Missions from my memory

First published in Your Second World War Memories

An American fighter pilot returned to Colchester to recall his part in the war.

Russ Kyler flew 50 missions from Boxted Airfield during the Second World War.

He went back to the site in Langham – his first visit since 1945 – to give a talk about his experiences with the 56th Fighter Group.

Richard Turner, of the Boxted Airfield Historical Group, said the event had been a sell-out, with about 130 people present to listen to the 85-year-old’s memories.

He said: “One of the occasions Russ focused on was when his flight leader saved his life.

“Russ’ plane had been hit by fire and his engine was badly hit.

“It started misfiring, so his leader said they should swap planes.

“He was a major with more experience and a better chance of getting back to base.

“It caused some amusement when they got out of different planes when they got back.”

He added: “They became very good friends after that, even in their civilian life.”

Despite the length of time between visits, Mr Turner said the former pilot had strong recollections of his surroundings at the airfield.

“He remembered that there were two runways, one shorter than the other,” he said.

“He used to groan if he had to use the shorter one.

“When he visited the operations room, he remembered exactly how things were set out all those years ago.”

Mr Kyler’s life story has since been documented by the historical group for use in their museum, which is currently under construction.

For more information about the airfield, go to boxted-air field.com

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