Chelsea Pensioner Makes Pilgrimage To Yorkshire Air Museum

By David Prudames | 16 June 2004
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Shows a photograph of a Halifax bomber aircraft inside a hangar and taken from a side view.

Yorkshire Air Museum's Halifax has been completely reconstructed out of parts recovered from other aircraft. Courtesy Yorkshire Air Museum.

Former Staff Sergeant William 'Paddy' Fox, BEM made a pilgrimage to Yorkshire Air Museum on June 16 to pay tribute to a long lost relative.

Now known as No. 335 In-Pensioner W Fox of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, 73-year-old Paddy has fulfilled a long-held ambition to visit the institution’s rebuilt Halifax.

"Paddy’s cousin, Pilot Officer Sid Rogers, Royal Canadian Air Force, flew Halifax bombers during the Second World War when based at Pocklington," explained Ian Dewar, deputy aircraft manager at Yorkshire Air Museum.

"Sid was lost in the North Sea whilst trying to nurse his aircraft home from a raid over Germany."

Although, he now lives in west London, Paddy has a sister living in Scarborough and it was while paying her a visit that he seized the opportunity to visit Yorkshire Air Museum’s Halifax.

"Paddy has had a long ambition to come here and see our Halifax and we were delighted that, at a sprightly 75 years of age, he was able to climb aboard and view the aircraft in detail," Ian added.

Shows a photograph of two men standing, shaking hands in front of a Halifax bomber.

Deputy Aircraft Manager Ian Dewar and Paddy Fox during the old soldier's visit to Elvington. Photo: Courtesy Yorkshire Air Museum.

The completely reconstructed Halifax at Yorkshire Air Museum was unveiled last month for a dedication ceremony to mark the completion of the second phase of the rebuild project.

Repainted to incorporate French markings in commemoration of the two French squadrons that made RAF Elvington unique among Bomber Command airbases, the dedication was held in honour of the different nationalities that operated these aircraft.

It was originally rolled out in 1996 when it was externally complete, but with fitted crew positions and parts re-engineered for authenticity, it now looks much more like the kind of aircraft Paddy Fox’s cousin would have flown.

Originally from Tipperary, Paddy joined the 15/19 Hussars on May 1 1951 following in the footsteps of his brother who served with the Hussars during the Second World War.

He spent most of his service career with the regiment in Germany, where he learnt to drive in a Daimler armoured car and witnessed the process of modernisation as Saladins, Saracens, Centurions and Chieftains were introduced over the years.

As a recruitment sergeant Paddy enlisted a total of 2,500 young soldiers from the North East of England and was awarded the British Empire Medal for his services to the Army.

Joining the Royal Hospital in Chelsea in 2001, Paddy now works as a guide at the famous west London home for old soldiers and helps the Hospital Chaplain.

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