Memoirs of a young man with the most dangerous job reprinted

Bill Foote, centre, with Jack and Reg sitting on a bomb payload.
Bill Foote, centre, with Jack and Reg sitting on a bomb payload.

An north Northumberland man’s memoirs of his time as a bomber pilot in the Second World War have proved so popular that a second print run has been commissioned.

Last September’s publication of Me, the RAF and 77 Squadron by Bill Foote was timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the author’s first operational flight over German-occupied Europe.

Shortly after, Bill, who has lived in north Northumberland for more than 60 years, suffered a stroke from which he’s making a remarkable recovery for a man now well into his 90s and he is relishing the success of his book.

Pilot officers were generally young men in their early 20s, their crews were often younger, some as young as 19.

It is remarkable to think what they achieved at such ages, especially considering the high death rate among air crew, which was worse than the odds for a First World War infantry officer.

Only one in six survived their first tour of operations, one in 40 their second.

Bill Foote’s story covers his training from the time he volunteered as an 18½-year-old in October 1941 to his first operational flight in 1944 and beyond.

Much of his early flying training was in Canada which was very different from the UK and Europe with vast distances over largely featureless terrain with few discernible landmarks making navigation difficult and extreme weather conditions during the winter months making things even more dangerous for inexperienced flyers.

But there were compensations in Canada, not least the tremendous food available with what appeared to be a limitless supply of eggs – rarely seen in the UK at the time – and enormous steaks.

The Canadian people were extremely kind with many offering men under training a welcome break and wonderful hospitality.

Copies of the book, priced at £7.50, are available from its publisher, Wanney Books –www.wildsofwanney.co.uk or 01665 604717.