Trainee wartime pilot who crashed plane on Borough Hill remembered by Norton village

In August 1941 a young trainee pilot hit one of the masts on Borough Hill and crashed in Norton Parish.

Thursday, 21st July 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 21st July 2016, 11:53 am
Relatives at the war memorial in Norton. Photos by Richard Oliver
Relatives at the war memorial in Norton. Photos by Richard Oliver

On Saturday his name was officially added to the village’s war memorial in a service attended by his relatives, representatives of the RAF, and civic leaders.

Trainee pilot Leading Aircraftman William Bullock, from Sandbach in Cheshire, died on August 15, 1941, aged 21.

Norton History Group investigated the crash and on Saturday, July 16, almost 75 years after the accident, his name was added to the village war memorial.

Photos by Richard Oliver

LAC Bullock was piloting an Airspeed AS.10 Oxford on a training flight out of RAF College, at Cranwell. Apparently due to bad weather the plane flew off course.

It struck the masts on Borough Hill, and flew into the ground on the Norton side.

LAC Bullock is listed as the only fatality in the accident. At the time of the crash he had 30 hours’ flight experience on the Airspeed Oxford.

The plane was designed as a training aircraft, for use by those training for Bomber Command. It could train men in navigation, radio-operating, bombing and gunnery as well as piloting.

Photos by Richard Oliver

Borough Hill was dotted with tall masts, aerial wires and support lines. Its radio signals were used to guide RAF squadrons flying across Europe.

Researchers from Norton sent a plea to the local newspaper in Sandbach to find his relatives and this was seen by his first cousin, Joyce Griffiths, who remembers him well.

Joyce told the researchers in Norton that Bill was originally in the Cheshire Regiment and was rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk, breaking his leg in the process.

He then transferred to the RAF to train as a pilot.

Photos by Richard Oliver

They were never told where he crashed, just that it was in the south of England.

The family, including his half-brother from Canada, came to the unveiling.

Also attending the service were members of the RAF from Cranwell and Wittering, Royal Air Force Association, Royal British Legion, Sywell Aviation Museum, Air Scouts, Councillor Alan Hills and members of the community.

The service was conducted by the Rev Francis Rodriguez-Veglio.

Photos by Richard Oliver

After the service the family were taken in Second World War Jeeps to view the crash site on Borough Hill.

A presentation was made to the family of a framed display of William’s medals, cap badges and citation, followed by refreshments in the village hall.