It must have been fate the day that Yorkshire pilot Les Joy was given a 48-hour pass away from the Royal Air Force.
The former Lancaster Bomber pilot’s world was turned upside down when he returned back to his base to discover his Australian crew had been killed after a training exercise ended in tragedy near Donna Nook in July 1945.
The crew’s practice bomb had exploded in the plane’s bomb bay while they flew near the Lincolnshire coastline.
But the 90-year-old from Sutton-in-Craven shared his experiences in the skies and recalled his 21 missions which helped to lead Great Britain to victory during the Second World War.
Les was invited to share his memories at Richmond House School, in Headingley, during a special assembly yesterday.
He said: “It’s very nice to share memories with children.”
Recalling his time as a pilot he added: “I remember being scared to death. We were all just frightened and hoping we would get back and complete a tour if it was possible.
“The comradeship was wonderful. We lived together and we flew together.”
The Bradford-born pilot was even sent on a tour to bomb Hitler’s Bavarian hideout The Eagle’s Nest and was responsible for helping to destroy some nearby SS bases.
He spoke to pupils about his time in the pilot’s seat and how he first got his wings at the age of 19.
Pupil Alice Barnes, 10, said she found the talk interesting.
She added: “I thought it would be quite surprising to have a person actually involved in the Second World War to come in.”
Nine-year-old Seb Handley added: “To speak to a person is more interesting than reading from a history book.
“It’s important for us to learn about this because it’s part of our history.”
Richmond House director of music Victoria Lloyd added: “First-hand experience like Les is just living history.
“You can show children many artefacts but it’s the detail that’s missing.
“It’s a real privilege for the school to have Les speak to us.
“We will be asking them to be reflecting on all the things they have heard and seen.”
Pupils will hold a war-themed concert at the independent school next week.