EVERY day for nearly 70 years, Dennis Bartlett silently thanked bomber pilot Bill North for saving his life. The last time he’d seen his Second World War comrade was in July 1944 on a pitch-black hillside in France where Bill crash landed their bullet-ridden Lancaster after a Luftwaffe attack.
Wounded Bill, then 22, bravely decided to down the plane rather than bail out when he learned another crewman’s parachute strap was damaged and he couldn’t jump. The pilot thought Dennis had parachuted out but when the bomber hit the ground, his friend was still on board. The men were captured by the Nazis that night and when they were taken to separate prisoner-of-war camps, Dennis feared he would never see his pal again.