Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Portsmouth wartime 'flying boffin' seeks recognition

Lancaster bomber
Image caption RAF planes had to be tested before combat operations

A so-called World War II "flying boffin" has had his call for official recognition backed by an MP.

Terry Heffernen, 83, from Copnor, Portsmouth, was in a small group of civil servants testing aircraft before they entered service.

Mr Heffernen is now calling for an official award for wartime scientists.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said she supported marking the "tremendous courage and sacrifices many civilians made".

Air superiority

During his career as a Ministry of Defence test assessor, Mr Heffernen flew more than 750 hours in 50 different aircraft.

Mr Heffernen recalled: "Within a few minutes of getting off the bus outside the airbase, you could be upside down at 20,000 feet in a Mosquito [fighter]."

Mr Heffernen said that without their expertise and hours of hazardous test flights, the RAF might never have won air superiority over the Luftwaffe.

Nine of Mr Heffernen's colleagues were killed on test flights, but unlike the military personnel who died alongside them, they received no official funeral or honours.

Mr Heffernen's MP Penny Mordaunt has written to Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, to ensure the scientists "get the credit they deserve".

While the work of the Bevin Boys miners and Bletchley Park code-breakers have been officially recognised in recent years, Mr Heffernen said it was "high time" the civil servants received government recognition for their sacrifice.

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