James Chambers, a 100-year-old resident from Balhousie Coupar Angus care home, took a team from BBC Scotland on a journey 80 years into the past as he shared his memories of his time in the RAF during WW2.
James shared his story with Louise Cowie from BBC Scotland’s The Nine on a visit to Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre which is home to an Avro Anson aircraft which is being restored, one of only a handful of the WW2 planes left in the world. By coincidence, James helped build these planes while in the RAF during the war.
Born in Dundee in 1919, James joined the war effort in 1940 where he became a mechanic in the RAF. He was posted to Winnipeg in Canada where he helped building many fighter planes including the Avro Anson.
Balhousie Coupar Angus Activities Coordinator Doris Scott organised for James to visit the museum last summer around his 100th birthday after realising the connection James had to the aircraft on display. When visiting, James was able to provide volunteers with details about the Avro Anson that they could never find out themselves.
James said: “I quite enjoyed working on it. They were awfully dirty things. Oil leaks everywhere but you had to put up with that. It has the reputation of being a very stable aircraft. It would fly hands off and stay like that as long as there was fuel in the tank.”
Doris added: “It was lovely to be able to bring James once again to Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre to visit the Avro Anson and meet with the BBC and the volunteers who love hearing James’ stories from his work on the aircraft during WW2. James has a remarkable memory for someone of his age so it is wonderful for him to be able to share his knowledge at the museum. He always thoroughly enjoys his visits.”
James grew up on Blackness Road in Dundee where his father ran a newsagents with a lending library and his mother opened her own chemist shop. After the war, James returned to Dundee and became a pioneering plant pathologist working at the James Hutton Institute until retirement.