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RAF hero flew to safety after pilot passed out; JAMES William Norris, holder of the Conspicuous Gallantry medal, has died at the age of 88.

JAMES William Norris, known as Jim, was a flight sergeant of 61 Squadron RAF during World War II.

Jim was born on June 15, 1921, in Amherst Street, Grangetown, Cardiff, and attended Grangetown Boys School in Holmesdale Street.

In 1941, he joined the RAF and trained as a flight engineer on Lancaster Bombers.

On November 3, 1943, at 7pm, their 16th mission took off from Syerston, near Newark. Over the Dutch coast, flying at 20,000 feet, the bomber was attacked by two German fighters.

The fuselage was heavily damaged with bullet holes, all electrics and navigation equipment was shot to pieces and the windscreen was blown out. Two of the crew were killed immediately.

Although both seriously injured, the pilot, assisted by Jim, managed to fly on to Dusseldorf, which was 200 miles away, to drop the bombs. As they turned to set course for home, the pilot passed out and their bomber went into a steep dive.

Jim took over the controls (and standing up all the way because the unconscious pilot was jammed in the seat) flew the stricken bomber back to Britain.

As there were no hydraulics due to the attack, the undercarriages would not come down and the bomber had to be "belly landed" on the grass at an American Airbase in Norfolk.

Jim was later awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry medal on October 17, 1944, at Buckingham Palace.

Grangetown Boys' School had a day off in his honour.

Jim and his wife Lilly went on to run a shop in Mardy Street, Grangetown, after the war and Jim also had a horse and cart with which he delivered groceries around the houses.

He ended his working life as an area manager for Allied Bakeries in Cardiff.

He retired in 1986, aged 65. Jim's beloved wife Lilly, who he was happily married to for 67 years, passed away on January 14, 2007, aged 83.

He was also a devoted dad to Howard and daughter-in-law Sally and a worshipped Bampa to Leighanne. He will be greatly missed by all his friends and family and remembered for being a loving family man as well as for his tremendous courage during the war.

His funeral service took place on November 27 at St Dyfrig's and St Samson's Church, Grangetown, followed by committal at Thornhill Crematorium's Briwnant Chapel.

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Jim Norris in his wartime RAF days and, inset, Jim as he was in later life
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 8, 2009
Words:406
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