Tornado flypast a fitting farewell to Second World War flying hero
PUBLISHED: 20:09 07 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:25 08 March 2019
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Eyes turned to the skies as the final farewell to a true hero was marked with a poignant flypast of two Tornado jets.
Hundreds gathered at King’s Lynn Minster for the funeral of Wing Commander Vic Stapley, 96, a “positively charming” man who also left a lasting imprint on civic life in west Norfolk.
And after the funeral service, the mourners moved to Mintlyn Crematorium, where the proceedings stopped for the spectacular flypast – a tremendous tribute from the RAF to one of its own.
Wing Cdr Stapley was a Lancaster Bomber co-pilot in 166 Squadron during the Second World War and was awarded the Legion d’Honneur by France.
He also received the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for bravery, was made an OBE in 1976 and served as mayor of West Norfolk from 1990 to 1991.
Fellow Honorary Alderman Ian Stockwell served on West Norfolk Borough Council with Mr Stapley.
He said: “Vic was politically assertive: a positive character, permanently caring, a protector of certain traditions, and dare I say it, positively charming.
“He was a true gentleman: dignified, dedicated and a caring serviceman to this community and a huge number of others – a model to us all. For me, I say a sad farewell to very supportive loyal and trusted colleague and friend.”
Mr Stapley was a familiar sight at Lynn’s war memorial cenotaph in Tower Gardens on Remembrance Day, at the anniversary of the Battle of Britain and was the chairman of the King’s Lynn branch of the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) for 30 years.
Current chairman Mac Tucker said: “I want to start by sending my condolences to Vic’s family, not just from myself, but the entire Royal Air Forces Association – he will be sorely missed.
“Vic was a very big personality and, speaking for many members, it was honour and a privilege to know him. I want to thank the station commander at RAF Marham for the flypast – Per Ardua ad Astra.”
Per Ardua ad Astra is the RAF motto, and translates to Through Adversity to the Stars.
The Second World War Bomber Command veteran and former mayor of West Norfolk died at his home in Dersingham on Thursday, January 31, with his family by his side.