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William Higgins

Date of birth: 30.7.1921
Date of death: 4.4.1945
Area: Crofton
Regiment: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Family information: Son of Walter and Frances Higgins of Crofton
Rank: Flight Sergeant
Service number: 1497198

William was born on 30th July 1921 and was christened at the Chantry Chapel in Wakefield. He had one younger sister and as a little boy was always known as “Billy”.
In 1932 William won a scholarship to Hemsworth grammar School and afterwards worked for Stephenson’s Furniture Shop in Wakefield. (The shop was on the site of the present George Street car park).
William was tall and fair with blue eyes; he was “called up” in 1940 and originally went into the Medical Corps.
Later William volunteered to fly with the RAF. He was sent to Winnipeg in Canada in the summer of 1942 to do his training.
He was posted to RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire where he flew in Lancasters. His crew was sent on the Cologne Raid when they were told not to damage the Cathedral. As the bomb aimer this was William’s especial responsibility for their aircraft which was named “U” for Uncle.
In April 1945, when William was nearing the end of his tour of duty, “U” for Uncle was sent on a special mine laying mission somewhere over Germany. They did not return and the family received a letter from Squadron Leader Johnny Gee, telling them what had happened to William.
William, had he survived, would have liked to make a career in the RAF. He was a talented artist and wrote poetry. In one of his letters home he remembered the orchard at the end of their road and that the apples should then be ripe. He asked his Mum to “call me “Bill” and make me an apple pie”.
His sister, showing a picture of William to a friend, was told “You must be proud of your brother in his uniform”, to which she replied, “I was always proud of my brother”.
He has no known grave and is remembered with honour at the Runnymede Memorial.

Photo of Runnymede memorial. A grassed area with paths in front a white stone building with a lower level fronted with arches to either side. Runnymede Memorial

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