Spitfire war hero from Cornwall receives priceless Christmas gift

A 98-year-old Second World War Spitfire pilot from Cornwall whose treasured wartime heirloom was stolen has been gifted some Christmas cheer – thanks to Royal Air Force commanders.

As reported by CornwallLive, Dr Edmund James, 98, was devastated when thieves stole a photograph of him flying the iconic aircraft from his home.

But after hours of sifting through files, a near-identical picture was found and presented to him, to take price of place at his home in Falmouth.

The Mirror reports that Dr James, the last surviving pilot of 288 Squadron, was moved to tears as Wing Commander Marshall Kinnear, from RAF St Mawgan in Newquay, presented him with the framed picture.

“This is such a wonderful surprise, I can’t tell you how much it means to have this photo back on my wall,” Dr James said.

“The photo was given to me on my wedding day as a present from my squadron colleagues when I was just 19 years old.”

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The photo was signed with a personal message from the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston KCB CBE ADC.

Sadly, the signatures of his fellow airmen on the original photo, many of whom died in combat, could not be replaced.

Delivering the picture, Wg Cdr Kinnear said: “It’s a real honour to be able to deliver this photo to such a valued member of our RAF family, particularly as it’s just before Christmas, and knowing how much it meant to him.”

Plymouth MP Johnny Mercer, the Minister for Defence People and Veterans who lives in Cornwall, wrote a letter to Dr James.

He said: “I was deeply saddened to hear that Dr James’ much-loved Spitfire picture had been stolen.

“While something so special can never be replaced, we hope that our gift will bring him… joy.”

Cornwall Live