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Pilot Officer 175935 William Francis Crosbie, 150 Squadron RAF.
Died 14 May 1944.
Mr and Mrs Crosbie came to Caerwent with McAlpines in 1939. McAlpines were the main contractor for building the Dinham factory, and Mr Crosbie was a supervisor of the Irish navvies, called 'Greenmen' because they were all issued with green overalls.
The Crosbies lived by the side of the 'Welfare Centre', where Mrs Crosbie was in charge of the canteen. She was effectively 'Matron' of the Greenmen, who lived in huts on the far side of the Welfare Centre and numbered 3,500 at their peak.
Mrs Crosbie, a devout Catholic, was very small in stature, but could ‘sort out’ the Greenmen just as well as P.C.’s Rasmussen and Boddy!
Bill had one brother and one sister. He was a gunner in a Wellington bomber. It is believed that the crew trained in Scotland to undertake special missions, probably associated with the 'Dambusters' project.
He was promoted from Warrant Officer in April 1944. Six weeks later his plane set off to destroy the Avisio viaduct, just north of Lake Garda in Italy. Bill’s plane was the leader of a group of eight and its job was to drop flares over the target. Due to bad weather, the mission was aborted and Bill’s was the one plane that failed to return. It may well have crashed in the mountains rather than have fallen prey to enemy action.
Bill was buried at Padua, Italy. His parents did not move on with McAlpines. A niece and nephew still live locally and the family name continues in 'Crosbie Homes', a firm which recently built some houses in Lawrence Crescent.
JN Oct 1997
RAF PERSONNEL - GENERAL NOTES
After 1940 all aircrew were upgraded to at least Sergeant as it was realised that the pay and status of corporal and below did not match the hazards involved in wartime active service. This explains how those killed later in the war could hold a rank such as Pilot Officer although they were not pilots.
All these RAF fliers have graves somewhere as none of them are listed on the Runnymede Memorial, but I have not traced them yet.
GJ Oct 1995