A BATTLE of Britain hero from Rugby joined dignitaries at a special service on Saturday (August 15) to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
The Service for Peace and Reflection at Rainsbrook Crematorium was held to mark the 70th anniversary of VJ Day, the day Japan surrendered and the war ended.
Former RAF Squadron Leader Tony Pickering unveiled a plaque on the crematorium’s Armed Forces Memorial Wall to commemorate the thousands of lives lost during the conflict.
Mr Pickering, who lives in Hillmorton, was just 19 years old when he served with 501 Squadron during the Battle of Britain, piloting a Hawker Hurricane fighter plane.
The 95-year-old’s Hurricane was shot down by the Luftwaffe on September 11, 1940, forcing him to bail out. After landing in friendly territory he returned to base and was back in the air the following day.
Following the Battle of Britain, Mr Pickering went on to test pilot Spitfires with 601 Squadron before joining 131 Squadron in 1943.
Based in Castletown, Scotland, he flew 75 missions in a Spitfire before being posted to a bombing and gunnery school in Egpyt in 1944, where he saw out his service with the RAF.
The Service for Peace and Reflection, led by the Bishop of Warwick, the Right Reverend John Stroyan, included a two minute silence, marked by the sounding of the Last Post.
Members of the Royal British Legion, Royal Warwickshire Regimental Association and the Salvation Army were in attendance, while Bilton Silver Band and Rugby Male Voice Choir provided the music.
The service was organised by the Mayor of Rugby, Coun Richard Dodd.
He said: “Victory in Japan Day was a time of celebration in 1945 as it finally brought six years of brutal conflict to an end.
“However, 70 years on VJ Day now offers us the opportunity to remember the sacrifices which were made during the Second World War and reflect on the bravery of those who fought to defend our country.”