It was a proud moment for Stephen Harrod when he witnessed the Dakota DC3 fly past in a remarkable act of remembrance.

Mr Harrod, 54, from Great Milton, near Thame, joined Polish veterans of a daring World War II secret operation in Poland last week.

Surrounded by members of his family, including his brother Jonathan, he watched the aircraft approach a remote field in Matczyn, near Lublin, recalling the daring sortie made by his father 64 years ago.

Following the ceremony organised by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF), Mr Harrod said: "It was a very proud moment and I felt quite emotional - my father died aged 51 in 1968 when I was just 14.

"I heard a bit about this flight over the years but to see this re-enactment, surrounded by members of my family, was something very special.

"We contacted the BBMF to tell them we wanted to visit Poland to remember my father landing in a beetroot field in the middle of the night and they said they would fit it into their schedule.

"They even painted the Dakota in the original 267 Squadron colours used when my father was stationed in Brindisi, in Italy, at the time.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we will never forget it."

On April 15, 1944, the solo Dakota, piloted by Flt Lt Ted Harrod, made the gruelling 18-hour flight from Brindisi.

In a beetroot field at Matczyn, the Polish underground army hastily set up a temporary landing strip.

Flt Lt Harrod landed the Dakota guided by just a few flares, dropped off two agents and took onboard a precious cargo - General Stanislaw Tatar, deputy commander of the Polish underground forces, and four of his senior staff.

Against all odds, with barely 800 yards of runway, Flt Lt Harrod and his crew managed to get the Dakota airborne and brought his passengers to safety in Italy.

For his bravery and exemplary flying, Flt Lt Harrod was awarded the DFC and later decorated by the Polish Government, which awarded him the Virtuti Militari Silver Class.

Mr Harrod and his family were joined by Polish veterans who took part in the operation.

Mr Harrod's mother Patricia added: "Ted never really talked about all this, but it is clear from the reaction of the local people that he and his crew did something very special."

Sqn Ldr Al Pinner, Officer Commanding the BBMF, added: "We must always remember that there were many nations fighting alongside us during World War II, among the staunchest being the Poles, some of whom were killed in Nazi reprisals after this operation.

"For that reason, it is very important we were able to make this flypast.

"It was a fitting tribute to Britons and Poles who risked all in the cause of freedom."