I was born in Whitechapel, London on 26th July1984 and have been interested in the second world war and it's air war since I was about 3. My grandfather had served in the Bomb Disposal Unit and his Brother, in the RAF's 501sqd (the famous 'Ginger'Lacey) during the time of the Battle of Britain and I grew up on stories of Al Deere, Bob Stanford-Tuck and Douglas Bader.
However, by the time I was 8, I knew as much aboutthe Battle as anyone trying to teach me and decided on a new challenge. My Uncle George had just recently given me several video's on the Eighth air force and one of the video's was about the ace's of the 357th FG. This video included 'Bud' Anderson, 'Pete' Peterson, 'OBee' O'Brien and 'Tommy' Hayes. It was a captivating video and I watched it time and again trying to pull more info out of it each time I watched.
I had heard of a book about the 357th (which turnedout to be The "Yoxford Boys") but never managed to find it- and so my love dwindled. However I was given the chance to command the unit on a Computer Game I had and this is where my enduring admiration for Tommy Hayes was fed as I decided to lead like him- from the front. My hero's again became 'Pete' Peterson and Tommy Hayes and a chance meeting with a guy named Erik Whipple opened so many doors which eventually led to my participation in the 357th FG 2001 reunion, (thanks Erik). My thanks also go out to Jim and Bud Anderson and of course to Tommy Hayes- Thanks.
Lee Lacey, 27.09.01