North West Wales

Caernarfon RAF flypast for World War One pilot hero

Hawk RAF jet

An RAF flypast has marked 100 years since a Gwynedd man won a Victoria Cross through his actions on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

On 1 July 1916, Gp Capt Lionel Rees, of the Royal Flying Corps, fought an enemy force that outnumbered him eight to one.

A Hawk Jet from RAF Valley flew over his hometown, Caernarfon, at 12:00 BST.

At 11:45, a memorial paving stone was also unveiled at his birthplace on Castle Street.

Events to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme are taking place around Wales.

Mr Rees was the only Gwynedd man to win a Victoria Cross during World War One, with 628 given out in total.

The airman was on flying duties at Double Crassieurs, France, when he was attacked by German bombers.

He was able to disperse them, seriously damaging two, and despite being shot in the leg and temporarily losing control of his plane, he managed to land it safely.

Following World War One, Mr Rees sailed single-handedly from Wales to Nassau in the Bahamas, where he died in 1955, aged 71.

Air officer for Wales, Air Cmdr Dai Williams, will join Gwynedd councillors for the flypast.

Councillor Ioan Thomas said it was "extremely important" that the council paid tribute to all the Gwynedd men who fought in the war.

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