Real lives: Tommy was a high flier with a nose for politics

Tommy Preston
Tommy Preston
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TOMMY Preston, a pilot who took part in hazardous raids over Nazi Germany in the Second World War, has died, aged 88.

During his long service in the war Mr Preston flew on some of the most dangerous missions, and survived multiple day and night attacks on Berlin as the captain of an RAF Lancaster heavy bomber.

A joiner to trade, he enlisted in 1941 and learned to fly in a Tiger Moth biplane before leaving his home in Midlothian and joining 115 Squadron in Cambridgeshire.

As well as braving intense enemy fire, the seven-man crew faced being blown up by bombs dropped from friendly aircraft above.

Bomber Command suffered extremely high casualties, with 55,573 killed from a total of 125,000 aircrew – a death rate of 44.4 per cent.

How-ever, Mr Preston and his crew, who were all in their late teens or early 20s, escaped injury and by 1945 had survived the war.

Mr Preston reached the rank of Warrant Officer, First Class, but turned down a commission as a flying instructor to return to civilian life.

He rejoined his father’s business in Loanhead, Midlothian as a master joiner, working in the trade until he was well into his 70s.

He was also a member of the Edinburgh-based Scottish Saltire Aircrew Association.

Mr Preston was taken by his family to the air show at RAF Leuchers in 2006 and swapped experiences with present-day pilots and aircrew.

He followed politics closely and did not support development of increased political union and the influence of Germany in recent plans to rescue the European single currency.

His favourite TV programme was Question Time, and he was particularly wary of the development of the European Union and the Euro.

Mr Preston, who died peacefully at his home in Corstorphine earlier this month, is survived by his wife of 63 years Cathie, two sons, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

His son Colin said: “Dad, like many others, didn’t talk much about the war and his experiences.

“They were the quiet heroes who didn’t need to boast about their exploits and they gave us the free world we have today.”