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William Holmes

Admitted to:

RAF Thorney Island SSQ. St. Richards Hospital, Chichester (06/07/44).

Date of Injury:

06/07/1944

D.O.B/Age when admitted:

29/12/1921 (22)

Cause of Incident:

Enemy Action. Crashed landed in a Stirling on return from op after losing engines to enemy flak over France.

Transferred to QVH:

07/07/1944

Injuries:

Burns to face, hands and legs.

No. of Operations at East Grinstead:



IDENTITY CARD

This is to certify that the patient mentioned below and whose description is stated hereon is the authorised holder of this Identity card.


Forename:

William

Surname:

Holmes

Service No:

176554

Nationality:

British


Awards/Honours:

DFC

Patient Unit:

149 Sqn

Profession:

Pilot

Patient Rank:

Plt Off

Death:

14/04/2017

Age at Death:

96

Dr Rank:

Dr Unit:

Notes:

Holmes, along with fellow Guinea Pigs Harry Stannus and Thomas C. F. Smith, was flying a Special Op. to drop supplies near the French/Swiss border on the night of 5 July 1944. There was no reception committee and as they climbed to fly back, they crossed an airfield and were shot at - it took out the port engines, damaged the petrol tanks and set fire to the port wing root, though Smith was able to extinguish that. They managed to make it back to Britain and had to crash land on Thorney Island, Kent. Holmes made a landing on the planes belly, before sparks caused a fire. Smith pushed Holmes out of the pilot's escape hatch, resulting in severe burns due to the delay in getting himself out.

Glossary:

SSQ - Station Sick Quarters

Further Reading:

References:

'How I Became a Guinea Pig - The Three Little Pigs', Bill Holmes, The Guinea Pig, July 1985, pp. 10-1.



East Grinstead Museum Collection:
EGRTM 2751.42 - black and white headshot of Holmes at a dinner