JOCK Christie has passed away peacefully aged 94, leaving his wife Eve, sons Robert and Arthur, grandsons Paul and James, and great grand-daughter Annabel.

He was a man of courage. One of the last survivors of the World War II RAF serving as a rear gunner in Bomber Command.

He volunteered at 18, following in the footsteps of his elder brother Bert, and in 1943 was posted on operations with 50 Squadron to an airfield in East Anglia from where the legendary Dambusters took to the air. The urgency for seven- man crews, meant the selection process was swift, and their destiny was “to live or die together”. He felt privileged to fly with a “Band of Brothers” whose chances of survival between 1943 and 1945, were slim..

As a rear gunner, it was not only the most uncomfortable position it was also the most dangerous, and the responsibility to protect his crew from fighter planes, was all too real. The news that his brother had been killed was devastating, but Jock went on to fly 33 more missions, after which he could have stood down as a Flying Officer.

However his captain had other ideas and Jock was asked to fly three more missions in an aerial photographic team. They filmed the last raid of WWII over what was known as Hitler’s Nest, and it was on this operation that the last Lancaster crew was shot down. Jock’s aircraft survived.

The cold temperatures in his cramped turret, the possibility of collision, the glare of searchlights, the painful sight of other Lancasters being shot down and, on return to base, the hosing down of the turret of a lost gunner were part of military life.

He was proud that his claim to fame was representing the RAF as a boxer in the Inter Forces final at the Albert Hall that was broadcast on the radio.

In 1953 Jock went to seek adventure in Canada. In Vancouver, workers from all across Europe were being recruited, and welcomed by the aluminium company of Canada (Alcan) to build a new town in the Northern Territories of British Columbia. Conditions were harsh. Construction of a new town - Kitimat - meant working all hours in snow, rain, and mud. But it was boomtime, and he set up a trucking business. It was in Kitimat that he met and married Eve, who had herself migrated from Winchester. But in the late 1950s, recession hit, so in 1960 Jock and Eve came back to Winchester.

For a couple of years Jock worked with his in-laws (Arthur and Eva Young) at the Crown and Anchor opposite the Guildhall, and then took over a struggling pub called the King Alfred in Hyde. It was a risk, but they transformed it into a huge success. New Year’s Eve celebrations were legendary. A bagpiper would pipe in the haggis and the bar would overflow into the street. The pub was described in the Good Beer Guide as “ all that a pub should be”. In 1990, after 20 years, they retired.

Jock was a member of the Winchester Golf Club, and his own King Alfred Golfing Society. He had been chairman of the Licensed Victuallers Society, and he and Eve raised thousands of pounds for charity.

Those who knew him will remember him as a kind, charming, courageous gentleman. He had a wicked, but gentle sense of humour and always saw the best in people. For those who knew him, and for those who’s lives he touched, he will be sadly missed.