A toy panda which flew on World War Two Dambusters raids has been described as “priceless”. The toy mascot was on 60 operational flights over Germany.
The toy panda was shown on BBC’s Antiques Roadshow which had a special episode held at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire. The toy served as a mascot for Flt Sgt William Gordon Radcliffe who took it on 60 operational flights over Germany, his daughter Dorothy Bailey says. The flights took place in 1943.
According to Bailey, the panda “kept my father safe throughout the war”. Her dad was carrying the toy tucked into his boot. This is why one ear is worn down while the other one is good.
“The pilot knew about the panda as well, so he was a mascot for everybody I think. He kept them all safe… he’s priceless to me and my family. He’s been everywhere where I haven’t been and now I get to keep him safe”, Bailey says on the show.
The teddy bear was also inspected by militaria expert Mark Smith who said the toy panda “belonged to the nation”. Smith added: “He [the panda] was priceless to your dad, he is priceless to you, he is priceless to the RAF as a member of the Dams crews”.
It is another case of stuffed animals carrying an extra special vibe and emotion. In this case the stuffed toy panda is carrying with it that special reminder of home for soldiers during tough and scary times.