Akrill, William Eric

Personal Information

Rank Sgt
Forename(s) William Eric
Surname Akrill
Gender M
Age 21
Date of Death 13-03-1943
Next of Kin Son of John William Akrill and Kate Ethel Akrill (née Foston), of Collingham, Nottinghamshire.

Aircraft Information

Aircraft Vickers Wellington III
Serial Number BJ756
Markings KO-Q

Memorial Information

Burial/Memorial Country United Kingdom
Burial/Memorial Place Runnymede Memorial
Grave Reference Panel 140.

IBCC Memorial Information

Phase 2
Panel Number 121

Enlistment Information

Service Number 1436220
Service Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Group 3
Squadron 115
Trade Navigator
Country of Origin United Kingdom

Other Memorials

Location International Bomber Command Centre, Lincoln, Lincolnshire
Country United Kingdom
Memorial Type Inscribed stone tablet
Memorial Text Billy Akrill 115 Sqn & the crew with him Died 12/3/1943 Age 21
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Location Lancaster Industrial Estate, Witchford, Cambridgeshire
Country United Kingdom
Memorial Type Stone Pillar with inscribed Slate Tablets & Metal Plaques
Memorial Text In honour of those who served during the Second World War 1939 - 1945
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Miscellaneous Information

Born 11 March 1922 in Fillingham, Lincolnshire. Known as Billy. He had an older sister, Mary and an older brother, Harry. The Akrill family had lived in the Fillingham area for several generations, as tenant farmers. In 1930, when Billy was 8 years old the family took on the tenancy of Bolting Holme Farm on Swinderby Rd, Collingham before moving to Potter Hill Farm. He attended Collingham Boys' School (where he was known as Eric) and had a flair for painting and a poetic turn of phrase. When he left school in 1937 aged 15, he went to study at Newark College of Art and was taught by Robert Kiddey, who was a well-known sculptor and artist. In January 1939, when he was still only 16, he went to London to the Russell St. Polytechnic to study to be a commercial Artist. Returning to Collingham- probably at the outbreak of war- he then worked for a local firm of surveyors, Smith-Woolley & Co.
He enlisted at Cardington, Bedforshire on 30 May 1941. After basic training he was posted to EFTS Theale but was eventually posted for observer training and then to 16 OTU Uppr Heyford and finally 115 Squadron around 25 February 1943. He was killed two days after his 21st birthday and the telegram informing the family of his loss arrived on his father's birthday.
He kept a journal/ diary from 1939 onwards where his sketches and poetic prose became more and more evident. Here is one such entry… "It was frosty now and the sun had gone down with a gorgeous flourish of gold and deep purple set in an emerald sky and the last faint flush of afterglow still remained. The blackbirds were singing, and I stopped to listen to one perched in the last young oak, pouring out his lazy, liquid notes, ‘til, with a sudden passion of harsher notes, he dropped, still singing, into the hedge". He had asked that all of his letter home be kept to 'be a kind of diary later on'. They were indeed kept and found, many years later, in the loft of his sister's house after she passed away in 1997.

IBCC Digital Archive

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The National Archives

Fellow Servicemen

Last Operation Information

Start Date 12-03-1943
End Date 13-03-1943
Takeoff Station East Wretham
Day/Night Raid Night (42% moon)
Operation Essen. 457 aircraft, 23 losses (5.0%). PFF marked using Oboe. Very accurate bombing over the Krupps factory. 500 homes also destroyed. German authorities also reported damage and deaths in neighbouring towns.
Reason for Loss Shot down by a Bf.110 night-fighter flown by Lt. Oskar Köstler of 10./NJG1 and crashed into the IJsselmeer

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Casualty Pack

IBCC is delighted to introduce a unique facility to link the Losses Database to the relevant RAF Casualty Pack on the National Archives website. This project is the result of on-going collaboration between IBCC, the MOD Records Office and National Archives, Kew. This document describes what Casualty Packs are, when they were created, the process of making them available to the public and then goes on to describe the process by which you can view the contents of the packs. Casualty Packs (CPs) were created by the RAF whenever there was serious injury or loss of life associated with operational activity within the RAF. This includes operational flying losses, enemy action due to air raids, road accidents either on station or even off-station if they involved RAF vehicles. Deaths due to natural causes in service or accidents that did not involve RAF vehicles did not generally give rise to a CP.

CPs were originally given a unique reference number by the RAF. Each begins with the letter ‘P’ and is followed by six digits, then an oblique (forward slash) and the finally the year in which the incident took place- for example P396154/42.

The CPs are in the process of being made available to the general public as they are passed from the MOD Records Office, Portsmouth to National Archives, Kew. This process requires some rework to the files which is very time consuming, so the process of making them all available to National Archives will take several years. They are being made available in increasing date order.

Once CPs arrive at National Archives they are assigned a unique AIR81 number, so each CP has both a P-number and an AIR81 number. Both are searchable on the National Archives website under ‘Search the catalogue’ and both are included on the IBCC website.

The AIR81 reference on the IBCC website is a link to the file on the National Archives website. When you click on it, the relevant page will open in a new tab on your browser.

There is currently no plan to digitise AIR81 files, partly because they are fragile and partly because the information they contain can at times be sensitive, even harrowing, since they may contain exhumation reports and even photographs of corpses. Family members wishing to read the AIR81 files relating to their ancestors are advised to exercise caution and be guided by National Archives warnings where appropriate.

There are two means for accessing AIR81 files- to attend in person or to order a copy by post.

To attend in person, the attendee should first create a Reader’s Ticket. This can be done online by following this link: https://secure.nationalarchives.gov.uk/login/yourdetails. Then click on the AIR81 reference on the IBCC website and click Order in Advance. Enter your Reader’s Ticket number and state the date on which you intend to visit. National Archives will have the file ready for you when you arrive, saving you time. When you visit Kew, you must quote the Reader’s Ticket number and take along two forms of ID- one bearing your signature and one bearing your address. When you view the files, you are permitted to take photographs of each page, should you wish.

Alternatively, if you wish to order a copy by post, please be aware that there is a charge for this service based on the number of pages in the file. Click on the AIR81 reference on the IBCC website and then click Request a Copy. There is an £8.40 charge for National Archives staff to access the file and give you a quotation for the copying service. The process takes around 24 days to complete and can be expensive.

IBCC wishes to thank the staff at the MOD Records Office and National Archives for their engagement and assistance in making this facility available to our website users.