Wartime RAF pilot;
Born: September 28 1919; Died: September 20, 2012.
Group Captain Bill Farquharson, who has died in London aged 92, flew more than 63 hazardous missions with Bomber Command in the Second World War. On a particularly dangerous mission in March 1945 he led a formation to attack and bomb strategically important oil reserves near Dortmund. Before reaching the target he came under heavy fire from enemy artillery and his bomber was severely damaged. Despite manoeuvrability problems he continued with his mission and successfully released his bombs over the oil wells. However his plane was so badly damaged that he had to land near Brussels in dense fog.
He was awarded an immediate Bar to a DFC he had received earlier. Such bravery and dedication to see a mission through to its completion were qualities that were to remain paramount throughout his life.
William Lyall Farquharson was born in Malaya, the son of a policeman in the Colonial Service. He attended schools in Malaya and Australia but his education was completed at Harris Academy in Dundee. He attended the Birmingham Central Technical College before enlisting with the RAF in 1941 to train as a pilot. The following year he joined No 115 Squadron and for some months flew sorties dropping mines on critical coastlines off France notably at the entrances to U-boat bases.
Gp Capt Farquharson then flew missions over Germany and Italy before leading a demanding night sortie in 1943 – it was a five-hour flight each way – to attack industry at Stretten in Germany. He made three runs at the target – each under a constant and heavy barrage of enemy fire – displaying a cool nerve and immense valour. His third over-flight was to take valuable reconnaissance photographs and for such devotion to duty he was awarded his first DFC.
When the war ended Gp Capt Farquharson remained in the RAF and flew mercy missions dropping food parcels to the stricken Dutch people and then repatriated many UK soldiers from POW camps. In all his missions he preserved a cool head: once after ordering his crew to bail out he had to crash-land his Wellington in a farm in the Cotswolds. Although badly concussed he heard the farmer's son shouting: "There's an aeroplane in the greenhouse."
In peacetime Gp Capt Farquharson became a flying instructor and was the chief advanced instructor with the Meteor jet fighter. In 1953 he led the RAF's aircraft in the Coronation flypast.
After appointments in the Far East and as station commander at RAF in Cyprus, he was appointed air attaché in Warsaw at the height of the Cold War. In 1976 he retired from the RAF and worked in the sales division of a company manufacturing flight simulators. He acted as a most active chairman of the Bomber Command Association and was made an honorary vice-president in recognition of his work on behalf of veterans.
An event that gave Gp Capt Farquharson a very special pleasure came in 2009. To celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Lord's cricket ground opening as the wartime aircrew reception centre a Lancaster Bomber flew over the ground. He was interviewed by Jonathan Agnew during the tea interval who ruefully commented that the Lancaster and Gp Capt Farquharson got more applause that day than the English cricketers.
He attended the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial at Hyde Park Corner by the Queen in July, a few weeks before his death.
Gp Capt Farquharson married Patricia Pinney, who was a WAAF operations officer on his bomber station, in 1944. She and their son and two daughters survive him
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