Fred Bailey Ld'H, CdG - the SOE veteran who served in Jedburgh Team Citroen in France and Force 136 in Burma - was featured in the BBC television special which commemorated the RAF's Centenary year - "... above all it is the story of the men and women whose courage and ingenuity have been at the heart of the RAF for 100 years." The 90 minute programme was presented by Ewan and Colin McGregor, who both fly and had previously fronted two earlier RAF documentaries, one of which was the excellent "Bomber Boys". RAF AT 100 highlighted some of the most notable aircraft flown by the RAF's one hundred years, and as soon as the producers had decided to feature the 'special duties' Lysander of WW2 they were naturally keen to find at least one surviving veteran who'd either piloted this aircraft or been a passenger in one. Such veterans are few and far between these days, but when they asked Charity co-founder Martyn Cox he'd immediately suggested Fred Bailey, knowing that Fred's Force 136 team had been extracted from the Burmese jungle by a Lysander of No. 357 (Special Duties) Squadron. This section of RAF AT 100 was filmed on a very drizzly day in June last year at The Shuttleworth Collection, Old Warden Aerodrome, nr Biggleswade during which Fred recounted on camera his wartime experiences in Burma. The McGregor brothers also took part in some additional filming with the Shuttleworth Lysander (piloted by Roger "Dodge" Bailey) so as to capture the essence of a Lysander pick-up in France. The Westland Lysander at Old Warden is in fact the only one in the world which is not only in the WW2 'special duties configuration but also airworthy, and so it's in regular demand for air shows and filming: www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLuk4o1BRM8 Fred was accompanied by his daughter-in-law Maxine, who's current studying History at the University of Chichester, and Martyn was able to come over from France - hence the photos. Lysander expert Ian Titman was also hand, and in fact he saved the day when the producers decided they urgently needed to film some vital archive images - and Ian happened to have these with him on a laptop. By all accounts the producers were very pleased with the end results, and the subsequent press reviewers agreed. On the filming day a splendid time was had by all ... especially when Fred sat opposite Ewan and Colin McGregor for the crew lunch, during which he was able to share even more of his wartime exploits. Fred has since said that he'd been "honoured and privileged to take part in the programme." Fred Bailey had already been Mentioned in Dispatches and awarded the Croix de Guerre, but in 2016 he was also presented with the Légion d'honneur by the French government during a special ceremony at the D-Day Museum in Southsea: www.chichester.co.uk/news/hero-fred-92-handed-highest-honour-by-french-government-1-7157091
NB: This article has been amended since the 90 minute RAF AT 100 programme was broadcast on Sunday 25 March 2018 at 8.30-10.00pm on BBC ONE.
Images copyright of BBC, Martyn Cox & IWM (Peter Arkle collection)
BBC Media release: www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/proginfo/2018/13/raf-at-100
"RAF AT 100 With Ewan And Colin McGregor"
To celebrate the centenary of the Royal Air Force, actor Ewan McGregor and former RAF pilot Colin, his brother, take to the skies in some of the world’s most iconic planes. The brothers experience aerial combat at every stage of the RAF’s story, from the dawn of the dogfight in World War One, the triumph of the 'The Few' and the bravery of the 'Bomber Boys' in World War Two, through to the Cold War and right up to the supersonic jets of today. On the way they will meet some extraordinary men and women, explore the great moments such as The Battle of Britain and The Berlin Airlift, and will uncover little known stories of bravery and brilliance. It is a story of amazing machines and epic battles but above all it is the story of the men and women whose courage and ingenuity have been at the heart of the RAF for 100 years. Geoffrey Wellum, who fought in the Battle of Britain as an 18 year old, speaks with passion about what is meant to take on the German Airforce. Mary Ellis and Joy Lofthouse were two of the pioneering flyers of the Air Transport Auxiliary who delivered thousands of planes to frontline units in World War Two. Looking back on a breakthrough for equality born of necessity, these two feisty elderly ladies share their memories of their glamorous but dangerous role. Cold War aircrew like Jonny Tye and Martin Withers had the grim task of dropping the atom bomb and accepted their role knowing that if they ever had to carry out their orders it would be a one-way mission. David Morgan, who is the last RAF pilot to take part in a dogfight, talks with chilling clarity about the day he shot down two enemy aircraft over The Falkland Islands but also with humanity about how he has had to live with the personal and emotional consequences ever since. Finally today’s ground crew and pilots take Ewan and Colin on a supersonic flight in the Typhoon fighter, as they make their own all-too-real preparation for deployment to the skies over Syria and Iraq.