September 27th, 2016

Bromsgrove veteran reunited with the pilot he flew with in World War Two

Updated: 10:55 am, May 07, 2015

A BROMSGROVE veteran who flew with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War as been reunited with his pilot, thanks to a member of staff at his nursing home.

Barney Job, 92, who is originally from Canada but now lives at Heathbrook House Nursing Home, was a navigator during the conflict and was awarded a host of medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).

His award was one of only 247 to be bestowed to Canadians in the Second World War for ‘acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty’.

After finding out from the local vicar that Barney was a decorated war veteran, Heathbrook House’s senior activity co-ordinator Gail Bessent started researching his life.

She found information about him in a book which told his story and even featured a picture of him with the pilot – Jack Philips – who he used to fly with and almost died with.

Despite having dementia, when Barney was shown the photograph, he instantly said ‘me and Jack’ and it was that which provided Gail with a clue and the inspiration into tracing his former comrade.

She contacted the author of the book and found out Jack was also in his 90s and was living in Canada.

Barney has always valued his time with the Royal Canadian Air Force and in the 1980s he visited Canada with his first wife for a reunion with some of his fellow Canadian airmen, including Jack. He visited again in 2000 after the death of his first wife, but then lost contact with Jack and had not been in contact with him until Gail traced him.

Now the pair regularly correspond – Gail reads Jack’s emails to Barney and keeps Jack updated on what he has been up to.

Amazingly, Barney’s family knew nothing about the book.

Douglas Job, Barney’s son, said: “I’m so grateful to Gail and everyone at Heathbrook House for going the extra mile and taking the time and effort to look into my father’s past.

“His emotional tie with the Canadian Air Force, and in particular Jack who he almost died with, is so deep that despite having dementia he always reacts to Jack’s name.”

Gail said: “When I first started looking into Barney’s past I never imagined that I would be able to put him in touch with Jack but I was determined to find out as much as I could about his role in the war.

“There are some fantastic stories and individuals at Heathbrook House and I think it’s important that they’re all recorded and shared as much as possible.”

Barney with Gail Bessent at Heathbrook House and (left) Barney and Jack during their service with the Royal Canadian Air Force. s