Leading Aircraftman William James Bleeks (1035372) served in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War. Born on 28th May 1918, he was the eldest son of Robert Bleeks and Elizabeth Anna Bleeks of “Hawthorne Cottage”, Stewartstown, Co. Tyrone, and the husband of Mary Jane Bleeks (née McCann) of 5 Watson’s Lane, Portadown, Co. Armagh.
In civilian life, William worked at the Imperial Hotel in Portadown where he had been on the staff for six years before enlisting in the the R.A.F.V.R.
Leading Aircraftman Bleeks died at 2230hrs on 20th June 1942 aged 24 years old at Kirkwall Military Hospital, Orkney, Scotland. Cause of death was due to an extra-dural haemorrhage and cerebral compression as a result of injuries sustained in a motoring accident while serving at R.A.F. Skeabrae.
The body of the Leading Aircraftman arrived in Northern Ireland on Thursday 27th June 1944 accompanied by a comrade and friend from his squadron. A funeral service took place the following day where a Royal Air Force officer and six pallbearers accompanied the coffin. Reverend J.W. Abblebey M.A. of Seagoe and Reverend F.B. Worrall of Stewartstown conducted services at the family home and the church.
Leading Aircraftman Bleeks’ grave is in Section B, Grave 78 of Seagoe Cemetery, Portadown, Co. Armagh. His name is on the Portadown War Memorial and the Seagoe Church of Ireland War Memorial, Portadown, Co. Armagh. It also features on the Stewartstown War Memorial and the roll of honour at St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland, Stewartstown, Co. Tyrone. His headstone bears the inscription:
For ever with the Lord.