Bill North passes away

December 15, 2011 by paul  
Filed under Notices

Comments Off

It is with great sadness that I have to let all of P&G RFC know that our revered Past and Life President Bill North passed away during the night. (D. Hiles)

Bill North: 30th May 1922 – 14th December 2011

Pinner & Grammarians President 1977-2002

President Lunch link

Hero bomber pilot’s amazing untold story

Bill North and his crew with a Stirling Bomber (Pic: Phil Harris)

Left to right, P/O Bill North (Pilot), F/Sgt Norman Jarvis (Bomb Aimer), F/Sgt Dave Crowley (Navigator), Sgt Monty Monteith (Wireless Operator), Jock Pork (although present is not a crew member), Sgt Les Morton (Flight Engineer), Sgt Eddy O’Shea (Rear Gunner), Sgt Dennis Bartlett (Mid-Upper Gunner). Standing next to a Short Stirling Bomber, Bill and the crew had two nearly fatal crash landings in Stirlings during RAF training.

EVERY day for nearly 70 years, Dennis Bartlett silently thanked bomber pilot Bill North for saving his life.

The last time he’d seen his Second World War comrade was in July 1944 on a pitch-black hillside in France where Bill crash landed their bullet-ridden Lancaster after a Luftwaffe attack.

Wounded Bill, then 22, bravely decided to down the plane rather than bail out when he learned another crewman’s parachute strap was damaged and he couldn’t jump.

Bill North and his crashed Lancaster Bomber (Pic: Phil Harris)

The pilot thought Dennis had parachuted out but when the bomber hit the ground, his friend was still on board.

The men were captured by the Nazis that night and when they were taken to separate prisoner-of-war camps, Dennis feared he would never see his pal again.

But last week they were reunited at the retirement home where the former RAF pilot now lives, and relived the incredible, untold story of their great escape.

As emotion welled inside him, Dennis, 87, said: “The memories of that night in France have been with me for 67 years.

“We all owed our lives to Bill. Without a thought for himself and while terribly injured he stayed on board our doomed bomber in order to save us. That still moves me to this day.”

Bill is now 89 but he remembers what happened so vividly it could have been last week. He said: “I was never scared of flying. My fear was of letting my crew down.

“We had become the firmest of friends as well as comrades and had complete confidence in each other’s abilities. It would have been a bitter blow if any one of my crew had been killed.”

Bill and Sergeant Dennis, of Camberley, Surrey, were part of Bomber Command’s 61 Squadron based in Skellingthorpe, Lincs.

Their mission was to attack the German base in St Leu d’Esserent, France, as part of an Allied force of 231 Lancasters and 15 Pathfinders.

They dropped 1,000lb bombs to cut communication to the base but 12 Lancasters and 83 lives were lost. Bill recalled: “We dropped our bomb load and suddenly we were being attacked. Bullets were ripping into my Lancaster.

“We lost our port inner engine, flaps and one of our petrol tanks. I was shot in the left elbow and thigh, my left arm just dropped down useless because the nerve had been severed. The aircraft was not responding to the controls so I gave the order ‘abandon aircraft’.

“But then one of our men said his parachute harness had been shot off and he couldn’t jump. I decided the only option was to crash land the aircraft. I was not going to leave him behind.”

Bill, of Basingstoke, Hants, brought down the aircraft over tree tops and landed tail down to prevent the wings from combusting.

To his surprise, Dennis appeared from the wreckage and helped get him out. But they were captured by the Nazis and Bill spent the rest of the war in Stalag Luft 1.

“Fortunately the crash landing was successful,” he said. “My overriding feeling was one of immense relief and satisfaction my crew survived.

“I wasn’t decorated but then no-one in authority knew of our crash landing.

“For my part, I was only too pleased we survived the war. Every night we flew in the shadow of death. I think about it every day.”

The touching reunion was down to Chris Keltie, a former neighbour of Bill’s who was fascinated by an old photograph of the crew. Three years ago, he decided to track down Dennis and write a book on the hero pilot’s life.

Chris said: “I think Bill should have been awarded a VC. His story needs to be told.”

Chris’ book Riding In The Shadow Of Death will be published soon.

