Bomber Command veteran and former mayor dies aged 96
PUBLISHED: 16:04 01 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:22 01 February 2019
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A Bomber Command veteran and former mayor of West Norfolk has passed away at the age of 96.
Wing Cdr Vic Stapley was the co-pilot of a 166 Sqn Lancaster Bomber during the war.
He died at his home in Dersingham on Thursday, with his family at his side.
Last year he was awarded the Legion D’Honneur - France’s highest honour - for his part in the liberation of its people during the 1939 - 45 conflict.
He said he wanted to dedicate it to his crew members, who helped him to survive 38 missions flying from RAF Kirmington on Humberside.
He was also awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for bravery during the war, made an OBE in 1976 and served as mayor of West Norfolk from 1990 - 91.
North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham said: “Although well into his 90s Vic Stapley carried on working in the community, in particular with veteran groups until the end of last year.
“After settling in west Norfolk in the 1970s he became one of the borough councillors for Heacham, and during this time served as chairman of planning and borough mayor in 1990 - 91.
“Vic was a truly remarkable person and indeed in many ways an iconic figure. He commanded incredible respect across the whole borough and further afield.
“Of course, our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his family, but they can be very proud of everything Vic achieved both fighting for his country in the war, and serving his community in peacetime.”
West Norfolk mayor Nick Daubney said: “Vic’s passing is very said and obviously my thoughts are with his family. He was Mayor the year after my father and I knew him well.
“Vic had an aura about him, a presence. When he was at an event you could always tell that he was in command. He has given a lot to west Norfolk and was a man to be greatly admired and respected. He will be missed.”
Mr Stapley was a familiar site at Lynn’s war memorial in Tower gardens on Remembrance Day.
He had been the president of the King’s Lynn and West Norfolk branch of RAFA - the Royal Air Force Association - for 30 years.
Former branch secretary Mike Forster said: “He was almost certainly the best president RAFA ever had. He was always there, he was always a great help. he was a great man really.”