Wilmer Harry "Bill" Reid

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Surrendering in Mid-Air, Italians Show Elation

With the R.C.A.F. in Italy, Nov. 5, 1943 - (CP) - One of the first concrete prizes to come into Allied hands after the capitulation of Italy was a three-motored Savoi medium bomber, which surrendered in mid-flight to a single Allied fighter.
The machine was seen over the sea north of Sicily and an R.A.F. Spitfire squadron, with which P/O Bruce J. Ingalls of Danville, Que., was flying, was warned to be on the lookout. “When the Spitfires did find the Italian aircraft, Ingalls said, a Grumman Martlett fighter already was shepherding it toward Sicily.
"We were on the way home after a patrol over the assault beaches," said Ingalls, "when we got the mes­sage to watch for this Eytie ma­chine. When we found it, the Grumman already had it in tow, so to speak, so we just flew along with them for a while. It finally landed at a field close to our own.
"We didn't see the surrender, but we heard afterward that the crew waved handkerchiefs from every window in the kite as soon as the fighter appeared."

Toronto Flier in Melee
A Toronto Spitfire pilot, P/O Bill Reid, of 141 Old Forest Hill Road, was flying with an R.A.F. squadron which engaged 12 FW-190's over the Italian coast, shooting down three and damaging another. The German aircraft had released their bombs when the Spitfires dived on them. Reid fired at two FWs during the melee, but was not able to confirm any score.
"I got in a burst at the first one in a tight turn, but could not see my fire striking home on him," Reid said. "A moment later I saw one going down in flames, but we couldn't confirm whether it was mine or not"
A moment later he opened fire on another, but did not see any results from this attack.

“Hap" Kennedy Promoted
I. F. (Hap) Kennedy, D.F.C., of Cumberland, Ont., veteran fighter pilot with a score of seven enemy aircraft destroyed, has been promoted flight lieutenant and placed in charge of a flight in an R.A.F. Spitfire squadron in Sicily.
Kennedy was one of several Canadians flying with the squadron from which he transferred on receiving his promotion and in his new unit he again found himself among members of the R.C.A.F. He had five aircraft destroyed to his credit when he joined his first squadron in Sicily, then commanded by S/L George Hill, D.F.C., and two bars, of Pictou, N.S. His sixth and seventh victories were FW190's, each destroyed after long chases. The first Focke-Wulf was shot down over the Italian coast during a dusk patrol only a few hours after the squadron destroyed six Macchi Italian fighters in a single engagement.
The last came the day after the invasion of Italy, when Kennedy chased the German 50 miles along the Italian coast, damaging the machine with gunfire and forcing the pilot to bail out.
Other Canadians with his present squadron are Sgts. J. C. Turcott, Sudbury, Ont.; Bill Downer, Midland, Ont., and P/O Bill Hockey, Kentville, N.S.


Born Toronto, 12 November 1919.
Home there (barrel setter).
Enlisted there 12 December 1940.
Trained at
No.1 ITS (graduated 22 April 1941)
No.1 EFTS (graduated 28 May 1941) &
No.2 SFTS (graduated 7 August 1941).
Sergeant, 8 August 1941.
Posted to England, August 1941.
No.52 OTU, 9 September to 28 October 1941.
No.247 Squadron, 28 October 1941 to 14 March 1942.
Flight Sergeant, 8 February 1942.
On 13 June 1942 on a convoy patrol his Hurricane
developed a glycol leak and caught fire.
He baled out and was picked up by HMS Pearl.
No.247 Squadron, 22-28 August 1942.
WO2, 8 August 1942.
No.175 Squadron, 28 August 1942 to 10 June 1943.
WO1, 1 September 1942.
Commissioned 6 December 1942.
Flying Officer, 6 June 1943.
No.43 Sq. Malta, 10 Jun. 1943 to 8 Jan 1944 (Spitfires)
(No.1447 Flight (Scilly Isles), 14 Mar. - 22 Aug. 1943).
On 6 August 1943 his Hurricane's undercarriage.
collapsed as he landed at last light in Scillies.
Flight Lieutenant, 1 September 1944.
Non-operational postings in the Mediterranean.
Arrived back in Britain, 27 September 1944.
To Canada, 29 October 1944.
No.4 BGS, Fingal, 10 Dec. 1944 to 17 February 1945.
Released from the RCAF on 10 April 1945.
Claimed 320 sorties (300 by day, twenty by night).
Award presented 22 November 1948.
Postwar he was a lawyer in Quebec.
Died in Toronto 18 February 1994.


Four RCAF Flyers Given Decorations

Ottawa, March 3, 1944 - Air Force headquarters last night announced the award of decorations to four members of the RCAF serving overseas, all veterans of the North African, Sicilian and Italian campaigns. The awards :

Distinguished Flying Cross -
F/L R.H. Stringer, Davyroyd, Sask.
F/O W.H. Reid, 141 Old Forest Hill road, Toronto
W/O A.J.C. Mower, R.R. No. 3, St. Catharines
W/O J.F. Racette, of Montreal


REID, F/O Wilmer Harry (J16290) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.43 Squadron
Award effective 23 February 1944 as per London Gazette dated 3 March 1944 &
AFRO 766/44 dated 6 April 1944 which erroneously identified his unit as No.45 Squadron

Flying Officer Reid has completed a long tour of duty on day and night fighter bomber operations. He has served in England and throughout the North African, Sicilian and Italian campaign. This officer has always shown exceptional courage and keenness to engage the enemy, on several occasions pursuing aircraft far into enemy territory. He has destroyed four enemy aircraft.

A draft RCAF Press Release gives more details. Unfortunately, it's not dated so it's difficult to pinpoint which action it describes:

Advanced Italian Airfield - A Toronto Spitfire pilot who is just gone into the last 50 of his first 300 hours of operational flying, P/O W.H. Reid of 141 Old Forest Hill Road, Toronto, recently destroyed his third enemy aircraft during a dogfight behind the enemy lines on the western Italian front.
Reid was attacked by four Me.109 German fighters while he was on patrol with his squadron and shot one of them down while two others were firing at him from behind. Neither of the two Germans on his tail managed to put a single bullet in his machine.

“I pulled around in a might tight turn when the four of them came in on me”, Reid said. “We were at about 5,000 feet and I got in a couple of bursts at one of them. The first time I saw strikes on the cockpit and the second squirt took most of his right wing off.”
“The kite went right down into the ground. The pilot never had a chance to bail out. By the time I got through with him and started looking for the others, they had beat it into a cloud formation and I never saw them again.”
“Two of them were right on my tail firing, when I was shooting at the guy, but luckily neither landed one,” the Toronto pilot said.

His recent victory gave him a total of three aircraft to his personal credit, all of them Me.109s.
The veteran fighter pilot has been overseas since the summer of 1941, when he reached England as a Sergeant Pilot after completing his training at Malton and Uplands. He was successively with Hurricane night fighters, Hurribombers and day interception in Hurries again in Britain. Later he put in a short hitch ferrying aircraft between Gibraltar and Algiers before moving to an Army Co-op and then to a Spitfire outfit.


Victories Include :

27 July 1943
2 Nov 1943
6 Nov 1943
19 Nov 1943
14 Dec 1943
1/2 Me109
1/2 Me109
one Me109
one Me109
one FW190
43 Sq.

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