HE COMES from a family with an outstanding record of service to the RAF – and today he will open a village fete.

Hampshire pensioner Bernard Ennis, known as Bunny, was one of four brothers who took to the skies during the Second World War after following in their father’s footsteps.

Two of the brothers were killed on active service and Bunny almost died after his plane was shot down.

The sprightly 93-year-old, who has agreed to open today's Marchwood Village Fete, joined the RAF aged 17 in 1943 and spent six months with coastal command as part of his wartime service.

New Forest Post:

He was a rear gunner aboard a Sunderland flying boat and “tidied the old girl up every night” as well as flying combat missions.

In 1945 his aircraft was on a U-boat patrol over the Bay of Biscay when it was shot down.

He and five of his fellow airmen spent 24 hours in a dinghy before being rescued. The other six members of the crew were killed in the crash.

The previous year one of Bunny’s brothers, Squadron Leader Anthony Ellis, died aged 26.

Anthony was on a bomb-ferrying mission when his Wellington was attacked by another aircraft and came down in Loktak Lake in Manipur, India.

Two years earlier he had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after attacking the German port of Warnemunde.

New Forest Post:

The official citation said: “The target was heavily defended, both with searchlights and anti-aircraft fire, which made a low-level attack very hazardous. Flt/Lt Ennis, displaying great courage, flew the aircraft at a very low level but found he could not penetrate the heavy defences.

“In all, three attempts were made before the target was reached and attacked successfully.”

Another of Bunny’s brothers, Sgt Patrick Ennis, was killed aged 21 in July 1941.

Their father, Wing Commander Wilfrid Ennis, became one of the first members of the RAF when it was formed in 1918 and continued to serve until the 1950s.

Bunny, of Langley, near Blackfield, will open the fete at Lloyd Recreation Ground at noon.

This year’s entertainment includes an award-winning steel band from Crestwood Community School, Eastleigh, the Bill Brookman Puppet Theatre and a group of Fijian dancers from Marchwood Military Port.

Fawley Rugby Club and Marchwood Rangers FC will provide taster sessions.