From Vera Lynn to Spitfire heroes - names live on in Norfolk man’s signature collection
Signatures from Second World War fighter and bomber pilots, as well as wartime songstress Dame Vera Lynn now mark the pages of a book owned by a Norfolk collector.
Andrew Stevenson, who lives in Pentney, near Swaffham, has collected the signatures in the copy of the book The British Airman by Roger A. Freeman since 2005, and he wanted to share it to help commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
Mr Stevenson, 67, himself a British Army veteran, said he bought the book via eBay for £4.50, and set about turning it into a tribute to those heroes who took to the skies to fight for peace.
Mr Stevenson said: “I did it to have something relating back to those years, because growing up in the 1960s you heard all the tales told, and saw the films like 633 Squadron, Reach for the Sky and The Great Escape.
“But I also did it to keep alive their memories and names, because they and those in the army and navy were the salt of the earth.”
The book now has around 100 signatures, including those of Johnny Johnson, the last surviving ‘Dambuster’ pilot, Lancaster bomber pilot Steve Stevens and Spitfire pilots Tom Neil and Ken Willkinson.
Mr Stevenson has collected the signatures mainly by sending the book off to veterans in the post, and having them send it back to Norfolk.
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The book has even travelled to Canada, where it was taken for a flight in a vintage Lancaster.
Mr Stevenson said he also sent it to Dame Very Lynn, now 103, to sign because he felt she had “done her bit”.
He said: “I had a very nice letter back from her - I wrote to her that the bluebirds would be flying over the White Cliffs of Dover forever because of her.”
Mr Stevenson said that he hoped that despite the lockdown people would still remember the airmen and others who fought for peace on the anniversary of VE Day on May 8.
He said: “What we have today is because of the likes of them.”
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