A HUMBLE hero from Cheshire who served in Bomber Command during the Second World War has described being shot down in a bombing raid as simply 'getting on with his job'.

Unassuming Geoff Bushell turns 98 on Armistice Day and shares his memories to pay tribute to the fallen.

"We should remember people who gave their lives to save this country from tyranny by winning the war," said Geoff, from Wilmslow.

After joining the RAF at 17, he became a flight engineer and is only alive today thanks to his parachute.

On March 24, 1944, he was shot down half an hour's flight time from Berlin.

"A night fighter attacked us and set our starboard inner engine on fire," said Geoff. "We were unable to extinguish the fire and it was blazing fiercely so the captain decided to abandon the aircraft.

"I went over to the escape hatch, the rest of the crew couldn't open it. I nudged them aside, opened it and we bailed out.

"It wasn't brave, we had to get out. If you didn't get out you'd die.

"We had a job to do and we just got on with it."

Geoff landed in two foot of snow near Erfurt and sneaked onto a goods train.

"A signal man must have seen me because the train stopped and Germans pointed rifles at me," he said. "I was taken to an interrogation centre. An officer said if you don't answer my questions I can have you taken out and shot as a spy."

Northwich Guardian:

Geoff Bushell was held captive as a prisoner of war for 13 months


After travelling on cattle trucks for five nights to Barth in Pomerania, in the north west of Stettin on the Baltic, Geoff spent 13 months as a prisoner of war. "We were very hungry and lost weight," he said. "We lived day by day. You had to be positive or you wouldn't survive."

Following liberation by the Russians, he returned to England and became a warrant officer, escorting VIPs in Dakotas.

"We flew Churchill to Malta," he said. "He was blunt and quite gruff."

Working for British European Airways at Liverpool Airport, he met his wife Estelle who was in reservations.

Love blossomed after their first date eating chocolates in the cinema and the couple married in 1949.

Sadly, Estelle died recently, a day before their 72nd wedding anniversary.

"I wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for Estelle," said Geoff. "She looked after me and cossetted me.

"It was a good partnership."

Northwich Guardian:

Geoff Bushell proud to wear his caterpillare badge awarded to aviators whose lives were saved by a parachute


Geoff rejoined the RAF and proudly remembers joining a flypast over Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Queen's birthday in June 1952.

"I was in a Shackleton escorted by a Spitfire and a Hurricane, it was lovely," he said.

Geoff says he feels privileged to have led such a rewarding, healthy life.

"I am just lucky, my genes must be good," he said. "I don't feel any different than I did 15 years ago.

"I sleep well and eat well. I'm just an ordinary man living life and getting on with it.

"I am very fortunate to have reached the age of 98 and still able to enjoy life."