A SECOND World War fighter pilot from Widnes will be among those paying their respects on Remembrance Day.
Stan Wycherley, 94, will join his fellow residents at Halton View Care Home, on Sadler Street, to watch the Cenotaph memorial ceremony on television.
For Stan, the memorial is an opportunity to remember friends and colleagues who died during the Second World War, when he was a pilot in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm.
Born in Widnes in December 1924, he joined the Navy in February 1943, when he was just 18 years old.
He completed his initial pre-flight training at Lee-on-the-Solent and Gosport, before being promoted to Midshipman and sailing to Canada in August 1943.
He then commenced his flight training, initially in a Boeing Stearman biplane in Detroit, USA, before being transferred to Florida to test fly planes.
He said: “I was picked out from my training in Florida to test fly the planes and was awaiting instruction from the Admiralty.
“The Corsair I was flying was due to reach 400mph, which doesn’t sound much now but back in the days it was very fast.
“On my test flight the engines failed and I radioed in to tell them and was told “you better get your arse back here quick” in an American accent.
“It was a very heavy aircraft and, as I was doing all I could to land it, the wing hit the deck and rolled and the plane was destroyed.”
His collision with the runway knocked off both wings and the complete tail section of the aircraft and eventually came to rest upside down, with only part of the fuselage and the cockpit remaining.
Stan was left seriously injured, with a broken neck, compound skull fractures and multiple other fractures. He was hospitalised for over six months and kept immobile to let his neck heal.
He couldn’t fly anymore due to disability and returned to the UK in April 1945, just as the war in Europe was ending. He was eventually discharged from the Fleet Air Arm in 1946 at 21 years of age.
Stan has since been awarded The War Medal 1939-1945 and The Defence Medal.
Unable to attend any memorial services on Remembrance Day, Stan will join his fellow care home residents to watch the Queen and other members of the Royal Family lay wreaths at the Cenotaph.
He said: “I am glad to be British and most certainly glad we won the war. It’s remarkable that we never forget all those that have fallen and I am one of the very lucky ones.”
Clare Richards, home manager at Halton View Care Home, said: “Stan’s story from his time in the Navy during the Second World War is incredible and we’re glad he survived such a horrific crash and is still able to tell the story more than 70 years later.
“Many of our residents know someone who has fought or died in wars, so Remembrance Day is a very personal opportunity for them to pay their respects.
“Unfortunately, many of them have mobility issues and, with the wet and cold as winter approaches, they are unable to attend any ceremonies. But we will be showing the Remembrance Day ceremony on the television for those who wish to watch.”