Page last updated at 11:40 GMT, Monday, 14 July 2008 12:40 UK

War veterans reunited 64 years on

Dougie Jordin and Leslie Fairloth meet after 64 years
The two men met again for a Sunday lunch in Cheshire - 64 years later

Two World War II veterans who last saw each other as they parachuted out of their damaged bomber in 1944 have met up for the first time in 64 years.

Lancaster gunners Leslie Faircloth and Dougie Jordin were both 19 when they were forced to bail out over Paris.

All seven crew survived, but they were never reunited.

Now Mr Faircloth, from Wrexham, and Mr Jordin, from Blackpool - who are believed to be the last surviving crew members - have vowed to stay in touch.

The men, both 84, were put back in touch after Mr Faircloth's daughter-in-law found a D Jordin listed in the phone book after her husband had researched the mission.

Mr Faircloth rang it and spoke to Mr Jordin's wife before his old crew mate was put on the phone.

"That's the first time we had spoken for 64 years," said Mr Faircloth.

"I had a job to speak to him, I was really filled right up. I shed a tear."

The two men met up on Sunday for a meal at a pub near Warrington.

They had not seen each other since their Lancaster bomber - Avro Lancaster III - was shot and they had to bail out into the dark skies above Paris in June 1944.

Neither Mr Faircloth or Mr Jordin knew what had happened to each other after they left the plane - until Sunday.

Mr Jordin said: "I landed actually in someone's back yard. It was cobbled and not a very good place to land really."

Members of the Lancaster bomber crew
The crew of the Lancaster bomber had to bail out after it was shot.

After walking for an hour he saw a cottage with a light on.

"I went an knocked on the door," he said.

"The door opened a crack and an old lady inside saw my uniform, whipped me inside.

"There was a little noise the other end of the room and Mike Guilfoyle the pilot [of the Lancaster bomber] walked in which I thought was quite amazing considering I had been walking for an hour.

"I was the first out at the back, he was the last out at the front and we ended up in the same cottage."

He then made contact with the French Resistance but was betrayed and taken to the notorious Gestapo prison in Fresnes.

Dougie Jordin and Leslie Fairloth meet after 64 years
We never knew whether we would meet again and we have, we have - wonderful!
Leslie Faircloth

He was later loaded onto a railway cattle trucks and taken to the Buchenwald concentration camp, where he remained until the end of the war in 1945.

Meanwhile, Mr Faircloth said: "I was a bit luckier than Dougie. My schoolboy French came in handy.

"I came across this old couple working on a veg plot after about three days and they welcomed me with open arms when I introduced myself."

He was interrogated by a woman who took his passport photograph.

"A couple of days later a police inspector turned up which was a bit worrying but he handed me a French identity card - I was now a Jean Henri Le Paul - and a travel card and wished me 'bon chance'," said Mr Faircloth.

After a few adventures, including escaping from some German soldiers, he walked over the Pyrenees into Spain.

There he was captured by Spanish troops and put into prison in Figueras. He was freed by the British consulate and returned to the UK from Gibralter.

After the two men caught up and shared their memories, they vowed not to leave it so long before meeting up again.

"We never knew whether we would meet again and we have, we have - wonderful!" said Mr Faircloth.

"As I say, we're still here to tell the tale."


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