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War hero Ray Johnston celebrates 100th birthday in Bourne

Retired RAF squadron leader Ray Johnston celebrated his 100th birthday last week.

The centenarian was born in Bristol and after working as a baker and barman, Ray joined the Royal Air Force aged 18 and then enjoying a distinguished career that took him all over the world.

His wartime service included being seconded to a Canadian Squadron, arriving in France the day after D-Day, with the squadron providing support just ten miles behind the front line.

Ray Johnston with four generations of his family at his 100th Birthday Party- Waltersphoto (16309410)
Ray Johnston with four generations of his family at his 100th Birthday Party- Waltersphoto (16309410)

The RAF aircraft fitter also experienced postings including Egypt, Rhodesia, Jordan, Cyprus, Libya, France and Belgium.

Ray's loyal service saw him receive an MBE in 1970.

On retiring from the RAF in 1972, he then joined SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), based in Belgium, where he was responsible for military transport.

By this time, Ray was a father of three children, having met and married wife Doris in Gloucestershire, who died in 2006.

The couple lived on RAF bases around the country, including RAF Cottesmore, RAF Wittering and RAF Cranwell.

Eventually, in 1959, Ray bought a house in Eastgate, Deeping St James, though he did not get to enjoy it full-time until he retired in 1980.

There, Ray enjoyed a large garden, growing all his own vegetables, he kept bees and regularly sailed on Rutland Water until he was aged in his early 90s.

In January 2018, he then moved to Wood Grange Care Home, which hosted his 100th birthday celebrations on Saturday, featuring around 40 family and friends.

Ray actually turned 100 the day before and two days prior to that, he and several friends from Wood Grange went to the Lincolnshire Aviation Centre in East Kirby to relive his wartime experiences and see its Lancaster Bomber.

Ray's son Ray Johnston, who lives in Empingham, said of his father: "He's had an amazing and varied life in the armed forces and when he worked for NATO afterwards."

"During the war, he operated out of grass fields and lived in tents and was mentioned in despatches."

Now, the grandfather of seven children, and five great-grandchildren, Ray enjoys an active social life in Wood Grange, taking part in its quizzes.

Daughter-in-law Ros Johnston added: "He's so well cared for there."

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