A former Battle of Britain pilot returned to his Skipton school to take part in its Armistice Day service.

Wing Commander Richard Summers OBE attended Ermysted’s Grammar School from 1935 to 1939.

On Thursday, he returned to the school for the presentation of a 70th anniversary memorial plaque in his name.

It is one of a number of plaques presented by The Battle of Britain Historical Society, which aims to preserve the memories of those who took part in the Second World War battle.

Wing Commander Summers, now 89 and originally from Beverley, travelled from his home in Cheltenham to the school’s Armistice service with his family.

But his involvement happened by chance after an appeal for information about him was seen in the Hull Daily Mail by his niece. His details were then published on the Battle of Britain Forum and seen by the twin brother of head of music at Ermysted’s, Simon Gregory.

After being presented with the plaque by headteacher Graham Hamilton, Wing Commander Summers said how pleased he was to be back at his old school.

He said when he was a pupil, the then headmaster, Mr McIntosh, was keen on corporal punishment.

“He was very free with the cane. However, I survived,” he said.

When he left Ermysted’s at 18, he joined the RAF and was fast-tracked into active service. With the 219 Squadron, he took part in the Battle of Britain and became “one of the few” immortalised in Winston Churchill’s famous speech.

In 1940 he joined the Ferry Pool and Defence Flight at Takoradi, West Africa, where pilots suffered extreme contrasts in temperature and, because of the sand, the average life span of an aircraft engine was just 40 hours.

In July 1941, the young pilot crash-landed on a beach in Liberia. To avoid capture, he set off barefoot, walking 48 miles before taking to the sea, where he was picked up by a passing British merchantman.

Aged just 21, he was awarded the Air Force Medal. Two years later, he was posted as bomber leader to 48 Squadron at Gibraltar and in 1944 he returned home to be bombing leader at Aldergrove. He continued to hold a number of armament office positions until the end of the war.

From 1953 to 1956, he was again in the midst of action as deputy station commander at RAF East Leigh, Kenya, during the Mau Mau emergency. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire for his “gallant and distinguished services”. He retired from the RAF in 1968.

Headteacher Mr Hamilton said: “We feel immensely privileged to have been able to welcome Richard back to Ermysted’s and we would like to express our gratitude to him for the bravery and dedication he showed when fighting for the freedom that we enjoy today.”

The service was also attended by several former servicemen and representatives of the Skipton branch of the Royal British Legion.