Heath Old Boys Association


Obituaries


Eugene ‘Bill’ Birch: 1923–2003 [Heath 1933–1938]

Bill Birch was born in Halifax. After leaving Heath he joined the Civil Service in London. In 1939 he volunteered for air crew and trained first as a pilot and then as a navigator in the U.S. and Canada, finishing top of his class. Bill won the Distinguished Flying Medal and reached the rank of flight lieutenant. He became a navigator instructor serving on Lancaster bombers in the Royal Australian Air Force at RAF Waddington. He was then selected to serve with the crack Mosquito ‘Pathfinders’ unit based at RAF Little Staunton in Bedfordshire — which used the revolutionary Oboe system to lay flares on targets all over Europe.

Shortly after the war he married his wife Marjorie. Bill then studied medicine at Guy’s Hospital, London, qualifying in 1951. By all accounts, he was a very good rugby player, and played for Guy’s at a time when they were a force in English rugby.

Bill then became a house surgeon in the Bradford area so as to be near his family. He was a good administrator and decided to go into public health. He served as deputy medical officer for Bradford, then Lindsey. He became medical officer for health in Kesteven in 1966 and retired in 1974. Bill still found time to act as a locum and was a part-time medical officer for the RAF. He remained active in veterans’ associations.

Mr Birch is survived by his wife, four children and five grand children, to whom we extend our deepest sympathy.

The above obituary is based upon that which appeared in the Lincoln newspaper and we are grateful to Bernard Wilkinson for providing it and further information. Bernard mentions that Bill had a younger brother, Howard, who was also at Heath.

First appeared in Newsletter dated .