100 Year Old WWII Veteran Takes To The Skies In WWII Biplane

Source: Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia

Cliff Crozier, a veteran of WWII, turned one hundred years old on the 6th of September 2015, in a little town near Liverpool in England.

Friends and family attended a 100th birthday celebration party, held on the 5th September in his honour. Even the Mayor and Mayoress of the local town attended. In a speech, Mr Crozier outlined his interesting and varied life, including his WWII experiences.

On the 6th a smaller, private, family occasion was held, where he received his birthday gifts. Perhaps the highlight of those gifts was a journey down memory lane – in the form of a flight on a WWII Tiger Moth bi-plane!

Will Flanagan, the flight instructor, was most impressed with Mr Crozier’s ability to get in and out of the cockpit without aid and was proud to be taking his oldest ever passenger on this memorable flight. He could hardly believe that such a spritely gentleman could be 100 years old. The Tiger Moth bi-plane flew over the Derbyshire Dales and Mr Crozier was so pleased to have taken control of the plane for a time – just as he did in 1942. After landing at the Darley Moor Airfield near Ashbourne, Mr Crozier said that it had brought back so many memories and exclaimed: “it was very exciting!”

He was offered a flight in another WWII bi-plane, a Boeing Stearman (a restored 1943 US Military Plane), which he accepted with alacrity. He thoroughly enjoyed that too but felt that while the Stearman’s performance was impressive, the Tiger Moth gave a pilot the better view.

Mr Crozier was a young teacher had always been interested in flying and so joined the Territorial Army. When the war broke out (1939) he was posted to the Second Brigade’s Searchlight Regiment where he became an officer and was involved in both searchlight observation and co-ordination of radar. He mostly did this work from Tiger Moths but ended up flying in some different bombers as well. He was promoted to captain, commanded an infantry battalion and served as an intelligence officer. He soon found himself posted to Cherbourg in France, later to Antwerp in Belgium and finally to Germany. He was here when the war came to an end.

When he returned from the war, he began teaching again and also took up with the Territorial Army once more. He remained a stalwart member for 45 years. He married, had a family and worked as the headmaster of a local school, where he stayed until retirement.

But Mr Crozier was far too enthusiastic and active a person for a quiet retirement. Over the years, aside from his many interests, he travelled widely, in the USA and Europe, and in the east, visiting China, India, Thailand and Malaysia.

At the age of 99, he was nominated for the Adult Learner’s Award of 2015. He wanted to master more modern technology and so enrolled himself on the ‘Using the Internet’ course at the local library. He found, to his amusement, that his course tutor was none other than Keith Even-Jones, one of his erstwhile pupils. Impressed that Mr Crozier believed learning new skills kept one’s mind active, the tutor said of him; “He is an inspiration. He is living proof that you’re never too old to learn something new.”

Now that Mr Crozier has reached his 100th birthday – do you imagine that he will settle down to a quiet life? It certainly does not seem so – for, besides his birthday-gift flights in the Tiger Moth and the Seaman bi-planes, he received two more tickets. This time, he and his daughter, Carolyn, are to visit New York and Canada. He is off on his travels once more!

Bon Voyage Mr Crozier!

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE