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“I’m so proud, he’s my flesh and blood” – War hero Ernie meets great-grandson at reunion

Flight Lieutenant Ernie Holmes DFC, meeting his great-grandson Henry for the first time at Coventry Airport, with Henry's mother Laura, as part of Project Propeller, an annual gathering of World War Two aircrew veterans.
Flight Lieutenant Ernie Holmes DFC, meeting his great-grandson Henry for the first time at Coventry Airport, with Henry's mother Laura, as part of Project Propeller, an annual gathering of World War Two aircrew veterans.

A Perth war hero who is one of the last surviving Lancaster bomber pilots met his great-grandson for the first time at an emotional airfield reunion.

Flight Lieutenant Ernest “Ernie” Holmes, 98, got the chance to cuddle six-month-old Henry during an annual get-together with his Second World War comrades-in-arms.

The event, hosted by Project Propeller, saw around 100 veterans – mostly in their 90s – getting treated like VIPs for the day at Coventry Airport.

This year’s event was especially poignant for Mr Holmes, when he came face-to-face with little Henry.

He said meeting the tot was “simply wonderful” and added: “I am so proud, he is my flesh and blood.”

Mr Holmes said: “I’ve heard a lot about him but this is the first time I’ve met him.”

The baby’s mother Laura Hart, 38, who is Mr Holmes’ grand-daughter and also a retired Army Major, described the first exchange between Henry and her son as “something to be treasured.”

She told the Express And Star newspaper: “Henry is such an observant baby – it is all in his face.

“It is as if he is at an age where he recognises the magnitude of the occasion.”

She added: “Henry is a cheeky little scamp, just like his great grandpa. A good day was had by all.

“I will treasure that moment forever and I look forward to telling Henry about the magnitude of what his great grandpa – and other men of his generation – did.”

The annual reunion is held by Project Propeller, an organisation that brings veterans back together so they can get up close to the aircraft that played such a big role in their lives.

Mr Holmes, who stays at Kincarrathie House, was flown into the airport at Coventry, the former RAF Baginton, by a volunteer as a thank you for his wartime service.

Last year, Mr Holmes made an emotional trip overseas to meet those who helped keep him safe when his plane was gunned down.

He had been on his way home after a night-time bombing raid in Germany when his aircraft came under attack.

The Lancaster crashed over the Netherlands, killing five members of the eight-man crew.

Mr Holmes parachuted to safety and was taken in by farmer Fons van der Heijden, a member of the Dutch resistance.

Speaking about his experiences to the BBC’s Songs of Praise in 2018, Mr Holmes said: “There is no greater love, than he who will give himself for another.”

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