A Celebration of the Life of
Wg Cdr HE 'Bill' Angell DFC RAF(Retd)

Guildford Crematorium

Wg Cdr Henry Ellis Angell


1st November 1916-5th December 2010

Tuesday 21st December 2010
12.00 Noon

Reverend Brian Pugh, a Royal British Legion Chaplain, took the service.

Standard Bearers from 261(City of Guildford) Squadron Air Training Corps paraded their own Standard and that of the Guildford Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association. Bill's service cap and medals were placed on his coffin.


by Katherine Jenkins




Praise, my soul, the King of heaven


read by Christopher Angell


He who would valiant be


by David Harkins
read by Libby Angell, daughter

John Angell, son

Dad, the man with the occasional transatlantic twang and use of words, sidewalk instead of footpath, pants instead of trousers so betraying his childhood in Canada. Born in Calgary on the 1st November 1916, his father having left the UK for Canada to take up a position with Canadian Pacific Railway working in Bassano, running the dam the CPR had built to irrigate the prairies. Dad went to school in Bassano and Calgary and then went on to the University of Alberta. There are pictures of Dad as a youngster go to school on his horse in the summer and on a pair of skis in the winter, an exciting sort of life.

Mother Florence with Peter and Henry

Off to school #1

Off to school #2

Ice hockey on the prairies

When CPR sold the dam in 1936 the job in Canada came to an end and the family returned to the UK. Dad then joined the RAF. In 1940 he was posted back to Canada as a Navigation Instructor but after making representations to return to the UK he was finally posted back in 1943 when he was promoted Squadron Leader and joined Bomber Command flying four-engine bombers. He saw the war through flying the big planes and a few months after the war in Europe had finished he married Winifred Bird in Datchet Church. He had met Winifred at a friend's wedding a few months earlier and it had been love at first sight.

Bill and Birdie, 8th November 1945

Sally was their first child, born in 1947, I arrived in 1951 and Lib in 1953. It was just after Lib was born and life as a family of five had begun that Dad was posted to Germany. Some of Sally’s earliest memories are of a caravanning holiday. As the milk available was not fresh but of the evapourated type, this for many years was known as caravan milk, not, I can assure, you a term of endearment. We then returned to the UK when Dad was posted to RAF Silloth on the Solway Firth.

Real memories now abound: Sally playing in the maintenance hangar, in and out of the planes being worked on, the smell of the oil still fresh in her mind; Lib and me being taken off to school in the back of the staff car, full of importance; the fishermen landing their catches in the harbour and the fresh fish being brought to the door, still flapping. My small toy sailing boat coming adrift from its string and Dad after much shouting and calling appearing on the beach in his swim things but deciding he really was not going in to try and chase my boat that was heading off to Scotland at a good rate of knots! At this time we spent our holidays with mum’s mother at Hill Head on the Solent. Dad use to appear at weekends, we were sure he use to fly down in his Vampire jet to the Royal Naval Air base at Lee on Solent where they would turn it round ready for him to fly back North - not certain that could happen now!

Our life up North ended in 1959 when Dad was posted to the Air Ministry in London. We moved down to the family house in Pilgrims Way, Guildford and we remained here as a family while Dad did two tours in London, was posted as Station Commander to RAF West Raynham in Norfolk and a final tour in London before he retired from the Air Force in 1971.

During this time we three children were away from home at boarding school, but holidays were all spent as a family at Hill Head. Memories come back of Christmas mornings, us children along with cousins Wendy and Jane not being allowed into the sitting room to see the tree and the presents until we were all ready and then followed Dad in as he played Jingle Bells on his harmonica. Idyllic summers, the sun always shone and the sea was always warm, helping Dad cut the unruly grass. At home Dad was a keen gardener, this can still be seen from the garden today. DIY was a speciality, he did all the decorating and after taking carpentry lessons, bookshelves started appearing on the walls of all the rooms and his oak bedside cabinet is still in the house.

He was a keen photographer, black and white in the early days, developed himself, then 35mm slides and then 8mm movies. Some of these same bookshelves are groaning under the weight of albums.

