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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 5:08 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 11:42 pm
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Battle of Britain pilot from the South West dies aged 97

Read more: http://www.bathchronicle.co.uk/Battle-B ... z3LROzZtiC

The last-surviving Battle of Britain pilot in the Bristol area has died at the age of 97.

Bill Green was thrust into the deadly dogfight with the Luftwaffe as a relative novice, but survived being shot down twice during the Second World War.

Born William James Green, in Bristol, on April 23, 1917, Mr Green became the head boy at St Gabriel's School in the city's Easton area.

He left school at 14 and later joined 501 Auxiliary Air Force Squadron at nearby Filton in 1936 as a ground crew member, learning to be a fitter.

When the opportunity arose to learn to fly he snapped it up and pushed to become a sergeant pilot.

Mr Green was 23 and only had about 100 flying hours under his belt by the time he was called up to fight in the Battle of Britain.

On August 29, 1940, while wearing the lucky socks his wife Bertha had knitted him, he was hit by one of 200 Messerschmidt 109s that were attacking over Kent.

Having baled out of his Hurricane as it exploded and he fell through the air from about 16,000ft, struggling with his parachute as he became tangled up in it.

The 'chute eventually opened less than 300ft from the ground, and Mr Green escaped with shrapnel wounds to his legs. After a few weeks of recuperation, he was eventually given a job training young pilots. But it was not the end of his war.

Mr Green flew again to defend Bristol from German bombers and towards the end of the war his commanding officers finally gave in to his persistent requests to return to full combat.

While flying a Tempest over occupied Holland, he felt a violent explosion and once again had to reach for the ejector handle.

On landing, he was captured by the Germans and soon found himself as a prisoner of war in Nuremberg, where he remained until the camp was liberated a few months later, at the end of the war.

Mr Green, who rose to the rank of Flight Lieutenant, returned to his beloved Bertha, whom he had married a couple of months before the Battle of Britain.

They had two children – Ann, now 68, and Mike, now 73.

Mike's twins William and James, 38, proudly bear their grandfather's names.

Ann, who lives in Canada, said: "I shall miss my father's voice. We talked every day on the telephone on topics from the trivial, to world affairs and events. He was interested in absolutely everything and so wise in his perspective.

"We laughed a lot too – probably every day. He had a marvellous sense of humour."

Mr Green's friends also paid tribute. Syl Pearson said: "Bill's death leaves a big void in our lives, but also leaves us with so many treasured memories. Though not a tall man, he was a giant among men in every other way."

Friend and companion Mark Smith, a former RAF man, said: "The word hero is bandied about a lot these days, but Bill was a real-life hero, not that he would say so himself. He was the nicest, most humble chap you could ever meet."

In the last few years of his life, Mr Green was delighted to fly in a Spitfire and a Vampire.

Accompanied by Mr Smith, he was also reunited with his nemesis – the Messerschmidt – and joked that the last time he had been close to one it had shot him down.

He was part of the Salvation Army Chapel in Clevedon, the North Somerset town where he lived, and was the president of the 501 Squadron Association for six years up to 2012.

The squadron's chairman and close friend Bill Hickman said: "Bill was a man who gave so much of himself to others. He had a huge amount of love and respect from so many people."

Mr Green's war story appears in a book called Fighting High – World War Two – Air Battle Europe, Volume 2.

He died at Bristol Royal Infirmary shortly before midnight on Friday, November 7.

Read more: http://www.bathchronicle.co.uk/Battle-B ... z3LRPBnDEa
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