[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated:  Friday, 21 February, 2003, 14:23 GMT
RAF fly-past for war legend
"Taffy" Higginson served in the Battle of Britain
An RAF aircraft has flown past the funeral of a Battle of Britain legend in west Wales.

The plane made a double pass as friends and family of Wing Commander Frederick William (Taffy) Higginson gathered at St.Mary's Church in St. Clears on Friday afternoon.

As a Hurricane fighter pilot, Wing Commander Higginson had an illustrious war career.

Born in 1913 into a Welsh speaking family at Gorseinon, Swansea, he joined the RAF as a fitter and air gunner at the age of 16.

He volunteered for flying training and joined the elite 56 Squadron in 1937, the same year he married Jenny Jenkins of Betws, Ammanford.

He became one of only 36 British fighter pilots during the whole of the conflict to shoot down more than 12 enemy planes.

I shot him down and I thought that's the end of that - and suddenly, bang, and I was on fire
Taffy Higginson

But, in June 1941, he was shot down over France and tried to evade capture by heading to Spain.

Arrested at the border, he spent four months in prison in Perpignan, before later escaping from an internment camp through a sewage pipe.

Using false papers and travelling as a priest, he reached safety in Gibraltar more than 15 months after bailing out of his aircraft.

After the war, he became sales and service director of the Guided Missiles Division in the Bristol Aircraft Company.

He also played rugby for London Welsh, Richmond and Surrey until he was 40.

Wing Commander Higginson was awarded the OBE for services to industry, along with other decorations for his war time exploits.

In 1969, he and his wife bought Pen-y-Coed Farm, which included a large 17th Century mansion, near St Clears, where they farmed until retirement in 1990.

Dogfight

In 2001 he welcomed Luftwaffe pilot Heinz Moellenbruck to his home, more than half a century after shooting him down during a Battle of Britain dogfight.

It was the first time the pair had met.

At the time, Mr Higginson described the day he crossed with Herr Moellenbruck above the skies of Essex.

"He was coming in from Europe along the Thames, and I was going out to meet him - I shot him down and he crash landed," he said.

"What I didn't realise was that he had put some incendiary bullets into the front of my aircraft.

"I shot him down and I thought that's the end of that - and suddenly, bang, and I was on fire.

"I bailed out alongside him. I was very lucky," he added.



LINKS TO MORE WALES STORIES


 

SEE ALSO:
'Glad those days are gone'
15 Sep 00 |  UK News


INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific