‘I don’t feel 100’ – says Worthing war pilot on birthday

Max celebrated his 100th birthday with friends at Arun Yacht Club
Max celebrated his 100th birthday with friends at Arun Yacht Club

An heroic pilot, who survived more than 60 bombing missions into enemy territory during the Second World War, said he did not feel 100 years old at his centenary birthday party.

Max Meyer, of Copthorne Hill, Worthing. who turned 100 yesterday, celebrated the milestone with more than a dozen other members of the West Sussex Aircrew Association on Tuesday at Arun Yacht Club, in Rope Walk, Littlehampton.

Max Meyers with Graham Watson

Max Meyers with Graham Watson

Max told guests, before cutting his cake: “It’s a privilege being with so many friends.

“I would like to thank you all for your friendship today.”

He also joked that he was looking forward to hearing from the Queen.

Born in Worthing in 1917, Max joined the RAF in 1937, before the war began.

He said: “When the war started, I was comparatively experienced, which stood me in good stead.”

Max became a pilot in the bomber command with a squadron based just north of Lincoln.

Over the next few years, he took part in 62 missions over the North Sea in a Hampden plane – at a time when many squadrons did not complete even one tour of 30 missions.

“Looking back at the time, it was just something that had to be done,” he said, adding: “I lost a lot of friends.”

Max was presented with the Distinguished Flying Cross, which rewards acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty, by King George VI when he was just 21 years old.

Towards the end of the war, Max became a flying instructor. He left the RAF when the war was over and took on a job as a bursar at Bishop Luffa school in Chichester.

At the beginning of 1951, he married his beloved wife, Merva, who sadly died last week.

The couple had three children together and two grandchildren.

Max retired from his role at the school after around seven years.

In the decades since, he said he had enjoyed keeping up friendships at the West Sussex Aircrew Association, of which he has been president for around 15 years.

Chairman of the association Graham Watson, who has known Max for many years, said: “Max has always been there for us and has been a good figurehead for the branch.”

He described Max as ‘very popular’ and a ‘gentle giant’.

On reaching 100, Max – who admits he has always been ‘pretty fit’ – said: “To be honest, I don’t feel any different.

“I don’t feel 100.”