Tales of heroism enthral Sidmouth pupils

Battle of Britain hero is guest speaker at Sidmouth St John’s School speech day

HIGHLIGHT of the annual St John’s School speech day at Sidmouth, was a talk given by Squadron Leader Tony Iveson DFC, guest speaker for the prize giving.

He captivated an audience of nearly 500, aged from two to 98, with tales of extraordinary heroism from the Battle of Britain.

Deputy head, Mike Burgess, said: “Being shot out of the sky and crashing into the freezing north Atlantic on one occasion, but still managing to steer his falling plane close enough to be noticed by a merchant ship who subsequently pulled him from the sea, was one of these tales.”

Following the Battle of Britain, Mr Iveson spoke of how he retrained as a Lancaster pilot and recounted the story of again being attacked by Messerschmitts, this time over Norway.

Three of the seven crew bailed out to take their chances in Scandinavia while the remaining four nursed the severely damaged plane back to Scotland where it was deemed unfit to ever fly again.

Mr Burgess said: “Having him as our guest was a real treat…He is one of six remaining Battle of Britain pilots.

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“He is even more unusual, having also been one of the few survivors of Bomber Command where 55,000 of his peers were killed in action.”

So revered by the RAF is Mr Iveson, that he was invited to fly the last remaining Lancaster at the age of 90.

Entertainment for speech day was provided by the music and drama departments at St John’s, punctuating various categories of awards and prizes with some spectacular performances.

These ranged from Kyra Stout (Y1) singing solo, through a French and Saunders sketch, to a raucous version of Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water from the senior school band.