Sprowston town councillor and war veteran dies aged 93

John Bracey. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

John Bracey. Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

A town councillor and bomber command veteran who flew in 26 bombing raids over Germany, has died aged 93.

John Bracey was a well-known figure in Sprowston, having served there as a councillor for 25 years.

It was a position the grandfather of three had continued to hold until his death at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on August 26.

He had suffered complications as a result of a major hip operation following a fall at his home on Rangoon Close.

Born in Norwich in 1923, Mr Bracey was the youngest of four children.

He joined the RAF aged 18, where he became a flight engineer and warrant officer in Bomber Command during the Second World War. He flew in 26 Lancaster raids over Germany and was recently awarded the Légion d'honneur.

His son Richard said: 'He recalled one terrifying moment from when the planes were flying in formation.

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'The lead bombers slowed down, and those at the rear climbed above them. As the planes started to deliver their payloads, his Lancaster had to corkscrew violently to avoid being hit. During a raid the Lancaster was hit by flak and they lost radio contact with the tail gunner. John left the cockpit to discover him unconscious in his turret. He used his own oxygen mask to revive his colleague and then pulled him out of the damaged turret.'

Mr Bracey was demobbed at the end of the war, and married his late wife Gweneth in August 1951.

He became a handicrafts teacher at a primary school in Martham and later a woodwork teacher at Sprowston Secondary Modern in 1959.

It was there that he lost his middle finger after cutting it off above the knuckle with a circular saw.

In the late 1960s, he became head of the woodwork department at Hewett School, before retiring, aged 58, in 1981.

He then became self-employed, before becoming clerk of the works at Langley School, near Loddon.

Mr Bracey was elected as a Broadland district councillor in 2011, holding the position of vice-chairman until he stood down last year.

His son Richard said: 'Dad was a warm and friendly man, who was enthusiastic, positive and very dedicated to public life. He was a great family man and a much-loved granddad to Jack, Liam and Lara. He was not the type to rest on his laurels and he always wanted to go out and meet people. He was always busy and was working on the day before his accident.'

His daughter Gill added: 'We want dad's funeral to be a celebration of his amazing long and happy life and we encourage those who attend not to wear black.'

His funeral takes place on Friday, September 30 from 10.30am at Earlham Crematorium for family and close friends.

It will be followed by a service of celebration at Norwich Cathedral from midday, where anyone who knew Mr Bracey will be welcome to attend.