A former chief technical pilot with British Airways – who started his aviation career flying Mosquitos over Nazi Germany – was one of a group of veterans to attend the unveiling of a commemorative statue to WWII Bomber Command last week.

Frank Dell, 88, flew to London in style from his home in Australia after British Airways upgraded him to Club World in recognition of his services to his country and the airline.

The ceremony, which took place on 28 June, saw the unveiling by the Queen of a nine-foot high bronze statue of seven Bomber Command aircrew, as well as a flypast by five RAF Tornados and a Lancaster Bomber dropping poppies over Green Park.

The statue will stand as a lasting memorial to the airmen who lost their lives in the Second World War.

Frank himself narrowly escaped being one of their number when his Mosquito was shot down over the German city of Munster. He succeeded in parachuting to safety but his navigator was less lucky.

“To this day I carry the responsibility for the loss of my navigator and friend Ron Naiff,” he says. “The memorial commemorates the 55,573 from Bomber Command who were lost. It is a tragedy of extraordinary magnitude.”

Frank survived by making his way to occupied Holland in a bid to meet up with the advancing Allied forces.

For weeks he dodged the enemy, by sleeping in barns and walking across fields and through woods in the dead of night.

During this time, he came across one of the first V2 rocket launches aimed at flattening London and heard a train full of Jewish people singing Verdi’s Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves in the middle of the night as their train made its way to a concentration camp.

Cold and wet much of the time, he eventually found refuge in a farmhouse with a Dutch family and joined the Dutch resistance.

For the next few months he used his knowledge of Morse code to guide in air-drops of weapons and he and his fellow members of the Resistance were ordered to generally “make a nuisance of ourselves behind enemy lines”.

After meeting up with the advancing Allied forces, he returned to England and a reunion with his parents.

After the war, he joined British European Airways and, in a career that spanned 30 years, he served as a pilot for BEA, BOAC and finally British Airways.

One of his last jobs before retiring was to fly the Queen on a royal visit to Helsinki, Finland.

Frank meets the Queen on flying her to Helsinki, Finland, on a royal visit