It was 1943. Sir Bruce Forsyth, then a precocious 15-year-old just getting started in his eight decades-long career in entertainment, had a weekend off from touring US military bases with a cabaret to keep up the morale of American troops during the Second World War.

He was too young to serve, but his brother John had signed up for the RAF in 1941 and eventually became a pilot.

While playing a game of rounders on the weekend, the younger Forsyth fell over and injured himself. In a daze of dizziness and nausea, he laid down, before drifting out of consciousness. "Suddenly I'm in a plane, flying over the sea," Forsyth recalled in his 2015 autobiography Strictly Bruce: Stories Of My Life.

"No, not flying. I'm plummeting downwards, out of control, at an acute angle. There's nothing I can do. I stagger towards the open door of the aircraft as the dark water rushes towards me. I jump... A strange and unpleasant dream as I drift in and out of consciousness, obviously. What makes it particularly disturbing, however, is that I've never been in an aeroplane.

"I gave no further thought to that horrible vision until I returned home the following day to visit my parents. Normally my mother would call out cheerfully the moment I walked through the front door. Not this time. I found her sitting in her chair, gazing into space. 'What's up, Mum?' That was when she told me that John – by then an RAF pilot – had been posted as missing."

He was never found. Years later, Forsyth discovered what had happened. His brother had been practising laying sea mines around Turnberry, Scotland, when one of the RAF planes taking part crashed into the sea. But when John's plane and another were searching for survivors, flying low above the sea, they collided. Only seven of the 18 men in the two planes survived.

"John was not one of them," wrote Forsyth, in an extract published by the Daily Mail to mark the book's publication. "We went on to enjoy happy times as a family after his death, but never for a moment forgot about John. I think about him often to this day."

Forsyth died today aged 89 after a long battle with deteriorating health.

Sir Bruce Forsyth
Bruce Forsyth and his wife Wilnelia arrive for Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters