Photo gallery: Former RAF Coltishall night pilot’s memoirs turned into a book
PUBLISHED: 11:30 01 January 2015 | UPDATED: 11:30 01 January 2015
Previously unread memoirs of an RAF night fighter pilot who flew from the former Coltishall base have been published.
Flt Lt Bryan Wild, who died aged 90 in 2012, served with 25 Squadron at the Norfolk airfield in 1944 during the Second World War.
His daughter Elizabeth Halls turned his wartime diaries into the Flying Blind book.
She will also travel to the old Coltishall base, Great Massingham, Swanton Morley and Sutton Bridge this July as part of a tour of where her father flew from between 1940 and 1946.
During the Where They Served tour she will raise money for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, which helped her father after he contracted Parkinson’s disease.
Bryan Wild photographs
Bryan and Bunty Wild pictured around 2001. Picture: SUBMITTED
Bryan Wild (left) when he was best man at the wedding of his friend and radio operator Deryk Hollinrake to June in April 1945. They were serving at Castle Camps in Cambridgeshire at the time. Picture: SUBMITTED
A picture of Bryan Wild in the 1990s, aged around 70. Picture: SUBMITTED
Bryan Wild with his pals in Canada after getting his wings in February 1941. (From left) Dicky Bastow, Bryan Wild, Bernard Wills and Jimmy Ward. Picture: SUBMITTED
A Mosquito YP-D which was flown by one of Bryan Wild's radio operators, Flt Sgt Ralph Gibbons. Flt Sgt Wild also flew a Mosquito during his RAF career. Picture: CROWN COPYRIGHT, MINISTRY OF DEFENCE
Mrs Halls, 56, from Herefordshire, said reading his diaries was like meeting her father when he was in his 20s.
She said: “Diary entries are very different to how people present themselves. It was quite extraordinary reading my father’s diary. When I was growing up he never talked about the war. When I read the diaries I felt as though I was with him in the cockpit.
“He was young and adored flying aircraft. The RAF was a family for him.”
Before arriving in Norfolk, Flt Lt Wild flew with 46 Squadron from Egypt and Cyprus between 1943 and 1944.
While at Coltishall between October 10 and October 27, 1944, he flew Mosquitos which he described as breathtaking.
“He liked East Anglia, its pubs and friendly local people. He was very happy there,” Mrs Halls added.
He was also part of the first Battle of Britain Memorial Flypast over London on September 15, 1945, led by Sir Douglas Bader.
After the war, Sheffield-born Flt Lt Wild trained as a teacher and settled in Derbyshire with his wife, Bunty.
The couple had a son Andrew, 60, as well as their daughter.
Mrs Halls said: “I’m very proud of him. He was very lucky and brave. He had to get in a plane every day after narrowly missing death by inches.
“My dad would have been overwhelmed by the book. He would have thought it was fantastic but would have been bashful about the attention.”
Mrs Halls will tour the 60 British airfields next year in a 1935 Singer Le Mans sports car, identical to the vehicle owned by her father during the war.
Mrs Halls described the connection between the RAF and communities as important and said it was sad when bases similar to Coltishall closed.
Flying Blind: The Story of a Second World War Night Fighter Pilot is available from Amazon and as an E-book on Kindle Store, iBookstore, NookPress and GooglePlay.
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