A FORMER bomber pilot who lived in Kendal has died aged 96.

John Ainsworth Brown died peacefully in a hospital near to his final home in Ince-in-Makerfield, Greater Manchester.

Mr Brown was born in Barrow-in-Furness in November 1923. He attended Barrow Grammar School and met late wife Margaret in a chance encounter on the way home from church, aged 16.

During the Second World War, he enrolled in the Royal Air Force and trained on Tiger Moths in Ludlow, Shropshire, then continued his training in Canada.

He wanted to fly fighter planes like his older brother Kenneth - who died during the war - but found he could not handle the g-forces involved, so was destined to become a bomber pilot.

Following further training on a North American B-25 Mitchell in Nassau, the Bahamas, he finally settled with a squadron on a Consolidated B24 Liberator and headed to Iceland.

He was part of RAF Coastal Command and, aboard his Liberator bomber, which was equipped with a Leigh searchlight, was involved in hunting U-boats as well as escort duties with Russian naval convoys.

At the end of the war, his crew was given the final mission of returning home Japanese prisoners of war, an experience which his daughter, Louise Osbon, said he found “harrowing”.

Post-war, he attended the University of Reading and gained a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture. After getting married, Mr Brown moved with his wife to a pig farm at Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, where they had three children.

The couple later moved to East Grinstead, West Sussex, where they had a fourth child. Mr Brown gained a job working for Seemeel, which was eventually taken over by Spillers Farm Feeds. He became a director for the company, working in London.

The couple moved to Greenside, Kendal, in 1987, enabling them to be closer to the Lake District. Mr Brown had a ‘love of the land’ and enjoyed fell walking and cycling. And, sure enough, he and his wife spent many happy days in retirement in the outdoors with their dog. They were also active members of town life, for example as members of the Heversham Bowls Club. They moved to Plumtree Hall, a retirement complex at Heversham, near Milnthorpe, around 10 years ago, and were members of the Plumtree Hall Committee.

Mr Brown paid several visits to RAF Duxford to be reunited with the Liberator bomber. Earlier this year, he also attended Southport Air Show and shared notes with a new generation of pilots. He had four children, seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

“He always said that he was the luckiest man alive,” said daughter Louise.