On 6th June 2006, 62 years to the day, D-Day veteran Flight Lieutenant Charley Fox, DFC and bar, RCAF Ret’d returned to Tangmere. Charley was in a party from Canada on a tour of WW II sites in England.
On 6th June the party visited the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth and then came to the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum, which is based on the former RAF airfield.
Charley held the rest of his party, and the Museum staff, enthralled with his stories of life as a Spitfire pilot with 412 Squadron, 126 Wing, particularly when he was based at Tangmere.
On 6th June 1944 Charley flew three operational sorties over the Normandy beachhead from Tangmere. Along with the rest of his squadron he moved to Normandy a few days later and continued to operate from there. The squadron moved with the flow of battle and ended the war in Holland. Charley has a further claim to fame – he was the Spitfire pilot who shot up Rommel’s car, causing the vehicle to crash. Rommel was injured and took no further part in the Normandy campaign.
Charley had brought along his log book and was able to give quite a bit of detail on many other stories, such as the time his compatriot who, despite calls to refrain, shot at one of the first Meteors near Manston, in the mistaken belief it was a Me262, the first German operational jet; he never having been warned that the RAF also had a twin-engined jet fighter!
Charley could hardly wait to get his hands on the Museum’s Spitfire simulator. He enjoyed “flying” again a Mk IX from Tangmere and his audience watched with admiration as he once again demonstrated his piloting skills.
The party were due to go to the Imperial War Museum, the RAF Memorial at Runnymede and other historic places. A flight for Charley in the two-seat Spitfire at Duxford was also to feature in the tour. Nevertheless, he said the visit to Tangmere was the high point of his visit to England.