ALex Flett, DFC and Bar: RAF officer thanked by the King

Long-serving police officer Alex Flett, who has died aged 96, was twice decorated in the second world war while serving in the Royal Air Force.

Sqn Ldr Flett, who retired to Norfolk more than three decades ago, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar by King George VI in 1945. During the investiture at Buckingham Palace, the King told him: 'Thank you for helping save my people.'

And on VE Day, May 8 1945, he exchanged his wings for a police constable's whistle and returned as a beat bobby to central London.

Mr Fleet was born into a fishing family at Findochty, Buckie, in north-east Scotland on May 5, 1915.

He had joined the Metropolitan Police in 1938 and retired after more than 35 years as a commander, in charge of Ealing. He was also awarded the Queen's Police Medal for Distinquished Service.

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While serving in London, Mr Flett applied for a fortnight's leave in Scotland but this was refused. So, he stayed with a cousin, who lived in Lowestoft.

There he met Catherine (Kay) May, who was living on the other side of the road, and struck up a conversation because she was wearing a Metropolitan Police scarf.

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They married in 1941 at St Margaret's, Lowestoft. In March that year, police officers were allowed to volunteer for air crew duties.

In August, he joined the RAF at Lords as a leading aircraftsman. After basic training at Newquay, Cornwall, he went to Canada and Montgomery, Alabama, USA, for training.

A trained navigator, he returned to Britain and was commissioned as a pilot officer where his first operation over occupied Europe was a leaflet drop over Lille in northern France, on March 4, 1943.

A month later, he joined 460 Squadron RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) as a navigator in Lancasters and by August 1943 had flown 26 operations.

He was involved in the first Hamburg raids when more than 700 aircraft took part.

Promoted to navigational instructor, he joined the newly-formed 625 Squadron at Kelstern, Lincolnshire, which also bombed Nuremburg on March 13, 1944. On that night, 96 aircraft and 700 aircrew were lost.

On D-Day, his squadron bombed the French coast and returning about 3am, he saw hundreds and hundreds of craft – it was the invasion fleet heading for the Normandy beaches. Later, he was promoted to squadron leader.

In retirement, he became active in the community and was a president of Acle Bowls Club.

A keen freshwater fisherman, he was also involved as an adviser on neighbourhood watch and local policing issues.

His wife died three years ago and he leaves two children, Margaret and David, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

A young brother, Donald, predeceased.

A memorial service will be held at 1pm today at Acle Methodist Church.

Michael Pollitt

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