MCCONNELL, William Winder  
 
PERSONALIA
 
Name:  McConnell, William Winder
Date of birth: Unknown (Belfast/Northern Ireland, Great Britain)
Date of death:  1998
Nationality:  Irish
BIOGRAPHY: 
Service number 81643.

William Winder McConnell was born in Belfast and entered the RAF reserve in the early part of 1939. When war was declared, he began full-time service in England.
He joined No. 245 Squadron and was sent to the RAF base in Belfast. He would be part of the group protecting Belfast from attack by German bombers.
He didnít see face to face combat in the air until he was posted back to Britain in late 1940, at the height of the Battle of Britain.
He was in the Channel when he encounter a number of enemy planes and managed to come out of the dogfight uninjured. He was not so lucky a few months later when he was attacked near Dover and was shot in the legs. He managed to pull his shoot and escape from the plane while it was not so fortunate, going on to smash into the white cliffs.
Lying injured, he was rescued and taken to hospital and spent quite a while there before returning to active service in May of 1941.
He was posted to a role as instructor, moving on to Flight Lieutenant and returning to service on Hawker Hurricanes.
McConnell would be involved in a series of raids across the channel, bombing shipping and airfields but it was during one of these sustained attacks that the squadron hit real problems. Five of its aircraft were shot down, resulting in the death of the Squadron Leader.
Ultimately, McConnell was selected to replace him and his reputation grew, so much so he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1942.
He continued to form part of large raids through 1943 but in February 1944 his war would be over. His Typhoon aircraft was shot down over occupied Europe and he was taken prisoner by the waiting German army.
He was taken to Stalag Luft and held there until VE Day - June 8, 1945.
Making his way back to Britain after that, he was posted to a flying school but soon after was released from the RAF.
Like many of the former pilots he took up a role in the commercial flying business and thatís where his life with Aer Lingus began. He was accepted as a pilot in 1946 and went on to enjoy 30 years service under their wing.
He was almost 60 when he left them but not content with hanging up his wings just yet, he flew with Zambian airlines for another year and retired from flying in 1977
William Winder McConnell died in 1998,

joining 607 Squadron September 25, 1940 from 32 Squadron where he was temporarily attached while at RAF Acklington. He moved from 607 at Tangmere, to 257 Squadron at North Weald, October 13, 1940: 607 Squadron returned to Usworth on October 10/11

Promotions:
18th June 1940: commission granted as Pilot Officer;
18th June 1941: Flying Officer;
18th June 1942: Flight Lieutenant.
     
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS (DFC)
Rank: Acting Flight Lieutenant
Unit: No. 174 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Awarded on: June 30th, 1942
Action: Citation:
"Flight Lieutenant McConnell has completed a large number of operational sorties both by day and night and has shared in the destruction of two enemy bombers. He was appointed flight commander in March, 1942, and has since led his flight and on occasions the squadron, in many successful bombing operations. These have included both high and low level attacks against aerodromes and factories and against enemy shipping at night. Despite intense opposition, Flight Lieutenant McConnell has displayed fine leadership and determination which have contributed largely to the successes achieved by his squadron. He has proved himself an excellent flight commander and has set a fine example."
 
     
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS (DFC)
Rank: Squadron Leader
Unit: No. 23 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Awarded on: September 22nd, 1942
Action: Citation:
"Since being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross Squadron Leader McConnell has led his squadron in a number of successful offensive operations which have included attacks against enemy shipping, docks and aerodromes. He also participated with distinction in the combined operations at Dieppe on igth August, 1942. Squadron Leader McConnell has consistently displayed gallantry and devotion to duty of a high order, whilst his leadership has been an example to others."
Details: Second DFC awarded as a bar for on the ribbon of the first DFC.
 
 
 
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Information source(s):   - Fourth Supplement to The London Gazette Issue 35614 published on the 26 June 1942
- Second Supplement to The Gazette Issue 35712 published on the 18 September 1942
- Fingal Independent
- The Southeast Echo
- The Battle of Britain Society
   
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