Bomber pilot and chartered surveyor;
Born: July 25, 1919 Died July 25, 2012
Flight-Lieutenant William Hall, who died on his 93rd birthday, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his war service as a bomber pilot and later given a CBE for his services to both the Lands Tribunal for Scotland and its equivalent for England and Wales. He had a distinguished career as a chartered surveyor, contributing to the development of that profession in Scotland.
Before qualifying as a surveyor, Mr Hall, widely known as Bill, served as a flight-lieutenant in the RAF during the Second World War. In 1940 he witnessed the death of his close friend, Sergeant Alex Glass Dunbar, of Cardross, whose plane crashed during a training session.
Mr Hall survived a crash on March 19, 1941 when returning to RAF Mildenhall after a bombing raid over Cologne with 149 Squadron. After his Wellington was hit by anti-aircraft fire, he returned to the UK in thick fog without a wireless or altimeter readings. Trying to reach the aerodrome at Swanton Morely, the starboard wing clipped a tree and the plane hit the ground with the wing on fire. The front gunner was trapped but Mr Hall managed to clear the turret door and he and the gunner escaped as the plane went up in flames and its ammunition exploded.
After flying numerous bombing raids over Europe in 1941, he was asked to fly a Wellington to the Middle East and stayed on as part of 38 Squadron. Having taken part in eight bombing raids, he fell dangerously ill with paratyphoid B. From a hospital in Suez he was shipped to a military hospital in Poona, India, for rehabilitation. By then, he had been "lost" by the RAF administration, was not being paid and his family had been advised he was missing. His old school, Paisley Grammar, even announced his death in action.
But after his recovery he was reunited with the RAF and began flying Liberators with the newly- formed 159 Squadron, flying out of RAF Salboni, West Bengal, for operations in Burma. On one bombing raid, his plane was shot up by Japanese fighter planes and his rear gunner badly wounded. With the bomb bay doors jammed open, he made his way along the narrow gangway between the bays to tend to the gunner before flying the damaged plane safely back to Salboni. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for "consistent and sound endeavour" in the Burmese theatre.
The elder son of Robert and Helen Hall, William Hall was born in Paisley and educated at Paisley Grammar School, where he was a member of the rugby team. He became a King's Scout in 1936 and had started an apprenticeship with the chartered surveyors James Barr & Sons in 1936 but interrupted his training when he volunteered for the RAF in 1939.
After his operations in Europe and the Middle East, he spent the latter part of the war as part of the Middle East Communication Squadron. Back in the UK after the war, he married his childhood sweetheart, Margaret Gibson of Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, in Paisley Abbey in 1945.
Leaving the RAF to complete his surveying qualifications, he had a spell working in the Valuation Office for Dumbartonshire and Argyllshire before joining the House Factors' firm of his uncles, R&W Hall, in 1950. He eventually became a senior partner and built the family business into a successful modern surveying firm. He was president of the Glasgow Property Owners and Factors Association in 1964 and a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS).
His expertise in valuation matters was recognised in 1971 when he was invited as a part-time surveyor member of the Lands Tribunal for Scotland, leaving R&W Hall in 1979 to take up tribunal duties full time. Around the same time, he was also appointed to the Lands Tribunal for England and Wales, giving him the rare distinction of holding simultaneous judicial appointments north and south of the Border.
In 1970, the Lands Tribunal for Scotland had been given power to waive or discharge real burdens in feudal titles and Mr Hall and his colleagues showed great judgment in dealing with this legislation, often facing well-argued opinions from counsel representing opposing parties. He was also involved with disputed cases arising from the 1980 legislation giving council tenants the right to buy their houses.
His contribution to the work of the Lands Tribunals was recognised with a CBE on his retirement in 1991. A well-known figure in Paisley business circles, he enjoyed public speaking and was president of Paisley Burns Club in 1982, and an active member of Paisley Rotary for 24 years. He made occasional judicial appearances on the bench at Paisley Sheriff Court after being appointed an honorary sheriff in 1974.
He never forgot the sacrifices made by so many of his generation during the war, and gave committed service on the board of the Erskine Hospital, which cares for war veterans, from 1976-99. His expertise in property was of particular value to the board and he masterminded a successful rating appeal for the hospital which significantly reduced its financial liabilities.
A keen sportsman with a particular passion for golf and football, he was captain of both Cochrane Castle and Erskine golf clubs, a member of the Western Gailes club in Ayrshire and a life-long St Mirren supporter.
Highly sociable but sometimes frustrated by the hearing loss from noise damage during his war service, Mr Hall loved to meet and converse with family, friends and new acquaintances. Even at the end of his life, those he met were charmed by his genuine desire to know about their lives, his concern for their welfare, his sense of fun and the twinkle in his eye. He died in Cochrane Care Home in Johnstone, Renfrewshire.
Bill Hall's wife Margaret died in 2010 after a happy marriage of 65 years. He is survived by their son David, daughters Elinor, Elaine and Maureen and 11 grandchildren.
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