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Tribute to Bradford's 'hero of the skies'
7:00pm Sunday 19th August 2012 in News
RAF war veteran Stan Hudson, who carried out more than 40 enemy raids in a Lancaster bomber, has died aged 91.
Mr Hudson passed away peacefully with his wife Jean by his side at their home in North Park Road, Manningham , Bradford.
His family will be fulfilling his final wish to have the Last Post played at his funeral at Scholemoor Crematorium on Friday, August 31, at 1.20pm.
To mark his 90th birthday last year his family organised a VIP tour of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight hangar at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, so he could be reunited with a Lancaster one more time.
He was 18 when war broke out and he signed up to serve his country. He had wanted to drive tanks, but his mother persuaded him to fly instead.
After enlisting he went to training camps in Wiltshire, Scotland and Lincolnshire before finally getting airborne. His missions were mainly over the Ruhr industrial area of Germany and in an interview last year he told the Telegraph & Argus how “nerve-wracking” it was, but crews would put on a brave face.
“We’d joke around and ask if we could have their eggs and bacon if they didn’t come back. We’d get the briefings over and done with, then the wait would be the worst bit. Sitting on the grass waiting to go.
“Once we were up, we were on our way and had to keep alert. On the way back, if we were lucky, we’d have time for our sandwiches,” he said.
Mr Hudson said: “I’d met him in the early days. When we’d have a meal in the Mess and if there was ever a piano he would play Tchaikovsky.
“It wasn’t until he died on a mission that I found out he had actually been a concert pianist. To this day I still think of him whenever I hear that tune.”
The Germans were not the only danger to aircrews. Fog was also a risk and he remembered how coming home in “pea-soupers,” airfields used flares on either side to guide them down.
He also spoke of the beauty of flying in the moonlight and recalled one such unforgettable night over a forest in France where they were seeking out a stash of hidden German ammunition.
After Germany, Mr Hudson flew out on missions to the Middle East and spent time stationed in Cyprus where he met his wife Jean.
The couple returned to the UK to RAF Finningley and after 20 years and having reached the rank of Warrant Officer, Mr Hudson left to embark on a 20-year stint working as a civil servant at Bradford Job Centre.
Mr Hudson’s son-in-law Ian Muff said: “He was a hero of the skies. He flew with the 12th Squadron and was a pathfinder pointing out targets for bombers.
“He was given the choice of leaving the air after so many missions, but he didn’t want to. He just kept on going. After all those years the RAF was still a big part of his life.”
Mr Hudson leaves four sons, two daughters, 16 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.