After he retired it did not take him long to find a good job again as Bursar at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory at Holmbury St Mary. The change from Forces discipline to working with students came as a shock; his ideas on how student accommodation should be kept clean and tidy caused some consternation with the students. I am afraid to report that the student way won the day.

Dad had decided that he needed a small economic car for the run to Holmbury. He invested in an Hillman Imp, not perhaps the best of load carriers, but when trees had to be felled on the Holmbury estate and then disposed of this little car could be seen loaded to the roof with logs for the Angell fireplace.

Dad finally retired from work in 1981. He did not however sit and do nothing. Trips to the States to see his younger brother and other friends became a yearly event. His management skills were not lost as he joined various committees and associations, a lot related to his time in the Air Force but he also did voluntary work and could be found in the Guildford Museum as a guide.

Unfortunately not all of life is good. In 1986, Mum, his beloved wife, Birdie, was diagnosed with cancer and she was taken from him on the 5th December 1987. Dad was greatly shocked by this loss, but decided that he would stay in the family house and would continue with all his committees and associations. This he did for many years but he was set back when over Christmas 2008 he fell and broke a hip. This fall triggered a series of events, he became much less mobile and he began to suffer from some memory loss and he needed a heart pace-maker. However he made it quite clear to us all that there was only one place he wanted to be and that was the family home on Pilgrims Way and, by the way, he was looking forward to his card from the Queen on his 100th birthday!

He loved sitting in his sitting room watching the birds and the squirrels, he read the paper, he loved listening to music and would want to walk around the garden talking about the things he would like to do. He loved his visitors, he always liked a phone call, his appetite only failed at the end, ice cream and maple syrup being his favourite.

But he never made his 100th birthday. After a few days of illness he passed away peacefully in his bed exactly where he wanted to be, in the family home on the 5th December.

His three children, eight grand children and six great grandchildren will remember him. We say goodbye to a father, grandfather, great grandfather, friend to many, but most of all an officer and a gentleman.

[Bill was a long established member of 207 Squadron (Royal Air Force) Association, the Squadron with which he served before WWII, and was a leading figure in the 38 Group Association, which included his wartime 295 Squadron, which he commanded. Latterly he had been President of the Guildford Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association.]


by Reverend Brian Pugh

I find myself to be slightly wrong-footed in two ways to be giving the address on this occasion.

Firstly because, quite simply, I didn’t know Wing Commander Bill Angell at all. I have, however, been greatly helped with my homework by John and Sally and I am extremely grateful for that.

And secondly I feel a bit disadvantaged because I have to admit that I have never served so much as a day in the Royal Air Force. I was, though, a Padre in the Regular Army for well over twenty years, so I believe I know something of the mind-set and the level of determination that I have lived and worked with among military men and women, and such attitudes can be seen to stand out in my reading of Bill’s biographical notes. That’s because his life-story reads in ways which are typical of the stories of so many who have served in all three of the Services. Especially among those of Bill Angell’s generation.

I could add that I also know Calgary, where he was born, quite well, the famous city in Western Canada, because I went to the Suffield Training Area more than once, with certain Army Battlegroups. I can, therefore, visualize Bill Angell’s birthplace and the scene of his schooling in Bassano, Alberta fairly well. Very much the Big Country and it’s easy to see the way in which it might well have made a big impact upon the nature of a man who would go on to prove himself all over the big skies of Europe in the years to come.

Born in 1916, he came with his parents to the United Kingdom in 1935 and he joined the RAF as an Acting Pilot Officer in 1936. His service career then follows on, right up to his retirement in 1971. Thirty five years in all, but taking into account the uninterrupted stretch covering the whole of the Second World War and it reads like a continuous saga of flying duties. Both in peace and war. Large aircraft and small, so that I found myself constantly asking the question “Was there anything in the skies that this man did not fly?”

