Wing Commander Donald Perrens DSO OBE DFC MA was a Flight Commander on 208 Sqn in Italy from October 1944 until April 1945. The details of his Spitfire sortie in January 1945, for which he was awarded the DSO, were recorded in our Newsletter of 2016, and are available at this link:
Barbara Carlin, a Carer in a Residential Care Home in Steyning, Sussex, where Donald now lives, contacted us to say that Donald was going to be 100 years old on 1st January 2019. As well as family celebrations on the day, it was planned to hold a party on Friday 4th January. Our ever efficient Webmaster, Neil Meadows, swung into action and approached RAF Swanwick, the nearest RAF unit. On 4th January, I arrived at the Home to meet Barbara, Wg Cdr Gez Currie from Swanwick and his two comrades, Lt Cdr “Digger” Evans RN and Warrant Officer Andy Cracknell, all very smart in their No 1 HD. Also gathered were the other residents of the Home, together with Charlotte, another Carer, who took the photos. Barbara then brought Donald into the party amidst great hurrahs and cheering and lots of good wishes. Donald was on good form, well turned out and certainly sprightly. Best of all, he was proudly wearing his 208 Sqn tie, with the gold Sphinx in pattern. Once we were all equipped with a “glass,” we toasted Donald and his great achievements, before a passionate rendering of “Happy Birthday to You!” The Chef from the Home then appeared with a super, lavishly iced, sponge cake.
Donald was very pleased to see the officers from Swanwick and engaged them in easy conversation. I was also able to chat to Donald and as we looked through Graham Pitchfork’s history of Naval 8/208 Sqn, “Forever Vigilant,” we spoke of the exploits of the Sqn, including his Spitfire sortie in January 1945 for which he was awarded the DSO. He was typically modest and unassuming but very amusing and laughed a lot with us all. He was dismayed that 208 had disbanded and was adamant that something should be done about it immediately! During my time on the Association Committee, as Membership Secretary, Donald had often written to me, but I had never actually met him in person – what a super way to put that right on such a significant and convivial occasion as his 100th Birthday celebration!
This article first appeared in the 2019 Newsletter.
Wg Cdr Donald Perrens 100