Valor Friday

| March 29, 2024 | 10 Comments

Jeff Brereton in Hawker Hurricane

Most of us can remember what it was like to be a young adult and in service to our country. For Jeff Brereton, he served in the RAF during WWII. As an aircraft mechanic, he worked on Hawker Hurricanes. One of the aircraft he worked on during the Blitz was a Mk I Hurricane. On the front lines of the Battle of Britain, it’s amazing that any of those early series survived the war. Thanks in part to Brereton, one of them had.

Of the nearly 15,000 Hurricanes built between 1937 and 1944, and across 22 distinct variants, only a handful of Hurricanes remain flying. Overall, there’s only 16 airworthy Hurricanes remaining (three of them of the naval variant, Sea Hurricanes). It so happens that the final Mk I still flying around is one that a young Brereton wrenched on more than 80 years ago.

Having recently celebrated his 102nd birthday, Brereton was reunited with the Hurricane he worked on all those years ago. Then, taking a back seat in the only airworthy two-seater, he flew off the wing of his old warbird.

Hawker Hurricane R4118 – Once worked on by Brereton

I have a hard time imagining what it would be like for me to live to that age, have one of the planes I served on also survive to that point (remaining airworthy no less), and then getting to climb aboard. I guess I’ll see y’all in 2080 or so for my feel good story.

The Royal Air Force Association has the story;

A WWII RAF veteran had the chance to fly alongside the aircraft he helped maintain during the heroic Battle of Britain in 1940.

Jeff Brereton, who celebrated this 102nd birthday earlier this year, took to the air in BE505, the world’s only two seat Hurricane, with R4118, the only remaining airworthy Mk 1 Hurricane to have taken part in the Battle of Britain, and the aircraft Jeff worked on, flying alongside.

Jeff in the cockpit of his hurricane
Jeff, who lives in Evesham, Worcestershire, said: “I have great memories of the plane. Of all the aircraft I dealt with, that was the one that stuck in my mind. It was unbelievable to be able to see that aircraft again, that it had survived.”

After the flight, Jeff recounted: “Once you leave that ground, you’re in a completely different world altogether. You can’t have that feeling on Earth. You see the same clouds, but they don’t look the same, they don’t feel the same. I can’t wait to do it again.”

Jeff’s amazing story first come to light when he gave an interview with Air Mail, the RAF Association’s member magazine. The team realised that the Hurricane Jeff worked on had not only been restored but was still flying.

The Association immediately got in touch with James Brown, the current owner of the R4118 Hurricane. James runs Hurricane Heritage, an organisation based at the historic White Waltham Airfield where visitors can experience flying in and alongside these iconic aircraft.

James arranged for Jeff to come to the airfield with his family and jump in the cockpit and take to the skies.

James said: “The story is just an unbelievable coincidence and it’s so incredibly lucky to have found Jeff. I just couldn’t believe that there was this amazing guy who was still around and actually remembers working on our Hurricane.”

Jeff volunteered for the RAF in January 1940 at just 19-years-old. He was called up that spring and sent on an aero-engineering course where he qualified as a Flight Mechanic – Engine.

He joined 605 Squadron at RAF Croydon and was soon repairing Hurricanes, including R4118, in the hectic days of the Battle of Britain.

If you want to see Jeff’s flight, there’s video at the source.

Category: Air Force, Historical, Valor, Veterans in the news, We Remember

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Steve1371

Great story Mason! I could listen to those old timers all day . We owe everything to the WW 2 generation.

Odie

What a cool story. The flood of memories that meeting must have brought back, to be 19 again if only in your minds eye.

Thanks for the story Mason.

David

One of my dearest memories: my late Dad visited me when I was stationed in Germany. Coincidentally. I was stationed where he ended the war and spent part of the Occupation, so we took an afternoon off and drove around his old stomping grounds. “That gasthaus was our messhall – that’s where some diehard SOB took a shot at me – that was my HQ” – a whole afternoon watching my Dad turn 30 again.

