On 1 June, the ESU was honoured to welcome Squadron Leader Tony Iveson DFC to Dartmouth House for a “Meet the Author” event on his publication Lancaster: The Biography.
Tony, a former pilot with 616 and 92 Fighter Squadrons, Fight Command, once survived ditching a Spitfire in the North Sea after a combat with Junkers 88. After qualifying at the RAF’s Central Flying School in 1941, he went on to be a flying instructor in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. Upon his return, Tony was directed to the Bomber Command and was posted to Number 617 Squadron, known as the “Dambusters”, and was a pilot of the Lancaster; being later appointed a Flight Commander. Amongst other operations, Tony flew on all 3 attacks that he and the Squadron made on the Germany battleship “Tirpitz”, dropping the infamous “bouncing bombs” on Germany’s Ruhr Valley Dam. Currently chairman of the Bomber Command Association, Tony is organising plans for a permanent Bomber Command Memorial to be erected in Green Park to commemorate the 55,000 bomber airmen who lost their lives in the war.
Tony discussed how, with collaboration from a fellow aviation enthusiast, journalist and adventurer, Brian Milton, Lancaster: The Biography came to be published. Talking fondly of his memories of his time in the Fighter Command and his experiences of being part of arguably the most famous RAF squadrons of all time, Tony also shared how, at age 89, he became the oldest person in the world to fly a Lancaster which, he admitted did not “behave” itself and was a lot more challenging than when he had last stepped inside the cockpit some 60 years ago! Discussing his past adventures, Tony admitted that he often had trouble believing them all – admitting that sometimes it felt like he had simply just “read about them” in the past. The fear, Tony said, never left neither his nor his comrades’ side; however, the pride they felt at defending the skies for their country was “every young boys dream”.
Click her to donate to the Bomber Command Memorial Fund