Tributes to RAF Lancaster bomber veteran from Burnley who spent two years as a POW in Germany
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Mr Stephen Bacon served as a mid-upper gunner on Lancaster bombers during the Second World War, but was captured by the enemy in 1943 when his plane was shot down returning from a bombing raid over Germany.
Incarcerated at the Stalag VIII-B prison near the Czech border, Stephen was one of hundreds of POWs later forced onto the so-called Death March as the Germans emptied their camps ahead of the oncoming Soviet invasion.
After the war, Stephen found work in the weaving sheds of Burnley and Blackburn, and married his sweetheart Alice who sadly died aged just 53 around 50 years ago.
The couple, who were married for 28 years, had one daughter, Marilyn, son-in-law Stuart Mitchell, grandchildren Simon and Helen, and five great-grandchildren.
Stuart said: “Stephen was from the generation that never spoke about their wartime experiences. It was, he said, just something they had to do.
“However, in 2015 Stephen helped with a project to create a place for recognition and remembrance at International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln, which seemed to unearth all his fascinating memories.
“He opened up a lot more then about his wartime experiences, including having to take part in the Death March where he would have to share an Army great coat with two or other men sleeping on freezing cold nights, often in the open air or in barns or bombed out factories. He was a tough old guy certainly.
“Stephen was lucky enough to survive the march and be picked up by American troops somewhere near the Dutch border.”
Mr Bacon served with 12 Squadron, based at RAF Wickenby, in Lincolnshire.
In January 1943, he was captured along with the rest of the seven man crew after parachuting out. The other three Lancaster Bombers and their crew that left Wickenby that night were never found.
Initially it was thought that his crew had also had a similar fate and a memorial service was held in Barton Church. However, it was later announced that the crew had survived. The young airman escaped from working parties at the camp three times only to be re-captured days later.
Two years ago, on his 100th birthday, Mr Bacon was honoured by Burnley Borough Council for his contribution to protecting Britain during its darkest hour.
Loved ones and civic dignitaries, including then Burnley Mayor Coun. Wajid Khan, and councillors Lian Pate and Cosima Towneley gathered presented him with a certificate recognising his acts of heroism during the war.
Born and brought up in Barton-upon-Humber, Stephen was one of 10 children, three did not survive early childhood. He worked in the local brickworks and cycle factory before enlisting with the RAF in 1939. He was based near Blackpool for part of his RAF training, where he met Burnley girl Alice, who was in Blackpool on a short holiday with her cousin, Margaret.
Stuart added: “In his later years, Stephen enjoyed playing dominoes at the General Williams on Manchester Road and walking his dog Sam.
His funeral will be held on Wednesday October 4th at Burnley Crematorium at 11-30am, followed by a wake at Burnley Golf Club.