Wednesday, January 30, 2013
STAFF from RAF Wyton paid their respects to the UK’s oldest prisoner of war at their former squadron member’s funeral on Friday (January 25).
Alfie Fripp was an observer with 57 Squadron and married Vera Allen three days after Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939.
The squadron, which is based at RAF Wyton, was ordered to France and weeks later the Flight Sergeant’s Bristol Blenheim was shot down by the Luftwaffe while flying air reconnaissance missions over Germany.
Mr Fripp’s family was sent a telegram on October 20, 1939, stating that he had been taken prisoner.
He spent most of the war in captivity in 12 different camps, including Stalag Luft III – the scene of the film classic The Great Escape – leaving days before the mass exodus that saw Mike Casey, the pilot he was shot down with, killed by the Nazis under Adolf Hitler’s orders.
Mr Frippp, pictured far left, also survived the Long March in 1945 when the Germans forced thousands of PoWs from Sagan in Poland to Spremberg in Germany.
After the war, he stayed in the RAF until he retired in 1969 as a Squadron Leader. He later joined the 57 Sqn Association.
Mr Fripp died on January 3, aged 98. His funeral took place at Ruislip Crematorium, Middlesex.
Sqn Ldr Fripp’s daughters led the tributes.
Anne Gibbs said: “Nothing ever got him down, he was a very, very positive man.”
Her sister Sue Dorrell added: “He never bore a grudge or had a bad word to say about anybody, not even the Germans – we even holidayed with one of the German prison guards after the war.”
Robert Fripp, his nephew, said: “Alfie belonged to two families and was a repository of the history of both. His second family was the Royal Air Force, which I believe was as close to his heart as his first family.”
Pat Jackson, whose father Charles Hancock was a prisoner alongside Mr Fripp, said: “Alfie and the others he was with were the unsung heroes of the Second World War. They didn’t know if they would ever see home again but they never gave up the fight.”
Squadron Leader Wes Wesley, 57 (Reserve) Squadron Officer Commanding, led the pallbearers in honour of their RAF forefather.
He said: “It is a privilege to pay our respects to Alfie Fripp. It is important that we remember the contribution and sacrifice that Alfie, and airmen like him, made for this country.
“His legacy is the example he set, one of courage and sheer grit and determination.”