DOWNEY, William Howarth

No.561103, Flight Sergeant, William Howarth DOWNEY
Aged 28

99 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Killed in Action on 14th December 1939

William Howarth Downey was born on 16th September 1911 in St Andrews, Newcastle (4th qtr 1911 Newcastle-upon-Tyne 10b:46) son of Thomas Etherington and Ada DOWNEY (née HOWARTH).

In 1911 his parents were at 27 Cavendish Road, Newcastle, father [33] a postman born Newcastle, mother Ada [26] born Thornby Co Durham with his sister Hilda May [3] and brother Thomas Etherington [1] both born Newcastle.

The electoral register for 1937 has him as Leading Aircraftman in 602b Sqdn Auxiliary Air Forces, living at 42 Oakland Road, Newcastle.
He married Molly Eleanor LEECH [8-6-1907] in Bury St.Edmunds in 1938. Probate has his address as 33 Westbourne Avenue, Grange Park, Gosforth, Northumberland. In the 1939 register she had moved back to live with her parents at the Post Office, Horringer. (1 closed record)

William entered the RAF on 19th January 1927, aged 16, as an Aircraft Apprentice at RAF Halton. Mustered in 1928 as an U/t Carpenter/Rigger, entering the Royal Air Force at age 18 on a 12 years engagement. His next of kin was his father, of 42 Oakland Road, West Jesmond, Newcastle

William was the pilot of Vickers Wellington Mk 1a ser no.N2911 c/s LN-E. Having taken off from RAF Newmarket Heath at 11:43 on a raid on Heligoland and Wilhelmshaven. Finding warships in Schillig Roads, they attacked but were set upon by Me110s. Another 99 Sqdn Wellington N2870 was hit by flak and swung round and collided with William's aicraft. Both aircraft crashed into the sea off Wangerooge Island, Lower Saxony, killing all 12 aircrew (6 in each aircraft.) Half the attacking RAF force were failed to return
The crew of "Echo" were Pilot-F/Sgt William Howarth DOWNEY; Sgt Thomas Edwin JONES(2nd pilot); Sgt Elvies Bowen MORGAN (observer); Sgt Frederick George GOODWIN (observer); LAC David Graham HODGE (w/Op- u/t air gunner); AC2 Frank James JOHNSON(air gunner).

This was just before the RAF Command realised it was not viable to send these aircraft out on daylight raids

photo CWGC

William Downey is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Berkshire panel 1

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details