How did we do it?

RAF pilot Tony Iveson

BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs

Kirsty Young’s castaway is the veteran RAF pilot Tony Iveson.

Aged 21, he survived being shot down in his Spitfire over the North Sea during his first taste of combat in the Battle of Britain. He then went on to join Bomber Command and the famous Dambusters squadron, sinking the German battleship The Tirpitz and winning a Distinguished Flying Cross.

Aged 89 he returned to the skies, becoming the oldest man to fly a Lancaster bomber: “Well, I got out of that aeroplane and looked at it and it and thought how did we do it?” he says. “I know it was a long time ago and I was young and fit and a professional flier. But I thought about some of my friends who had been lost and it was an emotional experience.”

He also touches on the controversy surrounding the creation of a permanent memorial for Bomber Command. He offers his views on the tension between remembering the 55,000 aircrew lost and the modern questioning of the validity of a campaign that killed so many German civilians.

Iveson is one of the only pilots who flew for both Fighter and Bomber Command and helps to set the scene to move our discussion away from the Battle of Britain and towards Germany’s rooftops.

Listen to the full interview
Broadcast January 2011 

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