RAF Lancaster pilot

F/Lt Bill North

61 Squadron.


F/Lt Bill North

“On the night of the 4/5th July 1944,I was the Pilot of Lancaster EE 186, QR—D for Dog 61 Squadron, Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire. Earlier in the day my crew had taken the same aircraft on a 35 minute NFT—Night Flying Test—flight, and found it to be satisfactory in all respects.

Prior to take-off my Crew and the other involved 61 Squadron Crews would have attended a “briefing”. This briefing would have included target details (the V-1 site at St. Leu), weather forecast during the flight, visibility, particularly in the vicinity of the target, our bomb load and bombing height. When we took-off to set course for the target the weather as I recall it posed no problems. The time for takeoff was 22.30 hours. As the mission was during the night the entire flight would have been planned to take place in the dark.

Our flight to the target area was uneventful. On reaching the target area I was able to see that our target had been suitably “marked” by our Pathfinder Force and therefore set the pre-determined course and height for our bombing run. It was at this stage that as was usual on our operational trips, my Bomb Aimer, Sgt Norman Jarvis took control. I maintained the bombing course and height, ensuring that the Lancaster was kept “straight and level”. From time to time during the bombing run I altered course as necessary in line with Sgt Jarvis’ instructions. We completed our bombing run, dropped our bomb load and as soon as my Bomb Aimer said “Bombs away, Skipper”, I turned very steeply away from the target area which of course was also the danger area and set course for home.

So far so good, the mission was proceeding according to plan. Then suddenly my Gunners Sgt Dennis Bartlett and Sgt Eddy O’Shea called out the dreaded warning “Corksrcew Port, Go!”. This was an evasive manoeuvre that was taught to Bomber Pilots to escape from an attack by a Night Fighter, we had practised this many times during training. It was a violent dive to Port that put incredible stresses on the airframe and it wasn’t for the faint hearted. We were being attacked by a German Night Fighter and machine gun bullets were ripping into my Lancaster. We lost our Port Inner Engine and flaps and one of our petrol tanks. I was immediately wounded in the left elbow and thigh, my left arm just dropped down useless because the nerve had been severed. In addition the aircraft was not responding to the controls. In these circumstances I gave the order to “Abandon Aircraft”- it being my intention to attempt to bail out when the crew had left the aircraft. However at this stage Sgt Hackett (the replacement Flight Engineer for Sgt Les Morton who was off sick) said his parachute harness had been shot off and he couldn’t jump. I therefore immediately decided the only option was to crash land the aircraft, not something I wanted to do at night over unfamiliar terrain; I was not going to leave him behind. When I took this decision I was not aware that two other crew members were still on board the Lancaster. In retrospect having this information would merely have confirmed my course of action.

I did what I thought was best. Initially I judged my height by my altimeter and visually as we neared ground level. I managed to regain some control over the aircraft as we came across the tree tops. I straightened up and I saw a gap in-between the trees on a hillside, this was our one and only chance to make it. I decided our best chance of survival was to land the aircraft tail first from a height somewhat higher than that adopted during a normal landing. I was of course anxious to avoid creating too much friction on hitting the ground and thus creating a situation where the petrol in the wings could ignite with disastrous results. Fortunately the crash landing was successful in that all three members of the crew on board plus me survived the impact.

What is my overriding feeling about what happened to my crew and to me on the 4/5th July 1944? Firstly, one of immense relief and satisfaction that my entire crew survived. We had become the firmest of friends as well as comrades and had complete confidence in each other’s abilities. It would have been a bitter blow if any one of my crew had failed to survive. In the event two evaded capture (Navigator F/Sgt Dave Crowley and Flight Engineer Sgt Hatchett, with me for the first time in place of my regular Engineer, Les Morton) and five became POWs. Secondly, it is a source of amazement that I managed to crash my Lancaster at night without serious injury to anyone on board. I was never scared of dying, the only fear I ever had was of letting my crew down. Whilst I hesitate to suggest we were unique—I have yet to meet any Lancaster Pilot who has had a similar experience. Which leads me to ask “Was there a Guardian Angel looking after us?”

