William Reid VC (21 December 1921 – 28 November 2001) was a Scottish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He earned his Victoria Cross as a pilot in the Royal Air Force Bomber Command during the Second World War.
William Reid was born in Baillieston, near Glasgow in 1921 the son of a blacksmith. After leaving school he applied to join the RAF, and following training in Canada, he received his wings. He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in June 1942, where he trained on twin-engined Airspeed Oxfords, his skills were such that he was selected as an instructor, flying the Vickers Wellington, albeit with the promise of a posting to an Avro Lancaster heavy bomber unit. He was promoted to flying officer on 19 December 1942.
He finally saw action in a Lancaster in July 1943, when he flew his first operational mission as second pilot, in a raid on Mönchengladbach. In September he was posted to 61 Squadron at RAF Syerston, Newark, to commence Lancaster bombing operations, and flew seven sorties to various German cities before the raid on the raid on Düsseldorf that earned him the VC.
On the night of 3 November 1943, the 21 year old was on the way to Düsseldorf, when the windscreen his aircraft was shattered by fire from a Messerschmitt Bf 110. Despite having injuries to his head, shoulders and hands, Reid said nothing to his crew, and continued on his mission. A second attack on the plane, this time by a Focke-Wulf Fw 190, which strafed the plane from stem to stern, resulted in the death of his navigator. During this attack his wireless operator fatally wounded, and Reid himself was wounded again, the crew also lost the oxygen supply to the plane. Again, ignoring his injuries, and the increased damage to his plane, Reid pressed on towards his target, which Reid had memorized with such accuracy that the bomb aimer knew nothing of the injuries or casualties (he only knew that the communications had been shot out). After fulfilling his mission, Reid, suffering from severe loss of blood, and occasional blackouts by this time, succeeded in navigating his plane home using the stars, before landing his plane – though the undercarriage collapsed and the aircraft slid along the runway.
Due to his heroic action he was awarded the VC a month later
After a period in hospital, Reid went to C Flight, 617 (Dambuster) Squadron at RAF Woodhall Spa in January 1944. During a raid on a V-weapon storage dump at Rilly-la-Montagne, near Rheims, Reid’s aircraft shudder was hit by a bomb dropped by another Lancaster 6,000 ft above. The bomb ploughed through his plane’s fuselage, severing all control cables and fatally weakening its structure, and Reid gave the order to bail out. Reid managed to escape just as the Lancaster broke in two. He landed heavily by parachute, breaking his arm in the fall, he was shortly after captured by a German patrol and he ended the war in Stalag III-A prisoner of war camp at Luckenwalde, west of Berlin.
After the war Reid became an agricultural adviser.
William Reid died at the age of 79 on 28 November 2001, survived by his wife and their two children. On 19 November 2009, his VC was sold at an auction by medal specialists Spink. It went to an anonymous bidder for £384,000, a record for a VC awarded to someone from the United Kingdom.
courtesy of wikipedia