RAF Bomber Command veteran and dedicated Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial Museum volunteer Gerry Abrahams has sadly died aged 99.
Gerry, who last month announced his retirement from volunteering at the museum and helping visitors navigate the Spitfire simulator, was born in London and served in the RAF’s Bomber Command (75(NZ) Squadron) during the Second World War in Europe.
He served in 31 operations with 75 (New Zealand) Sqn over Nazi Germany, including a bombing mission where one of his aircraft engines got shot away by the Luftwaffe. He later became a Bomber Command Instructor. He also flew during the Berlin Air Lift in the Cold War.
Gerry had a distinguished career as a pilot post war, particularly with Invicta Airways out of Manston. One of the planes he flew as a civilian pilot is still on display at IWM Duxford.
The keen golfer and photographer, who was also an internet and social media whizz, had been an active fundraiser for the Manston-based museum by organising quizzes, veterans signings and helping out at events.
In a tribute on the Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial Museum social media page, it says: “It is our sad duty to pass on the news that Museum stalwart Gerry Abrahams has passed away following a short illness aged 99.
“Gerry was a proud veteran of RAF Bomber Command, having served 31 operations with 75 (New Zealand) Sqn in the Spring of 1945.
“Post war, Gerry became a commercial pilot and took part in the Berlin Airlift, one of the largest humanitarian operations of the 20th Century.
“He had a successful flying career with a number of airlines, finally retiring in 1968 from Invicta Airways based at RAF Manston. During this time, he had amassed over 32,000 flying hours on over 20 different aircraft types.
“Following his retirement from flying, he took over Station Garage in Birchington and enjoyed many happy years in the motor trade.
“Gerry was always keen to help others and devoted many years to charity work with Rotary and latterly with the Museum, having joined the team aged 88 in 2012.
“During his time at the Museum Gerry was keen to improve the visitor experience and better engage visitors of all ages. His proudest achievement was developing the The Manston Spitfire Experience alongside his close friend and fellow veteran Ron Dearman.
“He trained a team of instructors and spearheaded the fundraising campaign.
“Gerry continued flying occasionally but chose to finish his amazing career with a complimentary flight in Spitfire MJ627 at Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar aged 97.
“Gerry was always keen to encourage his fellow volunteers and was a truly inspirational colleague who was young at heart and never afraid to try something new.
“The volunteers will continue with their fundraising efforts to bring a Lancaster Cockpit Section to the museum as Gerry wished to ensure that there was a memorial to Bomber Command within the Museum.
“He will be sorely missed by all at the museum and our thoughts and condolences are with his family at this sad time.
“Blue Skies Gerry, thanks for the memories.”
To make sure Gerry’s wish for a lasting memorial to Bomber Command becomes a reality museum volunteers have pledged £26,000 between them and have launched a fundraiser for £19,000 so an authentic, interactive Lancaster Cockpit section can be installed at the Museum in 2023.