Battle of Britain veteran, 102, to attend Stonefall service

An act of remembrance from recent years at the Commonwealth War Graves at Stonefall Cemetery.
An act of remembrance from recent years at the Commonwealth War Graves at Stonefall Cemetery.

By Graham Chalmers

A wheelchair-bound 102-year-old veteran who played a vital role in the Battle of Britain will lay a wreath at Stonefall Cemetery in Harrogate tomorrow, Sunday, September 13 on the 75th anniversary of this turning point of the Second World War.

Bill Jerome, who moved to Harrogate with his late wife Irene 30 years ago after retiring, is attending the service at The Candian Air Force Cemetery but will have the wreath laid by a representative.

Born in Bradford of Irish stock, Bill joined the RAF at the outbreak of war and would have been a fighter pilot after being selected as an air officer had his eyesight been better.

Instead, he was given a role in fighter control where he he handled information about the movement of enemey aircraft in those vital months for the nation’s future in 1940.

Although not as dangerous as being in the skies facing The Luftwaffe, the job was far from peaceful.

Bill said: “One moment I could be speaking to a pilot and in another he could be diving to his death. That preyed on my mind. I was under a lot of pressure. At one point we didn’t have many planes left.”

Sunday’s service at 3pm is an annual event held by The Harrogate Branch of the RAF Association, combined with its Yorkshire Region and supported by the Royal Air Force from Linton on Ouse.

The eervice will be led by the Padre Tim Hurren, of St Peter’s Church while the official party will be led by the Mayor of Harrogate, Coun Nigel Simms and the Mayoress Mrs .

Also in attendance will be Andrew Jones, MP for Harrogate & Knaresborough, RAF Menwith Hill, USAF Menwith Hill, Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal British Legion, the Jewish Association and more.

Members of the public are welcome.