World War Two RAF fighter pilot celebrates his 100th birthday

RAF veteran Derrick Grubb celebrates his 100 birthday
RAF veteran Derrick Grubb celebrates his 100 birthday (c) Paul Jacobs/

A Second World War Royal Air Force fighter pilot celebrated his 100th birthday on Sunday with friends, family and members of the RAF at the Wickham Estate Vineyard.

The party had a folk band and historic vehicles for centenarian Derrick Grubb who was “amazed and absolutely delighted” with what was put on for him by local charity Project 71.

Derrick, from Havant, was asked what his secret is to getting to 100. “I wish I knew, I’ve always been healthy and lucky,” he said. “The party is amazing, I’m absolutely delighted, so much has happened, I won’t get over it for weeks.”

Squadron leader Derrick Grubb was part of 112 squadron RAF flying Kittyhawks from beaches in Italy during World War Two, joining in 1942. He was shot down and made a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft 7 in Bankau, Poland, entering the POW camp on 6th June 1944, the same day as the D-Day landings began in France.

He later ended up on The Long March when the Russians started advancing and ended up in Luchenwalde where he remained for the rest of the war as a sports officer organising cricket and football matches until liberated by the Americans.

He then stayed in the RAF for another 34 years. From then until retirement he was a burser at a grammar school in Chippenham. His wife Joyce passed away in 2001 having four children, now with six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Air Commodore Simon Harper said: “On behalf of the Royal Air Force it’s a privilege to join Derrick on this very special day, at 100 years it’s a remarkable achievement, had a remarkable career and it’s our pleasure and a privilege to come and join with him and commemorate and celebrate such a special day.”

Words and pictures by Paul Jacobs/