Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

I Was Not Frightened. I Had a Job to Do and I Did It; This Week the Gazette Has Been Telling the Remarkable Stories of Teesside's D-Day Heroes. Today - on the 70th Anniversary - Reporter Mike Brown Continues Our Salute to the Courage of Those Brave Men and Women with the Story of Air Gunner William Caster

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

I Was Not Frightened. I Had a Job to Do and I Did It; This Week the Gazette Has Been Telling the Remarkable Stories of Teesside's D-Day Heroes. Today - on the 70th Anniversary - Reporter Mike Brown Continues Our Salute to the Courage of Those Brave Men and Women with the Story of Air Gunner William Caster

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Brown

SEVENTY years ago today, Teesside war hero William Caster flew over France to help protect the thousands who would land at Normandy on DDay.

The brave air gunner took part in an early morning attack on German artillery on Sword Beach at Ouistreham.

While that might have been enough for most, William, known to friends as Bill, then climbed back in his plane to take on another daring raid - after a quick phone call home to future wife Irene.

Bill said: "I remember that I wasn't nervous ahead of the first run, just excited.

"We were being briefed all day on June 5, and then we were up at 4am on D-Day. They said 'this is it.'.

"When we got to the south coast, I remember seeing thousands of ships below. You could not see the sea for ships. We flew over them, which usually the Navy would never allow.

"At around twenty past five we reached the gun batteries at Ouistreham. That was the first daylight raid I had done, but it wasn't the last.

"Certainly I couldn't wait to ring Irene to say I had got back. I left a message to say I was fine. I remember telling the man on base that it wasn't my girlfriend who I had called. I married her six weeks later. But then I remember them asking 'can anyone go again?' and I did.

"I was feeling elated after the first run.

"Honestly, I wasn't frightened. I had a job to do and I did it."

And not content with helping to win the war in Europe, Bill, now 91, then volunteered to fight in Japan.

He joined the RAF in 1943 - and could have retired from action after D-Day to train other recruits.

But not Bill: "I wanted to be fighting. I fought the Japanese in Liberators until 1945.

"I have some excellent memories of the time. The camaraderie was incredibly strong. We were a family, we did everything together.

"I was keen to have a go at the Japs. I just wanted to get back to it. They sent me to be an instructor but I was bored by that."

Former ace marksman and RAF Warrant Officer Bill, who lives in Eston, has a chest full of medals, including a rare clasp for service on D-Day.

He served in 30 key missions in the 75 New Zealand Squadron in Europe against the Germans in 1943/44 and later in the 355 Squadron in the Far East against the might of Japan. …

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