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Tributes paid to ex-Spitfire pilot Tony Cooper who has died aged 100

PUBLISHED: 19:00 06 February 2017 | UPDATED: 17:53 07 February 2017

Spitfire pilot Tony Cooper after receiving a medal from France for his service during the Second World War. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Spitfire pilot Tony Cooper after receiving a medal from France for his service during the Second World War. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

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Tributes have been paid to a former Spitfire fighter pilot, who died just days before his 101st birthday.

Spitfire pilot Tony Cooper with his plane.Spitfire pilot Tony Cooper with his plane.

Tributes have been paid to a former Spitfire fighter pilot, who died just days before his 101st birthday.

As a flight lieutenant in 64 Squadron, Tony Cooper flew the Spitfire on all 38 of its operational sorties and survived five forced landings – one of which came as a result of being hit by enemy fire.

Amazingly, he escaped with just a bump on his head when his Spitfire crashed in Belgium in 1944.

Notably he flew on D-Day as part of an aircraft formation providing fighter cover for Utah beach and Omaha beach.

Spitfire pilot Tony Cooper with his plane.Spitfire pilot Tony Cooper with his plane.

A popular member of the Rotary Club of Lowestoft, Mr Cooper, died aged 100 on January 26 at Ritson Lodge Care Home in Hopton-on-Sea.

Doris Day, who was Mr Cooper’s partner for nearly 20 years, said: “He was a real gentleman and a true Rotarian.

“He was very special to a lot of people, as he always cared and looked out for others – he was just amazing.

“Tony was very unique and one of the wittiest men with such a great sense of humour and was always full of laughter.”

Tony Cooper. PHOTO: Nick ButcherTony Cooper. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Born on February 6, 1916, Mr Cooper was 21 when he was accepted for pilot training in the RAF Volunteer Reserve at Luton.

Following progression onto a flying instructor’s course, he was posted to Canada in 1940, where he met his wife of 56 years Pearl Cooper, and his last sortie in the RAF was in June 1945, after which he returned to Lowestoft, where he was the fifth generation to work at W.B Cooper LTD.

Flt lt Cooper was awarded the Légion d’honneur medal from France, in 2015, for his services during the Second World War.

Barry Scaplehorn, president of the Rotary Club of Lowestoft, said: “Tony was a gentleman in person and in mind and in every way possible – he treated everyone with such respect. He will be a great loss to the Rotary Club and to the whole of Lowestoft.”

PHOTO: Nick ButcherPHOTO: Nick Butcher

Mr Cooper leaves his partner Ms Day, his children Alison Bond and Peter Cooper, along with five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

His funeral will be held on February 24 at 1.30pm in St Marks Church, Oulton Broad.

TRIBUTES

Mr Cooper’s daughter Alison Bond, 66, said: “He had a zest for life and as a father he was just fun. As a child and young girl he was just fun to be with and when I was at school he would come to pick me up and everybody would want to speak to him as he was so outgoing.

“He was somebody to look up to and we were very proud of him. We were lucky to have him as he was a fantastic father.”

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