Tributes paid to 'hero' Romford RAF Bomber Command veteran Harry Irons
PUBLISHED: 16:54 16 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:10 20 November 2018
A former Bomber Command rear gunner who lied about his age so he could join the RAF during the Second World War died in Romford last week.
Harry Irons died at the age of 94 on Saturday, November 10.
The RAF veteran used his brother’s papers so he could sign up to fight in 1940, at the age of 16.
He became a rear gunner with No 9 Squadron and he completed an amazing 60 operational sorties over Europe. He also flew Halifaxes with 158 Squadron.
In a previous interview with the Recorder about his experiences, Harry said: “Not many chaps survived more than three or four trips, so I consider myself very lucky.”
Nicky Barr, chief executive at the International Bomber Command Centre described Harry as a “cheeky, funny man”.
She said: “Harry was very passionate about fighting for recognition for veterans.
“He was a complete hero.”
Nicky said that the centre will be adding a stone with Harry’s name on it to their Ribbon of Remembrance which connects the Chadwick Centre to the Memorial Spire framing the Memorial Avenue.
The stones are for those who served or supported the Command’s operations are remembered and honoured whether lost during the war or since.
Sharon Handley, Melanie Bowen and their colleages served Harry at the Natwest Bank branch in Collier Row for more than nine years.
“He was a larger than life character and so funny, he used to brighten our day,” said Sharon.
“We were very sad to hear he has passed away. Harry was a true gentleman he always said to us ‘see ya kid’.”
In 2007 Harry started a campaign for a permanent memorial to Bomber Command in Green Park.
After years of trying, Harry and fellow veterans saw their dreams realised when a multimillion-pound sculpture was unveiled in June in 2012.
The RAF donated aircraft and staff to the ceremony which took place before members of the Royal Family.
Author and former RAF navigator flight lieutenant John Nicol tweeted that Harry was “a real gent with a roguish attitude to life”.
Harry’s funeral will take place on November 28.