Bolton Remembers the War Logo
Bill Morris - Royal Air Force
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William John Morris

Written Account 2005

Bill was born in Bolton in 1921 and went to St Mary's Catholic School, Higher Bridge Street, Bolton. He worked as a side piecer at Knowles Cotton Mill.

In 1941 he was called up and chose the RAF, training to be a Wireless Operator and Air Gunner. He was posted to RAF Stormy Down, Wigtown, Bicester, Finmere and Hartford Bridge and was promoted to Sergeant. He flew in 32 operations with 88 Squadron and the Free French 342 (Lorraine) Squadron over a period of 10 months, including attacks on V1 flying bomb launch sites and over the D Day landings when his Squadron laid smoke in front of the Allied Invasion Fleet.

Bill later became an instructor on wireless operating and was posted to an Advanced Flying Unit (AFU) at RAF West Freugh in Scotland, flying in the old Avro Ansons on the Mull of Galloway. Later he was posted to RAF Bishops Court, Northern Ireland.

When Bill was demobbed in June 1946 he had flown 1000 hours and been in the RAF just over 5 years.

Full transcript of Bill's Wartime RAF Flight Log Book - pdf - 444kFull transcript of Bill's Wartime RAF Flight Log Book - pdf - 462k

D Day Operations - 6.6.1944

My crew and I went to breakfast then gathered in the briefing room. After we were all settled in and all crews were present and accounted for the doors were locked. A high-ranking Officer said “Good Morning gentleman, today is D Day. What you have been trained to do, you will do today.” Of course those words provoked a murmur of excitement from all of us.

At around 5am we took off from Hartford Bridge aerodrome in our trusty Boston aircraft in relays of two in the first lane. 342 Free French Squadron was to arrive at our designated target to lay smoke for the invasion fleet.

We flew 50 feet above the waves and as we were coming up to our target my pilot Hank said “Bill - helmet off, gas mask on.” as we both knew I could be poisoned by the billowing smoke as I was on an outside turret, being an air gunner. Each aircraft carried 4 canisters that were timed 11 seconds per canister to discharge the smoke. This took 44 seconds and we had to fly straight and narrow in this time. I wasn’t in contact with inside the plane during this operation so 44 seconds to me felt like forever. As Hank pulled away I was glad to get my mask off and helmet on and to be back in contact with my mates again. The other planes were in line to take off and do exactly the same, flying in relays of two.

It was pretty scary flying so low but when we started to climb towards the French coast it was a relief when Hank said excitedly “Bill - did you see them?” (the invasion fleet.) I said “Yes! Who the hell’s going to stop that lot!”

We were all so elated and proud to have done our little bit on this very special day. Unfortunately we could see one plane on it’s own. The other one had gone down. So very sad.