Town RAF pilot lives on in book

By Connie Osborne Friday 06 December 2013 Updated: 06/12 11:21

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Buy photos » Daughter Gill Griffin and son-in-law Barry have edited Len Thorne’s diary entries to create a book about his time as a fighter pilot. Picture by Marcus Mingins 4913018MMR

A REDDITCH fighter pilot's wish has been fulfilled after a book containing his memories has finally been published.

Len Thorne moved to the borough in 1938 while working for manufacturers High Duty Alloys.

He was called up to serve for the RAF in the Second World War and after gaining the coveted pilot's wings on his 21st birthday he took part in two tours of operational duty as a fighter pilot which included dangerous low-level flying at Dunkirk.

He was then posted to the Air Fighting Development Unit where he remained as a test pilot for the rest of the war, tasked with developing operational tactics, testing captured enemy aircrafts as well as new ones.

Throughout this time Len kept memoirs of his day-to-day life alongside a log book which included the first sighting of an FW190 in 1942 and flying the same type a year later, as well as the enjoyment he gained from flying the American Mustang and helping to turn it into the air-war winner.

Before passing away at the age of 88 on the anniversary of D-Day in 2008, his daughter Gill Griffin and son-in-law Barry promised to bring those stories to life in a book.

Five years later, the couple have personally edited his log entrances and have officially published the book entitled A Very Unusual Air War, From Dunkirk to AFDU, through the History Press.

Mr Griffin said: "Fortunately for us Len kept insightful memoirs. He always had a story to tell and worked alongside some of the most famous flyers for the RAF including Wing Commander Al Deere and Spitfire Aces SL 'Paddy' Finucane, Ernie Ryder.

"You would only need to chat to Len for five minutes and the conversation would almost certainly turn to aircrafts. It was his great love, especially the Spitfire which he flew most marks.

The former Ridgeway Middle School teacher added: "He was an incredible man, who we should be proud of and should be recognised for his fantastic achievements."

Proceeds from the sale of the book will be split between the Royal Airforce Benevolent Fund and the Royal British Legion.

A copy of the book will be available at Redditch Library.

Visit or to purchase a copy.

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