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Battle of Britain hero joins Rugby's VJ Day commemoration

A RUGBY man who fought in the Battle of Britain joins dignitaries at a special service to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

The Service for Peace and Reflection takes place on VJ Day, Saturday 15 August, at Rainsbrook Crematorium.

During the service, former RAF Squadron Leader Tony Pickering unveils a plaque on the crematorium's Armed Forces Memorial Wall to commemorate the thousands of lives lost during the conflict.

Mr Pickering, who lives in Hillmorton, was just 19-years-old when he served with 501 Squadron during the Battle of Britain, piloting a Hawker Hurricane fighter plane.

His Hurricane was shot down by the Luftwaffe on September 11, 1940, forcing him to bail out. After landing in friendly territory he returned to base and was back in the air the following day.

Following the Battle of Britain, Mr Pickering went on to test pilot Spitfires with 601 Squadron before joining 131 Squadron in 1943.

Based in Castletown, Scotland, he flew 75 missions in a Spitfire before being posted to a bombing and gunnery school in Egpyt in 1944, where he saw out his service with the RAF.

The Service for Peace and Reflection, led by the Bishop of Warwick, the Right Reverend John Stroyan, includes a two minute silence, marked by the sounding of the Last Post.

Members of the Royal British Legion, Royal Warwickshire Regimental Association and the Salvation Army attend, while Bilton Silver Band and Rugby Male Voice Choir provide the music.

The service has been organised by the Mayor of Rugby, Cllr Richard Dodd.

Cllr Dodd said: "Victory in Japan Day was a time of celebration in 1945 as it finally brought six years of brutal conflict to an end.

"However, 70 years on VJ Day now offers us the opportunity to remember the sacrifices which were made during the Second World War and reflect on the bravery of those who fought to defend our country."

Members of the public can attend the Service for Peace and Reflection, which starts at 1pm at Rainsbrook Crematorium, Ashlawn Road.

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