AN Ambleside pensioner has made an emotional journey to Holland to stand at the war grave of the daring ‘Dam Buster’ she regarded as her brother.

Vera Newton, 82, made the pilgrimage for the 70th anni-versary of the famous Second World War raids to the village of Den Ham – 10 miles from the German border.

She was there to pay her respects to Flight Lieutenant, Leslie Gordon Knight, who served in the Australian Royal Airforce.

The young airman had regu-larly visited her at her child-hood home in Vicarage Road, Ambleside, during the war. He was also part of the 617 Squadron or ‘Dam Busters’ and took part in one of the famous raids over May 16-17, 1943.

Using Barnes Wallis’ bouncing bombs, he was central to blowing a 230ft hole in Germany’s massive Eder Dam for which he was awarded a Distinguished Service Order (DSO).

Four months after the raid, Les died aged 22 as his plane was shot down over the Nazi-occupied village of Den Ham.

Heroically allowing his crew members to bale out, Les reportedly gave the last man a thumbs up before steering the stric-ken Lancaster away from houses to crash in a field.

Five of the crew made it safely back to England and on the day of the pilot’s funeral, villagers defied Nazi orders not to mourn him by lining the streets in silent protest.

Today in the village, a monument stands to Les, a museum details his life and he is regarded as a saviour.

Mrs Newton, a mother-of-one, who used to work in accounts for Lakeland Ltd, said she had been ‘choked’ by the occasion.

She explained how her mother had met Les’s father while making mun-itions in Barrow during the First World War. He then emigrated to Australia but they main-tained contact.

The two families agreed that his young son could treat their home as his base in England while on leave from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.

Vera was just 12 but remembers him fondly.

“He never drank, smoked or swore. He even gave my mum and dad’s name as his next of kin.”

Vera remembers the day after the Dambusters raid when Les turned up unnanounced.

“He still had on his flying boots and jacket and looked shattered,” she said. “My mother packed him off to bed and no questions were asked.”

As news of the British success on the Eder Dam filtered through, her father broached the sub-ject with the exhausted young bomber pilot.

“When Les got up the following day, Dad asked: ‘Were you on that, son? and all Les said was: ‘Yes Dad’. That was it.”

Despite the emotion of the visit, Mrs Newton said: “It was heart-breaking, but I held back the tears. I am so pleased I had the chance to visit his grave. I’m 82 now and I thought I might not get that chance again.”