Shared by Gordon Hargest:


Known as Jack, William Grisman was born on 30th August 1914; the son of William Charles and Gertrude Ellen Grisman of Hereford.

He was a keen sportsman enjoying swimming and rugby. Jack was working as an engineer when he joined the Royal Air Force, where he served between 1931 and 1944. He enlisted as an aircraft apprentice at RAF Halton, graduating in December 1933 before being posted to 10 Squadron at RAF Boscombe Down.

By 1936, he was a Leading Aircraftsman working in Basra and as a driver for the British Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. Two years later in 1938 he was posted to 28 Squadron as a rigger/fitter whilst training as an Air Gunner. He enjoyed flying and applied to join aircrew training as an Observer at RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk.

In July 1939, two months before the declaration of war, Jack joined 99 Squadron flying in Wellington.

For his duty, he was Mentioned in Despatches 6 October 1940 after completing a tour. He commissioned as a Pilot Officer in December 1940 and posted to RAF Boscombe Down where his navigation experience was used to help develop Blind Approach Aids and Radio Countermeasures including Oboe and was promoted to Pilot Officer in December 1941.

On 11 November 1941, he was the observer of Wellington T2565 that set out to investigate the German radars along the French coast when the starboard engine failed and the propeller lost. Five of the crew bailed out on orders from the Pilot, who was last to leave the stricken aircraft. All were taken as prisoners. Jack became POW 673 in Stalag III. Whilst there, he completed correspondence courses in advanced mathematics, French and mechanics and was known to make Moonshine from potato skins for Christmas parties.

During the digging of the tunnels, he was reported as an enthusiastic tunneller and was lucky enough to be one of the 76 that made it to the woods. He was captured quickly and interrogated before he was shot. Flight Lieutenant William ‘Jack’ Grisman’s name in to be found on IBCC Panel 174.