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Bill Watling - killed flying into high ground near Deal, Kent

William Charles 'Bill' Watling was born in Middlesborough on 22nd February 1920 but his family later settled in Guernsey where he attended Elizabeth College from 1936 to 1939. He excelled at Athletics.

He entered the RAF College, Cranwell in September 1939 as a flight cadet. The course was suspended on the outbreak of war and he was transferred to the RAFVR as an Airman u/t Pilot, but still at Cranwell.

After completing his flying training he graduated with a Permanent Commission on 14th July 1940 and joined 92 Squadron at Pembrey on the 15th. He was then posted straight to 5 OTU Aston Down to convert to Spitfires and did not return to 92 till 2nd August.

He claimed a share in the destruction of a Ju88 on 14th August but was shot down in combat with enemy aircraft over East Guldeford near Rye on 9th September in Spitfire P9372 and baled out, badly burned on face and hands.

Returning to flying after recovering from his burns Watling probably destroyed a Me109 on 2nd November and damaged another on 1st December.

He survived the Battle of Britain but was killed on 7th February 1941, still with 92 Squadron. Two Spitfires, including Watling in R6924, took off from Manston in the morning for a weather test. Visibility was extremely bad and his aircraft flew into high ground near Deal.

Watling was 20 years old and is buried in St. Mary Cray Cemetery, Orpington, Kent.

Photos and text courtesy of Battle of Britain Monument website

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