Express. Home of the Daily and Sunday Express. HOME News Royal Showbiz & TV Sport Comment Finance Travel Entertainment Life & Style UK Politics Royal US World Science Weather Weird History Nature Sunday InYourArea RAF hero Stephen Bacon who served as a mid-upper gunner on Lancaster bombers during the Second World War, dies at age 102. 22:45, Thu, Sep 28, 2023 | UPDATED: 22:45, Thu, Sep 28, 2023
Stephen meeting an RAF fan (Image: SWNS)
RAF hero Stephen Bacon, who survived the horrors of a Nazi Death March, has died aged 102, his loved ones have revealed.
Yesterday they paid tribute to the “tough” airman, who served as a mid-upper gunner on Lancaster bombers during the Second World War.
Stephen was captured by the enemy in January 1943 when his plane was shot down while returning from a bombing raid over Germany.
At first it was believed he had died with the rest of his crew and a memorial service was held for them. But it was later discovered all of the men, based at RAF Wickenby in Lincolnshire, had survived.
Stephen escaped from the German labour camp where he was imprisoned three times, but was re-captured days later on each occasion.
RAF hero Stephen Bacon dies at 102 (Image: SWNS)
He was also one of hundreds of PoWs forced into a Death March – a Nazi practice in which prisoners were made to walk long distances in extremely harsh conditions. And many who faltered were left to die. But Stephen found a way to survive again.
His proud son-in-law, Stuart Mitchell explained: “He would have to share an Army great coat with two other men, sleeping on freezing cold nights, often in the open air or in barns or bombed-out factories. He was a tough old guy.
“Stephen was lucky enough to survive the march and be picked up by American troops near the Dutch border.”
But Stuart, 76, said the father-of-one, grandad-of-two and great-grandad-of-five did not reveal what he had been through until long after the war.
He said: “Stephen was from the generation that never spoke about their wartime experiences. It was, he said, just something they had to do.
Stephen and Alice on their wedding day (Image: SWNS)
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“However, in 2015 Stephen helped with a project to create a place for remembrance at International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln.
“It seemed to unearth all his fascinating memories…this includes taking part in the Death March.”
After the war, Stephen worked in weaving sheds in Burnley and Blackburn and met his late wife, Alice. In later years, he enjoyed dominoes at his Burnley local, the General Williams, and walking his dog Sam.
Stephen was also honoured by his local council on his 100th birthday.
His funeral will be held at Burnley Crematorium at 11.30am on October 4.
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