IT really was a case of 'We'll Meet Again' when York World War Two veterans turned up for a pre-VE Day wartime event at the Yorkshire Air Museum.

Among the almost 500 visitors who turned up for the event at the museum last Saturday (May 7) was a man who had been waiting two years to meet wartime flight engineer Douglas Petty, veteran of 31 bombing missions.

"He wanted to speak to him about Halifax bombers!" said Nick Beilby, who helped organise the veterans' visit to the museum.

Douglas, along with fellow veterans Ken Cooke and Sid Metcalfe, plus Gloria Smith, widow of veteran Ken Smith, had all been especially invited to the 'We'll Meet Again' re-enactment day.

And they were naturally the centre of attention. "People really wanted to meet them!" Nick said. "They had a great time!"

While they were there, Douglas was reunited with the Museum’s Handley Page Halifax Bomber, a type in which he flew 29 missions in the Second World War. Ken Cooke, meanwhile, visited the Douglas C47 Dakota to reminisce about his flight home from Germany towards the end of the war.

The three veterans and Gloria were also able to check out a special 'veterans trail' created partly in their honour by Helena Fox - author of the play Bomb Happy - and InkBlot Films.

York Press:

Veteran Douglas Petty examines his panel in the Veterans Trail at the Yorkshire Air Museum

The trail features a series of plaques, each one dedicated to a different veteran. If you zap a QR code, you then get to hear the veterans talking about their wartime exploits.

They make for fascinating stories, says Nick.

Ken Cooke was a Green Howards private who took part in the Normandy landings on Gold Beach on D-Day itself. Douglas flew those 31 bombing missions - 29 of them in a Halifax. And Sid was a driver mechanic with a reconnaissance unit who landed at Sword Beach on D-Day plus 10.

He was subsequently captured by the Germans in Belgium, became a prisoner of war, and was put to work in copper mines, Nick said. He was badly injured when the mine collapsed - but was still able to pursue a career as clerk of works with York council when he returned from the war.

Because of Covid, 'We’ll Meet Again’ was the museum's first big event in more than two years. "It was a 1940’s themed day – with re-enactors, dancers, singers, vintage vehicles and, of course, our Halifax bomber and Dakota transport aircraft," said museum spokesman Jerry Ibbotson. "We had nearly 500 visitors on the day, plus all the re-enactors and contributors.

"But it was a real honour to be able to greet the veterans. We regularly see them here and it’s always a pleasure to host them at the museum."

York Press:

Re-enactors stage a wartime dance at the Yorkshire Air Museum