KoB

“Keep ’em flying!” Isn’t that the motto of the wrench turners? Without the wrench turners wouldn’t be much need for pilots, would there?

A Salute to the ones that made this re-union happen.

If anyone happens upon an M151 marked 5/77FA, HHB 6…let me know.

Odie
Claw

Hmmm, didn’t know that M151’s could be bought and sold on an open market. I thought they all got chopped up for scrap upon being deleted off the property books. But I guess it would be okay if there is a roll-cage installed.

But the long and short of it is:
2320-763-1092 Truck, Utility, 1/4 Ton M151A1
2320-177-9258 Truck, Utility, 1/4 Ton M151A2

Odie

I’ve seen pre war cars/trucks put together that many would consider scrap that were nothing more than pieces. Maybe that’s how they’re getting around it. Bonded titles are relatively easy to get, just a PITA to jump through the hoops. For sure, the previous owner isn’t going to file a claim of ownership

Mick

Any Aviator who is worth a shit ALWAYS credits/thanks his type/model/series plane captain, other squadron and AIMD aircraft maintainers, aviation ordnancemen, flight deck crew (Yellow Shirts, Blue Shirts, Purple Shirts, Red Shirts, etc.), and the rest of the squadron personnel and ship’s crew who all work together to enable him to safely operate his aircraft in both peacetime training and in combat/contingency operations.

And he also ALWAYS credits/thanks the wardroom mess cooks who provide him with a couple of juicy Barney Clark* sliders and a large glass of ice-cold red Bug Juice at zero-dark-thirty after successfully making a white-knuckle night recovery aboard the pitching/rolling flight deck in shitty weather, with minimum fuel, and with vertigo so bad that you want to throw up all over the cockpit.

*Barney Clark slider: a US Navy double cheeseburger with a fried egg and mayonnaise on it. Called a “Barney Clark” because Barney Clark was the first recipient of an artificial heart.

Any Aviator who fails to credit/thank the aforementioned personnel and who attempts to take sole credit for bringing it all together and making it happen is a clueless, arrogant assclown who deserves to have his Wings pulled.

KoB

Nailed it, Mick. If one supports the “Support Troops”, they’re gonna take good care of the “Tip of The Spear” Troop. Every.damn.time!

Wing wiping brother turned wrenches on everything the Chair Force flew for decades. He related a story to me of a Two Star that got wind of a pile-it making a remark about if it wasn’t for pile-its, the wrench turner wouldn’t have a job. Dude was taken off of flight status and cleared base facilities before close of business that same day. Prolly still counting bed pans at the AF Dispensary in Thule Greenland today.

Wonder if a certain BeNasty Pile-it hada been nicer to his fuel guy BeNasty woulda had enough fuel to get past the crash site?

Mick

Hawker Hurricane.

In my opinion, one of the greatest classic aircraft of all time.

All-metal aluminum-covered wings, but with a fuselage constructed primarily out of longitudinal wooden stringers that were covered by doped linen fabric. Control surfaces were also covered by doped linen fabric. (I’ve read historical reports from WW2 that these fabric-covered surfaces could actually allow 20mm cannon rounds fired from German fighters during dogfights to pass clean through without exploding.) It had a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine (same engine as the Supermarine Spitfire), and it was armed with 8 x .303 machine guns. It was a very capable aircraft for its day.

When people think of the Battle of Britain, they typically think of the more “glamorous” Supermarine Spitfire as being the predominant British fighter aircraft. However, the Hawker Hurricane also played a very significant role during the Battle of Britain, and some historical accounts that I have read actually credit the Hurricane with downing more German aircraft than the Spitfire.

If anyone is interested in reading an outstanding (historical fiction) account of a Hawker Hurricane squadron in action during the Battle of Britain, I strongly recommend the book “Piece of Cake” by Derek Robinson. Robinson served in the Royal Air Force, so he brings a veteran’s “insider knowledge” to ensure the realism of this work of historical fiction. A great book; I read it in two days.