Pilot Bernard Little is 104th of The Few

Hero: Spitfire pilot Squadron Leader Bernard Little, who became Halifax coroner
Hero: Spitfire pilot Squadron Leader Bernard Little, who became Halifax coroner

THE Battle of Britain Historical Society works tirelessly to preserve the memory of the Battle of Britain and the 2,936 pilots who took part in the historic battle against the German Luftwaffe in 1940.

Victory in the skies over Britain put an end to German plans to invade Britain, but it came at a heavy price, the loss of 544 of The Few, killed or missing in action.

Mark Andrew, of Manor Heath Road, Halifax, became involved in the society’s work because of the death of his brother, Sgt Pilot Stanley Andrew, of 46 Squadron, who was killed when his plane crashed after a patrol on September 11 1940. Mark is involved in research work for the society and the society’s school plaques programme, which commemorates Battle of Britain pilots at the school they last attended.

Mark has written to tell us that former Halifax coroner Bernard Williamson Little was a Battle of Britain pilot and is, in fact, the 104th of The Few discovered to have been born in Yorkshire.

Bernard Little was born in Wakefield and attended Queen Elizabeth Grammar School there. He joined the 609 (West Riding) Squadron at Yeadon in 1937 and was called to full service in August 1939. He trained with 11 other pilots at Catterick, North Yorkshire, of whom only four survived the Battle of Britain.

He was demobilised in 1945 with the rank of squadron leader and awarded the OBE.

A trained solicitor, he served as coroner in Halifax from 1951 to 1974 and then as Bradford and Calderdale coroner until his retirement in 1975, when he and his wife, Nan, moved from their home in Wood Lane, Hipperholme, to live near Littlehampton, West Sussex. He died in 1986.

Three Calderdale men were also among The Few. They included Pilot Officer Walter Beaumont, DFC, of Mytholmroyd, who attended Scout Road School and Hebden Bridge Grammar. He was a Spitfire pilot in 152 Squadron and was killed in action on September 23 1940. He is commemorated in the name of Walter Beaumont Terrace, Thrush Hill Road, Mytholmroyd.

Sergeant Observer Geoffrey Garside, of Halifax, attended Halifax Junior Technical School and Halifax Technical College. His family had an engineering business, James Garside and Sons, at Copley Mills.

In 1942 he was in a Whitley bomber which had to crash land on a beach in Wales and was badly burnt on his face and hands. He underwent many skin grafts until he was retired in 1946. He died a few years ago and is commemorated with a plaque at Calderdale College.

Pilot Officer Kenneth Manger, DFC, of Halifax, attended Crossley and Porter School. His family were florists in Halifax. He was a Hurricane pilot in 17 Squadron and was killed in action on August 11 1940. He is remembered by a plaque at Crossley Heath School.

All three have been commemorated in the names of streets in a new estate at Keighley Road, Ovenden, called Manger Gardens, Garside Drive and Beaumont Chase. Members of all three families were present at the naming ceremony last year.

David Hanson