A toy panda that flew in World War Two’s famous Dambusters raids was a star on the Antiques Roadshow at RAF Coningsby on Sunday (September 20).
The precious heirloom was brought to the RAF base when the show was filmed there earlier this year by Dorothy Bailey, the daughter of Flight Engineer William Gordon Radcliffe.
The toy panda was examined by the BBC One programme’s Arms and Militaria expert Mark Smith, who was delighted to also see photographs and items of Sergeant Radcliffe’s RAF uniform.
Dorothy told Mark how the panda not only flew on the Dams raid of May 16-17 1943, tucked into Sergeant Radcliffe’s boot, but he also flew with Radcliffe in a further 60 operational flights over Germany.
She said: “He kept my father safe throughout the war.”
Mark told her: “He is priceless. He was priceless to your dad, he is priceless to you, he is priceless to the RAF as a member of the Dams crews. He belongs to the nation.”
The valuation of the other items belonging to Flight Engineer William Radcliffe, including his RAF tunic featuring his Distinguished Flying Cross, were kept under wraps were revealed on the programme on Sunday.
During the episode, which went out as the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain was celebrated across the country, presenter Fiona Bruce talked to members of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and took to the air in a Dakota.
Dambusters was an attack on German dams in World War Two carried out by Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron.