A World War II hero who couldn’t believe the RAF allowed women to fly had his 103RD birthday wish granted – by meeting a top female pilot.
Warrant Officer Frederick Samuel Vinecombe served with the Bomber Command Air Crew Lancasters.
During his time in the skies he was shot down over France and was captured by the Nazis and taken to a POW camp.
Frederick couldn’t believe it when a friend at his care home told him women could fly with the RAF – and said he wanted to meet a female flyer.
His family got in touch with Flt Lt Kerry Bennet who lived in the area, who kindly agreed to meet Frederick in the care home where he lives in Plymouth, Devon.
Kerry served in the RAF for 13 years as a pilot with 101 Squadron and is currently flying Voyager aircraft. Last year, she appeared in the BBC programme Astronaut.
Kerry was delighted to accept the invitation to meet Fred – which she did last Friday.
More than 40 residents enjoyed an afternoon with Kerry who spent time meeting the veterans and they all shared their stories.
Fred’s daughter Denise said he had a wonderful afternoon and was incredibly happy to meet Kerry.
During the war, Fred was flying the Lancaster KB727 which was shot down over France at about 1.30am on July 5, 1944.
Enemy anti-aircraft fire resulted in one of the plane’s engines catching fire and the crew were forced to bail out.
They parachuted out of the aircraft and landed near Chantainvillers.
The crew were held firstly in the overcrowded Frenes prison in France. It was described as “a hideous place where torture and executions took place”.
In August of that year, Fred, the crew and 160 other allied airmen were shipped by boxcars made to hold less than half the number of men, bound for Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany.
James A Smith, a crew member alongside Fred described his time in Buchenwald in an interview many years later.
He described it as more of a work camp than a concentration camp, where the inmates were worked to death and constant executions took place.
The allied airman were held there as spies, even though this was against the Geneva Convention.