Belfast Telegraph

Wendy Austin donates war hero dad's priceless Spitfire mementoes

By Danny Lorimer

BBC presenter Wendy Austin has made a special presentation of her father's war memorabilia to the Ulster Aviation Society (UAS).

Wendy's father, Cecil, flew fighter planes in World War Two and was involved in the Battle of Britain.

The items, which have been given to the society on a long-term loan, include Cecil's RAF logbook, his medals and his service cap, along with other items related to his service.

Society press officer Stephen Riley said: "It's hard to part with family mementoes, which makes us all the more grateful to Wendy for giving us something like this.

"These personal belongings really tell the story of these people who fought for their country. They bring the human element right home to the heart."

The presentation was made in front of a replica Spitfire II, the type of airplane flown by Flight Lieutenant Cecil Austin in 1941.

In fact Mr Austin flew two planes that were funded by the Belfast Telegraph as part of the war effort.

The Belfast Telegraph Spitfire Fund was set up to raise money for to help build a single plane.

In the end, readers managed to raise enough to make 17 Spitfires. The planes were named after the areas the money was donated from.

Mr Austin flew in two Spitfires named the Down and the Enniskillen.

A replica of one of these Spitfires is now a part of the UAS collection of 30 historic aircraft located in their hangar at the former Maze prison site. The Spitfire was bought this year as part of an auction by a North Yorkshire firm. The UAS is now considering finishing off the aircraft with the markings of the particular Spitfire that was flown by Cecil Austin.

It is appealing for donations to help it pay back the £20,000 loan that was used to buy the aircraft.

UAS recently received a grant of £2,000 from the Northern Ireland War Memorial.

Anyone who wishes to donate to the UAS can do so through www.ulster aviationsociety.org, or with a cheque payable by post to the Ulster Aviation Society: Garry MacDonald, UAS, 18 Riverview, Portadown, BT63 5WP.

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