Obituary: Bill Marshall, 90

Bill Marshall survived 38 missions during the war. Picture: contributed
Bill Marshall survived 38 missions during the war. Picture: contributed
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AN airman who survived death-defying missions supplying partisans fighting the Nazis in the Second World War has been laid to rest.

Bill Marshall, who was 90, was an RAF air gunner in a Wellington bomber flying over mountainous areas of northern Italy in 1944/45.

Mr Marshall, who was born in the Capital, was based at Foggia with 104 Squadron at a time when aircrew losses were at their highest and it was extremely rare for a crew to survive the 38 missions needed to complete a tour.

He was born on March 13, 1924 and passed away on June 7 this year.

He lived all his life in Corstorphine, which he always referred to as the “village” and it was there that he met and married Gladys Fraser in 1952.

He attended Corstorphine Primary School, moving on to Tynecastle High School before leaving at age 14 to become a message boy.

When war broke out he applied to join the RAF and was eventually accepted when he turned 18.

His bomber would often get back to base damaged by parts of exploding aircraft flown by his friends striking his own plane.

Enemy fire was so intense on one trip that, on his return, Mr Marshall wrote Flak Happy Harry on his flying jacket.

The following morning the ground crew had painted the nickname on the nose of his plane.

After reaching the elusive goal of completed missions he was taken off flying duties, despite being keen to stay in the RAF.

His pilot, George McDougall, recalled: “We were the first crew in months to actually complete an operational tour. We had beaten the odds.”

George came to Edinburgh to visit Mr Marshall and they had a crew reunion in London in 1977, at which four out of the five man crew were present.

The bond between aircrew members was unbreakable and they kept in touch until they passed away, with Mr Marshall visiting his pilot in Australia at the age of 77.

After the war, Mr Marshall worked as a machine printer at Reeds corrugated paper factory at Maybury near his home.

The father-of-three and grandfather was a member of the Scottish Saltire Aircrew Association, a life-long Hearts supporter and Freemason, and enjoyed travelling around the world in retirement with Gladys.

Early holidays with the family were taken at North Berwick, but soon they widened their horizons and holidayed with the family in Europe.

Mr Marshall belonged to Lodge Almanar and visited lots of ex Masons and their families in hospital or when they where sick or lonely at home.

His daughter, Brenda, said: “He was such a caring man and never had a bad word to say about anyone or anything.”