War hero involved in iconic Dambusters raid still does weekly food shop - at 105

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A war hero involved in the iconic Dambusters raid is still doing his weekly food shop - at the remarkable age of 105.


Frederick Vinecombe has all of his own teeth, doesn't take any medication - and claims to feel just 25.

Frederick Vinecombe has all of his own teeth, doesn't take any medication - and claims to feel just 25.

Frederick Vinecombe has all of his own teeth, doesn't take any medication - and claims to feel just 25.

The amazing veteran survived being shot out of the sky and a concentration camp during the Second World War.

He was gunned down over France before being captured and taken as a prisoner of war to Buchenwald near Weimar, Germany.

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But he lasted through both of those ordeals and now lives happily in Plymouth, Devon - where he's particularly fond of popping out to the shops.

The amazing veteran survived being shot out of the sky and a concentration camp during the Second World War.

The amazing veteran survived being shot out of the sky and a concentration camp during the Second World War.

Daughter Denise Williams, 67, said: "He is just incredible for his age - he's in very good health.

"If I'm sat here sometimes he'll say have you got your car outside and he'll say how about a trip, why don't we go down to the supermarket.

"He's always up for that."

Frederick, known as Fred, credits his long life to his job as a tax collector for keeping him active, behaving himself and eating a healthy diet.

He said: "I kept out of trouble. I was doing a [tax] collection job, I worked until I was 80.

"We always had green stuff, the food was really good, nothing half-cooked.

"She [his wife] didn't seem to fry much, we had a good roast Sundays, and Monday we had a nice dinner."

Fred was born in 1914.

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He served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a flight sergeant during World War Two.

He was shot down over France during his six-and-a-half years in the air force and captured and spending time in the concentration camp.

He then went on to work for a clothing club after the war before being taken on by Batten Finance at the age of 65.

He continued to work there until he was 80, when he was forced to retire as his eyesight had deteriorated.

He now lives at an assisted living facility and suffers from macular degeneration - a hereditary condition - which affects his sight.

Denise said: "He's never wanted people to know too much that had gone on in the past, but as he's got older, I think he's quite enjoying it.

"Now people are aware of what went on during the war, people have got the knowledge they're coming up to him and talking about it.

"He's able to talk back, it looks like he's enjoying it, he is enjoying it."

Fred celebrated his 105th birthday on December 16 surrounded by family and friends and a military choir.

Denise said: "He really enjoyed it. He's tapping his foot, whistling along with the songs and clapped between every break. He loved it.

"Then we had a birthday cake and he blew out the candles, all the residents were here, he had a really, really good day, but he was tired.

"He was in bed by 6.15pm. He's really, really well.

"There's been no difference in the last few years. He's still not on any medication, he's still independently living with assistance."

War sites online show that Fred was in the crew of Lancaster KB727.

It also confirms that the KB727 was shot down by a fighter reported to be a Ju88 in the early hours of the morning on July, 5, 1944.

It details how Fred and his colleagues were first held in the overcrowded Frenes Prison, "a hideous place with even worse conditions".

It is thought that Fred is now the only surviving member of the crew - and could be one of the oldest living members of Bomber Command.

The Dambusters raid - officially known as Operation Chastise - has gone down in history as one of the war's most famous stories.

Purpose-built 'bouncing bombs' were used to target dams in Germany in May 1943 - which then burst and caused catastrophic flooding in some parts.

A post-war film cemented the raid in the nation's popular consciousness - although it did claim more than 1,600 lives.