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Back to index page HARRISON, William Edward Leslie (943302, Sergeant)

HARRISON, William Edward Leslie (943302, Sergeant)

b. 1921, Filey  d. Monday 12th July 1943 (aged 22)


Billy was one of the few casualties from Filey who did not fall on active service but instead died in the training process.  The R.A.F.’s training cost the lives of many airmen throughout the war, primarily because the only way at the time to train new pilots was just to send them up into the air in aircraft. 

Billy had joined up in December 1939 into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (R.A.F.V.R.), when he was only just 18 and it is unclear whether he spent the first three years of the war as R.A.F. ground crew maintaining aircraft, or whether he was a fighter pilot.  Whichever the case may be, in late 1942 he was transferred to the R.A.F. base at Riccall which was known as the 78th/1658th Heavy Conversion Unit.

          This unit was the final stage of training and was focussed on preparing aircrew for flying bombers; the unit was equipped with Halifax bombers, one of the mainstay bombers within the R.A.F. at the time.

          Unfortunately, during one particular training flight Billy’s Halifax was seen to lose control and the bomber crashed .  Harrison died of the wounds he received in the crash and his body was interred in St. Oswald’s cemetery just over a week later.

          Before the war Billy was a well known figure in Filey as he was a talented footballer who played for both Filey Town F.C. and semi-professionally for Bradford Park Avenue.  He had four other brothers, all of whom played for Filey Town F.C.  The Harrison family lived at 23, Rutland Street.