Remembering Bill Saddler 70 years on

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Last month marked the 70th anniversary of the loss of W. G. F. Saddler, a former Forfar lad, in action over Berlin at the age of 20.

On November 26, 1943, Sergeant Navigator W. G. F. Saddler – known as Bill to his family and friends – took off from RAF Waterbeach near Cambridge with six other members of the Lancaster DS814 crew.

It was one of eight aircraft from the 514 Squadron that took off from Waterbeach that day to join a force of 443 other Lancasters in one of the biggest raids on Berlin to that point.

Initially they headed to Frankfurt on a decoy run, before turning towards the German capital, where they were met by unexpectedly clear weather and activity from anti-aircraft flak stations and night fighters.

On the way home, the DS814 was caught in the searchlights and it was eventually hit by anti-aircraft fire before exploding and coming down in the woods close to the village of Germendorf.

Bill and the rest of his crew were recovered and taken for burial at Germendorf.

However, after the war, they were exhumed and are now buried side by side in the British and Commonwealth Second World War Cemetery in Berlin.

Now, Bill’s nephew John is seeking those who may have known his uncle as he tries to find out more about him.

John, whose grandfather Archibald Saddler owned the bakery on East High Street until his death in 1956, when it was bought by cousins, the current owners Sandy and his son Michael Saddler, said: “Uncle Bill was 20 when he died, and his eldest brother James, my father, never once spoke of him in my hearing.

“It was never explained to me what a hero Bill had been simply to pull on his flight hat and headset, step into that Lancaster and take off into a dark Cambridgeshire night.

“Now I’m doing what I can to find out more about Bill’s story and what the young man in the photographs was really like.

“My family’s association with Forfar and the bakery on East High Street has always been a source of great pride for me. Even more so now that I’ve learned more about the courage and sacrifice of my Uncle Bill in World War Two and of my great uncles, David and Norman Saddler, both Privates in the Black Watch, who gave their lives in World War One.

“It was a great honour to be present at the Forfar War Memorial on Remembrance Day to remember them and all of Forfar’s fallen.”

He added: “I would very much like to hear from anyone who knew Bill in Forfar as a boy or young man, or indeed any of the family. If you can tell me anything about Bill do get in touch through the newspaper and I will be most grateful to have your story.”