Veteran WWII pilot Bill Foote DFC will celebrate his 88th birthday on the day of the “Halifax Heroes” lecture on Saturday 19th March, where he is taking part in the panel discussion and later Signing session at the “Halifax Heroes” Lecture. Bill joined the RAF in March 1942, which again is a fitting coincidence, and undertook flying training in Canada at Winton, Alberta, going on to fly various aircraft including Wellingtons and Halifaxes from June 1944. He joined 77 Squadron in August that year, following its move to the new base at Full Sutton, after vacating Elvington as the French Squadrons took over the base.
He flew 37 ops, probably what earned him the DFC, completing his last on 7th March 1945 on a mission to Flensburg. He went on to become a Flying Instructor and by the end of his career had flown 22 different aircraft, leaving the RAF in 1946.
Bill, who lives in Alnwick, Northumberland, will now be joined by fellow 77 Squadron veteran Fl. Lt. Cyril Peters DFC, who was posted to the squadron on 18th November 1944. He received the DFC with Citation on 13th February 1945 – and we look forward to finding out why!
Another veteran now joining the fray is Fl. Lt. Alan Cresswell, yet another DFC and AFC who flew with 76 Squadron at, again very appropriately, RAF Linton on Ouse with 76 Squadron, where his Commanding Officer at the time was then Wing Commander Leonard Cheshire. Alan has a fascinating tale about a near escape on a mission to Lorient, suffering an engine failure with full bomb load shortly after take off, missing the top of York Minster by a mere 100 yards. With no option to jettison, Alan made a miraculous landing at Marston Moor, with an aircraft 15 000lbs over recommended landing weight!
Other veterans are ‘Bluey’ Mottershead, yet another DFC, from 158 Squadron at Lissett, flying alongside the illustrious “Friday the 13th”, and of course Edward ‘ Eddie’ Dunhill,who flew with 148 (SD) Squadron on the long and hazardous missions flying Halifaxes from bases in Italy to Poland to drop ammunition and supplies in support of the ‘Warsaw Uprising’ in 1944. Eddie is supportingt he Warsaw 44 Club presentation during the lecture.
Aviation author and ex Flypast editor, Ken Delve, the Main Speaker is still lined up to take part, although he is coming from his current work base in Bahrain! Don’t worry, as contingencies are in hand should the unthinkable happen!
So, don’t delay in booking your tickets for what will be another fascinating day at Elvington. These are available online (although please book 48 hours in advance so that the order can be processed) or by phone through the Museum Shop on 01904 608719. www.yorkshireairmuseum.org