Lincolnshire

Dambusters' panda which flew on WW2 raids is 'priceless'

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Image caption The toy panda flew on World War Two's Dambuster raids on 16/17 May 1943, the BBC Antiques Roadshow expert was told

A toy panda which flew on World War Two Dambusters raids has been described as "priceless".

Flt Sgt William Gordon Radcliffe also took the mascot on 60 operational flights over Germany, his daughter Dorothy Bailey said.

She took the mascot, which she said "kept my father safe throughout the war", to a special Antiques Roadshow held at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

Militaria expert Mark Smith said the panda "belonged to the nation".

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Image caption Dorothy Bailey, the daughter of Flt Engineer William Gordon Radcliffe, said the mascot flew on the Dams raid tucked into her father's boot

Ms Bailey said the panda flew on the Dambuster raids tucked into her father's boot, "which is why one ear is not as good as the other, all worn down".

"The pilot knew about him [panda] as well, so he was a mascot for everybody I think," she said.

"He kept them all safe... he's priceless to me and my family.

"He's been everywhere where I haven't been, and now I get to keep him safe."

Mr Smith, who also looked at photographs and items of Sgt Radcliffe's RAF uniform, said: "He is priceless."

He added: "He was priceless to your dad, he is priceless to you, he is priceless to the RAF as a member of the Dams crews."

Other items belonging to Flt Sgt Radcliffe included his RAF tunic, featuring his Distinguished Flying Cross.

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Image caption A photograph of some of the men who went on the Dambusters raid in 1943

The BBC Antiques Roadshow was held at the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, based at RAF Coningsby, to mark the 75th anniversary of the battle.

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.

BBC Antiques Roadshow at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire can be seen on Sunday at 20:00 BST on BBC One.

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