W D Sykes

Wireless Operator
service number 425557  
Date Type Aircraft Flight Squadron Crew No. Notes
27/08/1944 Halifax III MZ403 Training 466 151 Circuits and landings
31/08/1944 Halifax III MZ402 Training 466 151 Cross country
01/09/1944 Halifax III MZ294 Training 466 151 Cross country & bombing
03/09/1944 Halifax III LW372 Soesterberg 466 151  
04/09/1944 Halifax III MZ294 Training 466 151 Circuits and landings
17/09/1944 Halifax III MZ307 Boulogne (1B) 466 151 Crashed on take-off
25/09/1944 Halifax III MZ294 Calais (3A) 466 151  
26/09/1944 Halifax III MZ294 Calais (7B) 466 151  
27/09/1944 Halifax III LW372 Calais (13) 466 151  
05/10/1944 Halifax III NP976 Training 466 151 Fighter affiliation
05/10/1944 Halifax III MZ402 Training 466 151 Cross country
06/10/1944 Halifax III MZ299 Sterkrade 466 151  
07/10/1944 Halifax III MZ294 Kleve 466 151 Landed at Attlebridge
08/10/1944 Halifax III MZ294 Transit to Base 466 151  
09/10/1944 Halifax III MZ294 Bochum 466 151  
14/10/1944 Halifax III MZ294 Duisburg 'R' 466 151  
25/10/1944 Halifax III MZ294 Essen 466 151  
28/10/1944 Halifax III NR125 Domburg 466 151  
30/10/1944 Halifax III NR125 Cologne 466 151  
31/10/1944 Halifax III MZ294 Cologne 466 151  
02/11/1944 Halifax III MZ294 Dusseldorf 466 151  
04/11/1944 Halifax III NR152 Bochum 466 151  
06/11/1944 Halifax III MZ294 Gelsenkirchen 466 151  
10/11/1944 Halifax III NR152 Training 466 151 Practice Bombing
16/11/1944 Halifax III MZ294 Julich 466 151  
21/11/1944 Halifax III MZ294 Sterkrade 466 151  
27/11/1944 Halifax III HD-G Training 466 151 Marston Moor and return
29/11/1944 Halifax III NR250 Essen 466 151  
30/11/1944 Halifax III NR250 Duisburg 466 151  
02/12/1944 Halifax III NR152 Hagen 466 151  
24/12/1944 Halifax III NA199 Mulheim 466 151  
28/12/1944 Halifax III NA199 Opladen 466 151  
30/12/1944 Halifax III PN181 Koln Kalk 466 151  
01/01/1945 Halifax III NA199 Dortmund Hoesch E 466 151  
02/01/1945 Halifax III NA199 Ludwigshafen 466 151  
05/01/1945 Halifax III NA199 Hannover 466 151  
06/01/1945 Halifax III NA199 Hanau 466 151  
14/01/1945 Halifax III NA199 Saarbrucken 'A' 466 151  
22/01/1945 Halifax III NA199 Gelsenkirchen 466 82  

William Desmond SYKES, [425557] or Bill as everyone called him, was born in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia  on 6 June 1923.
He left his council job in Cairns on 21 March 1942, enlisting at Brisbane 7 days later on 28 March. After training at Maryborough, Qld, Evans Head, NSW, Cootamundra, NSW, Mt Gambier, SA and Nhill, Vic, he left Melbourne on the 27 September 1943 on the HMT Nieuw Amsterdam.

This ship stopped in San Francisco, USA, where Bill was obviously taken by the sights of the big city and went AWOL from camp and earning himself a "Severe Reprimand" which was the normal punishment for less than 48 hours AWOL.  The next boatload of troops didnt get shore leave so going AWOL was a popular choice. He was then trained across the USA and departed New York on the Queen Mary for the UK arriving on 9 November 1943.
Like most new arrivals he seemed to get lost in the system at Brighton for a few months before being posted in February 1944 to RAF Station Bishop's Court in Northern Ireland to learn about radar. Next was RAF West Freugh, Scotland, in March, and on 25 April 1944 he went to RAF Moreton-in-Marsh to 21 Operational Training Unit Course 81, where he teamed up with A F Willington who he had met back in Cootamundra and they and the rest of the crew learned to fly Ansons, Wellingtons and Halifaxes.

They became Crew 151 at 466 Squadron, Driffield on 13 August 1944. Willington was the pilot, Bill was a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, R F Godwin was the Bomb Aimer, J H O'Brien was their Navigator, J P Griffiths was the Rear Gunner, A J Ormsby was the Mid Upper Gunner and S Prince was their Flight Engineer. This crew was lucky, surviving an early  scare while crashing on takeoff when an engine died and the plane swung off the runway into the ditch with a full bomb load. They mostly stayed together as the same crew for pretty much every mission and they all completed their tours.
Soon after arriving at 466 he met Moya Margaret Newsome, a young, local WAAF War Widow with a 4 year old daughter called Margaret. They soon fell in love and got married on 15 January 1945, in Driffield and in April 1945 they had twin daughters Louise and Ann. Bill was shipped back to Australia, landing in Sydney on 19 October 1945 and was demobbed from Brisbane on 17 December 1945.

He came back to Cairns and his council clerk job, and bought a house for his new family with his war savings. His wife and daughters arrived in Melbourne on a War Bride ship, the Athlone Castle, and then trained up to Cairns in April 1946. Bill and his wife had 5 more children and had a relatively normal life until she died in a car accident in 1970. Bill never remarried and after a mourning period there were grandchildren coming along to keep him busy.
He never spoke much about the war to the family and died on 7 September  1990 in Cairns Hospital from natural causes.

by Jason Steele