Bill had been shot twice through his left arm, the nerve had been severed and it was useless. He had two bullet wounds to his left thigh and was bleeding profusely, wind was rushing through the shattered Cockpit and down the fuselage and the altimeter was spinning out of control as they plunged towards the ground. The night fighter had also come in for a second time giving them another fatal round of cannon shells and bullets. Bill and the Flight engineer were fighting with the controls which were barley responding; they were approaching the ground fast when Bill suddenly regained some control over the Lancaster. Baring in mind it was nightime, Bill had used the altimeter to judge their height off the ground, but said he couldn’t rely totally on this; so when tree tops suddenly came into view he now had seconds to adjust the aircrafts position. The underside of the Lancaster was brushing the tree tops when Bill suddenly spotted a gap between the trees, “This is it we are going down now,” said Bill. They came down onto a French hillside with the nose up and tail down to try and avoid creating friction that might ignite the fuel in the petrol tanks. The Lancaster came down with a hell of a bump throwing the flight engineer into what was left of the cockpit and breaking his arm. They all sat there in a stunned silent daze, the plane hadn’t exploded on impact which they so often did. All of a sudden Dennis and Monty appeared from the fuselage behind Bill “Come on let’s get the hell out of here” shouted Dennis. They all helped their respected Captain out of the wrecked plane, and were all extremely concerned for him because of his serious injuries. Bill doesn’t know to this day how he managed to save the crew and the plane that night, but does put the sequence of events down to his RAF training and his Guardian Angel. I do agree with Bill, but it must be noted that Bill’s outstanding skill as a Bomber Pilot, his courage and coolness in the face of adversity played the major part in their saving. I think Bill should have been awarded a V.C. for his selflessness and courage in saving his crew, but sadly that was not to be.

F/Lt Bill North

“No, I was not specially decorated. I simply received the normal medals. Of course one has to remember that no-one in authority would have learned of our crash landing and I for my part, was only too pleased that we survived the war – particularly as I have recently learned of the extent of the RAF losses on 4thJuly. I was not afraid, there was so much to do and think about what would follow. Above all I was concerned about how strong my father would be when he received the telegram telling him I was missing.”

Above. Bill and Dennis reunited after 67 years on 20th Mar 2011.

Les Morton now lives in Australia.

Back on track – winning ways 1st XV v Old Isleworthians 22-15

December 12, 2011 by paul  
Filed under News & Events

Comments Off

Despite struggling for numbers, could it be the thought of Santa filling their sacks or being a bit nippy Pinner managed to pull together and present Old Isleworthians a match worth watching. Sadly, due to commitments from club photographer – watching Saracens @ Wembley only the first half was captured for prosperity!

The match report will be duly uploaded when it is recieved but you should know the form by now; here’s some of the action shots from the first half, Aarons try, ’skinnyJim’ Jepson crossing the try line, Mark Razzell putting the ball between the posts a couple of times, anyhow, enjoy………….. just in

Pinner pack powers much needed win.

P&G’s entertained Old Isleworthians at Shaftesbury Playing Fields on Saturday.  Both clubs are mid-table in Herts- Middx division 2 so a win was vital. The first twenty minutes saw both sides testing each other but then mid-way through the first half the ball got to right winger Chris Jepson whose pace proved too much for the defence enabling to score near the posts.  Fly-half Mark Razzell added the conversion to put the home side 7 – 0 up.  Almost immediately Pinner’s lack of discipline enabled O I’s full-back Richard Hewison to reduce this lead to 7 – 3.  Pinner’s pack now began to dominate the set pieces to provide scoring chances but poor passing or over elaboration nullified these opportunities.  Both teams were feeling the effect of some strict refereeing and on the half-hour O I’s were penalised for a high tackle 25 metres from their goal line.  Razzell was once more on target to stretch the lead to 10 -3.  Five minutes and several penalties later P&G’s were in the O I’s 22. The visitors failed to retire the necessary 10 m allowing scrum-half Lane to break quickly before passing to captain Reza Sibilant who found hooker Aaron Nicholas along side to complete a score in the right corner.  This conversion proved too far for Razzell. With Pinner thinking of half-time they relaxed to let O I’s take a quick penalty for flanker Tom Nadiu to score. The half-time score was 15 – 8.

The second half stated with P&G’s playing into the low Sun but with their pack really on top in the set pieces.  After 15 minutes yet another quickly taken penalty caught the defences napping and home scrum-half Lane darted through to score. Razzell added the two points to give Pinner a comfortable 22 – 8 lead.  The home side strived for the fourth ’bonus point’ try but several promising attacks petered out through lack of concentration. The pack, with the front row prominent, provided plenty of ball but some ill-conceived kicks threw away possession.  The game was losing direction through Old Isleworthians causing too many stoppages whilst they reorganised their replacements and having a player sent to the sin-bin for yet another high tackle.  Pinner’s defence was again caught off guard. Quickly taken penalties were the order of the day and now it was O I’s turn. Pinner, penalised for not releasing the ball, allowed the visiting hooker to charge through to score under the posts. Hewison added the two points to give O I’s a losing bonus point.  P&G’s were pleased at least to have the 22 – 15 win but knowing that it should have been more convincing.

Next week P&G’s visit promotion hopefuls OMT’s at their new home at Merchant Taylors School.  The club will hold its annual Boxing Day match at Hatch End when any local players can join in.  Kick-off is nominally 11:30 am.  The league programme resumes on 7th January with local rivals Harrow being the visitors.

DFH  12/12/11.

Saturday, 10 December 2011
Ickenham 26 – 15 Kilburn Cosmos
Old Abbotstonians 32 – 10 London French
Old Grammarians 20 – 15 Uxbridge
Pinner & Grammarians 22 – 15 Old Isleworthians
Royston 12 – 41 Old Merchant Taylors’
Herts/Middlesex 2
Team P W D L F A Diff B Pts Pts Adjust
Harrow 10 9 0 1 376 123 253 8 44 0
Old Merchant Taylors’ 10 9 0 1 340 124 216 6 42 0
Uxbridge 10 8 0 2 322 111 211 6 39 0
Old Grammarians 10 7 0 3 236 135 101 6 34 0
Kilburn Cosmos 10 5 0 5 224 175 49 5 25 0
Old Abbotstonians 10 4 0 6 189 248 -59 5 21 0
Royston 10 5 0 5 177 176 1 3 18 -5
Pinner & Grammarians 10 4 0 6 154 220 -66 2 18 0
Ickenham 10 2 0 8 81 329 -248 0 8 0
London French 10 1 0 9 84 265 -181 2 6 0
Old Isleworthians 10 1 0 9 103 380 -277 2 6 0
Last Updated: Dec 10 2011 4:41PM

Protected: Pinner victorious visit to Hackney Bulls

December 6, 2011 by paul  
Filed under Mini Gallery

Comments Off

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Mini Section Christmas Party – Sunday 11th December

December 6, 2011 by paul  
Filed under Notices

Comments Off

You are all welcome to join in the festive activities from 1pm Sunday 11th December. After the morning training session, the Mini Section will be holding its Christmas Party,

so one would suggest that children bring along a change of clothing – ‘Dress to Impress’, food and drinks, possibly a visitation from the ‘man in red’ (who could that be we ask?), sing along with ‘Sir Les’.

We will be collecting presents for a local childrens’ home; so bring any presents – wrapped with either boy/girl and age tag on them, that would be splendiferous

Hope to see everyone there, especially to thank Kathy and her team a massive thank you.

for more information:

wait for a text/email from Jo!

or click here; christmas party invite

Pinner Rugby Club Christmas Party Saturday 17th December

December 3, 2011 by paul  
Filed under News & Events

Comments Off

Well, once again, that time is upon us…the season of good will, cheer, messiness and debauchery.

Aaron  and  Samuel

would formally like to invite you to the P&G Christmas Party of 2011!

*We require all attending responses by the 10th Dec, no later please.
All PLAYERS attending (1st and Pelicans) are kindly asked for £5 towards the festivities, to be given to Aaron or Samuel by the 10th Dec*

Alternatively if you do not play for 1st XV or Pelicans you can contact Spud, again by the 10th Dec

All members of Pinner Rugby Club are welcome;

it’s going to be an evening of great festivities, fun, drinking, games and the odd carol song

The theme for the evening will be ‘TACKY’ Xmas Jumpers!

(forfeits’ for those Scrooge’s among you that do not abide)

This event is obviously open to friends and family, all are welcome to join in!

Evenings Festivities will include; (while normal drinking rules apply throughout)

- Tackiest Xmas Jumper Competition!
- Xmas Karaoke
- Mass Beer Pong (glow in the dark?)
- Bullets ‘Reindeer Game’
- Snort the Port (pairs boat race)
- all ideas and contributions welcome…

Merry Christmas, we look forward to seeing you all there.


here’s a link to last years festivities! Christmas