Some of Bill's aircraft are shown in this wonderful piece of marquetry

In 1940, however, he was posted back to Canada and onto the staff of 31 General Reconnaissance School on Prince Edward Island, flying Ansons and working as a Navigation Instructor. This didn’t satisfy him, however, and at his own request he was posted back to the UK. A request on his part which says a lot about the mettle of the man when you bear in mind that it occurred in the early 1940s. He became a Squadron Leader in 1943, went back to Bomber Command and flew Oxfords, Wellingtons and later the Stirling four engined Bomber.

Bill Angell then went on to 295 Squadron where he transferred to duty with Airborne Forces. He excelled in this role among Special Operations personnel and became a Wing Commander in 1944. This was the year when he received the award of DFC.

The Citation reads:

“Wing Commander Angell has completed a tour of operational duty during which he has been mainly engaged on airborne operations. During 1944/45 he led his flight on three major airborne assaults launched from this country. This officer is an outstanding Squadron commander and under his courageous and inspired leadership his Squadron has reached a high standard of operational efficiency”.

Later, from RAF North Weald, he flew York, Lancaster and Dakota aircraft and in 1948/49 he took part in the Berlin Airlift, at first flying a Halifax taking in gliders and Paras and then Dakotas taking in general supplies to a city that would otherwise have suffered strangulation.

He flew Meteors, Ansons and the Canberra in 1949 whilst stationed at Upper Heyford and subsequently moved to Headquarters 2nd Tactical Air Force in Germany before he became Station Commander, RAF Silloth from 1956-59 where he flew the Vampire.

His final appointments took him three times to the Ministry of Defence and in 1971 he retired from the Royal Air Force and went on to become Bursar to the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, a part of London University. His final retirement came in 1981 when he became active in the local Squadron of the Air Training Corps, who are represented here today by the Standard Bearers you can see on parade in front of you. And I am bound to say to those young ladies and gentlemen that your presence here is much appreciated and is very welcome. By taking part in today’s ceremony doing a great deal to honour one who has already been described as an Officer and a Gentleman. I know that you will long remember your association with him.

We read in the Old Testament today a passage which gives us a different slant on our understanding of the word “Time”. The passage comes from the Book of Ecclesiastes and it goes “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die ... A time to plant and a time to gather up that which is planted ... A time to weep and a time to laugh ... A time to love and a time to hate ...” And it continues with a time for this and a time for that until it comes to a climax with the suggestion that “God has made everything beautiful in its time”. Even the hateful bits and the confrontational bits and the bits where you find yourself looking at some of the most terrifying options. Bill’s time was much concerned with that sort of experience. With war and Peace; Courage and great Anxiety; Confrontation and looking confrontation in the face; Loving and Loathing and yet, his wisdom, his training and his integrity sustained him in the face of the fiercest of enemies and the most terrifying of situations.

An Officer and a Gentleman, is the way he has already been described. And now he passes out of earthly time and into the realm of Heavenly Eternity. Our prayer is that he may rest in peace and rise in glory.




Abide with me


Chaplain: They shall not grow old
as we that are left grow old;
age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
we will remember them.
Response: We will remember them.





[at the service from recordings] by The Central Band of the Royal Air Force

Please also view the rest of the Angell Collection on the 207 Squadron (Royal Air Force) History website

Wg Cdr Henry Ellis Angell DFC RAF(Retd)

Born Calgary, Alberta 1st Nov 1916
Lived Bassano, Alberta
Educated Bassano, Calgary and University of Alberta
Parents moved to the UK 1935/36
Joined the RAF as Acting Pilot Officer August 1936:
London Gazette Issue 34323 published on the 15 September 1936.

London Gazette Issue 34413 published on the 29 June 1937
The undermentioned are granted short service commissions as Acting Pilot Officers on probation with effect from and with seniority of 24th Aug. 1936:
Henry Ellis ANGELL

The undermentioned Acting Pilot Officers on probation are confirmed in their appointments and graded as pilot officers on the dates stated:
29th June 1937.
Henry Ellis ANGELL.

Promoted Flying Officer December 1938

Joined 207 Squadron December 1938
3 Sep 1939: War declared on Germany: Posted to HQ Bomber Command as a Staff Officer
June 1940 posted to Benson (12 OTU which had absorbed 207) for refresher flying on Battles prior to posting to the Advanced Air Striking Force. The AASF, or what was left of it, returned to the UK before completed that refresher flying.

