William Watson Miller

Flying Officer William Watson Miller from Bangor, Co Down died aged 21 years old on 24th February 1945 when his De Havilland Mosquito crashed in training.

Flying Officer

William Watson Miller


Flying Officer William Watson Miller flew as a navigator with RAF 248 Squadron. The young airman from Bangor, Co. Down received a Distinguished Flying Cross in October 1944.

Flying Officer William Watson Miller (151387) served in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during World War Two. He was the only son of Robert Miller and Margaret Miller of Castle Street, Bangor, Co. Down.

William attended Bangor Public Elementary School and Bangor Grammar School, where he was captain of the 1st XI cricket team. He played inter-provincial cricket for Ulster Schools against a team from Leinster and was also a keen rugby player.

Miller was a member of the Bangor Flight of the Air Training Corps before joining RAF 248 Squadron as a navigator in 1941. The Gazette on 3rd October 1944 printed the citation for his receiving of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

This officer has participated in a large number of varied sorties. He is a navigator of great ability and his fine work has contributed materially to the success of the operations in which he has taken part.

In August 1944, during a reconnaissance of the Gironde area, his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire. The petrol tanks were pierced and a quantity of the contents was lost. A course was set for home but the petrol became exhausted and the aircraft came down on to the sea.

Flying Officer Miller, who had temporarily lost consciousness, recovered to find himself submerged in the cockpit. He released his harness and managed to climb clear. His pilot was apparently still trapped.

Although Flying Officer Miller had both his ankles fractured and was in great distress, he re-entered the cockpit in a vain attempt to find his comrade. He displayed great courage, fortitude, and resolution in highly trying circumstances.

Miller died on 24th February 1945 aged 21 years old. He was the navigator on board De Havilland Mosquito RE603 when it crashed during a training exercise. The plane took off from RAF Banff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. As the crew carried out steep diving rocket attacks on targets at sea, an aileron became detached in a dive. This malfunction caused vibrations throughout the plane, breaking up a wing.

The stricken plane came down on Royal Tarlair Golf Course, MacDuff, Aberdeenshire. The Mosquito pilot Flight Lieutenant Lewis Robert Bacon also died in the incident.

William Watson Miller’s grave is in Section 4U, Grave 113 of Bangor New Cemetery, Bangor, Co. Down. His headstone bears the inscription:

We thank our God for every remembrance of you.