search lights, putting two out of action, and Flight Sgt Jackson took evasive action to avoid the flak.
He then completed the mission as ordered, dropping sea mines from 500ft.
“When I visited Ben at home he told me many heroic and amazing stories like this, as well as humorous ones too,” said Mr Denholm.
“Stories like this are why I wanted to set up a history society.”
Cornforth History Society’s next meeting takes place at Cornforth Library in West Cornforth at 10am on Saturday, January 5.
For more information or to make a donation to help the society buy ancestry computer software contact Mr Denholm on 07753-774494.