Veteran Ian Templer meets Fairey Swordfish CREDIT SWNS

The great-grandad-of-four trained in the biplane in Orkney in 1941. (Picture: SWNS).

A 100-year-old former bomber pilot has been reunited with a plane just like the one he flew during the Second World War.

Ian Templer watched the Fairey Swordfish soar into the sky during a special visit to RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset.

The Swordfish, a torpedo bomber, was tasked with surveilling sea to locate enemy ships or submarines.

Mr Templer was deployed to south-east England after training to join a flight of three Swordfish surveilling the coast.

The trio were known as the ‘String Bags’ - because their ordnance was likened to a popular shopping bag used by English women.

Veteran Ian Templer meets Fairey Swordfish CREDIT SWNS
Mr Templer piloted the Swordfish from Egypt to Malta in 1941 - a 12.5 hour journey which was particularly gruelling because the airplane has an open cockpit (Picture: SWNS).

The biplane carries three men - a pilot, navigator and rear gunner - but two embarked on the journey to create space for an extra fuel tank.

Mr Templer said: “When I heard the admiralty were recruiting for the Fleet Air Arm in 1940, I jumped at it.

“There wasn’t time to think about the risks involved, it was a very hectic time.

“I got my wings at the end of that year and following deck landing training and night-flying training at a pace in May 1941, I was sent to Detling, Kent, to join a detached flight of three Swordfish.

“We supported night time bombardments of the Channel ports. You had a job to do and got on with it.”

Mr Templer then began flying another torpedo bomber, the Fairey Albacore, in 1942 and was based in Alexandria, North Africa.

His daughter, Briony Blair, 65, said of his trip to Yeovilton: “It’s just fantastic to bring him here today, I know how much this means to him and the opportunity to see the Swordfish fly.

"We are immensely proud of him and his contribution all those years ago. Today is both poignant and happy for my father. We are just so delighted to be here!”

Veteran Ian Templer with Nathan Gray CREDIT SWNS
Commander Nathan Gray, a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm, was at the airbase to fly the Swordfish (Picture: SWNS).

He said: “I feel immensely proud to meet Ian today, what an absolute privilege it is to shake his hand.

"To know what his generation in the Fleet Air Arm achieved in this biplane made of Irish linen during World War Two is truly inspiring and the foundation on which we operate today.”

It was the first time Mr Templer had been back to Yeovilton since 1944.