London Gazette Issue 34954 published on the 27 September 1940
The undermentioned Flying Officers are promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant:
3rd Sept. 1940.
Henry Ellis ANGELL (39050)

London Gazette Issue 35383 published on the 16 December 1941
16 December 1941
Flt. Lts. to be Sqn. Ldrs. (temp.).
H. E. ANGELL, (39050)

Transferred to Staff of 31 General Reconnaissance School, Charlottestown, Prince Edward Island as Navigation Instructor, flying Ansons. Requested to be transferred back to the UK

London Gazette Issue 36592 published on the 30 June 1944
Flt. Lts. (temp. Sqn. Ldrs.):
29th June 1942.
H. E. ANGELL (39050).

Transferred back to Bomber Command, 196 Squadron flying Oxfords and Wellingtons and then four engine Stirling Bombers
196 Squadron transferred to Airborne Forces taking part in Special Operations, Glider work and re-supply as part of 38 Group
Promoted Wing Commander September 1944
Commanding Officer 295 Squadron September 1944

London Gazette Issue 36930 published on the 6 February 1945
The undermtd. are granted the rank of Sqn. Ldr. (war subs.):
Sqn. Ldrs. (temp.):
25th Dec. 1944.
H. E. ANGELL (39050).

London Gazette Issue 37255 published on the 4 September 1945
Sqn. Ldr. to Wg. Cdr. (temp.):
1st July 1945.
H. E. ANGELL, D.F.C. (39050)

London Gazette Issue 37228 published on the 14 August 1945
Distinguished Flying Cross.
Acting Wing Commanders.
Henry Ellis ANGELL (39050), R.A.F.O., 295 Sqn.
Commanding Officer 296 Squadron December 1945

Posted RAF North Weald in 1946 flying York, Halifax and Dakota.

London Gazette Issue 38015 published on the 11 July 1947
Appointment to commission
As Squadron Leaders, extended service (four years on the active list}*:
Henry Ellis ANGELL, D.F.C. (39050). 30th May 1946 (seniority 1st June 1944)
* Retaining their existing ranks under wartime rules.

London Gazette Issue 38125 published on the 14 November 1947
14 November 1947
The undermentioned relinquish the temporary rank of Wing Commander 1st Nov. 1947
Squadron Leader (substantive):
H. E. ANGELL, D.F.C. (39050)

London Gazette Issue 38622 published on the 31 May 1949
As Squadron Leaders (permanent) :
29th July 1948.
Henry Ellis ANGELL, D.F.C. (39050).

Flew the Berlin Airlift 1948-49 at first flying a Halifax taking in gliders and paras, then Dakotas taking in general supplies
Stationed Upper Heyford in April 1949, flying Meteor. Anson and Canberra

London Gazette Issue 39586 published on the 27 June 1952
Air Ministry, 1st July, 1952.
The undermentioned half-yearly promotions are made:
Squadron Leader to Wing Commander:
H. E. ANGELL, D.F.C. (39050).

Posted to Headquarters 2nd TAF, Germany, 1953-1956 flying Anson
Station Commander RAF Silloth 1956-1959 flying Anson and Vampire
MoD 1959-1962
MoD 1962-1965
Station Commander RAF West Raynham 1965-1968
MoD 1968-1971

Retired 1971 after 35 years service
London Gazette Date: 8 November 1971 Issue number: 45516
9 November 1971
Wing Commander H. E. ANGELL, D.F.C. (39050).
1st Nov. 1971.

Appointed Bursar to the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, part of London University, 1971 and retired from this position in 1981.

Chairman of 38 Group Association
Chairman and Life President of 261 (Guildford) ATC Squadron
President of Guildford Royal Air Force Association

basic source John Angell, with additional research by the editor.

images: the Angell family
page created 14 Jan 11: updated 17 Jan 11: 26 Dec 13.
if you would like to add to this page please contact the editor
Frank Haslam