October 30, 2021

RAF Centenarian Dazzles Conference

The opening night reception of the 2021 International Churchill Conference, which took place at the RAF Club in Piccadilly on Thursday, 7 October, had very special guest speaker. One-hundred-year-old Colin S. Bell served as an RAF bomber pilot during the Second World War and dazzled the audience with his vitality and vivid memories of flying missions over Berlin as part of Bomber Command.

Bell was introduced by his friend Air Commodore Rick Peacock-Edwards. Surrounded by the dramatic artwork that hangs on the walls of the RAF Club, Bell spoke of his service as a Flight Lieutenant who piloted a Mosquito bomber during the war and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).

Born in 1921, Bell turned 100 earlier this year, but you would never know that from his appearance, energy and enthusiasm. He joined the Royal Air Force at the end of 1940, and carried out his training in the United States prior to the US entering the conflict in December 1941.

After completing his qualifications, Bell flew what were known as Pathfinder missions over Germany including fourteen over Berlin. He recalled that the time spent over the city never lasted more than twenty minutes but always seemed like twenty years. Bomber Command had the highest casualty rate of any element of the armed forces during the war. Many people were understandably anxious to get their photograph taken with this incredible survivor and true hero.

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