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RAF's oldest former officer dies at 105
The RAF’s oldest former officer has died at the age of 105.
Frank Bagshaw was just 19 when he joined the recently formed service in 1925 – at a time when planes were made of wood and held together by wire. Mr Bagshaw joined as a rigger and carpenter and went on to achieve the rank of warrant officer.
For a short time he was also acting squadron leader.
Mr Bagshaw, who lived in Horsforth, was one of the top 100 shots in the country and had also received an OBE – a fact his family only discovered shortly before his death.
His career in the RAF took him to a large number of places including Palestine, Egypt, India, Malta, South Africa and Greece.
He carried on travelling throughout his retirement, taking a cruise with his daughter Marjorie just months before his death.
A keen sportsman, he represented the RAF in cross-country running, fencing and shooting.
Last year members of the modern-day RAF helped Mr Bagshaw to celebrate his 105th birthday.
Flt Lt Martin Blagojevic, from the Armed Forces career office in Leeds, said: “Frank was somewhat taken aback when informed that he may be the oldest surviving former RAF officer.
“Despite his modesty, we were left in no doubt as to the pride he had in wearing the uniform, the standards we all have to aspire to and the legacy that he and others who followed in his footsteps leave behind.”
Mr Bagshaw was reluctant to talk about his experiences of the war – and his daughter was not even aware he had an OBE until she found it in his medal collection just before his 105th birthday.
But she has managed to glean snippets, such as his dramatic escape from advancing German troops in Greece during the Second World War, when he and fellow servicemen hitched a lift on a sea-plane with the English ambassador and a princess.
She has found out from other people about some of the horrors he witnessed.
“One of his jobs would have been, as planes landed badly damaged, to take parts from one plane and fit them on another,” she said.
“They ended up having to get the pilots who had burned to death out of the planes. In many cases they must have known them.”
She said her father was well-loved by everyone who knew him.
His funeral will take place at 1pm tomorrow at the Grove Methodist Church in Horsforth.