The RAF Association is sad to learn of the death of Bomber Command veteran Cecil Chandler (96), who was honoured by the French Government for his involvement in the D-Day landings.
Cecil, a member of the RAF Association’s Alton branch in Hampshire for over 20 years, joined the RAF at the age of 18. He was a flight engineer on Stirlings and Lancasters with 15 Squadron, and later with 622 Squadron.
He completed 28 operations, including a raid on Dusseldorf in Germany in April 1944, which resulted in the death of two crew and a crash landing back in England.
Speaking in an interview with the Association’s Air Mail magazine in 2019, Cecil said: “I was scared every time except for one. That was when we were on the raid over Dusseldorf and were hit. Two of the men were killed, and we were being attacked by a fighter. I was too busy to be afraid.”
Just a few weeks after the Dusseldorf operation, Cecil was part of the airborne support for the June 6 1944 Normandy D-Day landings, for which he was later awarded the Legion d’honneur in recognition of his ‘acknowledged military engagement and steadfast involvement in the Liberation of France’.
After the war, Cecil, known as ‘Pop’ to his friends and family, returned home to Hampshire. Quickly realising that civilian life wasn’t for him, he went back to the RAF and, until his retirement, enjoyed postings in the UK, Germany and France.
Cecil, who died on 31 March, was laid to rest after a small service in the cemetery in his home village of Alton. His family hopes to hold a celebration of his life next year, subject to the Government’s COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings being eased.
Jim Jeffery, Alton branch member and Cecil’s friend, said:
“Cecil was held in the highest esteem among all the members of the branch. To us, he was the epitome of a fading generation, the likes of which will not be seen again”.
Cecil is pictured meeting the then Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, during the 2019 D-Day 75 commemorations. Picture: copyright MOD/Crown.