A toy panda that flew on World War Two’s famous Dambusters raids of 16/17 May 1943 will be seen on Antiques Roadshow at RAF Coningsby on Sunday 20 September, 8.00pm, BBC One.
The precious heirloom was brought to RAF Coningsby, when the show filmed there in May, by Dorothy Bailey, the daughter of Flight Engineer William Gordon Radcliffe.
The toy panda was examined by Antiques Roadshow Arms and Militaria expert Mark Smith who was delighted to also see photographs and items of Sergeant Radcliffe’s RAF uniform.
Dorothy told Mark Smith how the panda not only flew on the Dams raid tucked into Sergeant Radcliffe’s boot, he also flew with Radcliffe in a further 60 operational flights over Germany. “He kept my father safe throughout the War,” said Dorothy.
Regarding the valuation of the mascot, Mark Smith said:
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, will be revealed on the programme on Sunday.
During the programme, going out in the week that the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain is celebrated across the county, Fiona talks to members of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight which is based at RAF Coningsby, and she takes to the air in a Dakota.
Also featured in the programme are an American Civil War coat found in a skip, and a pair of earrings bought in an Australian charity shop for A$10 that are tested by expert Susan Rumfitt to find out if they are real diamonds…
Antiques Roadshow from RAF Coningsby is on BBC One, Sunday 20 September. The clip can be viewed here www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p032p02j.