Town remembers war hero

By Patrick LowmanA FORGOTTEN hero who was involved in one of the most spectacular air battles of the Second World War is to be honoured 65 years after his death.

By Patrick Lowman

A FORGOTTEN hero who was involved in one of the most spectacular air battles of the Second World War is to be honoured 65 years after his death.

Corporal William Gray Lillie became one of the first British servicemen to be awarded a Distinguished Flying Medal for bravery after showing nerves of steel during a battle on April 3, 1940, when he was aged just 21.

He was serving as a rear gunner on a 25-tonne Sunderland Flying Boat over the coast of Norway when six German Junker 88 bombers confronted him.


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During a fierce battle, Cpl Lillie shot down two Junkers, forcing the four remaining bombers to flee.

Cpl Lillie received the Distinguished Flying Medal just days after the incident, provoking great celebrations in Girling Street, Sudbury, where he spent most of his life.

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But just weeks later the 204 Squadron airman was killed when the enemy shot him down over the coast of Norway.

Since then, his heroics have been somewhat forgotten - but after tireless campaigning by his 84-year-old sister, Florence Mortimer, and her son, Tony, his legacy will now live on forever.

For Babergh District Council and developers Taylor Woodrow announced a new 28-home development in Edgworth Road, Sudbury, would be named Corporal Lillie Close.

Mrs Mortimer said: “I am absolutely over the moon with the decision. When I see his name up in writing, I will be so proud because before the war we were inseparable.

“William was Sudbury's first Second World War hero, but everything he did had been forgotten. Now his legacy will live on forever.”

A spokesman for Babergh District Council said: “Babergh is delighted, in working with others, to have been able to have met the wishes of the family by naming a road after Corporal Lillie.”

patrick.lowman@eadt.co.uk

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