Hero pilot who survived 64 bombing raids dies aged 100

An RAF hero who survived 64 bombing raids and helped trick the Germans over the D-Day landings has died aged 100.

Squadron Leader John Sauvage was one of the Pathfinder squadron’s most distinguished pilots in the second world war, lighting up enemy targets with flares for the main bombing force to strike.

He was among the 10 per cent of Bomber Command airmen to survive the entire war, receiving three medals for his skill and courage.

Sqn Ldr Sauvage also played a part in helping to deceive the Germans over the location and timing of D-Day. 

After the war he flew planes in the Berlin airlift, before becoming a pilot at Eagle Airways, developing the idea of packaged holidays abroad, and eventually becoming a chairman at the Thompson Travel Group.

He is also credited with bringing the Boeing 737 to Europe, a plane type that is now commonly used by many people travelling across the continent.

To dupe the Germans that British and American forces were looking to land in France, he flew a lookalike for Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery to Gibraltar days before the landings. 

If German intelligence thought the British Army supremo was 1,500 miles away then the Allied invasion of Europe would not happen anytime soon, was the argument.

The episode was immortalised in the 1958 John Mills movie ‘I Was Monty’s Double’ in which an actor played the part of Sqn Ldr Sauvage.

Four years after the war he was back flying over Germany but this time for the Berlin Airlift, dropping supplies to civilians after the city was effectively blocked off by the Soviet Union.

He also served as a test pilot for the risky process of in-flight refuelling.

Sqn Ldr Sauvage then became a civilian pilot for Eagle Airways based at what is now Luton Airport and went on to become its managing director.