Tributes to Sidmouth veteran airman ‘Harry’

TRIBUTES have been paid to a veteran airman and “wonderful character” from Sidmouth.

Great granddad George ‘Harry’ Rostron, 97, died peacefully at his All Saints Road home last Sunday, January 8, following a short illness.

The RAF veteran had survived a number of life-threatening events while serving as a navigator in World War Two.

A spokesman for the East Devon Aircrew Association said this week: “Harry was a wonderful character and so full of life which belied his age. He was very active with all our events right up until shortly before his death, and will be greatly missed. He was a great guy.”

During Operation Varsity, the Allied crossing of the Rhine, Harry’s Halifax bomber – towing a glider from the Sixth Airborne Division – suffered a direct hit.

The enemy anti-aircraft fire caused extensive damage to the aircraft and resulted in an emergency landing.

Widower Harry was a past president of Sidmouth Probus Club and a member of the town’s cricket club, men’s forum and Royal British Legion.

Most Read

A native of Lancashire and graduate of Manchester University, Harry enjoyed a peace-time career as an industrial chemist. He rose to a prominent position within an Anglo-Dutch company’s detergent division based in Rotterdam.

A desire to be closer to daughter, Judith, in Sidbury, saw Harry retire to Sidmouth.

He also leaves two grandsons and two great-grandchildren.

Harry’s funeral was due to be held at Sidmouth Parish Church yesterday (Thursday, January 19).

His wartime exploits will not be forgotten as his tale was one of 20 recently published in book Runway’s End – a history of local airfields.

Harry flew troops to liberate the occupied Oslo Airport towards the end of the war.

He described the incident as “just a little scuffle, but nothing too serious”, and added: “The problem was that the Germans did not know the war was over, but luckily our boys soon put them right.”

Runway’s End, including Harry’s story, is now lodged with the Imperial War Museum.

Profits from sales of copies at Sidmouth’s Paragon Books will go to the Aircrew Association.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter