Former RAF Flight Lieutenant celebrates 100th birthday

August 20, 2021

Former RAF Flight Lieutenant, William Nesbitt, had a wonderful surprise last week when his family organised a special birthday tea at RAF Aldergrove Air Wing.  William was welcomed by Wing Commander Jacqs Rankin and several of the RAF family, as well as the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor William McCaughey.

William was born on the 23rd of July, 1921 and began his distinguished career in the RAF in 1935 serving as a navigator and also piloting a Wellington bomber during WW2.  He was last stationed at RAF Bishops court, Co Down.

After leaving the RAF in 1946 William entered teacher training, another career which he loved. He served as Headmaster in Castlewellan Primary School from 1948 to 1965 and then moved as Headmaster of  Downpatrick Primary School, where he remained until his retirement  in 1985.

William had five children, but unfortunately one of them passed away aged three in 1955. He is looked after and supported by his four children and lives independently – he said is very proud to do so.

During the celebrations William received a very special Silver Poppy from the Mayor, in recognition, remembrance and appreciation by the citizens of Mid and East Antrim council, of the bravery, endurance of our forces across Sea, Land and Air, who all contributed to the liberation and freedoms we all have today.

William was absolutely delighted with his surprise party and said: "It was amazing and the special gift from the Mayor will be treasured and on display at home for everyone to see.  The afternoon tea and cake were superb!  I really enjoyed meeting young RAF officers and so appreciate them giving their time to hear about my time in the RAF during the 1940s and WW2. It brought back so many memories for me; from the best of days training in Canada and Florida and the amazing bond between the comrades to the saddest of days thinking of those who never came home."

Wing Commander Jacqs Rankin who hosted the event for William said: “It was such a pleasure to meet with William and members of his family, he was so interesting to talk to and he has so many stories to tell, it was enthralling, and we enjoyed spending time with this special gentleman.”

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