RAF Benson Merlin Helicopter Takes To The Skies Over London
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From left to right: Ady Bradshaw, Wing Commander James Lapsley, Corporal Amanda Rebanks, Squadron Leader Nick White, Jenny Wright  Squadron Leader Nick White is chairman of the RAF Wittering Road Safety Committee and Commanding Officer of No. 2 Mechanical Transport Squadron

23 August 2007

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Flight Sergeant Frederick Stuart during the warThe heroism of a highly decorated Second World War pilot has been remembered by his daughter and other relatives at his former base.

Although from Northumberland, Flight Sergeant Frederick Stuart served with 426 Squadron, a Royal Canadian Air Force unit, which during the war flew Lancaster bombers from RAF Linton-on-Ouse near York.

Stuart was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM) for attacking his target Flight Sergeant Frederick Stuart's Gallantry medaldespite severe damage to his aircraft.  He was one of only 103 airmen to be awarded the RAF CGM during the Second World War.

In recognition of his bravery, a new state of the art accommodation block has been named after Flt Sgt Stuart and today his surviving relatives went to the airbase to see it for themselves.

In the foyer hangs a picture with the story of Flt Sgt Stuart and that was the first stop off point for his daughter Sandra Spears from Prudhoe, Northumberland, before the party was taken to see the base's memorial room in which the history of her father and 426 Squadron is prominently displayed.

Sandra Spears stands in front of the blockOn 20 October 1943 Flt Sgt Stuart and his crew were tasked against Leipzig. Twice he was engaged by enemy fighters, initially managing to shake them off.

But they didn't give up and before departing the Messerschmitt 109 and Junkers 88 had rendered his aircraft almost unfit to fly. Leaving it with shattered cockpits and gun turrets; holes in the fuel tanks; damaged hydraulics and no navigation instruments.

Against all odds Stuart elected to continue the vital mission and Helen Lambert and Sandra Spears with medalsuccessfully bombed his target before guiding his crippled aircraft home. The citation for his medal even mentions that he made a 'masterly landing'

Mrs Spears was due to be born in late 1943 but didn't arrive until January the following year.  Flt Sgt Stuart was shot down and killed in December 1943, missing his daughter's birth by a month.

In an emotional visit Mrs Spears took along her father's Conspicuous Gallantry Medal which she proudly showed to present day pilots.  She said "This visit has meant everything to me I never believed I would come along and see where he flew from.  To think he is so well thought of by the RAF that they named a barrack block after him makes me so proud.  I think it is fantastic."

In all thirteen of Flt Sgt Stuart's relatives made the emotional pilgrimage to Linton travelling great distances to do so. Among them were his two sisters and great grand-daughter, Lauren Denton aged 12 who was brought all the way from Portsmouth and great great niece Alysha Hartley, 9, from Barrow-in-Furness.

Relatives of Flt Sgt 'Freddie' Stuart Neither of the youngsters was aware that they were visiting the base today but as they learned more of their hero relative both agreed they were very proud of him.

The visit came about when Flt Sgt Stuart's niece, Helen Lambert from Easingwold heard about the naming ceremony and suggested that Mrs Spears should contact the base.

"When I was young nothing was said about Freddie's war history" said Mrs Lambert.  "I suppose we began to learn more when various members did some research but Sandra has found an incredible amount about him.  She is over the moon today, this visit has taught me - and all of us in the family - about the life he led and the people he knew in the last few months of his life.  This has been such a special day and for the little ones Sandra Spears stands in front of the blockin particular to understand something of their family's history."

Her father's history means so much to Mrs Spears that the password she uses to log on to her computer is unsurprisingly, 'Freddie.'

Editor: Flt Lt Matt Clark

Photographer: Flt Lt Matt Clark

Image 1: (Larger image) Flight Sergeant Frederick Stuart during the war

Image 2: (Larger image) Flight Sergeant Frederick Stuart's  Conspicuous Gallantry Medal

Image 3: (Larger image) Sandra Spears from Prudhoe, Northumberland by the board dedicated to her father Flt Sgt 'Freddie' Stuart after whom a new accommodation block has been named at RAF Linton-on-Ouse near York

Image 4: (Larger image) Flt Sgt 'Freddie' Stuart's niece Helen Lambert from Easingwold, left, and daughter Sandra Spears from Prudhoe, Northumberland with his Conspicuous Gallantry Medal

Image 5: (Larger image) Flt Sgt 'Freddie' Stuart's great grand-daughter, Lauren Denton aged 12 from Portsmouth and great great niece Alysha Hartley, 9, from Barrow-in-Furness at the accommodation block at RAF Linton-on-Ouse which is named after their heroic relative

Image 6: (Larger image) Sandra Spears from Prudhoe, Northumberland the daughter of Flt Sgt 'Freddie' Stuart outside the new accommodation block at RAF Linton-on-Ouse named after her father with Sqn Ldr Mick Walters and Flt Lt Sean Kimberley

Notes to editors

The Conspicuous Gallantry Medal was instituted in 1855 as a reward for gallantry for the Royal Navy and was first awarded in the Baltic and Crimea. In 1943 the CGM was extended to the RAF to recognise gallantry whilst flying in operations. 103 RAF CGMs were awarded during the Second World War.

The Stuart Block is part of multi million pound MOD scheme called 'Project SLAM' (single living accommodation modernisation).  The new build at RAF Linton-on-Ouse boasts ensuite rooms with access to broadband and satellite television

The Project's builder was Bovis Land Lease and internal work was carried out by Irwins of Leeds.

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