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Boyhood bravado is boost for funds
Retired engineer Jim Stoodley is to raise funds for Help for Heroes by selling copies of a book he has written about his teenage escapades, including stealing a US plane from Salisbury Plain in the Second World War which he intended to fly to the continent and kill Hitler.
Mr Stoodley, 82, who lives in Everleigh with his wife Sheila, will be at the Tesco store in Tidworth on Saturday March 19 selling copies of his book Jim Stoodley’s Private War .
A total of £3 from every £9.99 sale will be going to Help for Heroes, which he said is a charity he admires and wishes to support.
Aged 13 in 1942, Mr Stoodley was far too young to attempt to put on his age to join up but he badly wanted to play a part in the war effort.
His father was in charge of an American army vehicle workshop so Mr Stoodley was driving all sorts of vehicles as soon as he was big enough to get behind the wheel.
“I had been up to the American airfield at Perham Down quite a lot and the pilots had let me sit in the aircraft so I had a good idea how to fly one,” Mr Stoodley said.
“I had this idea of flying to France on a tank full of fuel and from the army stores all around my home I had acquired a couple of hand grenades, a machine gun and ammunition.
“I planned to dump the plane in France and hitch-hike to Berlin to assassinate Hitler.”
With his younger brother John in the other seat he took off and was in the air for almost 30 minutes when the engine cut out and he made a forced landing on to a belt of fir trees which cushioned the crash-landing.”
His action sparked a debate about security at the airbase in the House of Commons.