WW2 Spitfire pilot from Cornwall is given a replica of his beloved photo after 'devastating' theft

Dr James was given the surprise present by the RAF. Credit: BPM Media

A former Spitfire pilot from Cornwall whose photograph of the plane he flew during the Second World War was stolen has been given a surprise replacement for Christmas.

Dr Edmund James, 98, was devastated when a photo of him flying the iconic aircraft was stolen from his home in Falmouth earlier this year.

This Christmas, thanks to the RAF, Dr James now has a replica of his beloved photograph.

The 98-year-old flew the Spitfire during the Second World War. Credit: BPM Media

The last surviving pilot of his squadron, Dr James was presented with the gift by Wing Commander Marshall Kinnear, Station Commander of RAF St Mawgan at Newquay.

It's almost identical to the one robbed from his home and is signed with a personal message from the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall Sir Mike Wigston, KCB CBE ADC.

Dr James said: "This is such a wonderful surprise, I can't tell you how much it means to have this photo back on my wall next to my medals. The photo was given to me on my wedding day as a present from my squadron colleagues when I was just 19 years old."

The RAF wanted to surprise Dr James with a new photograph after hearing about the upsetting theft in October.

They tracked down a sequence of 16 photos from the Air Historical Branch and successfully found an almost identical match of the shot originally owned by Dr James.

The Air Historical Branch was able to confirm his service during the war using records documenting that he flew the Spitfire over Germany and France with No. 288 Squadron between 1940 and 1946.

The photo is a very close match to the original owned by Dr James. Credit: BPM Media

Sadly the signatures of the airmen who fought with Dr James in the Second World War, and died during service, could not be replaced.

Wg Cdr Kinnear said: "It's a real honour to be able to deliver this photo to such a valued member of our RAF family, particularly as it's just before Christmas, and knowing how much it meant to him."

Also presented to Dr James was a personal letter from Johnny Mercer MP, Minister for Defence People and Veterans, who said: "I was deeply saddened to hear that Dr James' much-loved Spitfire picture had been stolen.

"Dr James has treasured the memento since his service in the Second World War.

"While something so special can never be replaced, we hope that our gift - a picture of the same Spitfire - will bring him some joy this Christmas."

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