A FORGOTTEN war hero who saved a man's life as a teenager could finally get the recognition he deserves.

Ron Dale, of Thorney Leys, Witney, pulled a man from the burning wreckage of a crashed plane in Milton-under-Wychwood in 1942 – when he was just 17.

Despite his heroism, the 91-year-old’s act of courage has been lost in time, but now Witney’s mayor has written to the Lord Lieutenant of the county calling for his bravery to be recognised.

On September 16, 1942, a teenage Mr Dale was preparing to leave his family home in Milton-under-Wychwood.

He was heading to work at an airfield in Chipping Norton and his mother, Eva, was seeing him off.

As they stood in the garden they saw, overhead, a Wellington bomber suffer a failure in one of its engines.

Mr Dale said: “It seemed to be coming lower and lower. I said: ‘Mum, that’s going to crash’.

“No sooner had I said that the plane had hit the ground about quarter of a mile from where we were stood.”

Mr Dale immediately sprung into action. He cleared a wall and darted to the field where the plane had come down.

Four of the five crew aboard the plane, which was completing a non-operational sortie, were killed in the crash.

Sergeant Lyon, the plane's rear gunner, survived, but was badly burned, trapped, and in immediate danger due to the risk of explosion.

Mr Dale continued: “I just went straight over there and saw him trapped.

"He was only little and the poor devil was burned badly up one side. His boot was stopping him from getting out.

“I tried to get the boot off but I couldn’t. I gave him a pull and he came straight out of it. We both ran as fast as we could.

“As we ran he said ‘go on, it will blow any minute’ and then the whole thing went up.”

Sergeants McCarthy, Ferguson, Ritchie and Arnold were all killed in the crash.

Sgt Lyon, a Canadian, was taken to a hospital in Little Rissington, Gloucestershire, before being transferred to an RAF hospital.

Six weeks later he returned to Milton to thank Mr Dale for saving his life – but the teenager was working at the time and never had the chance to see him.

To this day, despite his efforts to find out more, Mr Dale does not know whether Sgt Lyon saw out the end of the war.

Mr Dale went on to own a shoe shop next to Wembley Stadium, in London, for about 40 years, splitting his time between there and Witney.

But, more than 70 years after the day of the Wellington crash, he can still remember it vividly.

He said: “I can still hear that noise today.

"I can still visualise it now: the diamond shaped fuselage, covered in fabric and burning like hell.”

Mr Dale attends St Peter’s Church in Little Rissington from time to time, where two of the men who lost their lives in the crash are buried.

He has also spent time at the scene of the crash, reflecting on that September morning all those years ago.

During a visit to the church earlier this year, he and a friend noticed an image with words describing the events of the day.

The words reveal that a civilian saved the life of a Canadian who was trapped in the crashed plane, but Mr Dale is not mentioned by name.

While Mr Dale himself does not consider himself a hero – others have been too keen to use this label.

Mayor of Witney, Chris Woodward, said: "Words like hero are used all too often and for doing a lot less.

"Mr Dale is a true hero.

"His inspiring story is something that everyone should hear, it’s not every day that you have a living legend on your doorstep.

"Saving a life in such harrowing circumstances is not only incredibly brave, it demands our utmost respect and gratitude.

"I have written to the Oxfordshire Lieutenancy to inform them of this story in the hope that Mr Dale gets some recognition."