An Old Coathamian – Not Forgotten


No. 1101203 Sergeant (Observer),
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve;
No. 42 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

Died 7 October1941, aged 30 years.

Buried in Easington (All Saints) Churchyard,
near Loftus.

No. 42 Squadron was part of RAF Coastal Command in the earlier years of the Second World War. From its base at RAF Bircham Newton in Norfolk it flew Bristol Beaufort twin-engined torpedo bombers on anti-shipping and mine-laying operations. The circumstances of Sergeant Hebditch’s death are at present unknown.

William Hebditch was the son of Charles and Ann Elizabeth Hebditch of ‘Briardale’, West Avenue, Loftus. His father was a building contractor and William had one older sister and one older brother at the time of his birth on 23 April 1911. ‘Briardale’ remained the parental home until his father’s death in 1964. William came to Coatham Grammar School in September 1922 as a boarder, joining School House, in Form IIIB. He took a full part in school life in various ways: he played the drums in the school orchestra; he was a frequent contributor to the school magazine, which he later edited; he became secretary to the games committee; and he was a school prefect in his final year. In sports he was a noted middle-distance runner, holding the school open half-mile record in 1929. He captained the school athletics team and received his colours for running. He also played rugby for his house and, alongside Featonby (q.v.), for the school 1st XV in 1929-30. He achieved distinctions in examinations in 1928 and 1930, and when he left school that year he was awarded the Headmaster’s ‘Special Merit’ Prize. He went up to Jesus College, Oxford, to read History, from where he graduated B.A. in 1934. At Oxford, he ran in the university athletics team and joined the Oxford University O.T.C. The school magazine of March 1937 offered him congratulations on his forthcoming marriage. William and his wife Margaret Jane were living at Boston Spa, Yorkshire, at the time of his death. He was first listed on the School’s Roll of Honour in December 1944.