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.
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.